Re: Time flies like an arrow
Time flies like an arrow, fruitflies like a banana.
122 posts • joined 1 May 2007
Time flies like an arrow, fruitflies like a banana.
(Originally said of Margaret Thatcher)
A friend of mine, who ran a photography business, came across this problem a few years back.The places he went to get his images printed out refused to touch image files which were not prepared with Photoshop. They cited various technical problems, but the real reason is that they get special deals on their own software in return for making life difficult for customers who use anything else. Of course, it's virtually impossible to prove any of this...
Back in the '70s, a colleague of mine needed some special custom-made bolts and sent the drawings to the workshop dimensioned in mm. The workshop read the dimensions as being in inches. The resultant bolts made great paperweights!
Another thing to think about is what happens if, for any reason, your monthly payment is delayed or missed. The standard policy over here in Australia is that access to the the product or service is immediately suspended, before any attempt is made to find out whose fault it is.
I just had this exact problem yesterday with the company providing my telephone and internet service. A "technology update" at the bank meant that my monthly payment didn't go through on time. The internet company flagged the issue at 7AM. At 7.30 they turned off my phone and internet. They then (as I found later) sent me an email asking me to phone or email them (anyone see the problem there?). By mid-day I was back on line, after spending the best part of a hour trying to contact them on my mobile, with the bank and the internet company blaming each other for the problem. The internet company was adamant that their action in cutting me off was "automatic" and entirely proper.
Imagine that sort of thing happening with your door locks. Either you're locked out of your house (or locked in it), or the doors are opened wide for everyone, whilst you argue with the bank and lock supplier about whose mistake it was.
Hi Dave 126 and 1980s_coder
Thanks for your comments. When I first posted it was quite urgent, because we were just setting off to visit the surgeon to see about getting a glass eye fitted (actually they're usually plastic nowadays). Well, we've just got back. As it turned out, the surgeon decided on a conservative approach. He's going to fit a prosthetic front to the existing eyeball, a bit like a big contact lens. That's good, because it doesn't burn any bridges - the existing eyeball (what's left of it) is left undisturbed, hopefully awaiting some new magical electronic prosthesis in the future. She just needs a minor operation to repair the eyelid, to make sure the prosthesis doesn't fall out. She runs a restaurant, so it can be a bit disconcerting if that sort of thing happens in front of a customer (especially if it lands in their meal)!
Can I just add a comment about ladder safety? Falling 10 feet head-first onto concrete (which is what she did) is a life-changing experience. You can lose a lot more than just one eye!
From what I can see, this device needs a partially functional retina in order to work. I have a special interest in anything like this after my wife recently lost a eye in an accident. Unfortunately, in her case, it looks like the retina is dead, so this gadget is probably not much use to us. At least her other eye still works fine.
Icon chosen because he seems to be wearing safety glasses (you take these things more seriously after something like that)
There is a story that, during the American war of independence, a British sniper targeted George Washington, but refused to pull the trigger on the grounds that Washington was facing away from him. In those days the British considered it "unsporting" to shoot an officer in the back.
Do they still broadcast time signals on the digital channels? Given the significant and variable time lag inherent in digital broadcasting and decoding, I wonder how they would do that.
January 1970 appears to be the commutator of a DC motor/generator device. The wear marks on the commutator segments match with the brushgear on the right. The top looks like part of the armature. I'm not sure about the structure on the left. It seems to have some electrical connections, but can't be another brush, because it extends beyond the commutator and its position doesn't correspond with the wear marks. Possibly some sort of cleaning blade??
They also need to train up some quantum mechanics. The quantum engineers won't want to get their hands greasy servicing all those quanta.
I came across this a few years ago when my father had macular degeneration (abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eyes). Some doctors were experimenting with an off-label treatment using a drug intended for bowel cancer, injecting it into the eyeballs (yuck!). Here in Australia, the restrictions on off-label prescribing are not too onorous - the patient just has to sign a set of terrifying disclaimers. Since the alternative was blindness, he had no hesitation in signing.
The treatment proved to be extremely successful, even restoring earlier damage. The drug company responded by re-labelling and re-packaging the drug, and charging ten times the price! (Fortunately, my father gets his treatment heavily subsidised)
I understand that patients in the UK at that time were less fortunate. The cumbersome off-label regulations prevented many patients for getting the drug, or made it prohibitively expensive. I heard of an elderly couple having to decide which of them was going to go blind, because they couldn't afford enough of the drug for both of them.
