Hydroponic culture of foodstuffs with hacked Aerogarden

In the quest for a more sustainable lifestyle we are investigating various avenues to become more independent and green. Our first experiment involved using a Aerogarden growing system, which comes ready made.

The used system I purchased on Ebay had a defective light bulb and I paid only 1/4 the price of a new system for it (50 Dollars / 40 Euro. I quickly discovered that spare parts in Germany are impossible to come by.  Had I paid the full price of 200 Dollars, then I would also have had to buy a new light bulb after 1-2 years.

As it happened, I planned to replace the "energy saver" grow bulbs of the original system with LED lamps anyways, so it didn't matter to me that a bulb was broken.

Using the LED's the aeroponic system now uses only 1/3 the electricity of the standard system, which works out at 10kw per month. The LED's I had to import from China, as they were not available in Europe.

The result are basil leafs of 12cm / 4.7 inches in length, versus the standard 1 inch you get in a supermarket. Our lettuce is regularly plucked for BLT, so I can't say how big it might get undisturbed.

In my next post I will explain how these result were achieved.
We don't use the Aerogarden nutrient pack or seeds, but our own system.


Most webpage functions online, improved cloud images

It's going well, better than hoped for, with the virtualization of the Windows 2000 machine on Windows 7.

All functions which worked before the server crash are back online.
Improved is the resolution of the cloud images, which are now purchased as a subscription.

This also shows in the animated weather movies, which also now feature the better clouds.
I wonder if there is a method to get the movies to play in the screensaver, again...


Migration to new server

The 3 year old server which generated the "Our Planet Earth From Space" website recently began crashing once every 24 hours, give and take a few hours.

As a result I bought a newer and faster machine yesterday.

There are teething problems, as the new computer uses SATA drives, and the old server had IDE drives. As the whole webpage has been custom programmed it isn't so easy to migrate the code to the newer system.

I'm therefore using virtualization software to migrate the webpage with the minimum of fuss.
Even so, it will be several days before everything can work again as before.

In addition, recently the source for hurricane plots has stopped updating.

Please be patient, as over the next few days funcions will go online again...



Volcanic Data

From: xfactor
Sent: Montag, 12. Juli 2010 00:20
Subject: [Bulk] Volcanos???

Hi Erich

I just wanted to tell you that the Volcanos are not loading on the site.

If you are aware of this Great if not hope that you are still abell to put that data on the site.

Thanks for all that you do.


it appears that the credentials of the contributor of my volcanic data were questioned and his website has stopped working: http://www.intlvrc.org.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010
A cautionary tale of scientific credentials
Over the weekend, the Arizona Republic ran a story questioning the scientific credentials of Robert "R.B." Trombley, who runs the International Volcano Research Centre from Apache Junction, near Phoenix. Reporter Lindsey Collom notes that Mr. Trombley was quoted as a volcano expert by CNN and the Wall Street Journal regarding the recent ash cloud from Icleand, but then goes on to say,
Pay a visit to Trombley's research center, however, and the story of Arizona's volcano expert turns into a cautionary tale about how the media's push for instant news coverage can sometimes lead to experts with questionable credentials.
The International Volcano Research Centre is located in Trombley's home, a pink trailer in Apache Junction.
Today, the Phoenix New Times took a swipe at the Republic for a laudatory article they ran on February 6, 2006, entitled, "Volcanologist in AJ is an Eruption Pro," questioning whether the Republic themselves did not do the same kind of credential check they criticize CNN and WSJ for not doing.
One item in the Republic's weekend story caught my attention. ASU geology professor Jonathan Fink, who runs the Volcano Listserv, is reported as having told his 2,000 subscribers last year, "To our knowledge, Dr. Trombley does not have training as a volcanologist, read the rest at:

I am now getting my data from the Smithsonian Institution.

Regards, E. Habich


Current Display of Fires, Virtualization of the Planet Earth Server

A while ago, the University of Maryland changed its MODIS data format.

As a result the Global Fire Display and Fire Index no longer worked.
Debugging on the working server was impossible, because of its active running state, with scripts popping up every minute.

