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January 2, 2006

Refurb Log:

Items are typically very easy or impossibly difficult to
refurb, and there often is a very fine line between the
two. Sometimes a little patience and rethinking that is
combined with a very unusual tool or two can salvage
any marginals. Plus bunches of blind luck.

Ferinstance, I got this otoscope medical device that had
its threaded locking ring epoxy seal break away from
its battery case. And some epsilon minus apparently
cross threaded the ring while attempting a fix.

Stripped threads are often bad news, especially if
brass and large diameter fine threads. But by reversing
the ring
and using the good "exit" threads and some light oil,
the ring was first gotten to work properly backwards, and then
even frontwards. Much of this was a combination of patience
and blind luck. And using just the right amount of force.

To reassemble the device, a special spanner wrench is
usually used that lets you twist two holes in a ring that
are spaced an inch apart at the bottom of a six inch
deep case. Such a tool normally costs a lot more than the
otoscope itself. But an ordinary stainless steel dinner fork
can be destructively bent into a tool that is just barely enough
to get the job done.

More on related topics in our Refurb Log.

January 1, 2006

Got one of the usual late night phone calls from an
individual who just invented a new way of marketing and
wanted to run out and get a patent on it to "protect" their
invention. The individual, of course, had never really
marketed anything themselves.

For openers, a patent in no manner prevents anyone from
stealing your ideas.
All a patent does is give you a right to
sue someone should your idea in fact get stolen. As the
typical enforcement cost of patent litigation is in the
$300,000 range (yearly litigation insurance alone normally
costs more than $90,000), the cost of a getting a patent is
pocket change that simply does not enter into the economics.

There is, of course, not one patent in one thousand that cannot
be busted outright by a diligent enough search for prior art in
obscure enouth places. Nor does more than one patent in
five hundred ever return a net positive cash flow.

I may have mentioned this a time or two before, but any
involvement whatsoever by an individual or small scale
startup with the patent system is VIRTUALLY CERTAIN
to result is a HUGE net loss of time, energy, money, and
sanity.

Much more on these topics in our Patent Help library.
especially our Collected Patent Tutorial Reprints, and
specific files on When to Patent, The Idea Mortality
Curve
, How to Bust a $650 Patent, and, of, course, our
classic Case Against Patents that started it all.

December 31, 2005

Here's some of the major Data Sheet Sites, courtesy of
the Sci.Electronics.Design newsgroup...

http://www.partminer.com (12 Million)
http://www.datasheets.org.uk (5.20 Million)
http://datasheetarchive.com   (2-3 Million)
http://www.alldatasheets.com (1.07 Million)
http://www.chipdocs.com (701,010)
http://datasheets4u.com (523,031)
http://www.datasheetcatalog.com (280,758)
http://chipcatalog.com (253,733)

And, of course...

http://www.tinaja.com/glib/numschip.pdf    (1)

December 30, 2005

Some eBay sellers seem obsessed with having as high a
sellthru rate as they can, attempting to sell everything
every time on its first listing.

In reality, there probably is no correllation whatsoever
with fast sellthru and optimal
eBay profits. In fact, if
things are selling too fast, you are probably charging far
too little.

My own feeling is that if it takes a few weeks or even a
few months to sell something, the chances are you can
get a much higher price for it. And that your total return
even after the extra fees should be significantly higher.

Especially since your first relisting is free.

At least to me, a twenty one day cashout and a fifteen
month hang time
appears about right for industrial items
acquired in quantity. Especially if a 30:1 sell/buy ratio
goal is in fact acheived.

More on our Auction Help page.

December 29, 2005

I've been doing more study into image pixel interpolation.
This is an utterly fascinating subject with some amazing
potential. Several very interesting links appear here,
here, and here.

It still turns out that your "best" image interpolation scheme
for minor size changes often remains the High Resolution
Cubic Spline Basis Function
. Such as we are using in our
Universal Bitmap Manipulator and as we looked at back
here.

But if you are reducing an image, another problem rears its
ugly head. You might get Moire sampling artifacts or dropouts
of fine detail. The workaround is to combine a low pass filtering
(such as a Gaussian correllation) with your downsizing
to
prevent missed lines or added artifacts.

When highly magnifying, there are newer and fancier techniques
that go beyond what you can do with high resolution cubic
splines. Many of these are based on Lanczos techniques, while
the present top dog just may involve a process called LAD
Deconvolulation.

Beyond these techniques are whole other worlds of content specific
and nonlinear transformations. A content specific image processor
might deal with a picket fence area differently from a blue sky area.
And nonlinear techniques can solve particular problems. For instance
an algorithm of "Replace each pixel with an average of its nine nearest
neighbors"
dramatically reduces artifacts in a noisy image. But also
introduces very bad problems of its own.

Another consideration is that the fancier techniques often involve
great heaping bunches of computer horsepower
and may not be suitable
for real time or even near real time uses.

December 28, 2005

Refurb Log:

Sometimes you can guess at a schematic simply by
noting which integrated circuits are apparently used
how. I was refurbing a Heath 4804 byte analyzer that
seemed to be behaving erratically. Docs appeared to
be unavailable anywhere. On closer checking, though
operation ended up pretty much as they intended.

We'll first note that you can read the date code on any
IC to get an age estimate. Chances are the unit was
sold about a year later. A typical date code might be
1389 which would be the thirteenth week of 1989. The
IC package style, its SMT vs thruhole mounting, and
its complexity can also give you major clues as to what
you are dealing with.

In the case of the 4804, the inputs obviously went to
a pair of 4-bit transparent latches whose true outputs
indicated their current or held logic state. This was
followed by a plain old 8-input NAND gate that allowed
"1" "0",, or "don't care" adress trapping for fancier
uses. The choice of chips and their position made it
obvious how the unit was supposed to work
.

Their hassle (and a really dumb mistake) was that any
ungrounded inputs could easily pick up the power line
or a radio station via body coupling. If you did not know
that All unused inputs MUST be grounded, you would
easily get erratic and confusing results.

If I were keeping the unit, I'd add eight 100K resistors
from each input to ground
to discourage noise source
inputs. But I kept the unit as is on eBay, just in case
anyone wanted an authentic collectible.

Naturally, if any item has a use quirk, you should very
conspicuously point it out ahead of time
.

More on related topics in our Refurb Log.

December 27, 2005

Someone had asked when the eBay spring slowdown starts.
This is nothing to worry about, because it is simply that little
dip
between the winter slack period and the summer slump.

December 26, 2005

The fancier features of a Universal Bitmap Manipulator
demand a high quality true X-Y pixel interpolator. For
such utilities as a precision rotator, a true keystone
corrector, a general distortion remapper, or a scanner
"reperspector".

The "best" interpolation often involves High Resolution
Cubic Spline Basis Functions
. As they involve a 4x4=16
correllation at every pixel in a megapixel image space,
these can easily get excessively time intensive. Most
especially when using raw PostScript to create corrected
.BMP images. The big question is what corners, if any
can be cut for faster performance.

The full 4x4 interpolation looks like this...

p03(b0y)(b3x) + p13(b1y)(b3x) + p23(b2y)(b3x) + p33(b3y)(b3x) +
p02(b0y)(b2x) + p12(b1y)(b2x) + p22(b2y)(b2x) + p32(b3y)(b2x) +
               
evaluated pixel -----> X <----- is positioned here
p01(b0y)(b1x) + p11(b1y)(b1x) + p21(b2y)(b1x) + p31(b3y)(b1x) +
p00(b0y)(b0x) + p10(b1y)(b0x) + p20(b2y)(b0x) + p30(b3y)(b0x)

You can get this result by starting with four X interpolations that
are followed by one Y interpolation, or vice versa. Either way ends
up with the same result shown above. Twenty lookup-multiply-adds
would seem to be needed at first glance.

But terms like (b0y)(b3x) can be combined into a single table
lookup. Ferinstance 10X the x residue plus 100X the y residue
could give you a 100 entry lookup for each of sixteen tables.
Thus reducing you to Sixteen lookup-multiply-adds per pixel.

Further, as this plot shows, those four "corner" tables do not
do all that much. They only add two percent worst case and add
very little noticable in most other positions. (red on the plot is
a one percent or higher weight; green is two percent or higher.)

So it would seem tempting to bundle the corner table weights
with those of their diagonal neighbors. And getting us down to
Twelve lookup-multiply-adds per pixel.

A second corner cutting opportunity involves dealing with the
rare underflows. As this anaylsis shows, underflows can occur
just under two percent of the time at an average of a five percent
darkening of the blackest blacks.

Naturally, the underflows have to be trapped out somehow. The
obvious dup 0 lt {pop 0} if might be approximated by a simple abs.
This would incorrectly lighten a few of the lowest energy blackest
of blacks. While eliminating a time intensitive test on a centermost
processing loop.

I'll try to work up these concepts further.
Consulting services available.

December 25, 2005

Optimum bid strategy very much depends upon the
auction venue. As we've seein in EBAYBUY.PDF,
your best eBay bid strategy is to always proxy bid
your max once very late in the auction, doing so in
oddball penny amounts just above a currency
resistance threshold
.

This may also seem best at a live auction on a big
ticket item that you really want, but I have found
compelling advantages to consistently offering
the auctioneer loball floor opening bids,
especially
if you are subtle about it. The auctioneer is more
likely to notice you and accept your bids and may
even give you a fast hammer every now and then.
More in AUCTSCNE.PDF.

The situation with Government Liquidation auctions
is much more complex. I've cut back on my bidding
here because end-user bidders have gotten way too
competitive, because of an unaceptably high $50
minimum bid opening, their maddeningly infuriating
auto bid extensions, and problems with site access
and site manager customer treatment.

Trap #1 is any GL auction is that your optimal
bidding time is precisely 42 minutes into the last
hour of the bid offer
. Anything less telegraphs
your intent, and anything later trips the ludicrous
bid extensions and really invites competition.

Trap #2 is that oddball penny amounts will immediately
tell the competition that you have just proxy bid your
max
should you become high bidder. Thus one or two
even bid increments above a currency threshold may
in fact be your best bet.

December 24, 2005

O.K. Heres some more details on our "Use both
a camera and a scanner"
ploy from two days back.

The basic idea is covered in EBAYFOTO.PDF. I'll
first take an ordinary picture using a Nikon Coolpix
5000
at full native resolution. The next step would
usually be going through our Swings and Tilts utility
to force Architect's Perspective. But this particular
item is squat enough that the persepective can
be forced
by background knockout alone.

While I've got a new Fast Background Knockout
utility available, this time, I used our plain old
KNOCKOUT.BMP with a simple cut and paste.

As we've recently seen, fitting background to a
diagonal line can be greatly sped up by using the
lasso tool with a matching diagonal closure
. The
rest of the image is post processed using my
usual tricks.

At this point, the space for the label gets carefully
measured. Label width is 561 pixels, its left height
is 120 pixels, its right height is 118 pixels, and its
right offset climb is 233 pixels.

The side label is than scanned. Any retouch or
lettering improvements are best done before
perspective distortion
using our newly revised
Bitmap Typewriter tools.

Now for the tricky part. The image is resized to
120 x 561 pixels and rotated vertically. It is then
copied into the center of the top half of a new Paint
page of exactly double height or 1122 pixels. The
reason being that we want to keep the original left
side of the label the size it was, while progressively
applying climb and shrink correction to the rest of
the label.

Some playing around with NUTILT01.PSL is needed
to find the magic values that give you exactly the right
amount of climb and shrink. In these examples, setting
the tiltaxis to -1.15 and the howmuchtilt to 0.1 gave a
quire good fit.

The newly "perspected" label is then rotated back to
its normal position and cropped to size. The "white"
background may no longer be a pure white, so the
lasso tool is used to crop out all but the active label.

Merge time. The scanned and corrected label is then
pasted on top of the camera image
of the rest of the
module. Some minor edge cleanup and treatment may
be needed to make the patch completely invisible.

One minor gotcha: The lettering across the label will
be uniformly spaced rather than perspectively spaced
where the distant letters are compressed. You are very
unlikely
to notice this discepency at all. The problem
can be fixed at the cost of computation time.

December 23, 2005

We have pretty much decided to strongly discourage
premium shipping services. The day we use one is the
day the UPS relief driver forgets to stop or the day our
shipping help uses their flextime for dog dentistry.

More often than not, someone will piss around negotiating
for a month or two and then demand instant shipping. It
makes little sense to double or even triple their costs for
little apparent benefit
.

Plain old UPS brown is surprisingly fast for most people
most of the time. And most of our eBay feedback praises
our fast shipping using this service. And the disruptions do
not in any way seem to justify the benefits.

December 22, 2005

The obvious answer to whether you should use
a digital camera or a scanner for your eBay
photography is to use both at once...

Note the infinite depth of field along the lettering
plane! Plus the total absence of any flash flare on
the label. Combined with our usual pixel locked 2-1/2 D
"Architects Perspective" and our normal shadowless
photography
with JPG edge artifact reduction.

What you do is scan the label, resize and retouch as
needed, and then use my Swings and Tilts backwards
to distort it into the correct trapezodial shape. Then
cut and paste and retouch the borders a tad.

You can click expand the above image to get it up to
the normal eBay JPG size. The full size, full res
bimap image can be made available on request.
The latest Swings and Tilts version is found here.

I hope to expand our Universal Bitmap Manipulator
routines to simplify converting flat text into a
perspective paste. More on PostScript here.

We have the finest photos on eBay, bar none. Yes,
Consulting and Seminar services are available.

December 21, 2005

Refurb Log:

I can't emphasise strongly enough how important
careful inspection of auction items and continuous
inventory control
is. Here's some recent examples
that have caused me grief...

   ~ A pricey community college instrument needed
      an outrageously expensive replacement part.

   ~ What I thought was a complete scanner turned
       out to be only the slidemaking attachment.

   ~ Most of a stack of large electronic breadboards
      was missing crucial inserts.

    ~ A pallet full of slot machine mechanisms turned
       out to be pulls needing extensive refurb.

   ~ Apparently new-in-original-packaging drafting
       table covers turned out to be the old covers
       stashed in new boxes.

   ~ Repairs to an oscilloscope plug-in were so
      awkward they could not justify resale price.

   ~ What appeared to be a real bagain was really
      a mix of useless halves of two wildly different
      Items.

    ~ An attempt at humor in an instrument description
      caused widly wrong assumptions by naive buyers.

   ~ A lab oven turned out to be a much lower value
      lower temperature incubator. Also flood damaged.

Much more in our ongoing Refurb Log and on our
Auction Help library pages.

December 20, 2005

If you divide the number of lots in a live auction by the number
of bidders, you can approximate an average number of lots that
each bidder will win. One way to do this is to keep track of the
first and last bidder registrations issued.
But some auction houses
may purposely shuffle their numbers or preassign out-of-range
numbers to regular customers.

In reality, the usual 80-20 rule will apply in which twenty percent
of the bidders will likely end up with eighty percent of the lots.

And since your particular items will be a small subset of the total
offered, what really matters is how many specific interest bidders
are competing against you.

Ideally, of course, you want zero competition. Especially regulars
who are known to bid for spite just to prevent others from scoring
a lot. Such pissing contests, of course, should be studiously avoided.

Much more on our Auction Help library page.

December 19, 2005

I'll try and get our Sunraise thermography machine checked
out and up on eBay shortly. Thermography is a fascinating
process applied to traditional printing that gives a raised
lettering
effect. Often for business cards and wedding
announcements Typical machines are $1800 new.

Normally, a special powder is sprinkled onto still wet ink.
When heated, the powder intumesces and swells, creating
the raised effect. There are several grinds of powder
for varying lettering sizes. Thermography works best if
all of the lettering is nearly the same size.


Fortunately, when using standard rubber base inks, the
thermography process can still be used up to three hours
after printing. This greatly simplifies things.

Sadly, thermography does not work with toner or laser
printing. One approximation is a spray product called
Laser Buddy. Another older route is called Bakerizing.
In which you place a sheet of mylar in contact with your
toner and run it through a heat and pressure machine.
Thus creating a shiny black calendaring effect.

December 18, 2005

There seems to be an unwritten rule of "No Christmas Auctions"
There are typically 65 to 130 auctions scheduled in Arizona at any
given time. This seems to consistently drop to less than one-sixth
at year end.

More on the Arizona Auction Scene in This Tutorial.
And more on live auctions in general are found here.

Your own custom regional auction finder can be created for
you per these guidelines.

December 17, 2005

A reminder that I have a pair of very rare 1908
commercial silent movie projectors available.
They are presently disassembled, so they would
easily be UPS shippable. They seem to be nearly
complete and should be eminently restorable.

Please
email me if you have any interest in this unique
opportunity. Inspection welcome. We will shortly
be dramatically be expanding our refurb activities, so
I very much need the shop space back.

December 16 , 2005

I've sharplly reduced prices on some of our older eBay
items to clear them out for some exciting new offers.
This is sort of a one time sale, so when these are gone,
they are gone.

Several prices on our unique collectibles have been
sharply increased, because I got tired of giving away
items that I am the the world's sole source supplier for.

December 15 , 2005

Apparently Government Liquidation has just raised their
minimum bid to $50. I consider this really, really dumb
because many of their items clearly were not worth their
previous $35 minimum opening price.

I've personally cut way back on my GL involvement,
first and foremost because their recent prices are way
too high, caused by far too many competitive bidders.
Problems with site managers, site access, and all their
maddeningly infuriating auction extensions also remain.

December 14 , 2005

The "whipsocket effect" appears to be alive and well in
the digital camera arena. In which several decades of
automobiles continued to provide whip sockets.

We seem to have a cuious mix of outstanding improvements
in resolution, performance, noise, power, algorithms, and cost
with a dogged continuance of previous camera features that
now are clearly utterly worthless.

A digital camera can be any shape and form. Where the
"two cassettes, a film plane and a chunk of glass" clearly
and exactly defined what a 35 mm traditional camera had
to look like.

"Single Lens Reflex" cameras solved a parallax problem
that simply does not exist on a digital camera! It is
ludicrously absurd to offer a SLR digital. Especially if
the SLR no longer offers interchangable lenses.

The lenses themselves are far less critical than they used
to be. As you get up into the 10 and 15 megapixel arena,
digital zoom can replace most traditional lens needs. And
waiting in the wings are liquid lenses and a stunning new
breakthrough called "negative indicies of refraction" that
totally blows away traditional optic laws.

For studio photography, even the viewfinder makes no
sense whatsoever. Your composition should be done at
the same size as the final image or print!
Preferably through
a wireless link to a 17 inch interactive monitor. One that
lets you pinpoint the focus distance and view depth of field.

What I'd really like to see for my eBay photography is a
crane-like camera in which you can remotely position your

image sensor over a wide three dimensional area. With total
interactive control of everything. All at final full size.

Chances are overwhelming that such a system would not
look at all like a whip socket. And might be a perfect
candidate for a hexapod solution.

December 13 , 2005

OK, here is the full solution to the "Bezier problem" in
which you want to relate the x0-x3 control points to the
A-D cubic equation coefficients. And their y equivalents.

Create some cubic basis functions by starting with an
obvious 1 = 1 and morphing it into a bizarre
but highly
useful (1-t) + t = 1. Cube this expression to get...

         (1-t)^3 + 3t(1-t)^2 + 3t^2(1-t)  +  t^3  = 1
 
    Call each of these left four terms a basis function..

            B0(t) + B1(t) + B2(t) + B3(t) = 1.

x (and separately, y) are now related to our cubic t by...

       x(t) = x0(B0(t)) + x1(B1(t)) + x2(B2(t)) + x3(B3(t))

x(t) will also equal our cubic spline equation...

                  x(t) = At^3 + Bt^2 + Ct + D

Since t has to be allowed to vary from 0 to 1, the only
way these two equations can be equal is if the t coefficients
match
for each power. Expand the terms...

    x0(1-t)^3             =    x0 - 3x0t  + 3x0t^2   -   x0t^3
 
   x1(3t (1 - t)^2)    =           3x1t  -  6x1t^2 +  3x1t^3
    x2( 3t^2(1-t))      =                        3x2t^2  -  3x2t^3
    x3t^3                  =                                           x3t^3

Now, think vertically upwards and regroup to get...

                      A =   x3 - 3x2 + 3x1 - x0
                      B = 3x2 - 6x1 + 3x0
                      
C = 3x1 - 3x0
                      D =  x0
  

You can easily show that the control points behave in
the expected manner. At t=0, only B0(t) is active and
thus x0,y0 defines the starting point of the curve. At
t=1, only B3(t) is active and thus x3,y3 defines the
ending point of the curve
.

The initial x versus t slope is 3(x1 - x0) and the initial
y versus t slope is 3(y1 - y0). The initial xy slope is thus
(y1 - y0)/(x1-x0) and thus the x1y1 control point sets
the initial slope
. Similarly, the final xy slope can be shown
to be (y3 - y2)/(x3 - x2) and thus the x2y2 control point
sets the final slope
.

Finally, note that the x1,y1 point has its strongest
influence precisely and always at t=1/3
. And similarly,
the x2,y2 point has its strongest influence precisely
and always at t=2/3
. The "tension" or "enthuasiasn"
of the Bezier curve is thus determined by how much
change
has to happen in x and y between t=1/3 and
t=2/3.

Q.E.D. Or something like that there.

December 12 , 2005

Magic Sinewaves are a newly discovered class of math
functions that dramatically can raise the efficiency and
improve the quality of induction motor controls, solar panels,
electric vehicles, telecom, inverters, and aerospace apps.

An intro tutorial appears here.

The key Magic Sinewave features are that any number of
low harmonics can be forced to extremely low values while
using the absolute minimum number of efficiency-robbing
switching transitions to do so. Yes, three phase variations
are also available.

As are demo chips and sourcecode.

Several readers have asked about the frequency limits to
magic sinewaves. These are primarily for 60 Hertz use but
might be extendable to 400 Hertz aerospace apps.

The reason for the low frequency limitiations is that as many
as 45,000 instruction cycles might be needed to properly
generate one magic sinewave cycle. This translates to a
10 MHz clock for a PIC generating ordinary 60 Hz. power
waveforms.

Consulting, Training, and Development programs available.

December 11 , 2005

We seem to have a coastal fog this morning. Perhaps
it is time to set out the lobster pots.

December 10 , 2005

Those Basis Functions are really neat when you start digging
deeper into Cubic Splines. What they really do is decide how
much contribution each control point gives you anywhere along
the t curve
from 0 to 1.

Ferinstance, at t=0, x0 (and y0) completely dominate and give
you 100 percent control of position. At t = 1/3, x1 dominates
and also sets the initial slope of the x versus t (or y versus t)
curve. At t=1/3, the scaled contribution of the four control points
is 8/27ths, 12/27ths, 6/27ths, and 1/27th respectively.

At t = 1/2, each end point contributes 1/8th and each influence
point contributes 3/8. With symmetrical results for t=2/3 and
for t= 1. Other t values are similarly proportioned.

Additional plots are found here.

December 9 , 2005

Org. My first clue that today's live auction was not going to
go my way was when the first lot of pop rivets sold for $2200.00.

December 8 , 2005

Larger industrial auctions may be either the usual "walk
around"
or the theater-style "sit down". It is super important
to know which is which ahead of time since previewing may
be difficult or even forbidden during a sit-down auction.

Sitdowns may be used because of the enormity of the site,
climate, or security. A walk-around auction is overwhelmingly
more in your favor since it is a lot rougher on the other bidders,
and because quick lot mergings or choices are likely to occur on
the fly at the auctioneer's whim.

If you must participate in a sitdown auction, be absolutely certain
that you carefully preview the "contents of cabinet" and "contents
of room" lots
and have fairly approased their value to you. For
their hidden value may give you opportunities others miss.

