Have you ever thought about how strange the design of houses today is?
I mean, take the roof, for example. Why is it made up of a bunch of little breakable shingles that have to be individually nailed down, when it could be just made out of nice, big, easy panels? You could just have these big - maybe eight by eight foot - sections of generic roof material - some sort of plastic, perhaps - that just bolt or snap into place. Building a roof that way would take maybe just a few man-hours, not a few hundred. After all, who wants little sections of tar paper nailed on to some plywood on top of their house anyway? Its just so inconvenient.
Fixing a leak in a shingle roof takes forever because you have to tear up something that was nailed down with the intention that it wouldn't come up. Then sometimes you have to put down a new piece of plywood, and yours will definitely not be exactly the same size as the one that you took out, so you have to cut it to make it fit. After that you have to nail it down and replace shingles one by one. Not exactly a quick, easy task. If you were using a modular roof system, you could just pop off the right panel (and maybe the ones above it), and put in a new one. done.
And just why do we heat our water in the basement or garage or wherever? That requires two pipes to everything (Hot and Cold), insulation on the hot water pipe, a big heater thing, and lots of energy. If you heated the water right where you use it - say, the sink - then you would not lose energy the whole length of the pipe, you wouldn't need a big furnace, or tank, and you could run hot water without freezing the person in the shower.
Most of the ideas for houses are build today date back to the medieval ages. Drywall is just a replacement for stucco, two-by-fours are really just an improvement over roughly hew planks, and todays asphalt shingles are just an improvement upon wooden shingles. Pluming, electricity, and glass windows may be relatively new, but most of the technology of our houses is still far in the past.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Have you ever thought about how strange the design of houses today is?
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job
A very eye-opening look at how we make money. It really makes you take a step back and ask yourself why are you doing things the way you are.
For an example, reason number five (for not getting a job) is: 'Way to risky'. Reason? Someone else can turn off your income by saying two words: "Your fired".
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Certain people are angry that the US might protect its own borders, might make it harder to sneak into this country and, once here, to stay indefinitely. Let me see if I correctly understand the thinking behind these protests.
Let's say I break into your house. Let's say that when you discover me in your house, you insist that I leave. But I say, "I've made all the beds and washed the dishes and did the laundry and swept the floors; I've done all the things you don't like to do. I'm hard-working and honest (except for when I broke into your house).
According to the protesters, not only must you let me stay, you must add me to your family's insurance plan, educate my kids, and provide other benefits to me and to my family (my husband will do your yard work because he too is hard-working and honest, except for that breaking in part). If you try to call the police or force me out, I will call my friends who will picket your house carrying signs that proclaim my right to be there.
It's only fair, after all, because you have a nicer house than I do, and I'm just trying to better myself. I'm a hard-working and honest, person, except for well, you know.
And what a deal it is for me!! I live in your house, contributing only a fraction of the cost of my keep, and there is nothing you can do about it without being accused of selfishness, prejudice and being an anti-housebreaker. Oh yeah, I want you to learn my language so you can communicate with me.
Why can't people see how ridiculous this is?! Only in America....if you agree, pass it on (in English). Share it if you see the value of it as a good smile. If not blow it off along with your future Social Security funds, and a lot of other things.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
When the topic of electric vehicles (EVs) comes up, people always seem to think that they are a decade or so away from being good enough to be useful. They're thought of as interesting, as a good idea, but not something this is practical or that there is a market for right now. The reasons for that are something like this: 'They are too expensive', 'EVs don't have enough range, people need their cars to go farther than that.', 'They won't last long enough', or 'Electric cars aren't powerful enough'.
First of all, electric motors can be made more powerful than needed to move a car. Most diesel trains are actually electric trains with diesel generators. Most every engineer knows that you can get far more torque out of an electric motor than a engine of the same size.
Second, the longevity issue. Electric cars are more simple than their gasoline counterparts, due to the fact that they do not have any of the following: radiator, injection system, ignition system, gas tank, gas pump, timing system, belts, oil or cooling system, ETC. Because there are far fewer parts, lower pressures, and lower temperatures in an electric car, EVs tend to last longer. The batteries may need to be replaced every half decade or so, but thats how long some gas cars are kept anyway.