A simple backup of the server could not be installed on my laptop as a second operating system for debugging purposes.

Because of other demands on my time, it took a while before I could configure a virtual machine to run the web server on.

This has now been done and the MODIS data display is debugged.


Electric Cars?

Build Your Dreams
(Or: how a battery maker invented a better battery, kept the patent and became a car maker)

In the 2007 movie "Who killed the Electric Car" the response of the established car industry to the Californian "Clean Air Law", from the 1990's was investigated.

Under that legislation car manufacturers were obliged (or, to put it less politely, forced) to produce zero-emission vehicles, to keep the air free of pollutants.

Because car pollutants do not just contribute to climate change (which is today’s concern), but also cause lung diseases in the city centres. Lung diseases were the main concern in the 1990's.

General Motors in the 1990's was still the world's largest carmaker. They decided to build an electric car called Electric Vehicle 1 (EV1), to comply with the "Clean Air Law".

To give the electric car EV1 a better power source, a number of inventors were invited to compete to improve the heavy lead-acid type batteries of old.

One inventor submitted his design of a NiCad battery to GM, to put into the new electric car and won the competition.

He was very excited about it and took out an advertisement in a newspaper, boasting that his revolutionary new NiCad batteries were going to power the new electric car of General Motors.

GM bought his battery patent and got an injunction through its lawyers to forbid the inventor to talk to the press about the new batteries ever again.

When it was time to bring the new electric car to the market, GM installed the old, heavy, lead acid batteries of old, even though they already had the new NiCad's.

Unsurprisingly, the first motoring correspondents doing driving tests of the EV1 were happy with the car’s design, it's inbuilt air condition, acceleration and handling, but they remarked that the batteries were too weak and didn't provide enough driving range.

Indeed, for the first few years the EV1 cars had problems with failing lead-acid batteries.
Hence, the first customers were not as happy with their cars, as they could have been and the electric cars reputation was tarnished.

Two years later General Motors finally did introduce the new NiCad batteries into the EV1, which doubled its range. At about the same time GM sold the NiCad patent to the oil industry giant Shell.

In the years to follow, GM would not sell their EV1 electric cars directly to its customers; instead, it was only possible to lease them from the corporation. When the lobbying of the Oil industry finally succeeded in the year 2002 and the production of electric cars was no longer mandatory, General Motors had all EV1 cars repossessed and scrapped.

A last surviving EV1 was found in autumn 2008 in Canada (it was out of US jurisdiction for repossession) and sold at auction for 500.000 $, because of its rarity.

The patent holder for NiCad batteries, Shell, subsequently licensed the use of this type of battery for any use, except automotive applications. That is the reason that even though NiCad rechargeables are used in almost any application, you cannot buy NiCad car batteries, and instead heavy lead-acids are still used.

Moreover, no electric carmaker can use NiCads in their design, limiting the choice to lead-acid (low capacity) or Lithium-Ion (high price) instead.

The Automobile Crisis

It is February 2009, and we are still in the beginning of what many indicators identify as the worst economic crisis the world has ever seen.

General Motors made a name for itself as the creator of the Hummer and other gasoline-guzzling monster trucks, which nobody wants to buy anymore, because the fuel cost has become too high. GM and Chrysler are begging for Government loans, to delay the inevitable total bankruptcy caused by a wrong strategy.

No Alternative to an electric car

It was foreseeable for a long time that oil supplies would dwindle and petrol prices soar.
The car industry for the longest time tried to appease critics by pointing to their development of expensive hydrogen fuel cells.

The car industry has totally ignored the fact that the creation, transport and storage of the hydrogen in itself is such an inefficient process, that even the use of 200 year old lead-acid battery technology is more energy effective. (Hydrogen must be created using electricity, it is only an energy storage medium and not a fuel in itself).

Old fashioned Taxation System

China is for the first time the largest car market in the world.
Sold more cars than the USA in January.


Berlin temperatures now from Tegel

After many years it appears that Berlin's former city airport no longer supplies weather reports.
Tempelhof was officially closed a couple of months ago, so this was excepted, I suppose.