Online bidders may have a slight edge on the sitdown auctions as
their bids may end up being entered faster and more reliably. But
there is rarely a time when "being there" is not overwhelmingly to
your advantage.

Much more on our Auction Help library page.
Custom Consulting also available.

December 7 , 2005

Some more background on the "smoke and mirrors"
behind Bezier cubic splines...

Any cubic spline relates x to t or y to t using a formula
of x(t) = At3 + Bt2 + Ct + D. t is a parameter that goes
from zero to one. The trick is to introduce methods to
externally and conveniently control the shape of the
curve.

A Bezeir Cubic Spline uses four x control points, two
at the ends of the curve and two that set the initial
and final slope
and the enthuasiasm of slope travel
of the desired curve. Four similar y control points are
separately and independently involved.

How do you get from the control points to the A thru
D spline values? Bezier understanding can use the
following trick involving Basis Functions that center
on Bernstein Polynonials...

Start with an obvious 1 = 1. Morph this into a bizarre
but highly useful t + (1-t) = 1. Cube this expression to
get...

           t^3 + 3t^2(1-t) + 3t(1-t)^2 + (1-t)^3 = 1
 
    Call each of these left four terms a basis function..

            B0(t) + B1(t) + B2(t) + B3(t) = 1.

x (and separately, y) are now related to our cubic t by...

         x(t) = x0(B0(t) + x1(B1(t) + x2(B2(t) + x3(B3)t

from which the A thru D values as a function of x0 thru
x3 are eaily calculated by expanding and regrouping.

Two of the really neat features of basis functions are
that their peaks occur at the spline control points and
that any t value is the sum of the four basis functions
evaluated at (t) scaled by their control point values.

Further B1(t) and B2(t) always peak exactly at t=1/3
and t=2/3 respectively. Setting initial and final slopes
of the x versus t curve at 3x1 - 3x0 and 3x3 - 3x2
respectively.

Basis function plots appear here.

December 6 , 2005

Expanded and updated the Arizona Auction Resources on
 our Auction Help library page.

Your own custom regional auction finder can be created
for you per these guidelines.

December 5 , 2005

Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem
smarter when they come at you rapidly

December 4 , 2005

As previously noted, I picked up a bunch of linear position
sensors
at the Rubbermaid auction. Some of these are huge,
being as much as five or six feet long.

There are two basic styles, the Waters Longfellow type,
which is a linear resistive potentiometer; and the Tempsonic
style which is a much more sophisticated and accurate device
that uses magnetostriction along a rod for super precise
contactless measurement.

I'll be placing these up on eBay in the next few days.
Condition varies from new to refurbed and guaranteed
usable, and costs of these superb robotics and automation
devices are a fraction of new.

email me if you have any special needs in these areas.
Note that a longer slider can be used for shorter strokes.

December 3 , 2005

Thought I'd once again start a list of live auction strategy
and tactics...


   ~ Agressively know about all regional auctions.

    ~ Seek out auctions where your items of interest are
       only a small portion of the total lots offered.

   ~ If more than five percent of your bids win, you
      are bidding way too high
.

    ~ Bring extra copies of your tax certificate and your
       business cards. Be sure you know the acceptable
       payment terms and bid deposit requirements.

    ~ Make sure the auction is in fact being held before
       committing to a long trip. Always ask about preexisting
       bulk bids.

   ~ One simple way of dealing with "certified funds only"
       is to get a pile of certified checks made out to yourself
       in $100 - $200 - $400 - $800 denominations

    ~ Always seek out a sell/buy ratio of 30:1 or higher.
       Avoid ever paying more than a fraction of a cent
       on the dollar.

    ~ Focus on your areas of expertise where you see
       value that others do not.

   ~ Do not let the size of your vehicle determine your
      bids. But do not let a single trash item force you
      into a larger truck or trailer or other expense.

   ~ At larger auctions, tightly center on a few to a few
      dozen items only
.

    ~ NEVER get into a pissing contest with another bidder!
       ALWAYS stick to your predetermined max price.

   ~ Best deals often happen very late in the auction,
       so be very patient.

    ~ Assume that items will look a lot worse when you
       get them home, compared to "heat of the moment"

    ~ Best deals often involve "contents of shelf",
       "by the multiple pallet" or "contents of room".

    ~ Continually split your bid increment in half by
        waving your hand palm down across your chest.

    ~ Never gloat or show ANY emotion over any
       spectacular win. Keep a poker face at all times.

    ~ Always carefully preview all items. Preferably
        at least three times and once in reverse sequence.

    ~ If you do not make at least a $25 mistake, you are
       not being aggressive enough.

    ~ Avoid speaking to other bidders, but listen carefully.

    ~ On-site auctions are overwhelmingly more productive
       than Auction House or Auction Barn events.

    ~ Be willing to return with nothing. Never bid just
       because you are there.

    ~ If heavily crowded, stay by your upcoming item and
       let the auctioneer and crowd come to you

    ~ Bring a dolly or a cart with you.

    ~ Become ultra aggressive if the auction clearly
       starts going overwhelmingly your way.

  
  ~ Be in the auctioneer's face when bidding and
      totally invisible otherwise.

   ~ Watch for "poisioned" or combined lots. These
       can be a superb deal if hidden value remains.

   ~ Keep lowball "floor" bids subtle and seen only
       by you and the auctioneer.

    ~ Suppress your ego at all times!

   ~ Never give any ambiguious signal or bid.

~ Avoid theft by loading your highest value items as
       quickly as possible.

   ~ Dress down to the point of being shabby but
       always wear a distinctive hat or whatever.

    ~ Stick to your bid strategy. I prefer continual lowball
       openings
to single max bids. Have the auctioneer
       return to you when momentum lags.

    ~ Unwanted items can usually be given away after
        the auction, but carefully spell out who gets what.

     ~ NEVER piss off the auctioneer!

   ~ Pay particular attention to lots that are outside,
      in obscure rooms, or transition areas.

    ~ Always emphatically overstate your body language.

   ~ Have a pocket full of five and ten dollar bills for
      quick help and side deals.

   ~ Bring tools to split larger or heavier items into more
       managible pieces.

   ~ Personally thank the auctioneer after the event.

Much more on our Auction Help library page.
Custom Consulting also available.

December 2 , 2005

We are down to our last two Adept Linear Sliders. And
are unlikely to find any more any time soon. Remaining are
a pair of 950 mm linear acutators with encoders that are
repositionable to a tiny fraction of a mil.

email me if you need any further details. I expect these to
be gone in a week or two, judging by how fast the previous
fifty sold.

December 1 , 2005

The key secret to becoming a cubic spline expert is to
understand how you get from graph space to equation
space
. Per this tutorial or these summary results.

You can think of a cubic spline as a "snake in a box"
that lies in x-y-t space. Parameter "t" (almost) always
goes from 0 at the beginning to 1 at the end. Although
x and y are cubic functions of t, they are independent
of each other.
Letting you build fancy curves, cusps,
and even loops where you precisely control the entry
and exit positions and slopes.

In graph space, x0 sets your initial position and x1
the slope and "enthuasiasm" with which your spline
leaves your entry point. Similarly, x3 sets your final
position while x2 sets the exit slope. Ditto for y.

In equation space, the cubic equation is, of all things,
a cubic equation of x = At^3 + Bt^2 + Ct + D. Now, to
become a cubic spline epert, all you have to do is
relate x0 through x3 to A through D.

What gets tricky is understanding where all those
wierd formulas come from. The simplest way is to
take these equations on faith...

   A = x3 - 3x2 + 3x1 - xo    E = y3 - 3y2 + 3y1 - y0
   B = 3x2 - 6x1 + 3x0         F = 3y2 - 6y1 + 3y0
   C = 3x1 - 3x0                   G = 3y1 - 3y0
   D = x0                              H = y0

   x0 = D                              y0 = H
   x1 = D + C/3                   y1 = H + G/3
   x2 = D + 2C/3 + B/3        y2 = H + 2G/3 + F/3
   x3 = D + C + B + A         y3 + H + G + F + E 

You can simply use plain old algebra  to prove that
the equation space formulas are inverses of the graph
space formulas. And easily use PostScript to prove that
the equations are in fact valid and perform as stated.

But, if you must know where these came from, recognize
that a Bezier curve is a very specific type of cubic spline
that is definied by...

  
  x(t) = x0(1 - t)^3 + 3x1t(1-t)^2 + 3x2t^2(1-t) + x3t^3
    y(t) = y0(1 - t)^3 + 3y1t(1-t)^2 + 3y2t^2(1-t) + y3t^3. 

Expand all these terms and regroup them, and all those
funny "3" and "6" coefficients in the equation space will
pop right out.

Those strange (1-t) expressions involve Basis Functions,
more on which you will find here. Curiously, the influence
points always have their strongest action at t = 1/3 and
t = 2/3. Which is where the "threes" in the slope equations
come from.

November 30, 2005

Just picked up a Sunraise tabletop thermography machine
at a public utility auction. It seems to be in real clean used
condition and is perfect for making raised print business cards
or fancy premium grade letterheads. email me if you want to
get in ahead of the hoarders on this one.

November 29, 2005

Latest GuruGram #57 is on Curve Fitting Cubic Splines to
Circles and Ellipses
. It turns out you can do better than
some previously published web results. And that the math
can end up very much simplified and more obvious.

Sourcecode can be found here. More in our Cubic Spline
and PostScript libraries. Consulting Services available.

November 28, 2005

I continue to be utterly amazed at the lack of plain old
common sense
on many alternate energy projects. Along
with the failure to ask fundamental questions.

Ferinstance, a recent post to the Sci.Energy.Hydrogen
newsgroup had a building they were adding a 150 kW
wind plant to. Since there was 100 kW of excess
electricity "going to waste", they wanted to know which
brand of electrolysizer to use for hydrogen storage.

Were the following issues even addressed...?

   ~ A building in a very windy area is likely to be
       very little in demand by tenants.

   ~ Building in a windy area dramatically increases
      heating and cooling costs. Wouldn't earth berming
     and planting trees save a lot more energy a lot
     cheaper than can be recovered?

   ~ Living inside a windmill would probably be an utter
      disaster because of continual noise, vibration, and
      subliminal stress issues. Kawhoosh kawoosh kawoosh.

   ~ The nameplate rating of a wind generator has nothing
       whatsoever to do with the amount of electricity that
       can be produced. The latter is determined by long term
       wind stats. Wind energy is also highly nonlinear with
       lower velocities. I'd predict something like twenty kWH
       per day geninely and actually long term recoverable as
       "excess" electricity from the proposed system. Electricity
      worth two dollars per day.

~ The recovered energy must significantly exceed the recovery
      costs, or the project makes no sense whatsoever. Two dollars
      per day of electricity would get totally consumed by a ten
      year, ten percent $4500 investment. Which wouldn't be even
      enough for union bribes and permit payoffs.

    ~ Because both electrical kilowatt hours and the dimes that
       pay for them are both fungible and interchangible commodities,
       there is absolutely no known energy storage sytem that is
       even remotely comparable to grid buyback for simplicity,
       economy, safety, and reliability. Not by a country mile.

    ~ A utility may elect three or more types of buyback. Net
       Metering
, of course, is an outright ripoff as it severely taxes
       other utility users while obscenely undervaluing storage
       services. With Avoided Cost buyback, the utility pays you
       the same as they do everybody else. And any differential
       between what you buy and what you sell is more than
       justified by the additional storage services provided.

    ~ Finally, the utility may elect zero buyback because the
       project makes no economic sense to them. Which also
       suggests that if the utility cannot profit from the fiasco,
       then nobody else is likely to either.

   ~ Electrolysis to hydrogen, of course, is one of the worst
      possible energy storage schemes because of its instant
      destruction
of exergy.  A kilowatt hour of electrical
      energy is ridiculously more valuable than a kilowatt hour
      of unstored hydrogen gas. Because its thermodynamically
      reversible recovery is insanely higher. And that is all
      before any amortization or storage or safety issues.

More in our Energy Fundamentals and Electrolysis tutorials.

November 27, 2005

The Onion reports major problems with the Panda
exhibit
at the Chicago Aquarium. Apparently there
are issues with the masks and the regulators.

November 26, 2005

If you are making more than four or so newsgroup
posts per day, you probably should cut back and place
your comments in your own blog instead.

Newsgroup posts have about a seventeen hour attention
lifespan, while your blogs can run forever. You can edit
and rethink your blogs. Ad Hominem attacks and thread
hijaking cannot happen. Plus your posts are likely to be
more well thought out and focused.

Spend the time and energy where it will do the most good.

A reminder that we now have a RSS feed up. Included are
these sort-of-a-blog What's New pages and quick access
to our more popular tutorials.

November 25, 2005

The errors in a four spline circle approximation can be
dramatically reduced by going to a six spline one. I don't
have the exact error reduction figure yet, but I suspect it
is at least ten times lower as it seems completely invisible
at the highest Acrobat magnification.

My current prediction: eight splines is probably good enough
for most normal machine shop use, and m might be overkill.

I hope to have a GuruGram on Circle and Ellipse approximation
with Cubic Splines
up on this shortly.

November 24, 2005

I find it more than annoying to be in a caving area or a
wilderness and have continuous and loud aircraft noise.
And was wondering why this is not a problem where I
live here in the Greater Bonita-Eden-Sanchez metropolitan
area.


Apparently this is one of the very few areas in the country
where commercial overflights are extremely rare. If you
go to Google Maps and magnify till you only get a few states
and plot the obvious city-to-city commercial routes, most of
them seem to miss the Gila Valley by at least thirty miles.

The quiet sure is welcome, though.

November 23, 2005

There's a lively discussion over on Slashdot on how the
new and highly-in-demand X-boxes routinely blow up. The
cause is apparently bad thermal design of the external
third party power supply.

Simply getting the supply off of the floor and providing some
circulating air seems to help bunches. Various "pieces of
string" suspension solutions have also been proposed.

Deep pile carpets (especially those where you cannot see the
dog) are very much a no-no.

I had a similar problem with a Cisco cable modem that was
partially my fault and partially theirs. Although they deny
there is a serious thermal design issue on the BEFCMU10.

Their vent holes are obviously too small. I compounded the
problem by putting a router on top that both blocked the
vents and actually forced heat into them. But when this DUH
was fixed, there still was an infuriating intermittent that
neither I nor the cable company could find despite repeated
testing.

The problem has long gone away. Simpy by placing the cable
modem on a 45 degree angle
so the bottom vents also had
reasonable access to the ambient air. But larger holes makes
a lot more sense. You can easily feel the difference.

November 22, 2005

Always be very careful with humor on any eBay listing!

If someone does not get the joke, you will be out a refund
and its associated bad vibes. We had been selling these ultra
sophisticated earthquake simulation machines to qualified
researchers who needed their proof mass actuator, LVDT,
and super performance accellerometer pairs for shaker table
testing.

Two remain available.

Trying to add humor led to wildly wrong conclusions that these
were superaudio kickers or subwoofers, which they are not.

The rule is to be suspect if any inquiry doesn't get it. And to
flush the humor entirely on a second problem of any sort.

More on auction techniques on our Auction Help page.

November 21, 2005

Here's some more info on a recent solar cell paper that might
prove quite interesting:

Light enters via a glass substrate with a transparent tin oxide
conductive coating on it. An ultrathin layer of Cadmium Telluride
nanorods
is spin cast in place. These are single crystals rougly 8
nanometers in diameter by thirty long. A second similar layer of
Cadmum Sulfide nanorods are overcast. A final aluminization
provides the back contact and an optical reflector.

Unlike a conventional doped p-n junction, a diffussion assisted
heterojunction
is formed between the two layers. Carefully
controlled bandgaps between the two crystal matrials determine
the rectification and the photocurrent.

The materials are much more stable than oganic semiconductors
and actually improve with aging. The cells are exceptionally thin
and apparently lend themselves to simple manufacturer. They
apparently lend themselves to spincasting and possibly inkjet
technologies.

The efficiency of the demo cells is unacceptably low in the three
percent range. The paper does not address what the physical
theoretical limits of the technology are. But with heterojunctions,
choices in bandgraps should make multilayer and spread energy
devices possible. Some sort of alignment or orienteering should
be able to improve the fill factors as well.

This appears to be a genuine breakthrough development. It
seems to me that conventional silicon pv will NEVER be able to
acheive sustainability and renewability
due to its intractability
and its single workfunction efficiency barrier. This new development
just may be the right horse to bet on

The original paper plus additional source materials that discuss
materials prep and such are available from Science.

November 20, 2005

A curious property of the PostScript arc and arcn operators:
These work as expected for smaller angles but are only a four
spline approximation
for full circles.

Regardless of the circle size or the chosen Distiller quality
level!

The error is only one part in a thousand worst case. This is trivial
for most graphics, but this could easily cause problems in
CAD/CAM and other PostScript as Language applications.

Ferinstance, this error would be unacceptble in machining a
three inch cylinder for an engine.

The workaround is to build your circle from at least six arc or
arcn spline calls. This should get you well within acceptable
tolerances for normal machine shop use. Virtually all of the
observable error disappears when you go from four spline
circles to six spline circles.

A GuruGram is in the works and should be available shortly.

November 19, 2005

There's some lively discussion going on in the newsgroups
over a new "trucker's hydrogen injection system" based on
electrolysis via an alternator. To me, the numbers simply
do not add up. Not by a country mile. Time will tell how much
of this is a scam, how much is the placebo effect, and how much
is real.

First, there definitely is credible peer reveiwed research that
shows that a modest (typically 5%) hydrogen injection can
improve combustion to significantly raise fuel economy. It
is also possible that lower hydrogen injection levels can reduce
carbon and other deposits. The latter has yet to be convincingly
shown.

Two key questions are whether any new mechanical load needed
to produce the hydrogen is greater or less than the benefits
derived; and whether the fully burdened cost amortization will
ever let the system pay for itself.

Few people realize how ludicrously inefficient a conventional
alternator driven electrolysizer would be. The odds are utterly
overwhelming that there is no way in hell that the benefits
could remotely approach the input loading penalty.

First, the fanbelt itself may be limited to the three the five
horsepower range. Its efficiency is probably around 97
percent, caused by flexing and air turbulence. Car alternators
are a lot less efficient than most people suspect, typically
being in the 70 percent range. While the largest losses are in
the rectifier diodes, the wider air gap, less-than-optimal regulator,
cheaper magnetic materials, and field losses all make car
alternator efficiency a secondary consideration. A typical 100 amp
12 volt car alternator is also only a 1-1/2 horsepower device.

For decent efficiency, you cannot simply connect an electrolysizer
to the output of an alternator. Because the alternator is a somewhat
constant voltage device, and an efficient electrolysizer demands a
carefully controlled current. The fancy switchmode electronics
required to do this would probably end up in the 80 percent efficiency
range. Analog control circuits or direct connection, of course, would be
much worse.

While an electrolysizer can theoretically be fairly efficient (neglecting
the staggering exergy hit, of course)
, most will operate well into their
exothermic range for decent gas volumes.

This introduces at least another 70 percent efficiency drop. Further,
most add-on manufacturers might tend to cheat and use stainless
steel or nickel rather than the platinized platinum required for decent
efficiency. this can add up to another 60 percent efficiency hit due to the
hydrogen overvoltages involved. Details in any electrochem book.

Finally, the engine itself is probably only 35 percent efficient at
converting fuel to shaft horsepower. Let's see. If we start with
1000 watts at the crankshaft, we get 970 watts at the alternator
input and 679 watts at the alternator output. And 543 watts at
the switchmode regulator. And 380 watts for the exothermic
drop. The stainless overvoltage puts us down to 228 watts. And
the engine efficiency finally delivers a mere 87 watts of mechanical
power!

The dilemma is this: The amount of hydrogen producible with one
fan belt and an unmodified alternator seems uselessly low
and is in the
"homeopathic dose" range. While significant hydrogen production
seems to me to demand multiple fanbelts, custom heavier and much
more efficient alternators, and other complex modifications.

While other means of hydrogen injection (such as exhaust gas
reformation or a refillable on-board tank) might eventually be
shown to be useful, I strongly feel that the insane efficiency losses
in onboard alternator electrolysis absolutely guarantee that this
flat out ain't gonna happen. And that's BEFORE amortization.

In short, both the engineering economics and the thermodynamics
suck. More in our Electrolysis and Energy Fundamentals tutorials.

November 18, 2005

Approximating circles or ellipses with four cubic splines
is apparently not that big a deal. Go through all the hairy
math and a magic constant of 0.55228475 pops out. Also
known as four thirds of one less than the square root of two.

This magic number is how far you go on your influence points,
normalized to unity. And times unity for circles and directly
scaled for the minor axis on an ellipse.

The results give fractional pixel accuracy for larger than full
screen circles and ellipses, so should be more than useful
for most people most of the time. Smaller is, of course,
better.

Actually, the "best" magic number is something like 0.00044
lower. The original one gives a perfect fit every 45 degrees
but has an always positive error. The minumum rms error
is 24% lower with mixed positive and negative errors. And
gives three perfect fits per quadrant rather than just two.

I'll save exact details as an exercise for the serious student.
The difference is utterly negligible for most users.

I'll try to work up a GuruGram on this.

November 18, 2005

That big HSL font may not exist at all since it probably
has a "sign painter" history rather than a "hot lead"
one.

At any rate, a very useful font finder appears here.
It does lead to a Miehle Condensed font that gets
the "S" and the "H" right, but misses badly on the
"N" and on not being a fixed stroke width. Its 1905
design frame also sounds contemporary.

If one were serious about a historical restoration, it
would not be that big a deal to write the proper
font from scratch. The fixed with lets you just stroke
and then patch in seriffs. Which is probably the
"paintbrush" method originally used.

We can do this for you as a consulting service.

November 17, 2005

Sold two of our five remaining Adept Linear Sliders.
We are unlikely to find any more beyond these.

November 16, 2005

I took the HSL logo found in the 1915 Pittsburgh
Directory
and cleaned it up a bit with Paint...

Yeah, that wrong spelling of Pittsburgh was theirs,
not mine. I also was not sure of the color, so I used
sort of a maroonish Tuscan for everything.

But this item clearly cries to be done right using
fancy mid-level PostScript procs. New stuff needed
might include a spline-to-ellipse converter and some
updated variations on a banner nonlinear transform
and an elliptical path nonlinear transform. All but two
characters seem fairly easy to do. These last two can
be curvetraced or built directly from splines.

Finding a perfect fit for the large font may be tricky
as the H centers are high and the S transition is very
much sloped. Seriffs are emphasized. The N slope is
also truncated.

More on this whenever. Please email me if you know
of a good candidate font. Can the project be done in
less than 999 total file characters?

November 15, 2005

At one time, Stanley was a decent tool brand. But the
latest tool set I bought from them at Wal-Mart quickly
started peeling chrome and one screwdriver promptly
turned into a corkscrew. Apparently Chinese garbage.

A reminder that Wal-Mart does hold bunches of auctions
where they flush fixtures and such from their older stores.
I'm told that most lots are quite large, so you really have
to want to participate in a big way. Here's one auctioneer.

Many similar resources and tutorials on our Auction Help
library page. Your own custom regional auction finder can
be created for you per these guidelines.

November 14, 2005

The latest issue of Science magazine has a very interesting
solar cell paper in it. This totally new approach involves
nanotechnology and inorganics simply placed on a glass
substrate. Efficiency is not yet all that great, but production
economics appear extremely interesting.

November 13, 2005

If you are running an eBay store, it is super easy to bury
yourself in worthless trash that consumes more and more
costly storage space. Ideally, everything in storage should
be listed and producing long term income
with a well defined
(usually 15 month) sellout date.

At least once a year, I feel it is more than a good idea to
reevaluate everything in storage and do a total bailout.
Sort of a "reset to zero" going out of business sale.

Let's start a new list of possible bailout guidelines...

