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June 25, 2010

Electronics Class

When I was in High School, we were lucky enough to have the ability to take two years of Electronics as electives.  I think they have some sort of robotics program or something now, but back in the day it was pretty basic.  You learned the basic skills like soldering, etching circuit boards and learning how to use a multimeter and oscilloscope.  Often times we received donated equipment and components from local high-tech firms like Measurex, HP and Apple.  Beyond that, there were several life lessons that were not intended.


(Photo Courtesy of Ravi Gaddipati on Flickr)

I learned several key things from my classmates that still ring true today:

  • Shorting a line cord does not always blow the breaker.  Non-functioning breaker = BAD. 
  • If you fabricate an enclosure out of sheet metal and the circuit board runs on 110VAC, there is a reason to use nylon spacers between the base of the board and your case.  (Or you receive a quick lesson in impromtu arc welding)
  • It is not a good idea to discharge a 1/4 farad capacitor using human skin as a conductor.
  • Use as much safety equipment as you can, because often times the safety interlocks become broken or are disabled over the years.  (You know about this one Jerry)
  • As long as the paralysis doesn't last more than one period, everything is cool.
  • Sometimes teachers just don't want to remember how to pronounce your name, because it causes them endless amusement. 

June 16, 2010

Changing our weather one flight at a time

DiscoveryNews has an interesting article on the subject of commercial airliners minutely changing weather patterns.  In some cases snow and rain was caused by flying through clouds in certain types of conditions.  The hole punch clouds that can occur when this happens are even cited as "evidence" of UFO landings.

The part I thought was the most interesting was this excerpt:

"Still, Heymsfield and colleagues write in a new study in Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society that on average, 7.8 percent of Earth is covered in clouds ripe for "plane seeding." Heymsfield notes that precipitation from this effect isn't likely to alter global weather patterns, it may have a local effect."


(Photo Courtesy of The Shade on Flickr)



June 15, 2010

Filtering the Vuvuzela

For those of you that are stuck in a cave somewhere, you might not have been introduced to the maddening vuvuzela horn that is being used by rabid fans in the 2010 FIFA World Cup(This is soccer to all the Americans). German fan and engineer Tobias Herre came up with a solution to digitally filter out the vuvuzela sounds from his TV.  By filtering out the B flat note using a channel EQ to build a notch filter around 233Hz, 466Hz, 932Hz and 1864Hz in real time, he is able to hear the game without the maddening vuvuzela sounds.  You can search on Youtube for the sound of ten thousand vuvuzelas going at once, but some people describe it as a bee hive inside your head.


(Photo Courtesy of Coca Cola South Africa on Flickr)


June 08, 2010

Visualizing Crime

Doug McCune had a really interesting blog post two days ago in regards to visualizing San Francisco crime data.  He took the crime records from 2009 to generate several maps of the city in while he overlays the crime data as the elevation of the land, creating interesting landscapes based on criminal activities. 


To all of us who know the San Francisco neighborhood called the Tenderloin well, the characterization of the TL as "Mt. Loin" is quite appropriate!


June 07, 2010

So true...

I was reading this article today on why Twitter is doomed and all that, and ran across this comic embedded in it. 

This made me laugh, so I figured that I would share.



June 02, 2010

When graphic designers have a laugh

C'mon guys?  PMI is too professional to have a goatse reference on their cover. 


I didn't put a link on purpose... 

If you don't know what I am talking about, I would refrain from using Google on the subject.  You have been warned.