I have changed the Berlin reports to the Tegel Airport.


Merry Christmas on the North Pole

Arctic Sea Ice How is Santa Claus doing these days?

There is now a
movie sequence of the North Pole Sea Ice, which makes it possible to keep an eye on his home.

You can watch how the Polar Ice melts in the summer, opening up the North West Passage. In the winter the open seas quickly freeze again, making shipping impossible, except for ice breakers.


When moving to the new server the free screensaver links did get broken, but they are fixed now.
The screensavers can be found on http://satellite.ehabich.info/aboutscreensaver.html.

For bug reports the bounty is a free pay screensaver of choice!



Links for Ave's Desktopsites for Vista

Here is a list of possible active desktop backgrounds (copy the URL into the program Ave's Desktopsites):

The World Overviews
"Earth from the Sun - Distant", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_distant.htm"
"Earth from Sun - Close Up", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_sv.htm"
"Earth from Mars", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_earthmars.htm"
"Moon with background stars", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_moon.htm"
"View from the ISS Spacestation", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_iss.htm"
"Random Earth View", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_rnd.htm"
"Earth seen from the Moon", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_emoon.htm"
"Overview with markers", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_ea.htm"
"World without Fires", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_ea_nof.htm"
"Natural Earth", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_nea.htm"
"Global Temperatures", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_temp.htm"
"World Fire Map", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_globalfire.htm"

North America
"Overview Celsius", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_na.htm"
"Overview Fahrenheit", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_na_f.htm"
"Weather Forecast", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_na_fore.htm"
"3D Celsius", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_nac.htm"
"3D Fahrenheit", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_nac_f.htm"
"3D Weather Forecast", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_nac_fore.htm"

South America
"Overview", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_sam.htm"
"Weather Forecast", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_sam_fore.htm"
"3D Overview Celsius", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_sac.htm"
"3D Weather Forecast", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_sac_fore.htm"

"Overview", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_eu.htm"
"Weather Forecast", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_eu_fore.htm"
"3D Overview", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_euc.htm"
"Real Meteosat Image: fresh at 07:00,13:10,19:00 GMT", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_eu_real.htm"
"3D Weather Forecast", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_euc_fore.htm"
"Middle East", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_me.htm"
"Middle East 3D", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_mecrescent.htm"

"Overview", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_africa.htm"
"Weather Forecast", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_africa_fore.htm"
"Eastern Africa and Middle East Overview", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_me.htm"
"Middle East 3D", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_mecrescent.htm"

"Overview", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_asia.htm"
"Weather Forecast", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_asia_forecast.htm"
"3D Overview", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_asia3d.htm"
"3D Weather Forecast", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_asia3d_forecast.htm"

"Overview", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_oz.htm"
"Downunder", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_downunder.htm"
"Weather Forecast", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_oz_forecast.htm"
"3D Natural", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_au.htm"

"North Pole with Ice Cover", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_arctic.htm"
"South Pole with Icebergs", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_ant.htm"
"South Pole Detailed View", "http://satellite.ehabich.info/ndt_ant_three.htm"


Active Desktop Replacement for Vista and IE7

Vista DesktopActive Desktop replacement for Vista and IE7

AveDesktopSites is a small program that replaces Active Desktop. Active Desktop has not been supported since Windows Vista or Internet Explorer 7. The displayed web pages cannot be clicked on.
DownloadDownload, source: http://mpj.tomaatnet.nl/vista)

Unfortunately, the program has no installation routine. Therefore, please unpack the files in a folder and make a shortcut to it in the Startup folder. Then configure the page to display.

SShuttle ClockWith the Earth Clock from Xentax.com you can make a clock widget for XP and Vista, using maps from this website. The example on the left shows the position of the ISS. You can of course also use the views (Earth From The Sun), (Antarctic) or whichever you desire.