I think those "Wirewrap" areas are actually heatsinks. That mass of via holes was to get good thermal coupling to the bottom layer which, presumably, had a large copper sheet, or mechanical coupling to an external heatsink.
If you're lucky(?) enough to have an Australian passport then it's much easier to work in USA. Due to a deal between John Howard and George Bush (something about Australian help during the Gulf War), Australians are treated much like Canadians. I haven't tried it myself, but I looked into it a few years back when I had an extended period out of work. Apparently a visa is virtually guaranteed once you've got a job offer. There's a small complication in that the visa can only be issued to an address abroad, which would probably involve a quick hop over to Canada to collect it before starting work.
Julia Gillard tried to sabotage this deal by introducing complex double taxation rules (you have to pay income tax in both countries for your first year), but I'm told that a good accountant can generally sort that out.
Having recently returned from a long trip to the USA, I must say I'm strongly tempted. If I was a bit younger and didn't have family over here... Also, my wife has recently had some health problems following a bad accident, so that might be a show-stopper.
Hmm. Could be awkward with the insurance claim. Will we lose our no-claim bonus?
Sorry, you're right. I was getting my astronauts muddled up.
There was the Apollo 1 fire during a launch rehearsal in 1967, in which Grissom, Young and Chaffee died.
I can do better than that. Many years ago I came across a valve car radio where the HT was generated by a switch-mode PSU powered by a vibrator (No, not that sort of vibrator! It was a sort of resonant relay device - a bit like an old-fashoned doorbell)
I just checked a few minutes ago and got a 404 error for that page. Either they've withdrawn it, or their server has crashed from the deluge of customers trying to order one.
I remember browsing a HiFi magazine a while ago in a dentist's waiting room, and coming across a review of power cords. Having exhausted everything else to write about, they were testing which brand of mains cable gave the best sound quality! Never mind about the tangle of cabling that runs from the socket through the wall cavity to the fusebox, or the ancient infrastructure from there to the substation. This article contended that a careful choice of the 2-3 metres of wire from the socket to the amplifier would make an audible difference, if you spent enough money.
I was wondering whether to write to them to suggest they should complete the picture by reviewing the various power companies to see which brand of electricity gave the best sound. Nowadays, we have the option to buy "green" electricity. Surely that must sound different.
I'm reminded of the university professor who remarked "When I need to find a good atheist to take part in a debate, I always go to the Philosophy department. It's useless trying to find one in the Physics department"
I'm reminded of a short story by C.S.Lewis I read many years ago, "Ministering Angels". Very different from his normal, somewhat pious, material, it describes an all-male expedition to explore Mars. After they've been out for a couple of years, a committee back home becomes concerned about what they regard as their "unhealthy" all-male environment. Without consulting the expedition members, they decide to send out a space ship full of female volunteers to "cheer them up". The consequences are predictably disastrous and very funny.
The committee failed to consider two important things: the sort of men who would go on such an expedition, and the sort of women who would volunteer to fly out to "comfort" them.
The men, obviously, have all decided they can manage without female company, or think they can. For example, there is the biologist who is training to be a monk. He's testing whether he can tolerate a life of solitude and celibacy before making his final vows. There is a gay couple of scientists who only have eyes for each other. The expedition commander just wants to get away from his wife for a while. He's been promised a bonus and early retirement when he gets home.
As for the women. In the end there were only two volunteers. A rather ugly sociology professor who wants to make her name with a long-term study of human sexuality, and a very fat retired prostitute who wants to supplement her pension.
By the end of the story, several of the man have stolen the space ship and are flying straight home. The story finishes with the "monk" locked in his room, besieged by the retired prostitute who wants to "make a confession", praying for divine intervention.
Dunno where to find the nearest Space Inn, but there's a Space Bar right in front of me.
Back in the 90's (long before 9/11), a colleague of mine had to go to USA for a training course. At New York airport he found himself waiting in the immigration queue behind an Arab princess, and the immigration officer definitely DID NOT LIKE Arabs, princesses or otherwise. From his vantage point at the head of the queue, my colleague heard the following conversation:
Officer: What's your name?
Princess: Princess XXX of Saudi Arabia
Officer: What's your job?
Princess: Er..., I'm a princess.
Officer: No. What work do you do? What is your job?
Princess: Err... Well, as I said, I'm a princess. I don't actually have a job as such.
Officer: OK. So you're telling me you're unemployed. Well, then, what's your husband's job.