Third, the range and expense issue. The problems presented in these areas are quite correct, if the electric car is to be your primary or only vehicle. However, if it is a secondary car used for running errands, it would not need more the maybe a one-hundred-fifty mile range. By observation I would guess that, for most demographics, the great majority of the distance they travel comes from trips less than one-hundred-fifty miles long. If you had two cars; a regular fossil fuel one and an electric one, and the gasoline powered car were to be used only on the trips exceeding the electric car's capability, very little gasoline would be used.
Think about this example: A family has a SUV that works fine for everything they need, except for the fuel efficiency.
For the sake of simplicity lets say that the price of an electric minivan is the same as that of the normal minivan. Lets also assume that the price per mile driven in the cars is as follows: $.20 per mile for the SUV, $.12 per mile for the Minivan, and $.04 per mile for the electric car. Lets also say that 10% of the driving distance requires the SUV, 20% requires long range capabilities, and the remaining 70% can be done with the electric car. So, with these numbers let's calculate the cost per hundred thousand miles.
Option 1 (which is all that is currently available):
They buy a minivan seeking a more fuel efficient vehicle that can still fit all of them and their stuff. It works reasonably well; they only use the SUV for rough terrain and hauling large loads. The minivan in now used for almost all of the driving that takes place. Here, the SUV would only drive 10% and the minivan would drive the other 90%.
SUV: 10,000 miles times $.20 per mile equals $2,000.
Minivan: 90,000 miles times $.12 per mile equals $10,800.
They get an electric car with a range of only one hundred fifty miles. They use the SUV for the long trips, such as vacation, in addition to the hauling. The SUV is driven more than in option 1, but the increased use is offset by the fact that it is the sole consumer of gas. In this scenario the SUV would be going 30% of the total distance and the electric car would take the remaining 70%.
SUV: 30,000 miles times $.20 per mile equals $6,000.
Electric car: 70,000 miles times $.04 per mile equals $2,800.
Amount saved verses option 1: $2,000 per 100,000 miles. This figure does not reflect the reduced maintenance cost of operating an electric vehicle over one burning fossil fuel.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Many people - even a large percentage of windows users - agree that the Macintosh is a superior platform to the PC. So why aren't more people using macs?
Some of the major concerns of the windows community pertain to software support: What if I want to do X (EG. record video in windows media 9), but it can't be done on a mac from lack of software?
This is more of a problem to the advanced users, like those who would be willing to use Apple's solution to this problem, boot camp. Boot camp, simply put, allows windows to be installed on a Intel based Mac.
This leads into the next problem: Hardware. Apple has come part way by offering macs with Intel processors. But there is still a big gap between the hardware options of the PC and the Mac.
For instance, there really is no cheap mac. Sure, there is the Mac mini, but once you add a keyboard, mouse, monitor, and speakers you have an almost $800 computer. What apple needs is a computer for $499 or so that has everything you need.
Another hole left unfilled is expandability; to have any chance of getting more hardware into you computer (EG. Hard-drives, Optical drives, TV Tuners) you have to get the huge, expensive G5 tower. Few people have that kind of cash to spend on a computer. Even if they did have the cash, they might not want to spend it on a Mac OSx only computer.
What Apple needs here is a computer that people can afford, in the tower form-factor so you can put your new junk in it, and yet still an apple.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Friday, May 05, 2006
Monday, May 01, 2006
Green Car Congress: A Compact Brayton-Cycle Engine and Biomass Process for Mixed-Alcohol Fuels
No, I didn't understand the whole article either.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Friday, April 28, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
SketchUp - Download
Google has, as you may know, bought @Last software, which is the company that makes sketchup. There is now a free version of sketchup (the normal cost is $495) available for download from google. Some of the features of the paid version have been removed, though that should not be a problem for basic users.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Once, a few years back, I went in to a radio shack to look for floppies (CD-RW drives were much more expensive then). The location of the diskettes was not immediately apparent, so help was sought from the clerk. When asked about floppies, she replied: 'Do you want the round ones of the square ones?'