DownloadDownload, source: http://earthclock.xentax.com)


Erupting Volcano in Chile

The Chilean volcano Chaiten has been erupting since September 23, 2008. This activity has been registered on the website, when the volcano icon turned from brown to red. A little later, magma flow was detected by the Modis fire detection system, shown by a yellow spot in the middle of the volcano symbol.

On the ground, the small village next to the volcano has been evacuated and a live webcam and video stream from the chilean meteorological office shows the ongoing eruption of the volcano.


ehabich.info is back online!

Well, it took 6 days, but today "Our Planet Earth From Space" is back online.
I apologize to all for this inconvenience, but a change of provider is seldom totally smooth.

Cheers, Eric


ehabich.info back online: soon

I have changed the domain administrator and web space for ehabich.info.

The domain transfer will take a few days until it is completed, but then "Our Planet Earth From Space" will be back online.


Deutsche Telekom is stoopid

The German Telekom has cancelled my webserver package after I cancelled my DSL subscription and phone.

I did this because I moved together with my lovely girlfriend, and for the love of Pete we did not need two phone connections at our place.

Why the Telekom also cancelled my webserver is a complete mystery, because I never gave them the order to do that.

I now have the opportunity to move to a much cheaper webhost, which I have delayed to do until now, because I did not want an interruption of my website service to you.

I hope to have the website back up again soonest.


Active Volcano display is updated

After it was brought to my attention that Mt. St. Helens was falsely showing on my volcano display, even though it wasn't active for a couple of months, I had to change the data source, away from the Smithsonian Institution.

My data now are from the International Volcano Research Centre, at Apache Junction, Arizona. I thank R. B. Trombley,Ph.D. and his associates for permission to use the data.

Volcano iconsActive volcanoes are shown as brown triangles, and erupting volcanos are shown in red. The name of the volcano is printed next to the symbol in orange. It is not unusual to see quake activity next to a volcano. Inside the triangles fires may be observed, which are lava flows.

Scale of volcanic acitivities:
Volcano Alert Level 1 Vulcano ist restless; Eruption is possible.
(Volcano Alert Level 1)

Volcano Alert Level 2-4 Volcano is erupting or eruptions are eminent.
(Volcano Alert Level 2-4)

Volcano Alert Level 5 Significant eruptions are underway, or explosive eruptions are expected at any time. (Volcano Alert Level 5).

Data from:
Update interval: twice daily.


Home Energy Meters

As a method to save on home electricity bills, as well as reducing your carbon footprint (thus helping to save the planet) I have discovered "home energy meters".

Home energy meters measure the electricity consumption at the main electricity meter and transmit the result to a wireless unit, which can be in your kitchen, living- or bedroom.

Thus, if your kids forgot to turn of the TV and Wii in your basement, you know about it and can tell them to turn it off, without first trudging into the basement yourself.

You also know at any time how high your electric bill will be and get warnings when the energy usage is especially high.

I have ordered the Efergy energy meter and I expect it to arrive in the next week here in Germany. I got my unit from here: home-energy-meters


Piri Reis inspired satellite view of Earth

Here is a bonus for Piri Reis map and "10.000 BC" fans: the Piri Reis map.

My server is presently generating the first issues of this Earth view in azimuthal projection.



Piri Reis Map

Not much has been happening the last few months. The server has been running smoothly.
Recently watched "10.000 B.C.".

This gave me the idea of composing a modern analogue of that old map. Presently I'm a bit stumped, on how to realize the necessary spherical distortion.


Extended Server Outage

I apologize to all for the complete disappearance of the website for over 24 hours. It was caused by my managed server being "managed" by a third party, to include an important "security" update. Apparently the managers forgot to restore the backup, or they forgot to plug the server back in.

Whatever the cause, the website is almost back to normal, except that the domain opefs.com does not yet connect, which is just a small challenge. Most business is transacted via ehabich.info.

Increased lossless resolution
The image for the Natural Earth Map is now a PNG graphics file.
Some old distributions of Internet Explorer may not be able to display PNG files, in which case an upgrade to a later distro of IE can help.

Vista Compatability
All screensavers are compatible with Vista. Please look on the screensaver download page.