Princess: He's Prince XXX of Saudi Arabia.
Officer: I'm not interested in his title. What's his job? What work does he do?
Princess: Well.. he's a prince. He doesn't actually need to work.
Officer: So. You're telling me you're unemployed, your husband is unemployed and you want to enter America?
At thi point, my colleague decided to move to another queue, so he never heard how that conversation ended.
It depends. The switch-mode power supply in these chargers runs at around 350v DC - the result of directly rectifying the mains, before feeding it into an isolated DC-DC converter. If the fault caused this DC voltage to appear on the output then the RCD may fail to respond. This is because some types of RCD don't always work when the fault current has a large DC component. They use a current transformer to measure the current difference between Live and Neutral, and a large DC component would make the transformer core saturate and reduce its sensitivity. The better RCDs do it electronically, which is more expensive.
A good landing is one you can walk away from. A great landing is when they can still use the aeroplane afterwards.
There are two kinds of pilots: those who have landed with the wheels up, and those who are going to land with the wheels up.
May I suggest that anyone who has never landed a real aeroplane should think carefully before commenting. Landing an aeroplane may look easy, but it's a very difficult thing to do, requiring a lot of skill and intense concentration. You are trying to keep a fast-moving, rapidly descending machine on a very precise path through the air, whilst being driven in all directions by wind, thermals, downdrafts, wind-shear and all sorts of other factors. In addition to steering the thing, there are other vital tasks which have to be performed during this very busy period. Swerving out of the way of the laser is simply not possible - you have to hold to your glide slope precisely. As well as mucking up your landing, you may well collide with another aircraft on a parallel runway. Wearing coloured glasses is not practical - you have to be able to see coloured lights, both within the aircraft and outside. For example, in the event of radio failure (not that uncommon - it's happened to me), the tower will use coloured lights to communicate to the pilot. Any idiot who tries to blind the pilot in this way is attempting murder, whether he accepts this or not. I'm all in favour of heavy penalties.
I recently had to sort out a phone for my father, so I can confirm that there's almost nothing readily available that's suitable. He's no fool, he was working with computers in the 1950's (when you had to wait for the valves to warm up), and he had a minor role in the wartime Enigma decryption work. But time has taken its toll. His eyes are bad, his hearing is terrible and his hands are unsteady. The shop sold him a Samsung Android device which was completely useless. He couldn't read the display, which kept changing depending on what it was last used for, so the act of finding a dialpad require searching through several screens and pressing several icons - virtually impossible with bad fingers and poor eyesight. He needed to put it on speaker mode to hear anything and, again, the required icon was difficult to find and kept changing its position. In the end I found a shop which was clearing out some old Nokia dumbphones. They had big physical keypads, whose functions didn't keep re-configuring themselves, long battery life and a loudspeaker mode that was loud and easy to find. He's managing with that for now, but I don't know what I'll do when it wears out, or when the network can no longer support it.
There was a recent test case on this here in Melbourne. Someone was giving carriage rides to tourists and was using his phone to book his next customer. He was caught for texting whilst driving the carriage. He was let off after his lawyer successfully argued that it was the horse that was driving the carriage. Perhaps next time they'll insist on breathalyzing the horse, or insisting on it passing a driving test. (I wonder how you'd breathalyze a horse)
Did it compute the existence of rice pudding and income tax before its data banks were connected?
Nothing to do with the Apple/Samsung lawsuit, but this morning I stumbled upon another equally stupid patent: http://www.cooperindustries.com/content/dam/public/bussmann/Electronics/Resources/product-notices/bus-elx-powerstor-active-balance-royalty-note.pdf
Apparently, someone has patented the idea of using an op amp and divider chain to split a power rail. They're patenting the idea of putting big capacitors on the output. But it's OK, you don't have to pay royalties if you only use their brand of capacitors.
>>I once had a conversation with a professor of astrophysics in which he said* that the study of physics was the best occupation because it disclosed the work of God.<<
I've always thought Engineering was best, because we're continuing the work of creation.
As I understand it (the maths is a bit beyond me, so I may not be quite right), the "inflationary" phase in the expansion of the early universe requires a brief period of NEGATIVE gravity, hence the rapid expansion. Since General Relativity says that acceleration and gravity are more or less the same thing, this means that the effect on time dilation works the other way round i.e. time slows down instead of speeding up. Also, I think the physicist was speculating on how it would appear if the Observer (capital letter intended) was outside of ALL universes, instead of just living in another "nearby" one.