~ If you touch it, you list it or you get rid of it.

~ Focus on completely clearing any problem area,
    one entire shelf, tote, or similar region at a time.

~ Have and agressively use secondary disposal
    methods, such as wholesaling out to another
    eBay seller via the Alvin Pile.

~ Dramatically slash prices over anything not moving
    at all. Give them one final chance before flushing.

~ Always favor keeping new stuff over old, high value
    items over low, light items over heavy, clean over
    dirty, working over needing refurb, popular sellers
    over unknowns, items within your expertise over
    questionables, packaged over loose, compact over
    bulky, quantity over onsies, and small items over
    larger ones.

~ Carefully research current eBay prices. Chances are
    they have dropped dramatically. Avoid ever listing
    anything for less than a $19.63 opening price.

~ Group oddball low value items into like assortment lots
    or flush them entirely.

~ Links to manufacturer's listings can sometimes be used
   to replace the need for a custom photo. This can simplify
   and speed up low value item disposal. But avoid any
   listings without a photo or a photo-like link.

~ Know exactly what you have in inventory, where it is,
   its value, and its disposal plan.

~ The key tests: Would you buy this now? For how much?

~ Tag and schedule all items to be refurbed. Prioritize
    them in order of bang for the buck effort. Attack the
    big lumps first.

~ Try to use production line techniques where you shoot
   and process many photos at once. And try to maximize
   how many items are listed per work session.

~ Alternate listing big ticket items with nuisance onces.
   Mix and match "easy" and "difficult" listings.

~ Try to list at least four hundred new items during a bailout.

~ Don't agonize over individual decisions. If it is not a clear
   winner that you are genuinely excited about, flush it.

~ Always ask why some item has been neglected or unattended
   to. Chances are if it wasn't worth it then, it won't ever be.

Never sell anything you do not feel good about. 

November 12, 2005

There are apparently two different satellite resolutions
offered by Google Maps. The "brown" areas seem to
be around one meter resolution, while the "green" areas
are uselessly crude, probably around ten meters or so.

I'd expect browns to replace greens as they become more
availalble. Ultimately, what would be nice is full stereo at
0.1 meter resolution in five overlapping spectra. With
blendable streets and other geographic overlays.

At any rate, using Google Maps to trace the Harmony
Short Line
north of Warrendale gets tricky because the
maps are in the green. Instead, you can start with this
Station List and the "Old Railroad Grade" you'll find on
the Topozone map southwest of Callery to reconstruct
much of the remaining route.

It has been decades since I have been in the area, but
I suspect some HSL related structures still remain. A
Power plant is presumably on Babcock Blvd, and a
Catering Deli is supposedly in the Wexford ticket station.
Bridge abutments likely remain near Pine Creek Road and
Pine Creek itself, but the Cemetary Lane bridge probably
has been done in by development.

November 11, 2005

Corrected and expanded the links to some of our early
construction projects on our Guru Archive Reprints page.

Newly added are both parts of the Universal Frequency
Counter
and a photo of the Apple I with my keyboard on it.

November 10, 2005

eBay viewers do not like to even look at items that do
not have pictures. And, while links to manufacturer's data
sheets and websites are permitted, these seldom are in
the .JPG format needed for an eBay picture image.

Here are a pair of workarounds that can improve your
industrial eBay listings: First, the old way to cause
the "camera" icon to show without a main picture was
to create a one pixel white .JPG file.

But you can also newly check the "Description contains
a photo"
box to get a simpler result.


Second. here is the HTML code to provide a picture and
a link at the same time...

<a href=""http://www.yourlinkhere.com">
<img src="http://www.yourmessagehere.jpg" >
</a>

In this case, your "picture" will usually be a message
that says something like "CLICK FOR IMAGE AND
TECH DATA"
. And your link will be to the needed
info. Note that the link can be in most any file format.

November 9, 2005

Here's some additional info on our recurring "history
can be almost as obsessive as engineering"
topics.

We've long seen that an "adequate supply" of Pittsburgh
streetcar photos appears at davesrailpix.com. And that
attempting to view all of these at once may kauz yins guys
to make a mill outta a chopamm sammich and Olde
Frothingslosh Pale Stale Ale
in Sliberty.

Fortunately, as a desert rat, I am at long last immune to such
goings on. Skooze me while I redd up the website.

In regards to this matter, the Rege Cordic website has newly
moved. And bunches of other Pittsburgh Streetcar images
can be newly found here. The most bizarre of which (and
quite possibly the most racist) was the Herron Hill Carhouse
which held exactly one streetcar! And apparently used until
1951. A list of carhouses and their history appears here.

Even more interesting is this 1915 PittsburghCity Guide that
details all of the early streetcar routes. Amazingly, there were
few changes over the years, with the conspicuous exceptions of
Crosstown, the Flying Fraction, and latter day route merges
and abandonments.

This directory also includes actual schedules of the Harmony
Shortline Interurban
. Whose other fascinating links appear in
What's New for 2005 for February 24th.

Finally, Google Maps in their new Hybrid mode sure makes
tracing the Harmony Shortline easy. Starting here, you can
follow north through Warrendale or south across the Highland
trestle to McKnight Road and Babcock Blvd.

Further south, A publisher of streetcar videos has the route
following the Blue Belt, aka Evergreen Road up and over to
East Street where it joined the Pittsburgh Streetcars. There's
an Ivory Avenue stop shown on the route map that supports
this path. Yet this source tells a slightly different story.

November 8, 2005

Some interesting alternate energy math:

A 2500 watt synchronous inverter is purchased and
installed for $2500 for a home solar pv system. It is
financed for ten years at ten percent interest. What
percentage of the generated electricity is needed to
pay for the inverter at a utility buyback rate of nine
cents per kilowatt hour?

Assume the solar pv system generates 2000 watts for
seven hours per day for 300 sunshine days per year.
$1.05 per day will be available for purchase by the
utility if zero energy is locally used.

Amortizing $2500 for ten years at ten percent consumes
$1.10 per day of the electricity value generated. Thus,
in this example, the synchronous inverter by itself will
consume ALL of the value of the generated power and
then some
.

More in our Energy Fundamentals tutorial.

November 7, 2005

Something else to worry about: Public utility power
system stability largely depends upon customer loads
behaving as expected. But a new tightly switchmode
regulated and power factor corrected load (such as
a computer power supply) might actually present a
negative resistance to the grid!

A load whose current goes up when the voltage goes
down and vice versa.

Such nonlinear and/or negative resistance loads will
become more and more common as power quality
regs start to be enforced and load efficiency becomes
much more in demand. Clearly destabilizing the grid.

At present, such loads are a tiny faction of a percent.
But when and if they ever get up in the twenty percent
range, things just might get ineresting in a big hurry.

November 6, 2005

One of the more subtle auction opportunities is the poisioned
lot
. Which happens when (a) a bunch of junk is piled on top of
the good stuff, or (b) when the auctioneer decides to take an
unsellable turkey and "put it with the next lot".

Either way, the poisioned lot often goes for a pittance. The only
trap is to decide how much hassle it will be for you to flush
the trash and keep the goodies.

Depending on the auctioneer's impatience, a poisioned lot may
even be combined with a fast hammer, for an even better
opportunity.

More on our Auction Help page.

November 5, 2005

But the emperor has no clothes!

How good is the energy density of those brand new Farad
sized supercaps
? Well, any capacitor obeys a law of
CV*V/2 and, at present the supercaps are strictly limited
to very low voltages.

Thus a one Farad supercap at two volts has an energy
storage capacity of two Watt-Seconds or Joules.

A plain old computer grade electrolytic cap might have
a rating of 4700 microfarads at 450 volts for a motor
control. Its energy storage capacity is about 476 Watt
Seconds
. Even allowing for the larger volume, this is
clearly denser energy storage.

A liter of gasoline has energy storage of 32,400,000
watt seconds
.

More in our Energy Fundamentals tutorial.

November 4, 2005

As several newsgroup posters are conclusively proving,
rectocranial inversion can clearly be both chronic and
acute at the same time.

November 3, 2005

A reminder that we have our new RSS Feed up at
http://www.tinaja.com/whtnu.xml. This continually links
our What's New page and also gives you instant access
to a few of our more popular tutorials.

Updates are often daily.

To participate, you will need a news aggregator such as
NewsGator. And copy the above link to them.

Please report any problems. Some aggregators and
Google's Blog Search do not seem to be updating for us.
Yet we pass this validator just fine. While we get hundreds
of RSS Feed hits per day, the traffic on the linked web
pages does not seem to be changing all that much.

Are you able to use our RSS feeds properly? Please
email me with your feedback.

November 2, 2005

One of the more useful and impressive image post processing
tasks is background knockout. Sadly, commercial knockout
programs are less than useless in that they fail where they are
needed most in deep shadows and ambiguous areas.

Knocking out an image background can dramatically improve
appearance and edge sharpness, especially for eBay product
images. I've got a number of free tools of varying complexity
available that makes knockout fast and simple.

Many hundreds of post processed examples appear here.

With the fanciest tools, you first use my NUTILT01.PSL to
both correct perspective or keystone distortion and block
all true whites in the image to prevent any possible punchthru.
You then trace a continuous white outline around the item
and use my KNOCKBACK.PSL to convert most (and possibly
all) of your background to pure white.

Note that you must not change the image size or brightness or
contrast or gamma in mid process!
Otherwise you gain or lose
whites. Once you get the "live" portion of your image the way
you want it to appear, you can use my NUBKG01.PSL to slide
a random patterned background "under" your live image. You
can do this with or without an automatic vingetting. The process
also dramatically reduces .JPG edge artifacts as well.

Naturally, you do all of this in .BMP Format. Once you have
a final image and background, you crop, resize, alter contrast
gamma, and brightness, sharpen (a little goes a long way), and
do your out-the-door .JPG conversion for web upload.

If you prefer simpler "manual" knockout tools, you can select
a ready-to-go patterned background from KNOCKOUT.BMP
and paste progressively larger blocks into your background.

Here's a newly discovered (DUH!) trick to speed out knocking
out to a subject diagonal line: Use the "star" tool in paint to
sample a "C" shaped area in the background. Make the two
UNCLOSED ends of the "C" have a SLOPE nearly equal to the
diagonal!
Copy and then paste using white=transparent. Most
(and possibly all) of the edge should have a perfect fit. If not, the
few pixels remaining can easily be retouched. Keep repeating
for the length of the diagonal.

Many more details on these tricks appear in our GuruGram and
Auction Help tutorials. Custom Consulting and training seperately
available.

November 1, 2005

Tell me a tale and I'll spin you a yarn...

Many moons ago, I had this legendary New York editor come out
and visit a time or two. Who apparently had never strayed very far
from Lawn Guileand and was not, um, aware of the ways of the West.

At a famous Nogales restaurant, he repeatedly asked the waiter
if the Chicken Bombay was hot. Finally the exasperated waiter said
"Would you like this served Mexican Style, Senior?". Which was
enthuasiastically accepted. Naturally, the only purpose of the chicken
in Mexican style Chicken Bombay is to protect the plate.

Later, after nearly washing his car away in a flash flood, he ended up
adding creosote bush to our mesquite hot dog fire and just had to
"pet" that cute and cuddly fuzzy cholla cactus.

On a seperate Texas trip, he managed to get close up to a sheep for
the first time and wondered why the sheep was so greasy. We told
him about Lanolin, and he wondered why we grease the sheep. We
explained that this was natural and that nobody would ever do
anything as ridiculous as greasing a sheep.

A few minutes later, of course, we walked past the cow oiler.

October 31, 2005

At present, most of our sales are directly through eBay
auctions or our eBay store. Our Bargain Page also leads
you to our Adept Slider and Medical Inventory web pages.

Our Automation Inventory page has not been done yet,
nor any of the other pages we expect to list through
Froogle. Nor is our Paypal based shopping card quite
ready, so our website sales remain VISA/MC or Paypal.

I also still have a demo up of our older Bargain Gallery
system to display website items for sale. Note that this
is a demo only!
As stated on our Bargain Page, most of
the items listed are no longer available or may be priced
differently!


You may inadvertently reach some of these older example
demo offerings through a deep Google search. Sorry if this
causes you any problems.

A Galley Slave tutorial appears here.

October 30, 2005

OK, here is "just enough" HTML to let you improve
your eBay listings....

HTML commands may be inserted into your eBay
descriptions. They typically consist of an opening carat,
the command, and a closing carat. Closing commands
will have a "/" as their first character after the opening
carat.

Here is how you add white space betwen paragraphs...

             <p>Your paragraph goes here.</p>

Here is how to make one or more words bold...

            Words <b>to be bolded</b> go here.

Here is how to indent one or more paragraphs...

            <ul>
            Stuff to be indented goes here.
             </ul>

Here is how to print more than one space in a row...

            Use &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;for extra spaces.

Here is how to force a linefeed...

            Your first line is here.<br>
            Your second line is here.<br>
            Your third line is here.
           
           
 Note that the <br> command is one of the
            very few that does
not need a closing </br>

Here is how to provide a web link...

            Go to <A href=""http://www.tinaja.com"
             The Guru's Lair Website</a> for more
             info.
 
           
 Note that the link title appears before
            the ending </a>. Ordinary text resunmes
            after the </a>. Fancier links can include
            images and expanded images.

Here is how to add a second image...

           
<IMG "your pix filename">

            Note that the link must start with http://... if
            local hosting is used. Fancier images can
            include size, position, and other info.

An image and a clickable link can be combined...

<a href=""http://www.yourlinkhere.com">
<img src="http://www.yourmessagehere.jpg" >
</a>

Normally, the image would be a message
such as "CLICK FOR IMAGE AND TECH
DATA".
This allows "image" access to a
non-JPEG file such as a manufacturer's data
sheet.

Naturally, you should NEVER use HTML in any eBay
listing to add sound, animation, glitz, or garish color.

Additional tutorials on our Auction Help library page.

October 30, 2005

I am in the process of adding both third party links and actual
reprints to many of my older articles to our Guru Archive
Reprints
library page. I seem to be having trouble getting
scanned pages of my original Hardware Hacker series that
first appeared early in Modern Electronics magazine.

The Modern Electronics series ran for 1986 to 1989? and
predated the Radio Electronics series, most of which are
now available on our Hardware Hacker library page. Note
that the defunct Modern Electronics was a Long Island
mag, and is not the same title as a more recent British one.

Can any of you provide me with scanned reprints of these
columns? Or loan me the magazines themselves?

October 29, 2005

Some of the more unusual fire incidents here at Thatcher Fire
Department involve cotton module fires. These modules can
easily self-destruct without any air whatsoever in a wondrously
bizarre fire science process related to exothermic pyrolysis.

A cottom picker machine will make multiple trips to a compactor
which hydraulically compresses it into a 8x8x28 foot block that may
sit around for a day or more before a special vehicle can haul it
to the gin. A typical module may be worth $6500, and many dozens
may be present in a field at once.

Cotton is an outstanding insulator. That is why we have it in the
first place. A deep seated fire can be blamed on "sparking
rocks" but also caused by smoking, a disgruntled employee,
parking a muffler or exhaust tailpipe too close, kids, or whatever.

The cotton insulation retains the heat and the strange process begins.

Heat applied to cottonseed oil refines the oil and liberates
oxygen
! The cotton then burns in the oxygen producing more
heat. Left alone, the entire module will self-destruct. Without
any help
from wind or oxygen in air! Fortunately, the process
is slow starting. It may take several hours to get in gear and
it may take several days to destroy the entire module.

Firefighting is extremely labor intensive. A plucker crew must
pull out every piece of black or discolored cotton. While the
chucker crew moves the damaged cotton to a safe area. The
only saving grace is that the reward is several hundred dollars
of value savings per fireman hour. The process is very similar
to a dentist removing decay from a giant tooth. Miss anything
and the whole process may have to start over again at 3 AM.

Sometimes the module fires can be smelled without any smoke
at all. Our new infrared imaging camera works surperbly well
in zeroing in on the seat of the problem. And not missing stuff.

October 28, 2005

Added http://www.publicsurplus.com to our Arizona Auction
Resouces
section of our Auction Help library page. Apparently
the City of Tucson and others will be using this site forall their
vehicle and other auctions.

Your own custom regional auction finder can be created for
you per these details. Our Arizona example is the best
available anywhere, bar none.

October 27, 2005

I'm often asked why my .PDF Acrobat files load ridiculously
faster and are much shorter than anybody else's.

The glib answer is that they load ridiculously faster because they
are much shorter. A properly done Acrobat page with text and
illustrations should be around 10K maximum.

First, it is super important that your ISP provides a feature known
as Byte Range Retrieval or page-at-a-time delivery. Either allows
early pages to be viewed while the latter ones invisibly download in
the background. Most ISP's routinely provide this these days.

Second, if web distribution is your primary delivery, be sure to
optimize it with Acrobat 7. Per these guidelines.

Third is to use PostScript and Acrobat to do the things they
are best at -- delivering text and stroked graphics. Use of
scanned bitmaps is guaranteed to make your files excessively
long besides introducing other severe problems. And preventing
the stuff that Acrobat is really good at, such as magnifying and
searching and Cooltype LCD resolution enhancement.

When and where practical, text should be captured from bitmaps
and converted
. Besides improving legibility and searching, this
will dramatically reduce your file sizes and delivery times.

Also when and where practical, stroked graphics should be captured
from bitmaps
. Again, ridiculously improving quality and reducing
file sizes. Any essential remaining bitmaps should be reduced in
size and resolution to the bare minimum needed for your delivery
objectives.

Popular applications programs also tend to grossly bloat PostScript
code. Especially with unneeded "handle everything" headers.

My own approach is to write all of my material using text and
stroked graphics written in raw PostScript
using my free Gonzo
Utilities
. Various .PSL (Postscript-Lancaster) files on my website
give you many detailed examples. Here are some recent ones.

There are also lots of detailed examples in our PostScript Beginner
Projects
series. Additional PostScript speedup secrets appear here.

We can offer you a .PDF file size reduction service
and training services on a custom basis.

October 26, 2005

How to spot an extroverted engineer: They stare at your
shoes rather than their own.

October 25, 2005

Concluding possible updates to my Energy Fundamentals...

~ I should have mentioned super capacitors somewhere
   along the way. While their power density is now
   becoming interesting, their energy density remains
   abysmal. Measured in CV*V /2 watt seconds rather
   than needed watt hours or kilowatt hours. Other issues
   include very low voltages and poor regulation.

Methane Hydrates should also have been covered.
   There are more methane hydrates buried in tundra
   and the ocean than all the known petroleum and gas
   reserves. But these are extremely unstable. It has
   yet to be shown if and how and when any net energy
   can be extraced from them. These also raise the
   spectre of unprecented environmental disaster. I've
   added some new links to our Its A Gas hydrogen
   resources library page where you can go for details..

~ By far the best possible thing that the federal
    government can do with alternate energy anything
    is to get and stay out of the way. Virtually all
    attempts at government meddling in alternate
    energy to date have ranged from hilariously
    worthless
to outright ripoff scams. The next time
    some epsilon minus calls for a government alternate
    energy funding using your dollars, ask them which
    type of subsidy they prefer...

The CALIFORNIA model in which virtually
all of the
paybacks went into boiler shop
scams that set pv back by
many decades.

The ARIZONA model in which you were given
a free large
SUV in exchange for an unconnected
and empty one gallon storage tank.

The MIDWEST model where a monumental
ethanol energy sink was
cleverly disguised as a
twelve billion dollar vote buying scam.

The SOUTH CAROLINA model where they
added a five ton
evaporative cooler to get
their 3 ton but nonworking solar
adsorption
cooler to look good.

The BARSTOW model where a highly touted
solar energy farm could not produce enough
power to run the air conditioning in its own
instrumentation building.

The DETROIT model where their bus demos
are trucking their
hydrogen in from Pittsburgh,

The CANADIAN model where they coasted
their nonworking
hydrogen bus to the media
who marveled at how quiet it was.

The ICELAND model in which outsiders with
hidden agendas are attempting to trash one of
the very few "ain't broke" world economies .

And, of course....

The BRAZIL model that nearly bankrupted the
entire country
over monumental ethanol stupidity.

~ So what and where are the genuine alternate energy
     opportunities today? I strongly feel that conventional
     silicon pv will never reach net energy breakeven or
     any renewability or sustainability status. But that
     emerging alternatives involving spread or multiple
     workfunctions
, quantum dots, and photonic lattices
     are starting to look very promising. As are newly
     practical MEMS nanoantennas and direct conversion.
     
While exergy clearly guarantees that electrolysis
     will remain utterly useless, it is obvious to me that
     solar driven processes that bond hydrogen to carbon
     for high energy density room temperature liquids will
     emerge as alternate fuel solutions. A blend of heptane
     and isooctane seems particularly interesting,
Carbon
     neutral makes a more sense to me than carbon free. And
     most likely will strongly involve metalloradicals.

Finally, the clear winners will likely involve negawatts or savings through
conservation. Especially improved LED lighting, various schemes from
the Rocky Mountain Institute, and my own Magic Sinewaves.

October 24, 2005

Continuing possible updates to my Energy Fundamentals...

~ My claim that not one net watthour of silicon
   solar pv has ever been generated
remains prima
   facie obvious. For nobody anywhere is yet offering
   unsubsidized eight cent per kwh solar pv. Claims of
   "panel energy payback" in a few years are clearly
   wildly bogus as they involve subsidies, net metering
   ripoffs, and fail to take into account the full burden
   amortization of a complete synchronous grid buyback
   system. As of this writing, the price of an approved
   and properly installed home scale synchronous
   inverter alone is enough to guarantee that any pv
   system remains a net energy sink.

~ Even if the magic "fifty cents per peak watt" and
   "eight cents per fully burdened kwh" were achieved,
   you still would not be in any manner renewable or
   sustainable! All you have is a complex smoke and
   mirrors energy transfer scam
in which traditional
   energy sources are "painted green" by converting
   them to dimes, and then letting the sun shine on the
   dimes. For pv solar to ever become a net energy
   source, it will have to provide fully burdened cost
   advantages over conventional sources
. Such cost
   advantages would likely set in somewhere around
   twenty cents per fully burdened peak watt.

~ I should have included mention of avoided opportunity
   costs
. Even if you pay cash for a system, there still
   will be the equivalent of amortization because of other
   investments the capital could have been used for.
   Individuals who feel that "economics does not apply
   to them" or "dimes are different than kilowatt hours"
   are clearly deluding themselves.

~ There is no known means of solar energy storage that
    is even remotely cost, convenience, simplicity, and
    safety comparable to synchronous grid buyback.
    Thus renewable and sustainable solar pv will most
    likely come from tightly grid linked users. And that
    pv solar will largely increase rather than decrease
    grid interdependence.

The amortization clock runs continuously, so any home
    alternate fuel scheme that is only run a hour a day will
    have fixed costs 24 times higher than a system that is
    run continuously. Such a system is unlikely to ever
    be cost competitive.

                                    ( to be continued... )

October 23, 2005

I must be doing something right, judging from the outrageous Ad
Hominum
attacks my Energy Fundamentals instantly generates.
Response is so fast that it is clear that the unhousebroken ones
do not even read the story, let alone study it before they attack.

This tutorial, of course, has long ago been peer reviewed ( and
lavishly praised ) by credible alternate energy insiders. The few
initial errors have long since been corrected, and no serious
challenge to any of the content has since been validly raised.

I guess if I were working on a revision, I might change it to my
GuruGram web format expand on a few points though...

~ More time should have been spent developing
     and explaining exergy, since this little known
     thermodynamic fundamental guarantees such
     things as why hydrogen from pv electrolysis flat
     out ain't gonna happen. Exergy is a mesaure of
     energy quality. The round trip of electricity
     to hydrogen to electricity
is so intrinsically and
     inherently wasteful that there always will be
     more intelligent things to do with grid or solar
     pv sources than instantly destroy most of their
     quality and value.

