Tag Archives: technology

The Power of the Dark Roast

I got up this cold, cold morning and found that while we still had water flowing, the internet was not. So I went over to my workshop intending to take a hair dryer to the router, melt the blockage, and get the electron flow moving again. But it turned out that there was nothing wrong with modem or router: our LAN is working perfectly, it’s just that my laptop does not feel like being conversational this morning.

So I settled into my chair, set my mug of hot, black coffee in its place next to the laptop and began working on a local writing task.  The scent of this invigorating elixir was, apparently, enough to change the laptop’s mind, for after a few moments of typing, it went “bing!” alerting me that new e-mail had arrived.

Coffee is great stuff, isn’t it?

flying motor vehicles

The Future of Motor Vehicles and Travel

self driving cars transportationThis, supposedly humorous, picture has been making the rounds on Facebook. I imagine we’ve all spaced out behind the wheel of our motor vehicles once or twice. What is frightening is that this post has collected dozens of comments from people who say they’ve done it. Many say it’s happened several times. Some say it happens to them frequently. That is worrisome, and the biggest reason I can think of to push for the development of self-driving cars.

My Twin-Brother-By-Another-Mother and I have discussed this a few times, and the following is a melding of our ideas.

Self driving motor vehicles will be a novelty that catches on slowly. People described above will be the primary customers: people who, for whatever reason, cannot manage to pay attention to their driving will see self driving cars as a great convenience. As the vehicles on the road become primarily self-driving, society will be ready for the next step. Continue reading The Future of Motor Vehicles and Travel

Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a boom in mobile device usage. The smart phone in particular is rapidly becoming the device of choice for internet browsers. This fact is of vital importance if you run a website or a blog: which is a specialized type of web site. Here’s why your site needs to be mobile friendly.

Mobile devices display a web page differently than a desk top or laptop browser does. In most cases it just isn’t practical to scale a web side down so it fits on a smart phone screen: everything would be so small the user could barely see it much less be able to tap on links accurately, especially in a list of links. Scrolling side-to-site and up-and-down to view the page content as through a keyhole is maddeningly frustrating. So mobile devices simplify your pages and present a lay-out optimized for the devices screen size.

The bad news is traditional web site coding does not have the capability to allow mobile devices to rearrange your page to suit the viewing device. The good news is, you may not have to build a new web site. Before we get into how, let’s talk about why you should. Continue reading Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

Grim Reaper Comes for Pop-ups

“Marketers will kill everything good.” – @GaryVee

grim reaper pop-upPop-up ads (in case you live in a cave somewhere) are those panels that “pop up” over the content you are trying to read on many web sites. Sometimes they tout products or services for sale, but more often they ask you to join a mailing list. They are the most annoying form of advertising I have encountered. And … they are very effective. Continue reading Grim Reaper Comes for Pop-ups

Little Lights in the Dark

little lights in the darkDo you think this thing has enough lights?  While almost unnoticable in the day, it really stands out in the dark.

That’s our network expander.  Its purpose is to bridge the gap between our network router (which is over in my workshop because that’s where the internet connection is) and the computers we use in our home.  It’s a device about the size of a deck of cards and plugs into a wall outlet for power.

Each light means something.  But remembering what means digging out the manual and reviewing the chart.  I remember that the left side reports on connection with the router over in the work shop and the right side reports on the connection with the computers connected via WiFi.  There is an Ethernet port too, that’s connected to our phone system via a cable.  Green lights are good, so all was well when I took this.  Each light can also turn yellow or red to indicate less than optimal (or horrible) connection status.  We’ve seen each of those at times.

Cochise likes to sleep in the den.  I think it’s because these lights remind him of a Christmas tree.  Especially when things aren’t connecting so well.

Internet Privacy and the Microsoft Invasion

Internet_Privacy-512x384A while back my computer, running Microsoft Windows 8.1, started popping up a small window inviting me to upgrade for free to Windows 10. That’s very nice of them. To my knowledge, Microsoft has never before given away a new operating system to the general public. Upgrading is usually quite expensive. I didn’t know much about Windows 10 – it had not yet been released, the invitation was to reserve my copy when it was available. I poked around in my favorite software review sites to see if any pre-release notes had been posted. They had. They were not good. There were major concerns about internet privacy. Continue reading Internet Privacy and the Microsoft Invasion

Machine Memory

We all know how memories are stored in the human brain, right? Well … no, actually we don’t, but we DO know how information is stored in machine or computer memory … right?

Computer_Memory CardWell if RAM, DRAM, SRAM, SSD, and HDD (the language of computer memory) are just so many meaningless acronyms, here is a quick, low-tech lesson on how computer memory works. But first, lets look at some really old computer memory tech. Continue reading Machine Memory

Power Outages Are Just Part of Rural Life

Power outages
Photo credit: Granby Police Department Blog

Power outages are nothing new to rural residents. But new technologies have helped reduce the number of outages and reduce the length of those that can not be prevented.

Is There a Good Time for Power Outages?

You would think the least problematic time for a power outage would be in the middle of the night; no lights are on, no one is watching TV or listening to a radio or using a computer – everyone is sleeping. In fact you’d think that a power outage at night would go completely unnoticed. Not so. The small soft noises that a home makes get so ingrained in our subconscious that when they suddenly go away, it tends to wake us up.

Power outages in the evenings are inconvenient; this is when we are likely using computers, listening to the radio, lights are on and needed. Maybe we’re fixing the evening meal in our all-electric kitchen. This turned into a good thing once. Continue reading Power Outages Are Just Part of Rural Life

The Self-Balancing Unicycle

Are you hankering for a compact, ecologically smart form of transportation that requires less work and hassle than a bicycle? Do you want something that can be maneuvered easily and parked anywhere – even in your living room, or entry hall? Remember George Jetson’s sky car that folded up into a briefcase? This self-balancing unicycle is almost as good.

Focus Designs, maker of the Segway, has come up with an electrically powered vehicle that fills all these requirements and is only half as dorky as a Segway.

Self-Balancing Unicycle
Self Balancing Unicycle (SBU)This self balancing unicycle (both it’s name and what it does – very practical!) uses three gyroscopes to maintain an upright condition and a battery powered accelerometer motor tucked away in the hub of the wheel to produce a light weight, highly maneuverable and totally non-polluting personal transportation device.

Putting the motor in the hub means no troublesome drive chains and a lowered center of gravity over the Version 1 model, and the power as been increased from 350 watts to 1,000 watts so it has the power to easily climb hills.

Sophisticated algorithms and three gyroscopes wired to the wheel help the rider stay upright. To go faster, lean forward a little, to slow down or stop, lean back; it’s just that simple. It usually takes only about 20 minutes for a new rider to learn to control the SBU. Continue reading The Self-Balancing Unicycle

Battling Cable Clutter with a USB Hub

I recently acquired a small desk in our spare room on which to write. I had been using the dining room table after I abandoned the office in my workshop – for a number of reasons. My primary tool is, of course, my computer. I use a laptop. To this I connect a mouse, a printer, and an external hard drive. These are permanent residents. I also have another external hard drive, several flash drives, and a camera that are connected as needed. All of these use USB cables to connect. My laptop has 3 USB ports.

Without a USB HubTwo of these are on the right hand side, about midway back, the third is on the left near the back corner where the power connector is.

Not only do I not have enough ports for everything, but the two on the right side seriously mess up the area I use to run my mouse. I tend to lay my arm across those two cables, pulling them down and causing the connection to flicker. I was afraid if that continued I might crack the mother board. There has to be a better way. Continue reading Battling Cable Clutter with a USB Hub