Thursday, February 26, 2009

Engineering Technology: The 3D printer revolution

Jay Leno (of Jay's Garage) hosts this video telling of THE solution to keeping ancient cars and steam engines running FOREVER. All those one-of parts that folks needed when something breaks can now be made (in the U.S.A. with U.S.A. having to send the gear or other complex part off to India to be copied!).

I'm impressed. Comments? (add yours below)

World gives adversity & lemons: make mermaids

One surely doesn't expect a story of asking and finding to be so positive in these days of financial ruin and the muck and mire of finances. But this story from New Zealand and the MAKE Magazine blog makes one's heart expand with hope and a smile grow and grow. Steve Unwin's amazing photo of the protagonist, Ms. Nadya Vessey, seems like something out of a fantasy story. And that is probably how she sees it. From a chance reply to a young child, the idea grew until an opportunity arose to make it a reality. She posed for the photo above, which appeared in the Dominion Post newspaper in the article by Matt Calman.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Childhood reading fun revisited

We were out and about on Valentine's Day, shopping and enjoying things from the past in area antique/junk/collectible stores. I seldom even glance at books in such stores, but, for some reason, my eyes were sliding along a shelf of fiction, when I settled on "The Moon Colony" by William Dixon Bell. My heart leapt as I recalled having read it in the winter of my third grade elementary school year. The copy I had then was left over from my mother's Depression-era library from her teen years. I also had one other science fiction book from that era, one on adventure with rural railroading, and one on becoming a tennis ace (all had teen protagonists). After I read the two science fiction books, I found H. G. Wells' "The Invisible Man" in one of those paperback Pocketbook mystery novels that had an eyeball peering through a keyhole. On the back of the book was a posited map of the locale where the adventure takes place, replete with marked points with importance in the story. My start with science fiction had happened.

Here is a brief synopsis of the story line of the first book mentioned above. You can see why I jumped into reading it with a story line as exciting as this one!
Julian Epworth the head of secret service for Atlantic Pacific Airlines and his co-pilot Billy pursue a huge sky pirate zeppelin about to steal 1 million dollars in gold. A fast paced ultra modern sci-fi adventure: planes being shot out of the sky, air pirates in liquid fueled planes, a mad scientists Herman Toplinsky scheming to colonize the moon is the leader of the sky jackers. Toplinsky has captured Julian, Billy and stowaway Joan, Julian's sister, they are all off to the Moon, only to be greeted by an army of mammoth cricket-shaped creatures in military formation, large as a man, with six legs and two sharp antennas, holding steel pointed lances. Riding on top of the cricket creatures are men-shaped humps, small bodies with legs and arms, and an enormous knotty projection for their heads, seeing through large wide eyes, and this is only the beginning. William Dixon Bell ( 1865-1951), juvenile fiction adventure author.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lost your digital camera?

This seemed a good thing to pass along:

If you did lose your camera, there may be someone out there trying to get your final photos on it back to you.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hundredth post: On Time

I'll guess this is a fitting topic for the hundredth post for this blog, started on 20080831.

Any measure of time is erroneous, I believe. Even if the scientific definition of time is satisfied, what of the OTHER viewpoints? A fellow blogger, Katry, says this. She has the viewpoint that time is flexible and depends on the viewer's age, as to how fast it passes.

I have to wonder if time passes at all. Yes, subjective time passes. We experience an aging that starts at birth and ends with death. But the moments before an impact, while the vehicle is sliding down the wet pavement, headed for an assignation with another vehicle, can stretch for what seem whole lifetimes. Adrenaline flows, shifting our minds and bodies into high gear. But all those words that we use don't seem to be talking about the same thing, do they?

Is time:
dragging or flying or exploding or ratcheting or smoothly flowing or flashing or stopped or fleeting or not?

The next time you think of it as concrete and discrete, think of this post and ask yourself whether or not you just might be mistaken or viewing it from the OTHER perspective in just that moment.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In the eyes of a five-year-old

I got to see again today just what it is in the eyes of a five-year-old girl that attracts adults normally prone to being serious to buy extremely silly cards and wonderfully silly gifts for the birthday girl. That look of joy when she sees something emerge from the wrap and box is just downright cute!

May we all grin like crazy at some point in the next 24 hours. Dance like no one's watching, etc.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mini-mini-micro-micro-pico-pico, er, little

For integrated circuits, things are getting down below MY level of comprehension as nano becomes more a daily conversation piece. This article for instance is discussing 13 nanometer circuit spacing and below.

Bravo! A NYTimes article

I don't often blog about newspaper articles. But this one just caught my attention right off, when I saw its subject: African Internet connection in remote, tiny villages that is supported by Google. Check it out.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Deluge of the eReader

I've found some really good things today...It could be the beginning of a digital deluge.

This'un here
is really about the best thing I've read on the subject. And that whole thing is just a paragraph and a link from here:
along with the second one's 65 comments and the first one's kazillion (found on the 7th screen as
Join the conversation. Discuss this story.
with a right-pointing arrow.

Now if both of those don't engage you, I dunno what would. Tell me what you think about either when you've waded through the stuff above in this post.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Write, then lose...or is it the other way?