~  Yes, the ratio of dollars to energy equivalents
    can vary with time, with exergy, and  with ongoing
    tech developments. But when you contract with
    a net metering utility at a dime per kilowatt hour,
    that ratio gets cast in stone. And every dime in the
    transaction at that time is a voucher for and exactly
    equivalent to
a kilowatt hour of electrical energy. If
    your pv system generates two dimes worth of energy
    a day and has three dimes worth of amortization, you
    are destroying gasoline ( or other conventional net
    energy sources ), plain and simple.

~   One reader loudly continues to object to my treating
     a gasoline kilowatt hour and an electrical kilowatt
     hour the same in the introductory chart on energy
     density. Doing so remains a valid basis of comparison
     and will not be changed
. Any differences are properly
     dealt with in the exergy section later in the paper. And
     electricity can be used for room heat or gasoline likely
     can eventually be used in fuel cells. In any tutorial, a
     choice has to be made of exactly what level of detail
     at what point is appropriate to be able to understand
     and comprehend the basics.

"The longer you run a pv system whose amortization
   exceeds its produced energy value, the more gasoline
   you destroy"
is obviously correct. But most likely
   should have been qualified by explaining that you have
   this two position switch on any pv panel to date. In
   switch position "A", you destroy a lot of gasoline. And,
   of course, in switch position "B", you destroy even more.

                                    ( to be continued... )

October 22, 2005

Photographing "big coiled thingies" such as a large immersion heater
or an endoscope or whatever for eBay listing can get sticky in a hurry.

One trick that works well for me is to tape the item to a door. This
gives you very careful control of coil spacing and smoothness and
is much easier than attempting vertical photography.
 
More on eBay image prep at http://www.tinaja.com/auct01.shtml

Some stock background knockouts appear here. Besides dramatically
improving object sharpness and visibility, they very much reduce any
JPEG edge artifacts as well.

October 21, 2005

One of the consequences of posting objective and rational engineering
info to a newsgroup is that you are immediately accused of being in the
employ of an oil company. Especially when you are telling people things
that they definitely do not want to hear.

Such as the little known but easily verifiable fundamental thermodynamic
principle called exergy that absolutely and positively guarantees that
conventional silicon pv solar to bulk hydrogen energy generation by way
of
electrolysis flat out ain't gonna happen.

Well, if the posting is in fact objective and rational, it should stand on
its own merits and should not matter in the least what its source is.


Anyone who knows me at all would immediately recognize the ludicrous
absurdity of my being an Exxon PR flack. More on me here.

But what really amazes me is there is no outrage whatsoever over the oil
companies secretly demolishing all of the drive in theaters
to prevent
their being converted into solar energy farms.

October 20, 2005

When you sign up for an email service with your ISP, you usually have
a choice of "accept all" or "acept specific". With accept specific, only
the exact email names you list will receive messages. With accept all,
any prefix will automatically be forwarded.

The "accept all" presents a dilemma. In exchange for mountains of
trash and scam email, legit customers may guess at an orders@tinaja.com
or a sales@tinaja.com or engineering@tinaja.com, or whatever. Or some
other prefix that you'd never guess yourself. And thus may very much
increase your sales, exposure, and customer satisfaction.

Your call.

October 19, 2005

The Arizona auction season seems to peak this time of year, with many
hundreds of offerings state wide. You'll find a nearly complete listing
here. Which is the best available anywhere, bar none. And is part of
our Auction Help library page.

A review of the main players in the Arizona auction scene can be found
here. A curtom regional auction finder for your area can be completed
for you per these guidelines.

October 18, 2005

As any geologist can tell you, there are three kinds of rocks: Ingenious,
Metaphoric, and Sedentary.

October 17, 2005

We are nearly sold out of our Adept Robotic Precision Sliders.
Only five remain and have been listed on our eBay store. It is
unlikely we will be able to find any more anytime soon.

Four are 950 mm medium duty, while the last is 1000 mm heavy
duty
. Repeatability is a tiny fraction of a mil!

October 16, 2005

Another place that digital beats analog bits down is in
"distortionless" filters. Any analog filter must introduce
time delays, because it cannot output before it receives
any inputs.

Digital filters, instead, can easily work with "negative
time"
simply by spacing symmetrical taps earlier or later
along a shift register or its software sampling equivalent.
This lets you build all sorts of "impossible" filter structures.

Such as "brickwall" filters and "linear phase" filters that
have zero group delay distortion. Several detailed examples
appear in MUSE105.PDF and MUSE107.PDF

October 15, 2005

Curiously, we have had digital methods to solve messy math
problems even before we had analog ones. In particular, good
old Newton's Method often can solve stuff that is otherwise
difficult, non-obvious, or even unsolvable by known means.

With Newton's Method, you take a guess at where you think
a solution might lie. Calculate that guess. Make a very small
change
in one of the variables and recalculate. Repeat for
each variable and keep making the changes smaller and
smaller until you get as close to a solution as you care to.

Solutions are often ridiculously faster and simpler. But you
do have to start with a good guess, might miss other solutions,
and can "jump mode" if your initial changes are not small
enough. And, of course, at least one solution must exist for
the method to work at all.

More details in STALAC.PDF and MSINTRO1.PDF

October 14, 2005

More on the "orange book": Pretty near every fire engine in the
country has a copy of the orange book near its front seat. The full
and correct name is the "2004 Emergency Response Guidebook".
It is downloadable free from the DOT using this link.

While hard copies of the book are usually given away as part of
hazmat training, they can be purchased from the GPO or from
Amazon Books.

The book quickly tells you how nasty most common chemicals,
gases, and similar hazmat items are. One section is by name,
one by DOT placard number (a four digit number inside a
diagonal frame on many trucks), the emergency response
procedure, and the necessary evacuation distances.

In particular. you can note that the daytime nowind evacuation
distance for a hydrogen incident is 2600 feet from any occupied
structure.

Hazmat response is very much different from fire fighting in
that the best thing to do is often nothing at all. Most often,
the first responders will do nothing but stabilize the scene and
wait till the calvary arrives ten hours later.

Needless to say, while anyone is welcome to study and use this
text, any response whatsoever can be monuentally stupid and
probably dead wrong. Especially without the proper training,
required safety gear, and ICS command structure all in place.

All first responders follow the Hazmat rule of thumb: "Hold your
arm fully extended with your thumb up. Close one eye. If you
can still see the scene, you are too close."

October 13, 2005

Expanded and updated our Hydrogen Energy library page.

October 12, 2005

Just picked up a bunch of stainless steel hose reels from a copper
company rumored to be in the Morenci area. These sell for nearly
a thousand dollars each new. email me if you have any interest at
a tiny fraction of this price.

October 11, 2005

A lot of hydrogen experimenters do not have the faintest clue how
dangerous
hydrogen is or how stupid the things they are trying are.

Many moons ago, a Sci.Energy.Hydrogen newsgroup poster tried
for both the X-prize and the Darwin Award at the same time while
blowing Northern Nevada off the map. Sadly, his garage did not quite
reach suborbital velocity. And repeating the experiment would have
been somewhat problematical.

Some key points:

Hydrogen is monumentally and exceptionally
   dangerous
, having one of the widest flammability
   ranges and lowest spark energies known. It also can
   be invisible (even when burning!) and odorless.

~ The contained hydrogen density by weight is much
   less than gasoline and its density by volume is an
   outright joke. No personal vehicle practical method
   of hydrogen storage is known
. Except, of course
   by carbon bonding to a convenient and safe room
  temperature liquid.

Electrolysis makes no sense whatsoever for bulk
   hydrogen energy production because of its staggering
   loss of exergy as guaranteed by thermodynamic
   fundamentals. Electrolysis is pretty much the same as
   1:1 exchanging US Dollars for Mexican Pesos
.

~ Stainless Steel electrodes are the worst possible choice
   for an electrolysizer because of (a) the hydrogen overvoltage
   of iron and (b) its low energy passivated surface. Any
   efficient electolysizer demands platinized platinum electrodes.

~ The "efficiency" of electrolysis is utterly meaningless, because
    (a) such figures do not include amortization and (b) electrolysis
    is inherently a destroyer of value because it converts many very
   high value kilowatt hours of electrical energy into far fewer
   and much lower value kilowatt hours of unstored hydrogen gas.

~  If you are both serious and safety competent, you rent your
   hydrogen by the bottle
from your nearby hydrogen store.
   This is infinitely safer and cheaper than generating your own.

~  While a modest 5% hydrogen injection can in theory improve
    ICE performance, no onboard generation method to date has
    been able to show a net gain, even before amortization
. Should
    such a method evolve, it certainly will not involve electrolysis.

~  The DOT Orange Book recommends a minimum daytime
   nonwind evacuation distance for hydrogen of 2600 feet from
   any occupied structure.

~  Bulk gaseous hydrogen energy is not now and never will be
   a viable or realistic solution for anything. This is absolutely
   guaranteed
by thermodynamic fundamentals. 

Hydrogen does remain number one on the charts, though. Even after
all these years. Much more on our It's a Gas hydrogen energy page.  

October 10, 2005

I'm wondering if the conventional "darkroom techniques" courses
still being offered by community colleges are not totally worthless.
They offer zero in the way of marketable skills, and the odds of any
student ever again "slopping in the slush" are utterly negligible.

But worst of all is that they focus on the wrong things in the wrong
way.
Digital photography, of course, has totally run away will all of
the marbles. With its utter elimination of any need of darkrooms
anytime ever. Along with obscenely simplified lighting due to its
much higher sensitivity and considerably wider dynamic range.

These days, the marketable skills all involve post processing.
which is where 95% of your time and effort of photography should
be focused. It often does not matter in the least what the original
image looks like
, so long as the camera ( or often better scanner )
is pointed roughly in the direction of the subject most of the time.

Many examples of "new way" photography appear on our eBay
Store where we have the finest images, bar none. Some post prep
example techniques are detailed in our STEPPREP.PDF tutorial,
and in many other resources found on our Auction Help page.

If you are serious about "learning photography", start with free
ImageView32, then PhotoShop, then stup up to my Universal
Bitmap Manipulation
utilities.

Consulting services available.

October 9, 2005

Hue adjustment of an image can end up a lot messier than it sounds.
I'm in the process of adding a hue adjustor to our Universal Bitmap
Manipulator
, and expect it to be working shortly.

This might help with the "Nikon shown dark green as light blue"
quirk.

If done directly, there are six different cases, based upon the second
strongest RGB color increasing or decreasing. Also, the eye does
not perceive each color at equal brightness, using something like
0.59 green + 0.30 red + 0.11 blue for an equivalent gray.

I chose to ignore the perception differences and let PostScript do
all of the rest of the work...

            currenthsbcolor             %  get current pixel HSB
             3  -1 roll                         %  hue to top of stack
             hueadj add                    %  add 0-1 forward correction
             dup 1 gt { 1 sub} if        % trap out overflow
             3  1 roll                         %  hue back in order
             sethsbcolor                   % and replace

Hue in forward or reverse degrees can be preconverted once to
a value in the 0-1 range. Speed seems acceptably fast.

October 8, 2005

Posted a third party Early Article List to our Guru's Lair
Historical Repository
. Also newly added third party reprints
of the Psychedelia I Color Organ and a Sports Timer.

October 7, 2005

Finally got our KB-27A USAF fighter aircraft strike cameras
up on our eBay store. Besides being highly collectible, they
should be of interest to beginning film students or for use as a
"throwaway" camera for high risk stunt gags. 16 mm.

We can supply the camera mechanism sealed in mil packaging
in fairly clean used condition, the camera mount in somewhat
used condition, and the film cassettes in heavily worn condition.

Sorry, no docs. A small electric-only control panel and some
stock machine screws are absent. email me for further info.

October 6, 2005

Not sure why very dark greens turn out a light blue with our
Nikon Coolpix 5000 camera. Probably has to do with spectral
filtering. Or a strong UV line in the flash. We also had a court
Stenotype do the same thing a few months back.

Color correction this extreme has to be done in stages with
a stripped and replaced background. So I just left it as is
At least for now.

More photo tips on our Auction Help page.
A custom regional auction finder can be created for you.

October 5, 2005

We just picked up bunches of a rather unusual item that may
have all sorts of unintended uses. We just got 51 Bypass
Feeders
, all as new still sealed in original packaging that list
for $153 each. They are up on our eBay store and also available
direct via email. These are all Wingert model 2 HD...

These are 10 gauge steel, have a nice deep green epoxy finish,
(much darker than shown) and a doubly sealed cast twist cap.

These look like a heavier fire extinguisher, and their normal
use is to let you add chemicals to a recirculating liquid system
such as industrial wastewater control or HVAC. Such as acids
or algicides or scale control chemicals.

But they should work just fine cast in concrete for a "secret
stash". Or used as a base for a garden birdbath or gazing
globe. Or a small pneumatic accumulator. Or a tool or small
object stash you can weld onto a truck or ATV. Or for a
specialized piece of ag or farm equipment. Or as a mid-sized
telescope mount.

October 4, 2005

My guidelines of what works for me on eBay are found in
several tutorials on our Auction Help page. Always start with
our eBay Buying Secrets and eBay Selling Secrets.

I very much feel that my keys to eBay success include seeking
out at least a 30:1 sell/buy ratio, spending extreme time on
photo post processing, having no foreign sales, avoiding all sales
less than $19.63, not selling anything you cannot hold extended
at arm's length
, providing lots of personal value added, selling
only highly unique items, providing detailed descriptions and
support links
, and accepting VISA/MC/Paypal only.

And, of course, never ending an auction early, and never using
dropshitters
, palletized liquidation scams, or consignment sales.
And never selling anything you do not own and have physical
possession of. And, of course, being scrupulously honest with
revenue neutral shipping and guaranteed products.

As I may have mentioned a time or two before, we do have an
associate site that receives our seconds and unsellables and
remarkets them at extremely low costs.

I also use this totally independent site for comparison, as they
often tend to do the exact opposite of what I do. Low sales prices,
any payment form, minimal photography, heavy items, lower margins,
limited descriptons, no link support, and foreign sales.

As near as I can tell, my methods seem to be to be generating
significantly more income for the same or less time and effort.
I am very careful never to critique their site. Nor they mine.

October 3, 2005

Here's a summary of our current photography techniques. My
goal here is to flat out have the finest images on eBay, bar none.
Such as this example or this one. (Be sure to click expand!)

Images are usually shot with a Nikon Cool Pix 5000 or a Hewlett-
Packard
scanner. Flash is used except when it burns out white or
foreground areas. Otherwise, available light and white carded
boost is used.

I very strongly feel that most of your time should be spent in image
post processing
, and have placed several tutorials on our Auction
Help
library page. If you are not spending at least two hours per
photo, you are not doing the job right. Plan on less than five percent
of your image processing time taking the actual photo.

While others use Adobe Photoshop, my own preference is to use my
own hand written routines combined with ImageView32 and plain
old Paint. As many as seven or eight layers may be used in an image,
combining varying original exposure levels and original art.

On a "boxy" perspective subject, post processing usually begins with
a slight rotation, followed by a keystone correction that makes all
vertical lines perfectly so to one pixel accuracy. Our swings and tilts
and similar routines include a punchthru protector that eliminates any
true whites from creating problems inside the main image area.

Most of t
he background is then knocked out to white with this routine.
The background may ultimately remain white, be patterned, or even
have a Full AutomaticVignetting applied. Patterning or vignetting
will significantly reduce .JPEG edge artifacts.

The image itself is then improved by minimizing shadows and any
excessively white areas, and removing any camera-enhanced dust
or defects that will later be removed by the final product cleaning.
Lettering is sometimes improved by claning and sharpening the
background. Other times, a full relettering is done using our
Bitmap Typewriter routines.

Final post-processing consists of size reduciton, followed by gamma,
brightness, and contrast correction, cropping to size, sliding an
appropriate background underneath, and doing a very slight sharpening.
Sharpening is often best done before resizing. .BMP to JPEG conversion
is only done as a final out-the-door step.

Typical final image size is 680 pixels wide.

There's some further improvements I definitely want to make, but the
above process seems to barely let me squeak by. I've created a new
Universal Bitmap Manipulator you'll find on our GuruGram library
page. Two needed routines under developement are a precision sub-
degree rotator and a true "distortionless" keystone corrector.

October 2, 2005

Most electronic components run on smoke. If you let the smoke out,
they don't work anymore.

October 1, 2005

Picked up an incredible four-cents-on-the-dollar BIN deal on
an absolutely superb and super rugged data acquisition and logging
computer
and placed it on our eBay store. Unit includes internal
plugins and external accessories to measure precision pressures,
speeds, clamped currents, time, frequency, low and high voltage,
and great heaping bunches more. Ultra high end SAIC brand.

Full docs are apparently included on the companion hard drive.

Heavy duty military unit appears to be in "near new" condition
with most cables and accessories clearly unused. The only minor
issues are that it is a 1994 era 486 machine with 16 Megs of RAM
and 600 Megs of removable(!) hard drive. And that an apparently
minor repair is needed to a nonresponsive keyboard.

September 30, 2005

REFURB LOG: Many traditional electronics sources have been
merged or otherwise combined into new corporate shells. Others
may simply have vanished without a trace Here are some of my
guidelines on finding out who is what these days...

If you can find the original address, punch it back into Google and
find out who is there today. Ferinstance, Sypris is now where the
F. W. Bell Magnetics folks used to be. If you have the original old
website, try using the Wayback Machine to see when they changed
to who.

Good old Thomas Registry might be of help. As might some relevant
newsgroups, such as sci.electronics.design. There are also Custom
Search Services
available.

September 29, 2005

Just put a classic collectible Moviola 16 mm film editor up on our
eBay store. It appears to be in quite good condition and should be
easy to bring up to museum quality. Shades of the cutting room floor.

September 28, 2005

Your tax dollars at work.

FEMA, in their infinite wisdom, has demanded that emergency
services people blow a million manhours or so completing tests
on their innane micromeddled NIMS repurposing of the perfectly
fine and "ain't broke" existing ICS incident command system.

All emergency people have to take this three hour online test,
under the blackmail penalty of departments being barred from
federal funding. I'd guess costs at twenty million dollars.

You do have a choice. You can either (A) Study for three hours
and possibly pass while getting at least a few answers right, or
(B) Use my "paired keyword" scheme to ace the test in five
minutes flat . The secret to (B) is very carefully making sure that
you learn absolutely nothing about NIMS in the process.

Here's how to ace the NIMS test: Bring the tutorial up in Acrobat
and open your Acrobat search window. For each test question
answer, extract a set of side by side paired keywords. Such as
"vendor specifications".

Search on these. Typically the paired keywords will miss on three
of the four exam choices, and give a perfect hit on the fourth.

September 27, 2005

The latest "sounds like a good idea" water powered car scam
goes something like this: Put a piezo element at top dead center
of each cylinder that gets whapped. Use the electricity to generate
hydrogen by electrolysis. Run the car on hydrogen.

What's wrong with this picture?

We looked at piezo fundamentals back in Hardware Hacker 63.

Piezoelectricity is the property of certain materials to bend
when an electric field is applied. Or to produce a voltage when
bent. The effect is extremely useful for microphones, precision
micropositioners, sensors, sonic cleaners, lighters, laptop display
hv transformers, and sonar.

BUT -- piezo is inherently an E-field machine which means its
source impedance is often very high and normally quite difficult to
match
. Very few piezo apps exist above the five watt power level.
Those few that do tend to be outrageously expensive.

Virtually all of the medium power apps convert electricity to
motion; practically none go backwards. For the same fundamental
reasons that virtually all serious power generation is done H-field.

The motion range of a piezo device is quite limited, and normally
less than one percent of its size. Thus stacks of devices sometimes
have to be used for larger strokes. Adding to cost and complexity.

Also, piezo devices are basically capacitors on which charge is
moved, so they have no DC response! It is only when a force or
a voltage is changing, that there is any piezo activity.

Naturally, any piezo device will require more mechanical
energy input than is electrically recovered as output. There
ain't no free lunch
. The system described is thus a dynamic
brake
that will stop the vehicle in less than its normal coasting
distance.

Further, most piezo materials have a Curie Point limit above
which they fail. Safe temperatures are typically well below that
of boiling water and ridiculously under car cylinder temperatures.
Many materials are also quite fragile and shock sensitive.

How much energy can, say, a piezo charcoal lighter produce?
Assume the lighter produces 1000 volts across an 0.1 microfarad
capacitance ( Chances are both values are outrageously high ).
The stored energy per whapping is 1/2 CV^2 or .05 watt second.
There are 34,560,000 watt seconds in a liter of gasoline.

As we've seen before, thermodynamic fundamentals involving
exergy absolutely guarantee that a kilowatt hour of electricity
is ridiculously more valuable than a kilowatt hour of unstored
hydrogen gas. Electrolysis is thus pretty much the same as
1:1 exchanging US Dollars for Mexican Pesos.

A quick look at physics and engineering fundamentals will often
totally trash what first may look like a good idea. Much more
on bashing pseudoscience is found here.

September 26, 2005

While I am still learning a lot about Blogs and RSS, I thought I
might start a list of blogging guidelines. As with our previous
website and newsgroup lists, I'll be adding and refining and
updating these as time goes on...

    ~  Have very specific goals for what you wish to accomplish.
    ~  Arrange entries by date, newest stuff at top
    ~  Aim for a consistent daily update. Try not to get ahead or behind
    ~  Have six or more persistent threads that you keep returning to.
    ~  Give the reader at least six links or other new fun things to do per entry. 
    ~   Avoid personal, political, or religious topics; they only piss readers off.
    ~  Use images only occasionaly and keep them small but expandable.
    ~  Provide a RSS feed and RSS links. Promote those links agressively.
    ~  As to minimum acceptable daily content, think Dilbert.
    ~  Provide archives every time the main entry gets too long.

    ~  Seek a balance between useful free info and heavy sales or promotion.
    ~  Use a page on your own website, rather than a blogging service.
    ~  Link as webpage, as blog, and as .RSS. Promote them all.
    ~  Include Permalinks, Anchors, and other means to return to major posts.
    ~  Suppress your ego at all times.
    ~  Always practice "kaizan" aka continuous incremental improvements.
    ~  Keep a "retro" or "Classic HTML" look. Avoid glitz, sound, or animation.
    ~  Scan newsgroups for possible topics of current interest.
    ~  Use entries as "idea feeds" or "outlines" for future web pages 
    ~  Seek out a consistency that meets reader ongoing expectations.

    ~  Have just enough length to put your key points across. Avoid verbosity!
   
~  Give your readers compelling reasons to re-read your entire archive.
    ~  Use humor with extreme caution. But use it. Just be sure it is funny.
    ~  Thoroughly test all provided links. Use W3C to proof.
    ~  Spend much more time on your blog than on newsgroup posts.
    ~  Use your web logs to monitor popularity trends and uncaught errors.
    ~  Personally useful links can be conveniently stashed on your blog page.
    ~  Use your blog to attract and build upon useful website traffic.
    ~  Be somewhat predictable with an occasional surprise.
    ~  Focus on timely insider secrets that are genuinely usable.

    ~  Assume others share your personal interests. Focus on these topics.
    ~  Avoid any and all direct attacks or confrontation. Stick to the facts.
    ~  Gather previous blog posts into definitive tutorials.
    ~  Re-Verify any and all .RSS and .XML changes
    ~  Continually correct any errors and provide updates on back entries.
    ~  Seek out coalitions of viewers, rather than one specific group.
    ~ Age any controversial post for at least 24 hours before going live.
    ~  Have a queue of future topics. Always post your best first.
    ~  Think eclectic.

