Jun 8, 2011

May - 25 2011 | By

Please check back around the time of the broadcast (See Clock at left!!)

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Additional notes

Notifications of new show notes and edits are tweeted at: twitter.com/ddhart
They're tagged with #Zentech

Editor comments are delimited by < >


Today's show had a guest for the entire hour: Liam Ellerby

Paul mentioned DTMF, which is a method of generating the tones used by telephones when dialing a number. It stands for Dual-tone multi-frequency signaling.

Paul introduced Liam and implied his an association with Make Magazine. The magazine & the related Maker Fair (mentioned last week) are devoted to various do-it-yourself arts & crafts projects.

Liam talked about the recent Maker Fair and said that its producers are also involved with one of his favorite blogs: boingboing.net. He said the fair attendance was about 45,000.

Paul, who attended the fair, said there were many projects made out of precision-cut plywood, made possible by "almost affordable" laser cutters.
Liam said laser cutters are about $2100 and 3-D printers <mentioned in the last show> are $500 & up.

Paul said the Maker Fair also had 'funny bikes' made from reused materials.
Glenn jumped in to say he saw a bike at the fair with 6 or 7 wheels, none of which were of the same diameter.
Paul said one plywood bike had eccentric hubs and simulated a galloping horse, due to its uneven motion.

A local group devoted to the maker ethic is sierramakers.
Liam said they're working on a wiki to provide additional info.
An organization loosely associated with Makers is Sierra Commons, a local business incubator. See the above link.

The 2nd meeting of Sierra Makers is tonight at Liam's house; 7pm at 16064 Fay Road in Grass Valley, CA.
They'll be working on a mission statement, among other things. You can call for more info at 530-210-6040. There will be future meeting, if you can't make this one.

Paul went on to say that there was a popular exhibit at the Maker Fair involving used clothing & sewing. He also said there seemed to be cross pollination between the Maker Fair & Burning Man.

From the link above, a clip was played about creating a proper password.
Paul said Sony had account information of a huge number of clients stolen recently and that the passwords were in plain text <not encrypted>. So, even well chosen passwords were easily revealed.

Paul said that at one time, he tried to take audio of KVMR shows, record for their archives, and feed it to Dragon Naturally Speaking — a speech to text converter. He found it didn't work well at all.
Glenn then asked if there were similar programs for translating foreign speech, like Chinese, to other languages. Paul thought Chinese might be even easier than English because it's a tonal language and the syllables may be more easily recognized.
<Dragon Naturally Speaking was discussed in a previous show>

Paul said computers can be pretty good at recognizing tonal variations and compared that to music recognition software like Shazam for the iPhone.

Paul mentioned Sound Cloud where people can upload sounds such as music, and which shows the waveform of the sound on your screen. See the above link. Paul compared that to the voiceprints the police use to match suspects (obtained during interviews) to recordings such as phone calls for ransom demands.
<Another reason, I never thought of till now, for never talking to the police>

Liam was reminded of a Ruben's Tube. It's a tube of a few feet long with holes drilled in it at intervals and a flammable gas burning at the holes. When a sound is propagated thru the tube, the height of the flames indicates the wave in the tube.

Along a similar theme, Paul spoke highly of a German program called Melodyne, which decomposes music into its elements for editing.
Paul said it might only be for the Mac. <but you can get it for the PC too. Trial version here>

Liam said musical instruments were popular projects at the Maker Fair and mentioned one where a man in a Faraday suit, to protect himself, controlled the lightning bolts of a Tesla coil which he controlled by playing a guitar.

As mentioned on the last show, pictures from the Maker Fair were posted on the sierramakers facebook page.

Glenn said he got an email directing people the makezine.com. The second item on the page is for Make Live Episode 10 covering 5 Maker spaces around the country.

Paul mentione a Maker venue in Oakland called The Crucible.

Rick called from Marysville. His service provider is AT&T and they recently changed the way he can enter the website address he wants to navigate to. He wants to return to the familiar configuration. <It sounded like he no longer has an address bar. He wasn't at his machine to follow the suggestions interactively.>
– Glenn explained how to set up a home page. Enter the desired site as the address, then go to menu and click edit -> preference or possibly tools -> options and select an option that says something like "use current page as the home page".
– Try using Internet Explorer instead of the AT&T browser.
– Use a different browser like Firefox — it's free.
– Use the down arrow next to the address bar to show you the recent sites you've visited. It's a simple way of returning to them.
– Paul said people often take a picture of their screen while it's showing a error and send the picture to the guys. <the "prt scr" key might be useful in this case>. You may also turn your web camera around and point it at the screen.

Paul talked of refurbished iMacs of 2006 & 2007 vintage from geeks.com for about $400. See the above link. Be sure they're Intel Macs not G5 or G4 models. These older models don't cope with the latest version the Flash animator.
Other places to find used computers: buy.com, amazon.com & overstock.com (overstock has low or no shipping charges).

Paul mentioned that you can only legitimately get Windows XP on used or refurbished machines like the Dell Optiplex. Glenn said he just got a HP machine with 2gig RAM & DVD burner for $180 at geeks.com.
The guys concur that used/refurbished is usually the best way to go: the failure rates are not disproportionally high.

Liam suggested the best way to find solutions for computer errors is thru Google. Quote verbatim the error code into the Google search bar to quickly find solutions.

The guys gave some tips for searching on Google:
– To take advantage of Google's search suggestions, type the more common search words first & least common last.
– Try to limit yourself to 4 or 5 search words, and try to make them unusual words.
– Use search filters like allinurl: inurl: & site: <E.g. if you know the word is in a URL type inurl:theword and you'll find the URLs containing theword.> If there's more than one word in the URL, use the allinurl: filter.
– If you're trying to find something at a particular site, use site: <as in site:thesite.com [followed by the words to search for]>. You'll often get better results this way than by going to the website and using their own search facilities.

Mark called to take issue with the guys suggesting Mozilla's Firefox browser, he seems to like Chrome.

He also asked the guys if they've heard of Google's personalized search results. Google builds a profile of you and gives search results based on what it thinks you're after. Paul said Google already knows something about you based on the IP address you're using — it knows, in general, what part of the country you're in. If you're worried about it just delete your cookies.

In regard to that, Paul again mentioned persistent cookies, which were discussed a couple of shows back.

Then Mark asked about search engines other than Google, to avoid the biased results.
– You can use an anonymizer.
– Liam said, as you're search needs get more refined, you may find you're using Google less and you may start using directories, which are compiled by humans. Liam seems to like the directory dmoz.org
– Use Google to find other search engines. In the search bar type in your search subject followed by the words search engine.

Remember, there's a 5th Wednesday this month so there'll be an extra Zentech show.

Last updated: 9:12 PM 6-8-2011 

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