I suppose the only way you can get your head around that is by visualising the entire multiverse as a giant computer simulation. Perhaps we really are trapped inside The Matrix!
By the way, since we have a "devil" icon, could someone come up with a suitable "opposite" one (an angel, perhaps) to cover this type of posting.
Err ..Not so fast. A while ago I came across an interesting argument by a maverick Israeli physicist (I forget his name). I didn't understand all the details but essentially he calculated the spacetime dilation resulting from the extreme acceleration that the early universe encountered during this rapid inflation phase. It is well known that extreme acceleration does funny things to time and his estimate was that time would be "stretched" by a factor of approximately 10^12.
The age of the universe is generally set at somewhere around 13 to 16 billion years, depending on who you ask.This "stretching" means that the true age of of the universe, as seen by an "outsider" (Whoever that may be), must be divided by this "stretching" factor. What do you get when you divide 16 billion years by 10^12? Well, near as dammit, it's 6 days.
Religion: Eleventy Billion! Science: Also Eleventy Billion! (because they seem to agree!)
Of course, if the actual age of the universe was only 13 billion years then I suppose that means God got to knock off early on the last day.
Has anyone else noticed that the original Star Wars movie was mostly a sci-fi remake of The Dambusters. Consider the opening credits - flying through the sky to the sound of a stirring orchestral march. OK, they updated it a bit by using stars instead of clouds and it was a different orchestra, but otherwise it was essentially the same. Then there is the main theme of the movie. A heroic bombing raid to destroy a vital enemy asset by trying to drop a new weapon onto an impossibly small target whilst under heavy fire. Have a look at the two movies and decide for yourself. I wonder if they had to pay royalties to 617 squadron?
Many years ago (back in the early '90s) I was involved in a joint industry/academic study on developing mobile phone technologies, sponsored by the UK government. There were several teams, each working on different problems and each based at a university. My team was at Southampton, (my "alma mater"), studying call handover requirements for very small cell sizes. We all went up to London once a year for a joint conference to see what the other teams were up to.
One of the teams was studying the effects of mobile phone radiation on the human head. To do this, they constructed a (rather ghoulish) model of a head, using materials with similar dimensions and dielectric properties to real brain, bone and muscle tissue.
The results they reported at the first joint conference were interesting. In the 900MHz band there was little absorption of energy. However, at 1800MHz, their model formed a resonant cavity. Effectively, a standing wave was formed betwen the ears, with current peaks around the ears and a voltage peak around the centre of the skull. They stressed that their results were very "preliminary" and needed further work.
At the next conference, a year later, we eagerly awaited the results of their further research. That team didn't turn up - their funding had been terminated. Now, I'm not saying that they found something nasty which was being deliberately hidden. It may be they had made serious mistakes and were closed down because they weren't up to the job, or any of several other innocent causes, but it's left me worried ever since.
I can't agree with the A/C on the reliability of hydraulic power steering. I have had a failure on a hydraulic power steering system. It was a Citroen, one of the ones with the high-pressure hydraulics. A seal blew out, which caused the power assist to fail in one direction, so it had the effect of pulling the car to one side. It happened in a snowstorm, so it was quite frightening at the time.
I'm currently driving a Prius, but it's a Mk2, so it's not affected by the latest recall. It's got 150000 miles on the clock, it's going fine, and it's the only car I've had which has never broken down on me. (And that includes a brand-new Mercedes which stopped dead on the M25 after spitting out a fuel injector)
As a completely irrevelent side issue, yesterday I took the Prius to a local independent dealer to have brake fluid changed (a tricky job which I didn't want to do myself). He refused on the grounds that he "didn't have a licence to work on electric cars". What the ***!
My father worked on the Polish coding machine. As a young apprentice draughtsman, he was given the job of preparing engineering drawings based on one of the first machines smuggled out of Poland. The work was done in top secret with an armed guard permanently at the door. He had to hand all materials and documents to the guard when he left the room and he was told he would be put up against a wall and shot if he ever mentioned what he saw in that room. Even in the 1990's he was nervous about telling me about it. He described it as looking like a small typewriter with some numbered wheels on it.
Because of this job, and what he had seen in that room, he was forbidden from doing active service in the forces overseas afterwards, due to the risk of capture (although he did his share of air raid duty in London)
All Australians know the story of Ned Kelly and his gang. After murdering a policeman, they holed up in his mother's house, where they took several days making their iconic suits of armour out of old boiler panels, while the police waited for them outside. When they emerged with guns blazing, the police waited till they could get a clear view and then shot them all in the feet, before dragging them off to the gallows.