September 26, 2005

Located some hard-to-find early documentation on GE Fanuc
PLC industrial programmable logic controllers. Both industrial
and student. Typically four books and a software package that
have been shrink wrapped together. I've now got several versions
up on my eBay store. Or email me for further details.

September 25, 2005

Many thanks to those of you who have been helping us debug
our new RSS Feeds. These should be working properly for you
now. Please email me over any difficulties.

To subscribe, click on the orange box on any of our web pages,
go to this link, or go to http://www.tinaja.com/whtnu.xml. One
useful RSS reader appears here, and a good book is found here.

Some minor mysteries remain, and I sure could use your input
in puzzling them out. We easily pass this validator, but others
insist on some header info that (1) I do not understand, and (2)
nobody else seems to be using.

Further, updates to what we are offering ( a what's new blog and
several tutorials ) do not seem to be getting picked up. In particular,
I wanted to change the offered sequence by changing the dates
and this does not seem to be happening,

Finally, we seem to be having difficulty getting into
Weblogs and
Google's Blogsearch. Any hints or assistance would be welcome.

September 24, 2005

REFURB LOG: The Tektronix 1502 TDR Cable Tester still has
quite a bit of value and interest. But there are some gotchas that
can quickly turn one of these into a sucker bet for refurb.

Always be sure you have full docs before working on these. Most
older tek repair manuals can be found on eBay as reasonably
priced CD's. As noted before, Tek has released most of their
legacy data to public domain. Others remain on the Tek Website.

The first 1502 problem is that a working NiCad battery pack must
be present!
There are also hidden fuses, one on the battery pack
itself, and others on the charger circuit board. The tiny and costly
and obsolete fuse in the battery pack is best replaced with a plain
old fuse soldered in place and insulated with shrink tubing. There
is more than enough room beside the nearest NiCad cell.

The second 1502 problem is that earlier models used a tunnel diode
to generate the sharp waveform edge
needed for time domain
reflectivity. This tunnel diode was easily damaged by applying input
voltage or static electricity. And is costly and difficult to replace.

You can split the problem by temporarily replacing the battery pack
with a current limited 12 volt supply
. Watch your polarity if you do
this! And, of course, do not apply line power at the same time!

You'll have the best odds of refurb if you can start with several
1502's and can mix and match the good stuff.

September 23, 2005

We picked up several tons of aerospace quality printed circuit
boards that are a generation or two out of date. There are a
few dozen varieties, some including gold plate. Most are MSI
and LSI era pre surface mount platethru style.

These should be perfect for artists working with collages, mosaics,
sculpture, mobile, wall hanging, video, or costume uses
. They
also eventually should become highly collectible and might still
see some breadboarding uses.

Samples are up on our eBay store. Otherwise, please email me
if you have any quantity interests here.

September 22, 2005

A reminder that our free Logfile Reader was recently updated to
include automatic eBay image theft detection and eBay "by name"
popularity views. And that the original logfile tutorial appeared
here
, and its history extensions were found here.

I've since modified logrptx2.psl to report on .RSS hit popularity
by adding this code...

    
  0 cs-uri-stem {(whtnu.xml) search {pop pop pop 1 add }
      {pop}ifelse } forall /xmlviews exch store

     (Total whtnu.xml views (RSS) for session are ) xmlviews
     20 string cvs mergestr (.\n\n\n) mergestr print flush

Change your search and report strings for the first .RSS feed
and duplicate the code if you have more than one feed.

Much more in our PostScript libary.

September 21, 2005

At one time, "Farad Sized" capacitors were laughingly huge
with most electronic caps being in the picofarad to microfarad
region. We now have a second generation of double layer
capacitors
, or "SuperCaps" that now offer compact and more
or less reasonably priced values to 100 Farads and beyond.

The trick is to humongously extend area by "going fractal"
with a layer on top of a layer. And by having an extremely
thin dielectric of a rather high dilectric constant.

Unfortunately, these devices still aren't all that great for power
density and remain utterly useless for serious energy density.

The energy storage of any capacitor in watt-seconds is
1/2 CV^2.

Problem number one is that that even the second generation
supercaps have a fairly high ESR or equivalent series
resistance
which limits the maximum discharge current rate
at which they will not overheat or explode.

Problem number two is that these are strictly low voltage
devices
(typically two volts or so) and have to further be
safety derated. Thus the "volts squared" in the above
equation is not going to help much with present devices.

Problem number three is the biggie. The above equation is
in watt-seconds
. For energy apps that are potentially
competitive with batteries or gasoline, you will be a lot
more interested in watthours or kilowatt hours. Which
are respectively 3,600 and 3,600,000 times a larger unit
of measure.

Ferinstance, consider a 100 Farad supercap charged to two
volts for an energy storage of 200 watt seconds. This is .055
watthours. Or, assuming 1/20th of a liter cap size 1/27th of the
volumetric energy density of an already obsolete lead acid
battery. Or 1/ 8181th the energy density of gasoline.

Thus, while progress in supercaps has most certainly been
impressive, they have between two and five orders of
magnitude to go before you drive any distance with one
.

A final Problem number four is that the "regulation" of
any supercap is an atrocity. Switchmode conversion will
be required to provide output at anything that remotely
resembles a constant voltage
. And at least some ( and
possibly bunches) of the stored charge will not be
recoverable because of the conversion range limits.

More in our Energy Fundamentals tutorial.

September 20, 2005

We are starting to add an RSS Feed to our website. Initially
this should give you the latest info from our What's New? library
page as it (usually) changes daily. Plus a few of our best tutorials.

To participate, click on any orange RSS button, grab the url, and
transfer it to your RSS reader. Or http://www.tinaja.com/whtnu.xml
can be directly entered into your reader as the RSS feed.

A typical RSS reader is found here.
One good book on RSS is found here.

Things seem to be up and running. For some reason, we apparently
can pass only some of the validator web pages. Such as this one.
Please email me over any problems or suggestions.

We'll initially keep things fairly simple and ( perhaps ) get fancy later.

September 19, 2005

Continuing yesterday's item on what to take to an auction. This time
 we'll focus on preliminaries and your vehicle...

     PROPER FACTS - Make sure you have a map to the auction site,
     that you got your day and time correct, and that the auction is in fact
     going to be held.
Some auctions are cancelled at the last minute and
     were never intended for anything but blackmail. Others may have
     bulk bids using Monopoly Money that make the live part a farce.

     NEEDED PAPER - Bring copies of your tax exemption certificate
    ( you DO have one, of course! ), and the needed finance stuff for the sale.
     Depending on terms, this can be cash, VISA/MC, a group of cashier's
     checks in $100 - $200 - $ 400 - $800 unsigned denominations made out
     to yourself
, a bank letter of credit, or whatever. Keep any and all of these
     invisibly hidden
.

     
VEHICLE SIZE - Do not let the vehicle you came in unduly influence
      your buys. You can always make two or more trips, or rent trucks or
      trailers if needed. Do arrive in a vehicle as clean and as empty as possible.
      Should items be two large or too many, be sure the first problem item meets
      the following test: "Is this item ALONE enough to justify the extra time
      and effort and costs needed?"


     
BRING TOOLS - Bringing a hand cart or a dolly with a rope handle is a
     very good idea, provided they do not eat up too much room. In a pinch, the
     dolly can be put on a roof carrier, abandoned, or someone else asked to hold
     it for you. Disassembly tools are also handy, particularly if you have to take
     apart some electronics. Size and bulk can often be dramatically reduced by
     minimal disassembly. Non-obvious tools can also help, such as WiFi web
     access, manufacturer's catalogs, or blue books.

     
SNACKS AND SUCH - Supply your own fruit, juice, and other snacks. Use
     "just enough" meds to keep back pain or headaches from getting to you but
      not so much your judgement is impared. Take frequent mini breaks for brief
      rest and stress management. And, of course, know where the restrooms are.

     STRICTLY STAY WITHIN LIMITS - Have a realistic budget and never
     exceed it! Always seek out a 30:1 sell/buy ratio or higher. Reasonable goals
     might be a $250 average auction cost, exceeding $2500 only on exceptionally
     golden opportunities, and never committing more than $12,500 to any venture.

     More on our Auction Help and Custom Auction Finder library pages.

September 18, 2005

Noticed another auction buyer using a small magnet to test for stainless
steel. Which brings up the question of what you should or should not
bring to an auction to give yourself the best possible edge.

On one hand, you definitely want to stay lean and mean and flexible. On
the other, useful tools can give you a definite advantage...

     CLOTHES - You want to be absolutely invisible and nondescript
     until such times as you are in the auctioneer's face. Shirt pockets
     are a must
, as is a very distinctive hat or other means of making
     yourslelf unique and immediately recognizable to the auctioneer.
     Sane shoes, of course, are essential.

     TOOLS - A small notebook for sure, and several pens including
      backups. While you don't want to haul excess weight around, a
      small tape measure and a calculator can be handy. Business cards
      for passarounds are super important.

     A PARNER - A second person for consulting and record keeping can
      be very useful. And can prevent stupid mistakes in "heat of the
      moment" misbuys. A cellphone should be available but probably is
      best left in your car.

     MAD MONEY - You should have a pocket full of five and/or ten
      dollar bills for quick loading hires and fast side deals.

      INVISIBILITY - Say nothing to nobody. But listen carefully to any
      and all side conversations. And always assume that anything you
      hear is a bald faced lie.

     BE IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME - Pre-position
     yourself near your interest lots so you will be in the auctioneer's
     face when they get to them. Or on the "wrong" side of a table. Or
     whatever it takes to not get your bids missed. But make absolutely
     certain the item being auctioned is the one you think it is.


      SECRET MARKS AND "ADJUSTMENTS" - While it is a no-no
      to rearrange items between pallets at an auction, there's often some
      "near the edge" possibilities. Such as making secret marks on lots
      you do want compared to those you do not. Or "just happening" to
      return a high value item sideways to the bottom of the pile.
  Asking
      an auctioneer to split or combine lots at quiet times can also work.   

     
A TIGHTLY FOCUSED ATTITUDE - It is easy to get utterly
     overwhelmed at any larger auction. Select a few to a dozen lots that
     you really want and carefully maximize your odds on them. And
     pick up other deals only as opportunity arises..

     WHAT THE HELL? BIDS --
Never bid on something just because
     you are at an auction. But if you are already committed to a truck or
     trailer larger than you could possibly use, consider triaging any lots
     that can be stolen for a pittance. But avoid hauling heavy trash
     long distances.

More on our Auction Help and Custom Auction Finder library pages.

September 17, 2005

Yet another alternator driven hydrogen injector has recently
entered the scene and is currently under lively Slashdot scrutiny.

Let's repeat some key points...

       ~ There is credible mainstream research evidence that shows
           that modest 5% hydrogen injection into an ICE can in fact
           offer performance and pollution benefits.

       ~ It has yet to be shown whether the costs and losses of onboard
           hydrogen generation can be done for less than these benefits.
           Especially if it has to be integrated into other ongoing ICE
           improvements. Naturally, there is no gain if the generation
           costs merely equal its benefits. Nor if any additional new load
           on the engine exceeds the possible gain
.

      ~ The cost of such a system has to be amortized over its benefits.
          If 48 cents per mile is taken as a vehicle operating cost (the
          new tax guideline), then a two percent improvement cannot cost
          more than a penny per mile. At 15,000 miles per year and three
          year payback at ten percent interest, the fully installed system
          cost and its maintainence cannot exceed a tiny fraction of $387.52
          total. Otherwise, there are no positive benefits.

       ~ On any "more miles per gallon" device, there are very serious
           issues over double blind testing and the placebo effect
that can
           utterly overwhelm any actual performance benefits. Further, it
           would seem to be quite difficult to isolate hydrogen injection from
           plain old water injection, which has its own costs and benefits.

       ~ The inefficiency of a car alternator alone is probably enough to
           cause a lack of a breakeven. If the electrolysizer so much as
           used stainless steel instead of platinized platinum electrodes, this
           would guarantee a bad enough efficiency to prevent breakeven.

        ~ Needless to say, as the load on an alternator increases, your gas
           mileage will go down
. Their ain't no free lunch.

       ~ By a fundamental thermodynamic concept called exergy, electrolysis
          is fundamentally and profoundly a destroyer of value
. Any onboard
          injection system absolutely and positively must avoid electrolysis if
          it is to succeed.
 
       ~ Possibly exhaust gas driven reformation has a chance at succeeding.
          This has yet to be shown. But alterntaor driven electrolysis flat out
          ain't gonna happen.

September 16, 2005

Added this extremely rare 6502 collectible to our eBay Store...

Hewlett-Packard pod part nuber #01611-62108. Our scanner
did not at all like the satin aluminum dialplate, so this is one
of our finest examples of using our new Bitmap Typewriter.

Click on the image for the distribution JPEG. Or to appreciate
the full beauty of the production .BMP, click here. The click again.

Or, just for kicks, here is the original scan. See if you can spot
any of the more subtle differences.

More on
eBay solutions to photography problems on our
Auction Help library page.

September 15, 2005

Another of the alternate energy myths is that "extra" electricity on the
grid is somehow "wasted" or "unused". In reality, there are typically
six or more different types of electricity on the grid at any given time.

Their mix is continuously adjusted to optimize costs to a fraction of
a millicent per kilowatt hour. Sources might include...

     ~  Baseload Power is from low cost sources that run continuously
         but may be hard to start or change.

     ~ Rolling Power is a source that is manned and ready-to-go at
         "full steam" that can be switched in only when and if needed.

     ~ Peaking Power comes from more expensive sources that can
        be rapidly turned on or off and otherwise quickly adjusted.

     ~ Brokered Power is bought and sold from other utilities to help
        even out supply and demand.

     ~ Stored Energy has been previously saved ( such as pumping to
        a higher lake ) during lower cost times. This process is quite
        efficient at load levelling.

     ~ Negawatts are conserved energy through demand reduction via
        time-of-day penalties, load shedding, or conservation incentives.

      ~ Returned power is the tiny fraction provided by solar pv users
         through synchronous inverters when they have excess capacity.

In "net metering" states, any returned power is heavily subsidized and
represents an obscenely unfair tax on the other utility users. A just and
neutral policy insted would be for a utility to sell at current retail and buy
at their current avoided cost. Any differential being fully justified by the
additional storage service that the utility is uniquely providing.

Additional energy fundamentals info is found here.
An intro to an energy conservation development is found here.

September 14, 2005

Considerable thermodynamic controversy remains over whether hell is
endothermic or exothermic. In one limiting case, hell freezes over. In the
other, all hell breaks loose.

September 13, 2005

Added Google's BlogSearch to our Search Engine Links.

At present, this What's New page is sort of a blog. I'm looking into adding
RSS feeds and such for full blogosity. Meanwhile, check back daily.

September 12, 2005

REFURB LOG: Many older test instruments used NiCad battery packs that
have limited capacity, shorted, cells, corrosion, etc.

The first things to ask are whether portability is really needed, and whether
the value of the instrument is really worth creating a new battery pack for
.

Some older packs may come back after a careful charging or two. Others may
have only one shorted cell and be somewhat repairable. But chances are that
even working older cells will have disappointing remaining capacity.

Replacement early packs are either nonexistent or outrageously expensive.
They also probably hold cells that are twelve years or more old inventory. So,
building your own new battery pack from scratch may be worthwhile.

You would probably want to stick with NiCads, because Lithiums require much
more exotic charging circuitry
. But you may be able to substitute modern AA
NiCads for older Sub-C Nicads since their storage may be actually higher.

The first rude surprise is that the stainless steel cells are not solderable by
any sane or safe method.
Fortunately, solderable cells are newly available
for two to three dollars each. Suitable sources are found here, here, and here.
Newark also has prewelded sub-C assemblies available. Incredible (but
possibly risky) battery buys are often found here.

Large diameter shrinkwrap tubing can ease repackaging and assembly. It is
usually not a good idea to mix old and new cells of differing capacities in the
same package.

September 11, 2005

Just had another "investor" try to hire me to research Brown's Gas.

Rather than take this damn fool's money ( it is a thankless task, but
somebody has to do it ), I thought I'd post my response here...

Brown's gas is an utterly useless and monumentally dangerous three
decades old scam foisted off by laughingly "not even wrong" researchers
upon gullible and totally scientifically clueless naive investors.

Brown's gas appears similar to stoke gas, an ordinary stoichimetric
mix of hydrogen and oxygen. Whose properties have been fully
known for several centuries. The fact that no credible spectrographic
test has ever been done
to show any differences whatsoever is in itself
telling.

Stoke gas is exceptionally dangerous as only a trivially tiny amount of
spark energy is required to set it off. One newsgroup poster managed
to try for both the X-prize and the Darwin Award at the same time while
blowing Northern Nevada off the map. Sadly, his garage did not quite
reach suborbital velocity. And repeating the experiment would have
been somewhat problematical.

Long term storage of stoke gas is a big no-no. The only known use for
stoke gas is on-demand generation for precision welding of very small
objects where contamination prevention is crucial. Virtually all other
welding alternatives are much faster and more cost effective.

STP stoke gas has exceptionally and ridiculously low energy density.
Hydrogen itself has a STP energy density of 2.7 watthours per liter
electrically recoverable or 3.3 watthours per liter thermally recoverable.
Stoke gas, of course, is lower by 1/3 since it has to tow its own oxygen
along for the ride.

Contrary to outrageous claims, stoke gas does not burn at a particularly
high temperature
. Acetylene, among others, burns at a considerably higher
temperature.

The claim that stoke gas can melt tungsten is a myth created by rotten
labwork. It turns out that side reactions involving both oxidation
and sublimination set in at temperatures as low as a few hundred degrees.

One of the many problems with Brown's Gas temperature measurement is
that emission is primarily in the ultraviolet rather than the infrared.

The claim that stoke gas implodes rather than explodes is a "physics 101"
parlor trick
. IF the container walls are at a low enough temperature, a
post explosion condensation may sometimes result. This effect quickly
goes away if the experiment is repeated more that once per minute or so.
The condensation may sometimes end up as low as 1 PSI or so, but never
produces a "supervacuum", nor is ever able to get under the vapor pressure
of water limit at any given temperature.

Claims that stoke gas involves stable long term monatomics or in some
manner eliminates radioactivity are not even wrong. Should even the
faintest hint of a whiff of credibility of either occurance happen, it would
immediately have become the Science and Nature magazine centerfolds.

Brown's Gas is normally produced through a variation of electrolysis.

There are several immediate and fatal problems with this. First,
electrolysis is basically a double integration. So, any variations between
Brown's Gas and Stoke gas waveforms would be agressively minimized. No
double blind testing to show any difference between the two has ever
been credibly performed
.

Secondly, the Brown's gas proponents feel that they are somehow able
to violate Faraday's Law by using fancy pulses or resonance, or
whatever for their electrolysis. In reality, their fancy waveforms are
exceptionally difficult to measure
and their claims are incompetently
done bad labwork, plain and simple. Accurate measurements of the
gas components are equally difficult. Much of "Brown's Gas" is often
nothing but plain old water vapor.

Most Brown's Gas researchers have never heard of the "hydrogen
overvoltage"
that guarantees stainless steel is about the worst possible
choice for an electrolysis electrode. Serious and efficient electrolysizers
demand the use of platinized platinum. Renewed often at great expense.

But the real biggie is that electrolsis is laughingly and wildly unsuited for
the production of hydrogen for bulk energy uses
. A fundamental
thermodynamic property called "exergy" absolutely and positively
guarantees this. Very simply, a kilowatt hour of electricity is ridiculously
more valuable that a kilowatt hour of STP Brown's gas
. Electrolysis for
bulk energy apps is thus pretty much the same as 1:1 exchanging US
dollars for Mexican pesos.

Brown's gas proponents tend to associate with the water powered car crowd.
As any phyisist or Engineer can tell you, a scheme that uses an alternator
to generate gas to run the car to run the alternator... is nothing but a
dynamic brake that will stop the car in significantly less than its coasting
distance.

The ever-repeating mantra of the Brown's Gas proponents is "But you have
not done the experiment". Well, (A) The experiment IS done many millions
to many billions of times daily by EIS researchers, and (B) The experiment
is not in the least worth doing because the outcome is not at all in doubt.

For related info, click for Energy Fundamentals, Pseudoscience Bashing,
Brown's Gas Meta Studies, Hydrogen Resources, or Electrolysis Guidelines.

Or, for a genuine alternate energy breakthrough, click here.

September 10, 2005

Added several new auction houses to our Arizona Auction Resources.
Including Bankruptcy Sales.

Your own Custom Regional Auction Finder can be built for you here.

September 9, 2005

Just placed a bunch of older telecomm gear on our eBay Store that may
be quite useful for hurricane infrastructure rebuilding. Most units are
either new in original packaging or in very clean "as new" condition.

Included are three Telinc WAN Testers for T1, E1 bit error rates and
such, some mint Pairgain Campus T1 units, and lots of mint Comdial
stuff that includes a DXCPU-68 controller, a DXSRV server, and several
"as new" manual and notebook sets.

September 8, 2005

One crucial issue of buying and selling surplus is closure. It is super easy
to end up with an ever increasing number of storage areas of ever diminishing
value. And longer and longer times before any buy falls off the radar.

You should have a definite series of steps you go through between an auction
buy
and absolutely nothing remaining of your purchases. All done within a
reasonable and efficient time frame. But still clearing the big bucks first.

First and foremost is depressurizing. You return any rental trucks and get
your vehicles back the way they were before you left for the auction as
quickly as possible. Literally dumping items into your primary triage area.
But, as always, being very careful not to inflict any storage damage. And
minimizing disruption of the rest of your life as quickly as possible.

Next is primary triage. In which you carefully sort, group, then identify and
inventory all items. High value individual items into one pile. High quantity
longer term primo inventory items into a second. Potential repairables and
refurbables into a third. Strippables into a fourth. Smaller lower value items
into a fifth. And trash into the Alvin Pile, given to the fire department, traded
to a neighbor, or simply thrown out.

Next is careful research, especially through Google and eBay and appropriate
newsgroups. Chances are there will be both pleasant and rude surprises over
items that you have grossly over- or under vaued.

Next is cash retrival. Your goal should be to completely pay for the auction
purchase, labor, and trip within twenty-one days of the buy. Should you
acheive your goal of at least a 30:1 sell/buy ratio, this means that only
three percent of your items need to be immediately sold.

Naturally, you list any mint high value biggies on eBay immediately. But
should you have seventy of something that can consistently sell over the
next fifteen months, these should also receive priority to get them into the
pipeline as quicky as possible.

Any dregs should be grouped as efficiently and as compactly as you can.
With the twin goals of nothing remaining that is not paid for and virtually
everything outtahere within fifteen months.

Boredom or screwoff time efficiently should rework the strippables and
low value boxes. Always with a goal of minimizing weight and volume
while maximizing the remaining value. Always delegate anything that is
repetitive or not fun. But do enough of the work yourself to know what
can and cannot result.

It also pays to consistently check into the bottom of the pile of the oldest
and least selling items. With the rule "if you pick it up, you immediately
get rid of it in one way or another"
. And a second rule of completely
cleaning out any shelf or other area once you initially attack it.

More auction help is found here.
Your own custom regional auction finder can be gotten here.

September 7, 2005

Made some minor additions to GONZOPOW.PDF, our PostScript
emulation of Powerpoint. Emulated files web distribute ridiculously
easier, consist of one much smaller file, have outstanding graphics,
involve no .GIFs and few (if any) large bitmaps, display much faster,
and offer a number of other compelling advanatges.

Flashing text or artwork can easily be added by using the JavaScript
techniques of PDFFLASH.PDF . More details on our Gonzo Utilities
appear on our PostScript Library page.

The actual GONZOPOW.PSL sourcecode appears here, while an
Energy Efficiency Opportunity example appears here.