Today, I happened on a blog post by a fellow who writes for a living. Nothing wrong with that business, but he has a good head of steam up about wanting to hang onto his material that he's written. I have had a similar set of haps and mishaps through the time since I began writing on a (now ancient) Heathkit H-89 computer, with its "ten-sector, 5 1/4" floppy diskette" to the period of filing documents written on 8 gigabyte thumb drives about the size of half a Wrigley's stick of Juicy Fruit gum. They all suffer from being easy to lose, easy to destroy, and hard to permanently identify with the contents stored on them. In addition, the technology moves so fast, one has to spend a significant chunk of time just moving what one has written from one level of technology to the next, before the older mode of storage just becomes so obsolete there don't easily exist means to read the writing.

Comments from those who have the same trail of tears?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Chinese keyboard factory: working rules

Sometimes WE think we have life hard. In this post of a report on working conditions in a Chinese factory that produces computer keyboards, we see almost every draconian regulation possible.

I'm not moving there to work.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Whole lotta laughin' goin' on: I love Jesus, but I drink a little

A Facebook friend cross-posted this Ellen Degeneres Show video. I have finally recovered from honest, belly-busting laughter at the discourse and wry humor found in it. I recommend that, if you have the bandwidth and the time, you watch it.

I commented that I thought this lady was the elder statesman for the Tuna crowd. Homespun Austin humor at the level that John Henry Faulk would have loved.


Flash Mob Austin: Keeping Austin Weird

This is a fun story, as is this one, and this one. There are videos for those with wide bandwidth connection and stories/stills for those without. Videos here, here, and here; stills here; and stories. Enjoy with a smile on your face!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Home Build of UHF TV Antenna

The author of this article asks a pertinent question, "Why would anyone even want to build their own TV antenna?" The answer is twofold:
1. lower VHF TV channels are moving up to UHF during the digital conversion
2. this antenna gets a better signal to the TV than most commercially available antennas.

It is built out of easily-available parts and doesn't look like it takes any machine shop to make it happen. Anyone getting the gumption to make it happen, please report back here via comment.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wonder where the yellow went?

If you have old plastic-cased computers/monitors/printers/cassette recorders/etc. that used to be white and now are some drenched yellow color, this detailed solution may be for you. If you are in the U.S., like I am, you will have to find the appropriate similar products. But the fellow gives enough details that it does not sound like it will be too difficult to do so.

If you find U.S. products, please comment, so any future readers will know what worked.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Annealing molybdenum: the making of vacuum tubes

Wow! What a treasure is this old promo film (parts one and two, be sure to watch the "high quality" version, unless you have dial-up connection), titled "Electrons on Parade" for the making of RCA vacuum tubes of the 1940's. These are octal-based tubes. The first ones pictured are the very rugged metal-cased tubes frequently used by the U.S. military services. There is a HUGE amount of hand-work involved in the process. I never realized they had so much automation, even back in these days.

I found reference to the film being dated 1942. Early television transmissions are shown. The police cars are about 1940, I believe. And the ham radio gear in part two is really old. Brief review on the Web shows the electron microscope was invented in 1938. Failure to mention the war effort also seems to date the film as probably being created just before the war started.

For those interested in vacuum tubes, this is one of the best views of early construction I've seen and the only movie of that effort. Comments welcomed.

Playing for Change

Every once in a while (and it happens more and more frequently as we get connected tighter as a world body), you just run across something that makes your heart open up and cry out for sharing with others. Some people like me turn to blogging, others take to the street or subway station with a guitar and a voice, yet others run for office with a platform based on their firmly held convictions.

Several decades ago, Arlo Guthrie had it right when he said,
You know, if one person, just one person does it they may
think he's really sick and they won't take him. ...
And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three
people walking in singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant
and walking out. They may think it's an organization.
And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said
fifty people a day walking in singin' a bar of Alice's
and walking out. And friends they may think
it's a movement.
Today, thanks to a kindly uncle, there was this movement that I was exposed to called "Playing for Change". Stand still, keep your heart in your chest as you see these videos that connect people in different parts of the world in a way that just wouldn't have happened not so very long ago. They come together for a cause, one that I hope you will share.

Playing for Change: Documentary Trailer
Extended trailer from award-winning documentary showcasing how the world is connected through music.
Connecting the World Through Music
The power of music to bring hope and inspiration is more than evident in this clip (cover of Tracy Chapman's song, "Talkin' 'Bout a Revolution") from the township outside of Cape Town where we just built our first connected music school.
Bringing Hope to South Africa
Enjoy this song from a local band from Guguletu, a township outside of Capetown, South Africa. This is the location of our first connected music school.

School Building Photo Movie
Photo Movie of "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music" trip to Guguletu, South Africa (Township of CapeTown) where the PFC Foundation is building a new music school this fall that will connect students from there to others at established music schools.
Song Around the World "Stand By Me"
From the award-winning documentary, "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music", comes the first of many "songs around the world" being released independently. Featured is a cover of the Ben E. King classic by musicians around the world adding their part to the song as it travelled the globe. This video and "Don't Worry" will be available at iTunes 1.27.09 while other songs such as "One Love" will be released as digital downloads soon; followed by the film soundtrack and DVD in stores on 4.21.09.

"Stand By Me" can be downloaded here.
Song Around the World "Don't Worry"
From the award-winning documentary, "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music", comes the follow up to the classic "Stand By Me" and the second of many "songs around the world" being released on CD/DVD in April, 2009. Featured is an incredible track written by Pierre Minetti performed by musicians around the world adding their part to the song as it traveled the globe. This video and "Stand By Me" will be available at iTunes 1.27.09 while other songs such as "One Love" will be released as digital downloads soon; followed by the film soundtrack and DVD in stores on 4.21.09.

"Don't Worry" can be downloaded here.
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