Jun 27, 2012

Jun - 20 2012 | By

Additional notes

Notifications of new show notes and edits are tweeted at: twitter.com/ddhart.
– They're tagged with #Zentech.
– When what's said is unclear to me (or I'm unfamiliar with a topic) I tend to quote (" ") verbatim.

Next show is expected to be on July 11

Paul brought up the question — does technology have style?
People have been modifying their computer cases to make them look more stylish or look newer than they really are. Known as modding, it was mentioned in last week's show <but not in then notes because they didn't really say much about it>.

Then there's the retroactive style called Steampunk.
– It's what Victorian era objects would look like if they had the things we have today. <I.e. a modern object made to look Victorian>
– It can also involve an anachronistic setting. Paul gave the fanciful example of photoshopping a picture of a nuclear power plant so it would look like it has polished brass and finely veneered oak.
– Often there's argument as to what is or isn't Steampunk and Paul played the audio from a humorous Youtube video describing what is not Steampunk. <I presume it's the link given above>

Glenn mentioned the recent Nevada City soapbox derby had an entry by The Curious Forge that, he thought, qualified as Steampunk.

<Here's a Steampunk project that brings old typewriter keytops to a computer keyboard:
http://steampunkworkshop.com/keyboard.shtml>

Paul: Steampunk is almost like the Society For Creative Anachronism — the past as it should have been

Glenn mentioned the Firefox browser has been updated recently. If you're using Thunderbird (email, RSS, newsgroup program), you may not get an automatic update notice — check for updates manually.

After version 3, Firefox has undergone updates at a fast pace — it's gone up to version 13 in about 18 months. He recommended uninstalling version 3 of either Firefox or Thunderbird, and installing the latest versions. When uninstalling Firefox, the data <passwords, history etc.> it uses is left intact and the newly installed version will be able to find that data. <Be aware when uninstalling, I think there's a box you have to check or uncheck to keep it from being deleted>

According to Paul, "If you follow the Mozilla project and get the program itself to perform the update, it can mess up the application sometimes. Firefox update doesn't do a clean job."

Recently Facebook changed their users' email addresses from what was entered in the profile to a Facebook domain <so it now ends in facebook.com, or something similar>. This was done without permission <and, as some have complained, without notification, so check your settings>. The email address can be changed back.

Paul had a problem with Paypal recently. He had trouble transferring funds because his credit card expired. The credit card normally doesn't have anything to do with the transfer — Paypal interacts with the bank account directly. <Paypal charges the credit card in when the bank doesn't have sufficient funds, so the card has to be current>. He tried tried to get help from Paypal and the ensuing online chat with a computer lead to the quote Paul posted near the top of this page.

Paul installed a whole-house fan recently. It has a 30" blade and required using a reciprocating saw to cut a hole in the ceiling.

Thomas called to ask how to uninstall Firefox on Windows XP.
– Before uninstalling, download the latest version of Firefox.
– Then click the Start button -> Control panel -> Add Or Remove Programs. Find Mozilla Firefox in the list and click uninstall.
– Then restart your computer.
– Finally, run the file you downloaded to install the new version.

<A large portion of the rest of the show was about fans and other ways to stay cool>

A caller recommended an alternative fan for Paul. He said…
Tamarak Technology Inc has a unit with 2 8" fans that fit between cieling joists
– It has 2 doors that you can close during Winter and it has a remote control.
– The HB1600 model will handle a 2000 square foot house.
– Their website has a calculator to find the Q factor <I think he said Q, maybe skew).

Another caller said he measured the temperature of his roof and it was about 135 degrees during the hottest months. He then bought a "mushroom fan" from Home Depot and it brought the temperature down to 113. Later, when the fan broke, he found that the temperature would still get to only 113. He speculated that just making holes to install the fan made the biggest difference. Now he only opens the ceiling vents when the outside temps are lower than inside — no fan required.

Paul mentioned thermometers are available that show the attic temperature by using a thermocouple at the end of a 10' wire that you can poke up into the attic.

Paul said many energy-monitoring devices have gotten to be cheap. He found an infrared sensor gun for about $25. You can point it at an object to find its temperature from a distance. You can point it at a wall, ceiling or a doorframe to see where heat may be leaking or the insulation is inadequate.

Listeners were invited to email their tech questions to zen at kvmr dot org

Charlie called. He used picnic table umbrellas above the south side windows of his house. He said they work better than awning.
Glenn saw a 6' umbrella, what he called a golf umbrella, for $4.99 and an 8' for $8.99

Paul found an Oregon Scientific weather station for $1 at a thrift store. It has the ability to record air pressure, humidity & temperature.
– He talked about misters and swamp coolers <evaporative coolers> and noted they are not very effective in areas of the country with higher humidity — East Coast & South. There's less evaporation in high humidity and evaporation is what allows heat to be carried away. Given that, he said misters are extremely effective around here.
– Glenn said hand-held spray bottles work well too. He's even seen some that have small plastic fans attached.
– Paul was surprised to see swamp coolers costing around $600

Another relatively inexpensive device is the Kill-A-Watt. It plugs into the electrical wall socket and measures the electrical energy used by an appliance that's plugged into it. Paul loves his unit.
– You only need to program with the cost of the electricity (cents per kilowatt-hour).
– You then allow it to monitor the usage over a period of time to average out the energy consumption of a device — especially important for something that cycles on & off like a refrigerator.
– It will then tell you the cost of using the appliance for a year.
– The Kill-A-Watt cost about $30 and have been seen on sale for $15.

Steve called to say he installed a whole-house fan and emphasized the need to open a door or window to avoid air being sucked in thru a chimney. He added that the life span of roof could depend on ventilation.

He also thanked the guys for steering him Radio Shack for an AM/FM amplifier antenna. That solved his problem with receiving the KVMR signal.
– Sacramento listeners are known to have reception problems.
– Paul said there are 2 factors for good radio or wi-fi reception — the strength of signal and interference (from cordless phones & other wi-fi devices, both of which tend to use the 2.4 gigaHertz band).
– For better reception, one of the first things to try is to move your device or antenna around to see if you can get a better signal. That entails moving apart those devices that use the same frequencies (cordless phone & wi-fi router).

Paul is a long-time aficionado of slope soaring & gliding (radio-controlled aircraft).
– The speed record for a slope-soaring glider, with a 7' wing span, is well over 400 mph.
– As wind comes in from the open ocean it accelerates up and then, due to the Venturi effect, as it crosses over the top if a ridge it accelerates down. The pilot takes advantage of both the acceleration of the wind and gravity on the down slope to achieve the record speeds.

Tony called asking about GPS tracking devices. He'd like to track the device in real time, not just have a record of locations that he would retrieve later.
– The iPhone has an app for that. But then you'd lose the possession of the phone.
– Most GPS units have flash memory for storing location data. <But he needs to track in real time>
– The unit he needs will have to have some sort of radio link (using the cellular network or satellite) to be able to send data back in real time.
– At garmin.com Glenn found a unit that keeps tabs on children & pets. Glenn thought that might work. Their GTU-10 has a web-based GPS tracking service. It's $199, which includes 1 year of tracking service.

Paul said the Kindle ebook reader uses the cellular network when you buy content, you don't have to pay for the connection. You pay $80 or $90 for the reader and when you buy a book, part of the price goes to offset the cost of the network connection.

Paul has seen video from a camera that was attached to a hawk that show the hawk in flight going thru narrow gaps in trees. He said he'll put the link to the video into the show notes.

Last updated: 9:12 PM 6/27/2012