September 6, 2005

More solar pv enthuasiast miisinformed mania: "Getting rid of
the grid" simply is not in the cards.

As in "ain't gonna happen".

At present, no means of storing solar pv electricity is known that
is remotely as convenient, as cheap, as simple, or as cost effective
as synchronous inverted grid storage.
Further dramatic hardware cost
reductions can also be expected just as soon as markets evolve.

Nor is any alternate storage likely to evolve until well after truely
renewable and sustainable pv is a significant fraction of the total
electrical energy. Even them, pumped storage via the grid is likely
to be essential.

There's no reason whatsoever that today's $2600 2 kW synchronous
inverter systems cannot be sold for under twenty bucks each once
quantity demand becomes obvious.

More in our Energy Fundamentals tutorial.
A significant energy savings opportunity appears here.

September 5, 2005

Fab by Neil Gershenfield is an interesting new addition to books
on Santa Claus Machines and rapid prototyping.

It wasn't quite what I expected, but it nevertheless is quite well
done. Long ago and far away, Lee Felsenstein and Bob Albrecht
set up the Peoples Computer Company where just anyone could
walk in off the street and start using otherwise unavailable
computers for anything they wanted to.

Neil seems to be doing a rerun where he is filling a room with
rapid prototyping desktop manufacturing Santa Claus devices
and letting just anyone ( including a parrot! ) access them with
stunning results.

Most of the machines are conventional low end items such as sign
cutters and programmable milling machines. But a few exotics
such as waterknives are most definitely included.

Similar topics and related books in our Santa Claus Machine library.
Additional eclectic titles on our Recommended Books page.

September 4, 2005

I guess I just don't get it. Or else the emperor has no clothes.

Most methanol fuel cell research is using highly highly diluted solutions
in the 5 to 10 percent aqueous range for their laptop apps. And airlines
are going to demand high dilutions for onflight acceptability.

Such dilutions give energy densities that are considerably lower
than conventional batteries! What is the point?

More in our Energy Fundamentals tutorial.

September 3, 2005

Most modern Browsers now allow Greek letters and other
symbols such as the theta's shown below. Here is a summary
of the needed HTML commands
.

Lower case theta in particular is entered into GoLive or
elsewhere as an ampersand followed by "theta" followed by
a semicolon. A capital theta would use "Theta" instead.
Other oddball characters are treated similarly.

A second HTML typographic character set appears here.
Curiously, there seems to be very little overlap between these
two lists!

September 2, 2005

One of the present extensions to our Universal Bitmap Image
Manipulator
is an image rotator. I need ultra fine rotation for
such things as scanner alignment or setting the initial edge on
a keystone correction.

Sadly, ImageView32 only offers one degree resolution; this is
often not nearly good enough for my needs.

We saw the basics of image transformation back here. The
general rotation transformation math is...

                           x' = x cos θ + y sin θ
                           y' = y cos θ -  x sin θ

        ... where θ is your angle of rotation. For a fixed rotation,
the trig functions become constants, and the operation remains
a linear transformation.

Usually, we want to start with our x' and y' position and find out
where we came from to get there. In this rotation case, our reverse
transformation is simply a rotation by the negative of the original.

Two other complications may come up: The final image may have
to be larger and framed with black triangles if nothing is to be missed.
And rotating about the image center or some other point may be
preferable to a lower left axis.

I hope to have some working code shortly.

September 1, 2005

Many pv solar enthuasiasts still do not get it: Dollars and
kilowatt hours are often tightly related!
And that considering
one without the other is both ludicrous and nonsensical.

Thermodynamic fundamentals absolutely guarantee that true
energy costs ultimately dictate the cost of everything else in
any economy.
For economics is a subset of thermodynamics.

Consider this highly useful definition...

     DOLLAR - A voucher exchangable for the personal
                          use and control of ten kilowatt hours of
                          electricity or (until recently) thirty kilowatt
                          hours of gasoline.

The relationships between dollars and kilowatt hours are often
tightly linked. That UNLEADED $2.65 sign down the street is
a good example.

More to the point, should your utility agree to pay you a dime
per kilowatt hour while selling you electricity at a dime per
kilowatt hour, then every dime involved at that time in the
transaction is precisely equal to one kilowatt hour of electrical
energy.
And vice versa.

If you are generating two dimes worth of electricity per day and
if your system amortization is three dimes per day, then you have
a net energy sink and are destrolying traditional energy. The
longer you run the system, the more energy you are destroying.

When considered on a total system wide basis, not one net watt hour
of solar pv electricity has ever been produced!
Nor will any ever
be very likely using conventional silicon technology.

Thus, to date, solar pv is not in any manner renewable nor sustainable.
At present, the fully burdened synchronous inverter alone is enough
to guarantee a net energy sink on any conventional pv project.

Energy parity can be expected when and if the fully burdened costs of
pv drop to eight cents per kilowatt hour. Energy parity, of course, is
simply slapping a green label on traditional sources in an elaborate
"smoke and mirrors" transfer scam
.

True sustainability and renewability can be expected something like
eight years after parity is established, provided the fully burdened
costs can be gotten down into the twenty cents per peak watt region.

Naturally, once parity is in sight, pv solar will become an enormously
larger
energy sink as zillions of dollars will be thrown at it in expectation
of future returns. Hopefully, this will be a one time glitch. And not a
sucker bet.

Additional economic analysis in ENERGFUN.PDF.

August 31, 2005

The Onion satire site has just announced the Google is going to
destroy any and all information that they are unable to list.

While intended as humor, this is exactly what is going to happen
if traditional journal publishers do not immediately wise up and
provide, at the very least, all abstracts freely available without
registration
or other hoops to jump through! Or, preferably, all
papers more than five years old freely available without restriction.

Consider a sloppy and slovenly inexperienced and "not even wrong"
wannabe who throws his stuff up on the web. Compared to a formally
trained legitimate researcher who pays big bucks to publish in a scholarly
journal that even his own university library can no longer afford.

Data unaccessed is data destroyed. Iffen it ain't free on the web, its
very existance ain't gonna be recognized.

And thus destroyed.

August 30, 2005

As we've seen before, Tektronix has released all of their legacy
manuals to the public domain. And a number of eBay sellers have
made these available in varying quality and cost.

HP and Agilent are now in the process or aggressively making their
legacy manuals available. Reprint rights are apparently available
on written request, and a collection of back manuals is starting to
appear on the Agilent website.

As a ferinstance, complete programming, service, and user manuals
for the 3488A switch unit can be found here. Other manuals eventually
should show up here.

By one of the most utterly astounding coincidences that seem to
infest these blog messages, I just happen to have a 3488A and four
44470A plugins up for sale on eBay at a bargain price.

This is a scanning switcher that dramatically simplifies production test
by eliminating the need to continually reconnect everything.

We also do have several dozen 100% authentic real and original HP
manuals remaining on our eBay store.

August 29, 2005

Just came back from a major printed circuit house auction. Where they
could not even give away their production equipment! I dearly would have
loved to strip this stuff for parts, but the rigging and travel logistics made
this a much better deal for somebody else.

Price examples included a quad Excellon drill that went for $500 and originally
sold for $500,000. And several hundred lineal feet of oak book cases that went
for five bucks total.

As usual, the online bidders got totally screwed. There were times when the
comm was down, or when the real auctioneer got impatient. More to the point,
the auctioneer often combined lots on very short notice. Some of which ended
up as good deals, and others that involved heavy rigging to remove useless junk.

But the really big negative about online bidding is that you do not have a prayer
over "contents of room" or "contents of cabinet" deals that can range from
utterly useless to outstandingly spectacular.

And that what an online proxy considered to be "fair" is either waaaay too high
or ridiculously too low. Online awards were typically around five percent of the
total. Several of which were ridiculously high for what was offered.

Curiously, the auction house did zero advertising anywhere in the entire state!
Which is why it is super important to really dig deep to find the secret insider
stuff.
Similar topics on our Auction Help page. We can also create a Custom
Auction Finder
for you.

August 28, 2005

Latest GuruGram #56 is a tutorial on our Universal Bitmap Manipulation
Utilities
. Sourcecode for the tutorial appears here, while a current version
of the ongoing utility development appears here.

August 27, 2005

This image from the http://www.engrish.com website remains one of my
favorites for substitution when someone tries to steal one of my older
eBay images...

Naturally, a suitably clad individual pioneering new methods of animal
husbandry can also prove of value. But messing with their head is a
lot more fun.

Our Logfile Readers, of course, make spotting eBay theft trivial. And
newly include the latest of eBay referral inclusions. Per this tutorial.

August 26, 2005

One of the more minor themes in WAYWERE.PDF was whatever happened
to Cameradio in Pittsburgh. It turns out they still survive as CAM/RPC, a
second tier electronics distributor that specializes in custom parts kitting and
meeting regional needs.

They are apparently now well north and east of their original location, which
apparently became a convention center parking lot.

August 25, 2005

We are nearly sold out of our Adept Precision Robotic Sliders that
we are offering on our eBay store...

Only five of the normal duty 950 mm units remain, along with three
of the heavier duty 1000 mm units. As before, these are the sliders
only
, less docs, cables, software, or driver electronics.

We are unlikely to find any more of these that are remotely as large
or as precise. Or in as superb a condition.

These are UPS shippable for an additional $75 professional and custom
packing fee. We also offer free local pickup or delivery. Or can deliver
at our convenience to certain Phoenix or Tucson addresses for $39 each.

August 24, 2005

Our new pixel interpolation routines seem to work just fine
for everything but image downsizing. Obviously, if you reduce
the number of pixels, you also reduce your info content. The
problem is to do so gracefully without single pixel line droupouts.

What are the standard image downsizing algorithms? I've
been having problems finding any. Apparently low pass filtering
has to be combined with pixel interpolation.

At 50%, a 2x2 averaging works quite well. I'd assume 3x3 would
be effective at 33%. But what are the rules for intermediate
values?

Until I find a "real" algorithm, here is something that seems to
work fairly well for me...

    (a) Use pixel interpolation at or above 1.0 magnification
    (b) Use 2x2 pixel averaging at 0.5 magnification.
    (c) Proportion the two bewteen 0.5 and 1.0 magnification.
    (d) Prescale by 2x2 pixel averaging below 0.5 magnification.

Thus, at 1.0 or higher mag, the fractional x or y interpolation value could
range anywhere between 0 and 0.9999. At 0.5, the fractional x and y
interpolation value would both be fixed at 0.5. At 0.75 magnification,
the possible x and y interpolation range would be between 0.25 and 0.75.

This is quite simple to implement and fairly fast. But I'd still like to
know how everyone else does it.

August 23, 2005

I've begun a long overdue major combination and overhaul of
our Pseudoscience Bashing library pages. You can follow the
ongoing progress here, while the originals still remain here and
here.

August 22, 2005

I started adding links to third party reprints of many of my classic
construction projects to our Guru Archive Reprints library.

23 new links to full reprints of my classic projects have just been
added, along with some updates and corrections. A dozen or more
links are supposedly in process as well.

Some background on the projects appears here

I would like to instead have all my own reprints onsite. Done to
much higher resolution, in full .PDF, including annotation and
history notes. And, above all, userful text searchibility standards.

This would need new banner advertisers or Synergetics Partners.

August 21, 2005

The "best" pixel manipulation is called bicubic inperpolation.
We looked at the fundamentals here, and example code appears
in our Universal .BMP Image Manipulator.

The key secret is to provide a "smooth but rather sudden"
transition halfway between pixels. Which can actually sharpen
and "improve" any pixels that are scaled or moved.

The full XY interpolation is somewhat messy and takes into account
sixteen neighboring pixels in a 4x4 array...

    New Pixel =

           p03(b0y)(b3x) + p13(b1y)(b3x) + p23(b2y)(b3x) + p33(b3y)(b3x) +
           p02(b0y)(b2x) + p12(b1y)(b2x) + p22(b2y)(b2x) + p32(b3y)(b2x) +
                          
evaluated pixel -----> X <----- is positioned here
           p01(b0y)(b1x) + p11(b1y)(b1x) + p21(b2y)(b1x) + p31(b3y)(b1x) +
           p00(b0y)(b0x) + p10(b1y)(b0x) + p20(b2y)(b0x) + p30(b3y)(b0x)
       

         .... where pixel p11 is at the lower left corner of the point to be
interpolated, and (b0x) is a typical directional Basis Function. This
gets repeated three times per pixel for blue, green, and red.

Here are two sample Basis Function table lookups for twenty intermediate
points...

    
 /b0 [ 0.000 -0.007 -0.026 -0.053 -0.083 -0.111 -0.132 -0.145 -0.147
            -0.140 -0.125 -0.103 -0.080 -0.057 -0.036 -0.020 -0.009 -0.003
            -0.000 -0.000 -0.000 ] store

     /b1 [1.000 0.999 0.998 0.992 0.979 0.954 0.916 0.863 0.795 0.715
            0.625 0.529 0.432 0.338 0.252 0.176 0.113 0.064 0.028 0.007
            0.000 ] store

B(2) is the mirror to B(1)and is read right to left. B(3) is the mirror to
B(0) and is also read right to left.

Note that testing is needed to make sure a pixel is in legal range. A
few bicubic results may sometimes slightly overflow or underflow,
so a conditional trapping is also needed.

A lookup table of crossproducts can be generated ahead of time to
save considerable per-pixel processing time. Per this preliminary
utility
. Generation time is only a fraction of a second. I'm not sure
what the optimum table size would be. 16x16 is probably good enough,
while 64x64 certainly should be.

Since there often is not all that much observable difference between
bicubic and bilineal interpolation, the simplicity and speed of bilineal
may be "good enough" for most uses. Especially eBay photos.

August 20, 2005

An Assertiveness 101 review, starting with the biggies...

      
(A)  The best way to prevent something from happening is to
              just say no.

      
(B)  The best way to get something to happen is to specifically
              ask for it.

      
(C)  The best way to defuse a personal solution is to tell them
              exactly how you feel
.

And some lesser guidelines...

      (D)  Avoid ever being an "enabler". You might be causing or at
               least worsening the situation.

      (E)  A tug-of-war can always be prevented by not picking up your
             end of the rope
. Or else suddenly letting go of it.

      (F)  
Politely and exactly and briefly repeating yourself can be
            devastatingly effective.

     (G)  Delay is the surest form of denial. Dwell on trivia.

     (H)  The fundamental magician principles of misdirection, diversion,
             collusion, and deception can sometimes be of value.

     ( I)   Third party all unpleasantries. Let someone else clean up the mess.
             Or play the role of the bad guy.

     (J)   The other person will have the last word. All you can do to your
             advantage is determine when and where this will happen.

     (K)  Reinforcement can be eliminated by switching from positive
              experiences that happen often to vaguely negative ones that
              occur much less frequently. Or, better yet, not at all.

August 19, 2005

Here's how you can do your own HTML expanding picture menus
for your eBay offerings or other image additions like this one...

       <table border="1" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="2" width="450"
          height="33
<tr height="112">

         <td height="112">
                
<a href=""http://www.tinaja.com/images/bargs/orprop01.jpg
                
<img src="http://www.tinaja.com/images/bargs/orprop01.jpg"
               
width="150" height="112" border="0"></a>
        
</td>

         
<td height="112">
                
<a href=""http://www.tinaja.com/images/bargs/orprop03.jpg
                 
<img src="http://www.tinaja.com/images/bargs/orprop03.jpg"
                
width="150" height="112" border="0"></a>
        
</td>

        <td height="112">
                
((( more row photos here)))        
       </td>

        </tr>

        
<tr height="112">
                ((( repeat above for second row )))  
        
</tr>

        <tr height="112">
                ((( repeat above for third row )))  
        
</tr>

        </table>

Each <a href> entry is the link to the image you want to go to.
Firefox will show the image at one convenient size initially, and
then expand to full size on a second click if needed.

Each <img src> entry is the picture you want to show in the box.
If the image is larger than the box, HTML will squash it and
make it look somewhat ratty. If superb in-box appearance is
essential, then do your own image reduction ahead of time and
create a special access file for it.

Note that each row item gets bracketed by a <td> and </td> while
each row itself gets bracketed by a <tr> and a </tr>. Use of "d"
for "right" and "r" for "down" seems somewhat counterintuitive.

But this is all plain old basic HTML.

August 18, 2005

Pixel interpolation is needed any time you change the size of an
image, rotate it, or do geometric alterations on it. There are three
common methods, called nearest neighbor, bilineal interpolation,
and bicubic interpolation.

Nearest neighbor looks kinda awful but is fairly fast. In which you
simply pick the closest of four adjacent pixels to the spot you want.

Bilineal interpolation is a weighted average of your four nearest
neighbors. When the math is tightly wrung out, you end up with...

              ll(x-1)(y-1) - lr(x)(y-1) - ul(x-1)(y) + ur(x)(y)

where ll is lower left, etc, x is 0-1 fractional distance to the right and
y is 0-1 fractional distance up. Repeated for each R, G, and B value.

Bicubic interpolation uses Cubic Spline Basis Functions to create a
sharper transition between values. This computationally intensive
method uses a 4x4 array of sixteen adjacent nearest pixels.

Some of these methods should shortly be added to our Universal
.BMP Image Manipulator

August 17, 2005

Here's an additional collection of photos of the 20 acres of
wooded land
we have for sale in Southern Oregon's Rogue
River Valley
...

You can click expand these. Then click again.

This steep to sloping parcel is immediately adjacent to the Gold
Hill
city limits and offers absolutely outstanding views. It is in one
of the most in-demand rural areas in the country, and has really great
access both to recreation and to midsize city resources. Plus superb
climate, low crime, and good schools.

Here again is a map. Property is the green rectangle "pointed to" by
Thirteenth Street.

Our legal description is T36 R3W S16 Tax Lot 400.
Asking price is $11,700 per acre with financing available.

Property is not yet listed with a realtor.
We have just contracted a
land planning firm to file homestead approval for us. Additional details
on the property can be found here and here. Or email us.

August 16, 2005

A reprint of my classic TV Typewriter I project appears here.
And some background on how it came to be is found here. This
was by far the most popular hobby construction project of all time
and is considred by many to be the opening shot fired in the
personal computer revolution.

August 15, 2005

It continues to amaze me how many people do not realize how big or
how small a difference cables can really make.

On a VCR or a DVD, there are as many as FOUR possible ways to
connect to your tv or monitor...

      If you use three video cables marked R, G, and B, you will
     get by far the best picture, sharpest res, and cleanest colors.

     If you use a S-Video cable, you will still get a decent picture
     but the colors and sharpness will not be quite as good. The
     reason is that the color is encrypted but at least remains
     separate from the black and white luminance video.

     If you use a single yellow NTSC phono jack, your colors and
     resolution will be fairly bad. Caused by the color encryption
     and color/luminance having to share the same limited bandwidth.

    If you use a channel 3 or channel 4 rf modulator, your results
    will be mesmerizingly awful. Because you are adding distortion
    and further bandwidth limits on top of a pitiful NTSC signal.

On the other hand, thre's all sorts of ridiculous claims made for
super performance audio cables. Beyond not skimping on decent
shelding, the claims made for premium cables are outrageously
bogus.

For the definitive discussion on whether two-point or four-point
barbed wire is best for speaker cables, see MARCIA.PDF

August 14, 2005

Our recent tilt and keystone utilities are approximations that
trade simplified code and fast processing for certain restrictions.

These work just fine over the normal and expected eBay photo
/tiltfactor correction range of 0.04 to 0.12 or so. Above 0.16, a
slight curvature may be noted for diagonal lines. Above 0.20,
correction or adjustment will most likely be required.

A "perfect" tilt corrector requires full XY pixel manipulation.
You can find the basic algorithms here. I'll try to work this up
as a future addition to our Universal .BMP Image Manipulator.

August 13, 2005

REFURB LOG:

It is often the tiniest details that can cause you the most frustration and
grief.

Recent examples included my overheating a cable modem by setting
a router on top of it, mixing up old and new coin cells (and their orientation)
during a replacement, and having the spoke magnet on a bike computer
flip around 180 degrees and thus appear mysteriously "weak".

BTW, most coin cell uses inherently protect against reverse polarity as
double contact cannot normally be made with an upside down cell.

Yesterday's time wasting travesty involved some bizarre Moire effects in
our Universal .BMP Image Manipulator development. Caused by my
confusing 3 mul cvi with its wildly different cvi 3 mul.

Note that cvi always rounds towards zero, while round itself behaves as
expected
. Your other options are ceiling and floor. What was happening
was the RGB pixel grabbing would sometimes not end up an integer multiple
of three and end up offset by a RGB color or two. Org.

August 12, 2005

Our latest and best new material often appears right here in our What's
New
blog, followed up by a tutorial and tool links on our GuruGram library
page. It sometimes may take a while for the GuruGram links to ripple
through to our subject specific library pages.

Ferinstance, our Enhancing your Ebay Skills II has not yet made it to our
Auction Help page. But should end up there shortly.

Currently active projects include a universal bitmap manipulator, generating
additional Magic Sinewave evaluation chips for Delta 28, Best Efficiency 28,
Delta 44, and Best Efficiency 44. And lab verifying and characterizing them.

Plus seeking homesite approval on our superb Oregon Land sale; clearing our
eBay inventory for some anticipated great new stuff; expanding our Arizona
Auction Help
to nationwide status; and beginning .PDF archiving of our
Incredible Secret Money Machine and other earlier books and articles.

Background projects that I seem to never get near include translating all
of our Apple IIe and older software, and refurbing dozens of items that now
include programmable wire strippers, highly collectible classis comercial
silent movie projectors, a lab oven or two, a superb spectrum analyzer, some
cash registers, and a few other really interesting items.

Plus clearing several storage sheds worth of items that are now several years
old and getting them up on eBay.

We are also considering RSS feeds and an online shopping cart.
Consulting Services available on these and other topics.

August 11, 2005

A very obnoxious and obscene parrot gets put in a freezer for punishement.
On release, parrot profusely apologizes for errant past behavior and asks....

"May I inquire what the chicken did?"

August 10, 2005

O.K. Here's the story on the SUV cargo nets: Ford Motor apparently
totally screwed one of their suppliers of these superb quality products.
Which went up for a distress auction a while back. I ended up with all
of the production machinery ( long stripped and sold ) and two zillion of
the nets, plus several miles of the raw net material. All as new.

I've been offering these $24.50 dealer price nets on our eBay store for
$5.95 and opening as Dutch Auction at $4.95. But we simply have far too
many of them and I decided to blow off excess inventory at $19.63 for a
case of fifty.

The only two little catches are that no, we will not sell partial cases for
less than our unit price, and yes, the UPS shipping weight is actually a
fairly hefty 31 pounds. Our shipping charges are always revenue neutral.

We can also offer ten or more cases at $14.95 per case, but that is FOB,
Thatcher AZ, 85552 only. We can assist you in loading but will not ship
nor make any shipping arrangements for you at this price point.

August 9, 2005

A Universal .BMP Image Manipulator written in most any language
might start with an array of arrays in which each subarray represents
one horizontal line of pixels. The ability to access the entire image at
once permits virtually any pixel-by-pixel modification, including 3x3
or even 5x5 filtering, pixel interpolation, true image rectification,
swings and tilts, dodges and burns, keystone correction, high precision
rotations, and just about anything else you could dream up.

PostScript offers a unique opportunity that should significantly both
simplify and speed things up. An image line is typically an array of
integers
having values of 0-255. A PostScript-as-language string also
is typically an array of integers having values of 0-255.

By using strings all the way through the image manipulation process,
many string-to-array and array-to-string conversion steps can often
be eliminated. Powerful string manipulation tools can also be put into
play. The bottom line is that most manipulations can be done at a speed
around a few seconds per megapixel.

I've got the new code working and am presently rippling it through the
demos. The above link should shortly be updated with a dozen or more
examples.