The ignorance of this radio shack employee still baffles me. I mean, how could you work for radio shack and not know?
To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
What is the difference between Mechanical Engineers and Civil Engineers? Mechanical Engineers build weapons and Civil Engineers build targets.
Normal people believe that if it isn't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it isn't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.
Friday, April 21, 2006
John Koza Has Built an Invention Machine - Popular Science
"Its creations earn patents, outperform humans, and will soon fly to space. All it needs now is a few worthy challenges."
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Monday, April 17, 2006
What OS do you use?
Oh. You're one of those people.
Why are people like you even allowed to use computers?
Have you been under a rock for the past 20 years? Is that a slide rule I see in your back pocket?
You use DOS? Why? What's your problem?
Ahhhhhhhh! Moron alert!
How dare you call that Linux.
Fedora core 5
What do you use, a main frame? Isn't that a worse memory hog than windows?
You actually paid money for that?
What did you do, lose your hard drive?
What the heck do you think you can do with a computer that old? It's what, 50 MHz?
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Friday, April 14, 2006
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
AnandTech: Gigabyte's I-RAM: Affordable Solid State Storage
The I-ram is a very interesting idea (to geeks), and that is: use ram as extremely fast storage.
A video of it in action can be seen at google video.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Monday, April 10, 2006
I love bolts. They make life so easy; if only everything was held together with them. A few days ago it was very windy and a fan on the porch broke, leaving a blade near parallel with the one next to it. The head had been hewn off one of the two bolts that holds it in place.
If it had, for instance, been glued on, the blade would have come off entirely, smashing through the glass table below. It might have required a whole new set of blades, which would have been expensive, a new table, and many hours of work. But instead, all I had to do was back out the bolt stub, take it to the garage, and get a matching machine screw (so that I could use a screwdriver), and put it in. Done in less than two minutes. I love bolts.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
What's the order of succession for the office of the president?
An interesting look at part of our political system... With a bit of humor mixed in.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Monday, March 27, 2006
Saturday, March 25, 2006
This is an interesting look at the controversy over tiered Internet. The idea of tiered Internet is the telco charging major websites a fee above what they already pay so that they get 'fast and reliable' service on the Internet backbone.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
For the past week or so My LCD had this strange problem: the video lines were shifted random amounts. Near the top of the monitor there was a place with so much shifting that it looked like the picture was bent. The middle of the monitor flickered clumsily if you displayed a dot pattern.
So today I decided to go trouble shooting. I took the monitor downstairs connected it to another computer. When I turned it on, there was no problem. I thought, Ahh-ha, its My graphics card, not My monitor. So I brought it back upstairs, and plugged it back in. The problem had gone away. Computerized things can be very odd at times.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
I was reading Google Blogoscoped and there was an article about Google Finance.
Google has done it again. They have taken something boring and hard to use (think MSN money) and made it simple, fast, and easy. Not necessarily that best looking, but still a clean interface.
Just to try it out, I punched in 'GM' to see what it would give me. When the page loaded, I saw far more information than I had expected. There was a graph showing their stock price and a letter corresponding to an event relating to the company. They had company facts, related companies, and company summary among the many sections. A feature I found particularly interesting is a list of the company's upper management with an unusual feature. When you put your mouse over a name/position, a small box comes up that tells you more about the person.
Ug. Some of the people around here! Yesterday I went over to help feed a
neighbor's dogs, cats, goats, rabbits, chickens and sheep
while they were away.
Just feeding them was fine, but what bothered me was how, for lack of a better term, 'bubu' they are.
The top of their chicken coop was a pickup bed cover.
They had rotten boards and rusty metal parts laying around.
Their house looked like it had not been painted since the civil war.
And its full of junk.
They had empty gas cans, spray bottles, and other garbage lying around.
Their sheds are jammed with junk.
Their cars are rusty, their tractors seat has a hole letting foam out.
I think you have the picture by now.
Why are some people like that? Don't they care about the mess, about what things look like and what people think about them? How could anyone be so very different from a geek?