Such is life! (Supposedly Ned Kelly's last words)
PS. How about adding a Ned Kelly icon
If it's white, slightly radioactive and the cloth has to be cut with an oxy-acetylene torch then Alec Guinness has beaten them to it. See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044876/
Seem to remember it had the slight disadvantage that it "destabilised" after a few weeks.
(Careful, the coat's radioactive)
<<'Cause we all call Wagga Wagga Wagga, but we don't call Woy Woy Woy!>>
Actually it's pronounced "Wogga Wogga"
There's plenty of Australian place names worse than that. Just a few miles from me there's Koo Wee Rup and Nar Nar Goon. On the way to work I drive past Ernst Wanke Road. I've visited Suggan Buggan and Numbugga, but I haven't yet been to Wagga Wagga or Humpty Doo. They're all genuine places, I assure you. Look them up if you don't believe me.
It's obvious something has happened to Pamela which has scared the living daylights out of her, and that she can't talk about. Maybe she's forbidden to say, or maybe she doesn't dare, so she's just dropping hints about burglaries and intercepted emails.
Through Groklaw, she's made a lot of enemies, powerful and ruthless people who have lost a lot of money, because she helped to expose what they were up to. People who can pull strings in high places.
Everyone is susceptible to blackmail. Maybe someone's dug up something from her past. Maybe one of her family members is being threatened. Whatever it is, it's big enough to silence her.
With Groklaw out of the way, expect a massive onslaught of attacks against open-source software, and any other form of free expression, at any moment, and with no-one to tell the other side of the story. Truly, we are living in troubled times!
Actually, Fahrenheit is a pretty good scale for everyday use. Zero is the point where the sea freezes (i.e. it's too cold to go out), and 100 is when you're a bit ill* (i.e. you'd better stay at home) . So, between 0 and 100 you can venture out, outside of that range it's best to stay at home.
* To be exact, 100F is the body temperature of Mr Fahrenheit's daughter, who happened to have a slight fever when he used her to calibrate his thermometer.
There's no such thing as a DEGREE Kelvin!. It's an absolute scale, so it's just a KELVIN.
In a sense, the Comet crashes were the result of penny-pinching. The engineers had come up with an elaborate (and expensive) technique for fixing the panels together which involved chemical bonding, drilling and riveting. The bean-counters then stepped in and decided to cut costs. After all, we're joining two bits of metal together. What's complicated about that? What could possibly go wrong? Their solution was to omit the chemical bonding and then bang in a load of self-piercing rivets (basically nailing it together). Sure they left a few cracks around the sides of the rivets, but think of all the money saved! Of course, when it all came apart at 35000 feet, the engineers got blamed for not anticipating this, and not building in enough margin of strength to allow for it.
Any engineer who's been around for a while designing things will know how infuriating it is when the bean-counters decide to alter your perfect design in the interests of cost-saving, convinced they know better than you, and with no idea of the technical implications of the changes they're making. Usually the consequences are not quite as disastrous, but I've had cases where a design of mine was made positively dangerous because a bean-counter replaced a safety-critical part with something cheaper (and which the sales rep said was "just as good").
(I'm starting to get hot under the collar about this, so I think I'd better use the "Fire" icon)
>>I use LiPo batteries for model boats and aircraft. They are well understood to be dangerous<<
Well yes, Polonium (Po) is rather dodgy stuff.
"Those who make the law have no need to break it."
G K. Chesterton
(Quoted from one of his short stories - I forget which one)
In other words, if you've got the power then you can just change the rules whenever you need to.
There's a story in my family about one of my ancestors who was blown up by a V1 despite having died around 1850. Apparantly it landed in the graveyard and "relocated" his remains.
Some 13 years ago I applied for our family to emigrate to Australia (driven out of the UK by "Red Dawn" Primerola's IR35 pogrom). The doctor who did our immigration medicals had just returned to the UK from Australia, so I asked him why he had decided to come back. He was reluctant to say anything at first, but eventually blurted out his reason: "Australia is OK but it needs a good dose of Margaret Thatcher".
Having arrived in Australia, I found the solution to one mystery - what had happened to all the union bosses driven out by Thatcher? Answer, they'd all settled in Australia! For many years afterwards I kept hearing those familiar Northern England accents on the news, announcing the latest bout of industrial action.