August 8, 2005

A reprint of my classic IC-67 metal locator project appears here.
And some background on how it came to be is found here. This
was one of the earliest hobbiest "analog" integrated circuit
construction projects.

August 7, 2005

To prevent a URL from breaking up (and 404'ing on you) in an
email messge, try bracketing it with <carats>. This should work
with most mail and news servers.

August 6, 2005

After many frustrating hours, I've pretty much decided to stick with
the "EWNS" .BMP image knockout algorithm we already have up
for you and stashed here.

Fancier code seems to be extremely sensitive to extra white pixels or
variable width white borders. And often fails spectacularly by tearing
rather than graciously by skipping.

This code runs about twenty seconds per Megapixel and normally
handles between 98 to 100 percent of a white outlined knockout.
Only undercuts are partially missed.

Repeating the EWNS algorithm: (A) start at the left edge and add white
pixels horizontally till you find a white pixel. (B) repeat from the right edge
and work left. (C) repeat from the top edge and work down. (D) repeat
from the bottom edge and work up.

As we've previously noted, (C) and (D) are the most time intensive.
They also require full bitmap memory access.

Please email me if you have any references to knockout algorithms of
others.

August 6, 2005

Apparently, the new eBay logfile-with-item name referrals only
apply to auction format at present. There is a new store referral
log format that does not yet include names. A typical example
might ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3276531406&ssPagename="
MERC_VI_RSCC_Pr4_PcY_BIN_Stores


Apparently, this new store format only appears when a new store
item is added or an old one gets renewed.

I've got a temporary patch to our logfile analyzer utilities and a
sample printout that splits out the store items but does not yet
count or sort them. I suspect there will be further changes here.

More details on logfile analyzers are in our GuruGram library.

August 5, 2005

Analog Devices has just come out with an utterly fantastic
collection of new chips and evaluation boards that allow the
simple and accurate measurement of tiny values of capacitance
and impedance.

The capacitance chips include the single ended AD7447 and the
balanced AD7745 and AD7746. Obvious uses include proximity
sensors, automatic water faucets, pressure gauges, accellerometers,
and great heaping bunches more.

Kiddies, we are talking 4 femtofarad accuracy and sub attoFarad
resolution here
. The opporknockities boggle the mind.

The impedance chips include the AD5933 and its companion
EVAL AD5933 U1 evaluation board. Which means that Electronic Impedance
Spectroscopy
used for everything from battery fuel gauges to corrosion
studies to cancer cures to proving hydrogen energy scam bogosity is
now many thousands of times cheaper and infinitely more convenient.

Sadly, the swept frequency impedance chips do not have nearly the
precision or resolution of the fixed frequency capacitance measuring
chips.

I'm also wondering if these dudes might not make a jim dandy and
ultra simple metal detector. The key to most traditional metal locator
circuits is accurately measuring very small changes in inductance and
impedance. Which these chips should do in spades.

They might also be useful for archaeological surveys because disturbed
and native earth might have different impedance versus frequency
characteristics. But asking them to locate caves might be a tad much.

August 4, 2005

Kiss or Cross?

A single pass scan line oriented .BMP background knockout is more
subtle than appears at first glance. If you clearly cross a white line,
then you have obviously gone from the background to the object or
vice versa.

Crossing could occur on the incidence of a vertical or diagonal white line.
Or on a white horizontal stub with an inflection point. But if the white line
only concavely or convexly kisses the scan line, then you still have the
previous background or object status.

This algorithm now looks promising...

     For each horizontal scan line, intially set an /outside flag. Inspect each
     horizontal RGB pixel triad in sequence until a white-to-color transition
     is found. If no transition, continue replacement for background or no
    change for object.

    Count the white entries and exits above the white pixel or white
    horizontal stub. If there are zero or two, you have a "kiss" situation
    and the /outside flag does not change. If there is one crossing, assume
    a "cross" situation with a matching below exit and change the /outside flag.

I'll work up some code to try this and see if there are additional problems.

The algorithm is encouraging since it is single pass and because more
complex calculations and decisions are typically limited to a few per line.

August 3, 2005

As I mentioned a time or two before, if you ever need to escape or
drop out or depressurize for a few days, check out the Black Range
Lodge
. Cleverly hidden in the part of New Mexico that you cannot
get to. In a remote mountain valley just under the Continental Divide.

Ask Catherine or Pete about the Percha Creek Salmon Run. And don't
miss the Kingston Frisbee Festival. The latter usually runs from
January 1st to December 31st in any given year.

August 2, 2005

Got a simplified knockout routine working and posted here. It works
ok, but is a tad slow at 20 seconds per megapixel and misses a small
percentage of undercuts. But it presently saves hours of manual
knockout time and tedium.

I'll probably be improving or replacing this code eventually.
Consulting services available.

August 1, 2005

There are some subtleties in dealing with PostScript composite objects.

Ferinstance, PostScript does not place strings into arrays or data
structures. All it places is a pointer to that string! Should the string
change later between generation and actual use, all sorts of rude
surprises can result.

The solution is string de-referencing...

      ( reusable old string ) dup length string cvs --> ( new safe string )

We saw details on this back in STRCONV.PDF of GuruGram #30.
It is also important to note that strings are not preserved by saves
and restores
.

Just ran into a similar problem with PostScript arrays. Say you define
array /aaa and then do a /bbb aaa store. Followed by a bbb 2 (value) put.
That value will go into both aaa and bbb!

The de-referencing workaround is similar...

    [ reusable old array] mark exch aload pop ] ---> [ new safe array ]

Things get even messier if you have an array of arrays...

        mark inarray { mark exch aload pop ] } forall ]

Note that these deferencing techniques are slow and resource instensive.
They may also trip garbage collection, so you might have to bracket them
with a -2 vmreclaim and a 0 vmreclaim as well if they seem exceptionally
slow.

More on similar topics in our PostScript library.

July 31, 2005

A fast and sneaky /quickknockout routine has been added to our
Universal .BMP Image Manipulator. Removing all background pixels
to white or to a bluescreen or greenscreen is crucial for everything from
eBay images to video overlays to computer animation.

Sadly, the paint bucket in Paint will only replace a color within a solid
area. And the lasso-and-delete tends to be error prone and tediuous.

I started looking at various fill algorithms and did not get very far with
them. Repeated samples or handedness or outside-insidedness quickly
become complicated. Especially in "kiss" situations where an edge
concavely or convexly touches a scan line.

Instead, a much simpler algorithm seems to handle "nearly all" of a
knockout for typical eBay product images and such...

Starting at the left edge of each scan line, replace all pixels
until a white pixel is found.

Starting at the right edge of each scan line, replace all pixels
until a white pixel is found.

That quickly will remove around 90 percent of your background. To get up into
the 98 to 99 percent range, also do these...

Starting at the top edge of each vertical line replace all pixels
until a white pixel is found

Starting at the bottom edge of each vertical line, replace all pixels
until a white pixel is found.

These two are considerably more computationally intensive as programmable
access to the entire bitmap is required, rather than just one scan line.

Your subject to be kept must have a continuous white line around it. Diagonals
are permitted. There must not be any pure white background pixels present.
A routine such as my NOWHIT01.PSL easily takes care of this for you.

The above algorithm is easily modified for bluescreens, patterned underlays
similar to NUBKG01.PSL and such. The only areas requiring retouch involve
undercuts of one sort or another. Even these will be significantly reduced.

July 31, 2005

Work is proceeding on our Universal .BMP Image Manipulator, intended
to be a generalized open source and platform independent framework from
which any .BMP image processing can be internally handled.

So far, the core routines are in place, along with a dozen of the more
simple examples that include cropping, mirroring, total axis rotation,
negation, and a very preliminary background knockout routine.

Next in line are the cubic spline basis function pixel interpolation
routines that will allow swings & tilts, keystone correction, scaling,
zooming, precision rotation, and such.


You are welcome to play with and experiment with the code. It is not
remotely complete (nor can it ever be), and bugs may remain.

July 30, 2005

One of the more obscures technical backwaters has been Electrochemical
Impedance Spectroscopy
, or EIS for short. Per this tutorial, this book, or
this book, or this book. EIS applies swept frequencies to a liquid or other
substances to obtain distinctive capacitance- and resistance-versus-frequency
plots.

Important EIS uses range from corrosion studies, electrochemistry, cancer
research, nondestructive testing, paints & finishes, and, most importantly,
measurement of battery life for emerging advanced batteries.

EIS also instantly and completely also discredits the pseudoscience attempts
of the resonnce electrolysis and pulse electrolysis crowd.

Some traditional EIS resources are found here, but the really big news is
that Analog Devices has come up with a new $5 chip called the AD5933
that replaces tens of thousands of dollars of arcane test equipment.

July 29, 2005

eBay just made a dramatic change in the format of the referral
info
they provide to your ISP's log files. You can now extract
item names and other useful info from your log files. This is
enormously useful, both to keep track of your own more popular
eBay items, or to detect any image piracy.

The new format of the referral string in your log entry will look
something like
http://cgi.ebay.com/Refrigerator-freezer-energy-
saver-10-amp-plugin_W0QQitemZ5982681673QQcategory
Z3188QQtcZphotoQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
.

In particular, we see an http://cgi.ebay.com/ prefix, followed by
the item name with spaces replaced by hyphens, followed by a
unique "_W" deliminiter. If wanted, QQ tabs can be further
used to extract the item number and the category number.

Some minor points: Old logfile readers will have to be modified
and your log files will get somewhat longer. It should take some
time for older format info to disappear from caches and such.
The prefix /ebaymotors/ shows up before any auto item names.

eBay listings with more than one image will create more than one
log referral and need a count adjustment. This can be resolved by
the GET string filename elsewhere in your log entry.

And you may want to add an eBay exclusion string to your regular
referral reports.

Here's our modified logfile reader and a sample logfile for you
to play with.

July 29, 2005

Details of the BMP Image File Format have been available as our
GuruGram #14. Thought I'd review a point or two on these that may
cause some grief.

There are two areas in the header that hold the horizontal and vertical
pixel info. These are both 32 bit words of four 8-bit bytes each, LSB
last. Normally these should accurately match the bitmap image data
that follows
. Your display ap must either read these values or else be
specifically told them. Otherwise, shifting, tearing, or error messages
are near certain to result.

Bitmaps build by the horizontal line and do so from the bottom up.
Note that this is the opposite of a scanned display that normally
builds from top down.

Any given pixel in the .BMP data follows a blue - green - red sequence
with blue being presented earliest. This may seem odd or unexpected.

Should you decide to change the size of a bitmap, your results will
almost certainly look awful unless you do a true high resolution cubic
spline interpolation
. These can be quite computationally intensive and
slow. Amazingly, such an interpolation can actually improve perceived
image quality! Image interpolation example sourcecode appears here.

The .BMP format apparently demands use of 32-bit words. Thus,
each new horizontal line MUST start on a 32-bit word boundary!
Because three does not divide into four all that well, a number of
null padding bytes may have to be added to the previous line of
data. Zero, one, two, or three bytes may be required.

Here is some padding byte example code. It is shown in PostScript,
using my Gonzo Utilities and starts with the present horizontal line
data string ready to be written to disk...

/onepad [ 0 ] makestring store             % previously defined
/twopad [ 0 0 ] makestring store
/threepad [ 0 0 0 ] makestring store

dup length 4 mod dup 0 gt { [ (xxx) threepad twopad onepad ]
exch get mergestr}{pop}ifelse

writefile exch writestring

July 28, 2005

We just listed some automated wind speed and direction sensors to
our eBay store. The feds paid $14,500.00 each for these incredibly
superb pole mount units that have no moving parts. They even do
include a barometric pressure measuring capability and communicate
very easily with most any modern computer or microprossor or BASIC
STAMP
by way of ordinary 1200 Baud Bell 202 FSK modem comm.

These are accurate to three degrees, work when ice covered, and
withstand 175 MPH winds. The units work by heating special matched
platinum temperature sensors. We only have five of these remaining.

Sensor is part of a AN/FMQ-13(V)2. Amazingly, full technical manuals,
detailed schematics and any and all docs are readily web available!

July 27, 2005

I've been noticing that Adobe Acrobat 7 does not appear nearly as
robust or stable as earlier releases. In fact, it seem to be the only
program that continually and regularly blows up for me under Windows
XP
. Symptoms include random blowups and leaving bits and pieces
of previous code modules on the machine that are not found until
a shutdown.

That Content Preparation Process box may also be involved somehow.
Other times, the "not responding - end program" shutdown option
either does not work at all or has to be repeated a dozen times.

Some defenses appear to be making sure there is only one instance
of Acrobat active at any time, and never running Acrobat and GoLive
simultanously. And giving ctrl-shift-escape or end program more than
enough time to finish shutdown. I'll see if I cannot narrow this down.

Adobe has published some XP Blowup Guidelines.

Meanwhile, there is an infuriating new bug in Distiller that causes
running of PostScript-as-Langauage programs to slow down by
factors of fifty or more. Apparently the garbage collection is now
super robust. Possibly because of a sledgehammer repair to a
memory leak or something.

Creative use of -2 vm reclaim (stop!) and 0 vmreclaim (do now!)
inside loops dramatically repair this problem. Which should not
even be there in the first place.

Plese email me if you are having related problems.

July 26, 2005

Updated and corrected many links on our Arizona Auction Resources
library page. Your own Custom Regional Auction finder can be obtained
thru this link.

July 25, 2005

I'm trying to work up a universal image manipulator that goes way beyond
our swings and tilts and dodges and burns routines. This would "byte the
bullet" and actually transfer the entire image into groups of PostScript
line related subarrays that are RAM resident.

From which true X-Y image rectification using high resolution interpolation
could be done. As could 9-cell or 25 cell digital filtering, direct swing correction,
precision fractional degree rotations, and just about any other image manipulation
you could possibly dream up.

Speed might not be all that great for really intensive calculations. So be it.
More on this as it evolves.

July 24, 2005

As we've seen, I've got twenty unimproved wooded acres for sale that
offer spectacular views of Oregon's Rogue River Valley. Here's a
new photo on the property that shows the view to the south...

You can click on the image to view a larger one. Then click again.

The Rogue River itself and its recreation is as little as 0.5 miles into the
photo, while Interstate Five crosses at 0.7 miles. Ocean beaches and
mountain sking are both a scant two hours away. Shopping, jobs, medical,
entertainment, etc... are twelve minutes to the left..

The offered property is on the flank of Nugget Butte where the Cascades,
the Siskiyous, and the Coast Range all meet. World class white water
rafting
or kayaking is nearby.

I am currently seeking out homesite approvals.

Here again is a map. Property is the green rectangle "pointed to" by
Thirteenth Street.

Our legal description is T36 R3W S16 Tax Lot 400.
Asking price is $11,700 per acre with financing available.

More info and additional photos are here and here.
email me if you are interested in this unique opportunity.

July 23, 2005

A corrupted Infile can sometimes make Thunderbird slow and
erratic. The usual symptom is that your Infile is hundreds of
megabytes in size instead of the normal hundreds of kilobytes.

For a possible repair, first read the properties of your equivalent
to \Documents and Settings\don\Application Data\Thunderbird\
Profiles\ty5rkj8jk.default\Mail\Local Folders\Inbox
. Your file size
should be less than a few hundred kilobytes unless you have lots
of image attachments. In which case, your file size should be a
few Megabytes at most.

To clean Inbox on an erratic and slow but still working Thunderbird,
first delete any and all unneeded messages. Most especiallly those
with "paper clip" attachments.

If the file size remains unreasonable after a reboot, create a new
Backup subfolder using the Inbox menu. Copy each message to
this folder. Check the folder to make sure its size is reasonable.
If not, find and delete the problem file, If so, continue.

Move the old Inbox folder to the trash. Move a copy of Backup
to the Inbox file site. Rename this copy as Inbox. The problem
should now be gone. You can later on delete the old Inbox from
the trash and the new Backup from your Inbox menu,

July 22, 2005

There's at least one additional data sheet site that calls itself
http://www.datasheet4u.com/. Besides http://www.alldatasheet.com/
that I'vd already linked on our Home Page.

The key test for an undisputed winner would be a CK722 data sheet!

July 21, 2005

The overwhelming majority of newsgroup posts are either totally
worthless or not even wrong. And high profile participation can
be an utter waste of time. Besides scoring you spam, viri, stalkers,
taunters, and worse.

But newsgroups can also give you instant answers to sticky problems,
approaches you may not have thought of, or can be a useful marketing
tool to expose others to your products and services.

Thought I'd start a random order list of newsgroup guidelines here...

     ~ Have specific goals for your newsgroup participation
     ~ Use your real name and access, but expect spam.
     ~ Always bottom post after carefully cropping previous responses.
     ~ Never mount an ad hominum attack!
     ~ The half life of a newsgroup post is around seventeen hours.
     ~ Carefully proof before posting, especially URL's.
     ~ Most reader archives continue to show any deletions or cancellations.
     ~ Crop carefully, keeping attributions accurate and succinct.
     ~ Contribute in depth before any explotation.
     ~ Never broadcast spam to multiple groups.
     ~ Controversial posts can get you sued, fired, or visited by Bruno.
     ~ Avoid more than two posts per day or one post per 25 by others.
     ~ High profile participation will attract stalkers and taunters.
    ~ Tightly target three or four groups at most.
    ~ Newsgroup Archives keep what you say forever. And then some.
    ~ The quality and utility of groups varies widely. Most are worthless.
    ~ Delay any emotional or controversial post by at least 24 hours.
    ~ Respond only indirectly to problematic, irrational, or high profile posters.
    ~ Use thread hijacking to divert stuff you do not want others to expand upon.
    ~ Post factual links to indirectly deal with kooks, pseudoscience, and such.
    ~ Simply ignore problem posters. Plonking or blocking only adds credibility.
    ~ Never be a net nazi. Newsgroups essentially end up self-policing themselves.
    ~ Search carefully for appropriate groups. There are 35,000 of them or so.
    ~ Universal response: "All of your (insert phrase here) are belong to us"
    ~ Never  repeat a scam url or a spam url in any message response!
    ~ Low traffic groups are largely useless and tend to attract inappropriate posts.
    ~ One high quality newsgroup may have many poorer imitators.
    ~ Never threaten any individual or directly respond in any manner.
    ~ If you are ad hominem attacked, walk away. You have won.
    ~ Post responses will usually be the exact opposite of what you want to hear.
    ~ Product ads are not welcome on newsgroups. Use mentions or sigfiles instead.
    ~ Post to influence the lurkers, never the regulars.
    ~ Avoid gang banging the cripples. Well, maybe just a little. At least on tuesdays.
    ~The other side will have the last word. You can decide where and when.
    ~ Nobody knows you are a dog on the internet. Assume posters are 12 years old.
    ~ Verify everything you view on the groups. Never commit without verification.
    ~ Always ask "Why are you telling me this?" What is their hidden agenda?

But our key guideline, of course, is...

     ~ Rember that "Net" stands for "Not Entirely True".

Not sure where I am going with this, but your input is welcome.

July 20, 2005

There's a new fly swatter from the Cayuga Manufacturing Company
thea has an extendable handle that reaches as far as twenty feet.
And thus there is no insect that can "fly above Cayuga's swatter."

http://www.explore.cornell.edu/tour_landmarks/img/audio/alma.mp3

July 19, 2005

Thought I might clarify something that may have recently come up:

Ever since I suffered the absurdities and indignities of an aerospace
secret military clearance many decades ago, I no longer accept NDA's
or work with any excessive degree of confidentiality
.

I definitely and most assuredly do not want to know the secret details
of your new (and almost certainly worthless) patent. And I definitely
do not want someone coming back at me with a "You stole my idea!"
claim.

If you are a paying consulting client, your work will be treated in an
expected and customarily nondisclosive manner. Otherwise, your best
bet is to assume anything you tell me will be dissemenated to the
widest possible audience.

July 18, 2005

REFURB LOG:

Yesterday's bug fix deserves further comment. Here is one route
towards correcting bizarre software bugs...
     
     1. Make sure the problem is real; do not prejudge its cause.
     2. Be able to reproduce the problem on demand.
     3. Reduce the problem to its simplest form.
     4. Make the problem worse.
     5. Find the simplest difference that makes the problem go away.
     6. Create a sledgehammer cure that makes the problem go away.
     7. Take a hike. Literally!
     8. Replace the sledgehammer cure with a more subtle and elegant one.
     9. Thoroughly test for unintended side effects.

The symptom was that AUTOBMF1.PSL would sometimes get you
a strange mix of present and previous character sizes whenever a
font size was later reused. It turns out that if you calculate a new name
object in PostScript, it does not automatically link to any previous
associations of the same name. A simple reusedname load pop seems
to cure the problem.

July 17, 2005

Corrected a minor bug in our AUTOBMF1.PSL bitmap typewriter
that we detailed in GuruGram #53. If you later on reused the same
font size, you would sometimes get a strange mix of present and
previous character sizes.

July 16, 2005

The word "fuel" is highly ambiguous and often can be grossly
and obscenely misleading. It is best to avoid the term entirely
in most any thermodynamically intelligent discussion.

Instead, we have energy sources, energy carriers, and energy
sinks
. Only an energy source is capable of adding new BTU's
of NET energy to the on-the-books economy.

Calling terrestral hydrogen a "fuel" is fraught with peril.
Besides being not even wrong.

More at http://www.tinaja.com/glib/energfun.pdf

July 15, 2005

Added a bunch of recent new files to our GuruGram Library.

July 14, 2005

Latest GuruGram #55 is on An Improved Bitmap Image Keystone
Corrector
.
Sourcecode is found here. More on PostScrript in our
PostScript Library and Acrobat Library pages.

More on bitmaps in our .BMP format tutorial and our Fonts & Images
library. Consulting services available.

July 13, 2005

REFURB LOG:

Got the three disk CD set on CHAR DATA from The Defense Logistics
Information Service
. Sure enough, this $18 set does contain the NIIN
data consisting of the final nine digits of a NSN.

But it only has the bare bones NSN description info and it is not clear
how many older or obsolete NSN's are included. Conspicuously absent
is the vendor info that shows which company delivered how many when
for how much. Such info can be crucial for evaluating how old an item is,
what its commercial equivalents are, and its probable value.

Entering NIIN for circuit breaker 01-422-4748 reveals the stunning
info that the number of poles is approximately one. No other info is
provided at all.

It turns out there is a separate $96 FED LOG set of CD's that may have
some of this additional data. Unfortunately, is is classified as FOUO,
meaning for official use only. And definitely not for sale to individuals.

It is not clear whether, say, a fire department could qualify for these,
or what hoops would have to be jumped through to become a mil vendor.

More on similar topics on our Auction Help page.

July 12, 2005

And the student revolt against backpacks begins. Vail Schools out of
Tucson discovered it can be a lot cheaper to buy each student a laptop
than piss around with outrageously expensive books, so they are starting
a "no books" policy this fall.

I predict there will be the usual pioneering problems, but that other
districts will shortly and surely follow.

If you think about it for a while, books are not nearly as great a method
of communicating than they are given credit for. For centuries, they just
happened to be the best option that was available at the time.

I predict the suddenness and completeness of their upcoming near demise
will happen a lot faster and a lot more certainly than many expect.

July 11, 2005

Here are some of the key algorithms used in yesterday's FIXTLT01.PSL
improved keystone corrector. Four data points called newtopleft, oldtopleft,
newtopright, and oldtopright are directly entered. These represent how
much horizontal shift you want on the top image line compared to the
neutral and unchanged middle image line.

From these points, a vertical neutral axis and a gain is determined. The
further you go horizontally from the neutral axis, the greater the shift...

       /neutralaxis newtopright newtopleft sub leftdelta dup rightdelta
       neg add div mul newtopleft add store


       /gain leftdelta
neutralaxis newtopleft sub div store

One curious gotcha: Negative values of rightdelta and leftdelta are
defined because a .BMP builds from the bottom up. Per this tutorial.

The amount of keystone shift is a maximum on the top line, is zero on the
center line, and a maximum negative on the bottom line...

       
/vgainfract curvline vres 1 sub div 1 sub neg 2 mul 1 sub store

Actual fractional pixel location uses an elaborate Cubic Spline
Basis Function
algorithm for best possible image quality retention.
An optional white punchthru eliminator is easily combined with
required overflow and underflow checks used by the spline code.

Since a vertical or swing corrector would be considerably slower
and more complex, swings can be simply done by rotating the
image 90 degrees, doing your tilt keystone correction, and rotating
back. This technique is particularly useful for perspective lettering
correction
.

July 10, 2005

I've made some major improvements in our older NUTILT01.PSL
swings and tilts image correction software that was detailed in our
SWINGTLT.PDF tutorial that appeared as GuruGram #15.

Such routines are exceptionally useful to create the "architects
perspective" that I've found to dramatically improve our eBay
prices. They are also useful to rectifying and then reinserting
the perspective lettering we looked at in PERSPEC1.PDF that you
should find as GuruGram #54.

The new code is called FIXTLT01.PSL. You now can directly enter
four precision data points. The linearity and speed are improved,
use of my Gonzo Utilities is now optional, white punchthru removal
is now an internal option, trial and error is greatly reduced, and
perspective lettering flattening and reinsertion is simplified.

July 9, 2005

Few people realize how diffuse an energy source solar energy
really is. Or how utterly futile it is to try and do economical
conversion with lower efficiency conventional pv cells.

Incoming solar energy in the Arizona desert on a good day is
something over one kilowatt per square meter. And over six
effective hours, something like six kilowatt hours are incoming.

A six percent efficient panel would produce something like 60
watts or 360 watthours per day. At a dime per kilowatt hour,
you would be looking at a whopping 3.6 cents of production per
active square meter per day.

But wait. The panel efficiency is a lot worse than the cell
efficiency. First, if you do not track, you can throw away
something like 20 percent. Then there are the days of
available sunshine, which typically trashes yet more. Then
there is lower incoming for latitudes further north.

And then there are portions of the cell which do not produce
due to wiring and self-shading. And areas of the panel which
do not have cells on them. And panel histories that tend to
degrade through time. And algorithm and conversion losses.

All told, perhaps one cent worth of electricity is producable
per square meter of panel per day with low efficiency cells!

Thus today, even with totally free 6% pv cells, totally free panels,
totally free land and totally free labor, the amortization cost of the
synchronous inverter alone is more than enough to guarantee
you have a net energy sink when full burden accounted.

More on these topics in ENERGFUN.PDF.

July 8, 2005

Several new semiconductors recently caught my eye. I continue
to be utterly astounded at how much is happening how fast.

Rohm just announced a 3D surround function 64 polyphonic sound
source LSI that includes drum sets, sound effects, and much more.
Sadly their ad failed to give a part number and I cannot find it on
their web page. But this page has bunches of equally impressive
sound ic products on it.

Analog Devices has a new super performance capacitance sensor
that should be great for proximity detectors and lots of other uses.
Part number is AD7745. 0.004 picofarad resolution and 24 bit all
digital accuracy! Under five dollars in quantity.

Zillions of LED drivers are coming down the pike, anticipating the
five watt 100 lumens/watt white 25 cent LED. Supertex has a new
HV9921 intended for exit signs and such. This accepts a rectified
110/220 line input and directly provides a current limited dc source
for series connected strings of LED lamps.

STMicroelectronics has released a new STPM01 chip to produce
a standalone ac power mains energy and power meter.

Cypress Semiconductor has announced some new very high
efficiency solar cells
. 20 percent is claimed.

But conventional silicon pv anything is unlikely to ever produce
any fully burdened net energy. Waiting in the wings are the dual
workfunction, variable workfunction, photonic lattice, quantum
dot, metalloradical, dye based, and optical antennafier solutions.

More on these topics in ENERGFUN.PDF.

July 7, 2005

REFURB LOG:

Oddball screwheads are often associated with knobs, servos, and
precision gear in general. And having the wrong tool or even the
wrong sized tool is guaranteed to lead to disaster.

Some larger and cheaper knobs use setscrews that include a simple
slot. Always be sure to use a cabinet tip (straight sided) screwdriver
of exactly the right size. Too big chews up the knob, and too small
can destroy the driver. Always use the best quality miniature drivers
you can; the el cheapo stuff is sure to self destruct.

The next most common setscrew head is the hex or Allen. These are
available in both inch and metric series. The wrenches having a ball
tip on the long end are particularly useful when working deep inside
a system. Many electronic knobs require an 0.050 Allen wrench; this
size is only sometimes provided in the usual hardware store or auto
house sets. It pays to keep a few .050 spares on hand.

Needless to say, you never try to use a metric wrench when an inch
one is called for or vice versa. And you always be sure to return
any used wrenches and the kit itself immediately to a findable place.

A rare servo shaft coupling or whatever may require even smaller
Hex Allen wrenches in the .028 and .035 sizes. A local gunsmith
may have these, but they are best bought only when needed.

Threadlocking compound is sometimes used to make removal of
small setscrews infuriatingly difficult. Sometimes heating with
a soldering iron can melt the compound and simplify removal.

Some very old servo and military gear will use what are called
Bristol Splines. These are very special and are identified by four
to six flutes with very sharp edges. Do not attempt to use an Allen
or Torx wrench on these! One reasonably priced source for Bristol
Spline wrenches is found here.

Torx wrenches are becoming extremely popular as they present
fewer problems with stripping and camout or such. A Torx head
will always be six sided with well rounded edges. These are in
standard sizes of T3 through T20 or higher. One problem is that
the T6 and T8 sizes may be needed and often are not included in
normal hardware store or auto house sets. Here's a list of possible
T6 and T8 sources; you can try Google for more.

July 6, 2005

I've lost track of the exact count, but the next GuruGram is likely
to be number TWO THOUSAND (!) in my series of major books,
articles, videos, and published technical papers.

Definintely a millstone of some sort.

Some of how we got here is found in WAYWERE.PDF. Somewhat
under half of these are already found on my Guru's Lair website;

I hope to add the remainder as time and Banner Advertisers permit.
Considerable time and effort is required to restore pre-electronic
columns, stories, and papers.

July 5, 2005

REFURB LOG:

National Serial Numbers for mil surplus gear can be most useful and
informative. Especially for picking up specs, suppliers, ratings, and
alternate uses.

If only they weren't so maddeningly infuriating.

A typical NSN might be 6220-01-375-3532. The first four digits are the
FSC or Federal Supply Category. Which describes the type of stuff
related to the item. One list of FSC categories can be found here.

The next two digits are almost always a 00 or 01 and relate to a US
supply source rather than an international one.

The final seven digits are hyphenated like a phone number and will
identify the specific item. There is no rhyme nor reason for which
numbers get assigned to which product. Being off by a digit can lead
to a wildly (and uselessly) different item.

The NSN' descriptions also tend to dwell on trivia rather than zeroing
in on vital info.

Government Liquidation sometimes provides some NSN info for
certain of their items being offered.

The absolute outrage over NSN's is that they are public info paid
with tax dollars and, as far as I can tell, are not freely and instantly
available on the web. There are a dozen services who, besides their
charging hundreds to thousands of dollars a year for access, are
incredibly snotty, arrogant, and ridiculously inconvenient to boot.

There is, however, an $18 CD that may sometimes prove of value.

July 4, 2005

I got yet another email from yet another water powered car epsilon
minus. And still have not found any effective way to deal with these.

"Polite till it is time to not be polite; then extremely rude", seems to
sort of work. In this case, pointed questions about the labwork went
unanswered and seemed to suggest they did not have the faintest
clue what labwork was, let alone having ever done any.

To recap, a water powered car history appears in MUSE153.PDF,
along with the fundamentals of electrolysis. Or, for the horses'
mouth fundamentals, check out Faraday in Great Books #45.
scunging away for a buck at your nearest yard sale.

For an energy fundamentals review, see ENERGFUN.PDF, and for
first principles of bashing pseudoscience, try BASHPSEU.PDF.

What is really sad is that ( just like the miracle carburetor nuts who
haven't picked up on the fact that nobody uses carburetors anymore )
electrolysis is utterly useless as a conversion method for bulk hydrogen
energy.

The reason is that electrolysis is fundamentally and profoundly a net
destroyer of value!
Why? Because the loss of exergy is staggering.
A kilowatt hour of electrical energy is ridiculously more valuable than
a kilowatt hour of unstored hydrogen gas. This is guaranteed by the
thermodynamically reversibly recoverable energy fraction being much,
much lower for the gas.

And that is before amortization. And before such rude surprises as
finding out that stainless steel (or anything but platinized platinum ) is
certain to totally trash any electrolysis efficiency, because of the
hydrogen overvoltage of iron found in any intro electrochem book.

Electrolysis is thus pretty much the same as 1:1 exchanging US dollars
for Mexican pesos
. And has no uses where efficient energy conversion
is a prime factor.

Electricity ( especially grid or small scale pv ) is never cheap enough
for electrolysis; there always will be more intelligent things to do with
the electricity than instantly destroy most of its value.

Back to Stanley Meyer and friends. After the "gross and egregious
fraud" and "loose grip on reality" fraud trail and after Meyer's death
( blamed on an energy cartel hit rather than several someones who
just had their life savings stolen ), a Canadian Penny Stock seems to
have taken over. Who, for their trouble, got staked to an anthill by
the Canadian equivalent of the SEC. An almost unheard of happening.
And whose website now leads off with "they weren't us".

For Meyer to be right, everybody else from Faraday on down would
have to be forever very very wrong. It turns out there are some very
little known analytical tools that do EIS, short for Electrochemical
Impedance Spectrascopy
. These would routinely and instantly tell
any experienced user if there was the slightest shread of fumes of
a hint of anything unusual happening when electricity meets water.

Such wildly successful products as the Qprox proximity detectors
could not possibly work. Nor would standard machine shop practices
involving EDM Electronic Discharge Machining behave in their
expected manner.

Meyer proponents keep parroting "but you haven't done the
experiment". Well (a) the experiment is not in the least worth
doing, and (b) the experiment does get done many billions of
times daily without any credible exceptions whatsoever.

July 3, 2005

REFURB LOG:

Finding ic logos has gotten a lot easier, thanks to websites like
this one, this one, or this one. But I like this one the best. One
fairly complete list of linked manufacturers appears here.

But I still like this long dark site the best.

Speaking of which, sources for obsolete semiconductors these
days include Rochester Electronics, Luke Systems, Mushroom
Components
, Electronics Obsolete, Obsolete Components,
4-Star Electronics, Obsolete Semiconductor, Ambassador
Components
, Comptronics, and All Parts. A nice link farm
appears here.

But do remember that electronic parts get obsolete mostly
for very good reasons. And that replacing an older blown part
without finding the underlying cuse is likely to blow the new one
as well
.

And that just about any older lower level digital integrated circuit
can most likely be replaced with a PIC from Microchip.

July 2, 2005

A simple image click magnifier might end up a lot more useful than
fancier image enhancement tricks. This solves the eBay problem of
having a wide image with high enough resolution to show essentials
without making the text excessively wide. It also works with a user's
JavaScript disabled. And makes full use of available screen width.

Here's how the click magnifier of June 29th below is coded...

   <a href=""http://www.tinaja.com/images/bargs/orprop01.jpg">
   <img src="http://www.tinaja.com/images/bargs/orprop02.jpg"
   width="461" height="391" border="0"></a>

The first line tells you to grab image orprop01.jpg if you click on
the image. The second line tells you to inline show orprop02.jpg
in its default size set by the third line. For decent legibility, the
size must match that of the default image.

Note that Firefox does a "two stage" magnification, and a second
click may be needed to get to a proper displaying 100 percent.

By adding simple HTML Tables, you can select from a group.

July 1, 2005

Latest GuruGram #54 is on Improving Bitmap Perspective Lettering
and Artwork
.
Sourcecode is found here. More on PostScrript in our
PostScript Library and Acrobat Library pages.

You can click through for the .JPG Demo and the .BMP Demo. Be
sure to view the .BMP Demo at 100 percent magnification! This may
take a second click in Firefox.

Note particularly the shadows, the vertical edges, and the depth of field.

This item is currently up on our eBay store. Consulting services available.

June 30, 2005

We still get lots of requests for the water soluble swimsuits we were
offering on eBay. Sorry, but we have sold out and are unlikely to get
any more any time soon.

These were really water soluble laundry bags we picked up in large
quantities as military surplus. Their intended use was for hospitals
to put any bad stuff laundry in the bag, and then the entire bag was
thrown into the washer where it dissolved.

The underlying chemical is called polyvinyl acetate, which also sees
use as kiddy slime and as mold releases. The brand we offered was
M.D. Industries, but they seem to have folded. You can find their
historic website here.

Quilters and felters find the product handy for transferring a pattern
before cutting or sewing. The final item is then washed and the pattern
gets removed. Solvy and similar products sell for several dollars per
yard or more at notion shops. Slightly larger quantities are available
here.

Alternate sources of supply in quantity can possibly be found here,
here, and here.

June 29, 2005

I've got twenty unimproved wooded acres for sale that offer
spectacular views of Oregon's Rogue River Valley....

You can click on the image to view a larger one. Then click again.

The good news is that this is in one of the finest and most in
demand living areas in the entire country. And that it lies
just outside (and borders on) the Gold Hill Oregon city limits.

The bad news is that the property is best described as "steep
to sloping"
, and that it is in a resource area that demands
careful due diligence. Some grandfathering is believed still
available. A short access easement might also be needed.

Here's a map. Property is the green rectangle "pointed to" by
Thirteenth Street. A major upscale home development is in
process two parcels to the east and slightly south.

Our legal description is T36 R3W S16 Tax Lot 400. We are
selling because I remain a desert rat and the parcel has met
my investment objectives.

Asking price is $11,700 per acre with financing available.

Additional photos and more details are found here and here.
email me if you are interested in this unique opportunity.

June 28, 2005

Newer hot tubs can be tricky to empty completely as the
drain may be on the side rather than the bottom. The final
30 gallons or so are painful to bail by hand and you may
not have enough head to run (or even start) a siphon.

It turns out there are little known venturi pumps available
at your hardware or garden store or cheaply gotten online.

While it may take 300 gallons of new water to get rid of
the old 30 ones, these can be quite fast and efficient if you
"almost" can siphon anyway.

June 27, 2005

Our what's new archive seems to be getting a tad long
and slow loading because of my increased bloging, outline
coverage and additional detail.

So, I'll be splitting it up into an archive file and the trailing
few weeks. You should be able to find t he latest info up at
http://www.tinaja.com/whtnu05.shtml, while the full year to
date would be in http://www.tinaja.com/whtnu05a.shtml.

Previous years remain available before by clicking the bar
above
or guessing the filename year.

June 26, 2005

I find digital image filtering to be utterly fascinating. A
really nice tutorial can be found here. In general, if you
look at a 3x3=9 or 5x5=25 pixel neighborhood of any
pixel and then form a calculated replacement result
based on a rule or rules, certain types of images can be
very much enhanced.

Ferinstance, a classic antialiasing can be done with a
[ [1 2 1] [2 4 2] [1 2 1]] Gaussian weighting. This can
reduce or nearly eliminate any "jaggies" along image
edges. And is basically a low pass filter that seperates the
sampling frequencies from most of the image frequencies.

One especially cute filter new to me is called a median
filter
. In which you look at all 9 or all 25 pixels and pick
the one closest to the middle value. This highly nonlinear
process completely eliminates certain forms of noise
without changing certain images much at all!

Other techniques can sharpen, find edges, or even emphasize
horizontal or vertical lines.

There is not too much hope that a spatial filter can be found
that can further improve our ultralegible fonts, because the
character content frequencies and the sampling frequencies
sit right on top of each other. But I have written some addons
to the code and it seems a slight blurring can cause a very
modest improvement. More on this as the experiments go on.

While the ultralegible fonts are best used to retouch small
lettering on bitmap images for photo retouching of eBay
offerings, it is interesting to compare them to the best of
Acrobat .PDF. At a four pixel character height, our methods
are clearly much more legible. But slightly thinner.

Consulting services available.

June 25, 2005

Refurb Log:

Much of aerospace uses three phase 400 Hertz motors,
transformers, and servo devices as they can be one seventh
the weight and size of conventional 60 Hertz electronics.

Two observationss...

         400 Hertz equipment will be immediately destroyed
         if run on 60 Hertz at full voltage!

         With a few exceptions, there is a virtually zero resale
         market  for 400 Hertz electrics and electromechanics.

Thus, most 400 Hertz gear is not worth pissing over, even at
near zero cost. But there are some interesting possibilities. It
has gotten a lot easier to generate your own 400 Hertz power
these days, so a few motors and servos may offer some size,
weight, and dynamic performance advantages for modern
robotics, servo, and automation apps.

It is also possible to run some 400 Hertz units at 60 Hertz,
provided you dramatically reduce the voltage. Preferably
down to the 12 or 15 volt range. The theory being that the
magnetic paths will saturate on 60/400ths the current at
power line frequencies.

While low voltage operation very much reduces the power
and performance, this might be one way to use a synchro
transmitter for such apps as a weathervane, provided you
electronically rather than mechanically sense the outputs.

Some of the synchro accessories can also end up quite
valuable for modern robotics. Examples that come to mind
are their zero backlash couplings, differentials, chain drives,
belts, gearboxes, or precision input sensors.

June 24, 2005

I'd sort of like to get exactly one hundred website insider
secrets, per our continuingly updated June 18th News entry.

Please email me with your favorites.

June 23, 2005

Updated and corrected a few offsite links on our home page.

June 22, 2005

I very much believe the overwhelming majority of chronic medical
problems are directly caused ( or severely
worsened ) by your own
long term ongoing stupidity.

Two collections of health and medical related resources everyone
should be aware of center on two individuals: Nathan Pritikin and
Dean Ornish.

The key online web resource for everything and anything medical, of
course, is Medline. There are a number of Third Party Websites
that can give you free access. Of these, I've long had Infotrieve
available on our home page.

A tutorial on related topics appears as DONTSICK.PDF that you
will find in our Blatant Opportunist library.

June 21, 2005

Converting pre-electronic documents to modern Acrobat .PDF can
get ugly in a hurry. Scanned bitmaps are huge, ugly, incapable of
legibility enhancement or magnification, lack a linking capability,
and are largely unsearchable. Especially for full text.

And no program seems yet available to do a hands-off intelligent
conversion to a mix of searchable text and clean efficient stroke
graphics. Adobe's old Streamline appears to me to be on a dead end
track, and there is no telling yet what will come of the Adobe
Macromedia
Flash acquisition.

There does seem to be a DJvu alternative that I've just become
aware of. But I cannot yet tell whether they are part of the solution
or part of the precipitate. I suspect the latter. While they acknowlege
.PDF compatibility, they "not even wrong" grossly understate the
capabilities of Acrobat
. And Adobe is totally silent on DJvu anything.

I very much want to make my archival materials available, especially
The Incredible Secret Money Machine, many of my books, and,
hopefully, all of my earliest magazine publications.

Current thinking around here goes something like this: Start with
a high resolution page scan, then use either HP or Adobe OCR.
Convert the bitmp to Acrobat then transparently and color coded
overlay efficient code using my Gonzo Utilities. Then strip off the
good stuff.

Will report more on this as it happens.

June 20, 2005

I was rather amazed by the extremely high inventory prices at the
Coast Energy bankruptcy auction. And missed grabbing many
goodies by a country mile. But we did manage to pick up some
antistatic mats, high quality surge suppressors, energy efficiency
devices, Microchip programmers, tape and reel components, and
Bell ELF field sensors. All of which shortly should go up on our
eBay store.

A good starting point, of course, for any ELF reception would be
a small punchbowl and lots of tiny glasses.

The auction's power planner devices do appear useful when applied
to older freezers and refrigerators. But for realistic breakeven, you should
only use these...

(A)  on lightly loaded larger induction motors
(B)  without other non-motor loads in parallel,
(C)  that run daily for many hours,

and, of course ...

(D) paying much less than the $39.00 factory cost.

Realistic payback for these on an older energy inefficient refrigerator
or freezer can be around four to seven months or so.

We have these available in quantity on our eBay store. Also have some
unpackaged and slightly scuffed but otherwise "near new" units
available at lower cost. You can email me for details.

June 19, 2005

Found a great source of old and new electronic data sheets at,
of all places, http://www.alldatasheet.com Will try to list this
one on our home page shortly.

June 18, 2005

Let's start a list of what I feel are the rules for a succesful website.
I'll be adding and rearranging this over the next few days, so keep
checking back...


~ Have a concise mission statement for the site.
~ Know exactly what you want the site to accomplish.
~ Offer definitive and unique free content not available elsewhere.
~ Give a lot away to sell a little.
~ Agressively use associate programs, but only quality relevant ones.
~ Use both raw HTML and a layout program such as Adobe's GoLive.
~ Make all reference material available in Acrobat .PDF format.
~ Provide an internal full site search that includes .PDF files.
~ Keep the site appearance unglitzy and somewhat retro.
~ Steal the plans using "view source". But cover your tracks well.

~ Do not use any annoying video, sound, or animation
~ Be very cautious over humor -- but use it
~ Keep your updates timely - especially if you are an auctioneer.
~ Provide a historical archive of pre-electronic documents.
~ Keep nav and appearance consistent across the entire site.
~ Make your sourcecode freely available.
~ Use .ASP files on the host, especially their INCLUDE feature.
~ Provide a site map and several layers of convenient nav.
~ Tightly link your eBay store and other income sources.
~ Use subtle bouncy bricks and such but NO major glitz.

~ Keep all banners and ads top quality
~ Seek out many small and indirect income sources
~ Aggressively use your log files and log reports
~ Link everything six ways from Sunday. Then link some more.
~ Never seek traffic for traffic's sake
~ If one word describes your site, make it "eclectic".
~ Seek out an optimum size. Many ventures will not scale worth a damn.
~ Keep operating costs at a bare minimum. Avoid hiring anyone.
~ Pay attention to complaints and critical comments.
~ Never mislead or misrepresent. Always understate.

~ Give good reasons for viewers to return daily and not miss an issue.
~ Have live help reachable 24/7. But discourage penpals and time wasters.
~ Be sure the major search engines are aware of your site
~ Do not use canned site templates unless you heavily revise them.
~ Never try to manipulate a search engine for better positioning.
~ Finish what you start - or have an orderly continuation process
~ Provide a useful shopping cart service.
~ Auto rotate any banners.
~ Provide a blog or a What's New? feature.
~ Add new content daily.

~ Test the site continuously. Dr. HTML is especially useful.
~ Provide your own VISA/MC merchant status. Plus Paypal.
~ Seek out many different and indirect income streams
~ Make certain the ISP provides byte range (byte serving) delivery.
~ Make certain the ISP provides full .PDF searching via ifilter.
~ Make your contact info obvious and convenient.
~ Avoid clutter! Keep your layout simple and clean
~ NEVER require registration, passwords, or other hoops to jump through.
~ ALWAYS show prices conspicuously and up front.
~ Do not promise what is not yet there.

~ Make corrections and updates and link repairs quickly.
~ Consider using a RSS update feed.
~ Avoid the use of frames, CSS, or browser specific features.
~ NEVER use popups or any other annoying or malicious code.
~ ALWAYS listen to critical comment and improvement suggestions.
~ Watch what you say, especially about individuals. The web is forever.
~ Do not use link exchanges or anything else that waters the site down.
~ HTML tables, both visible and invisible, dramatically improve text.
~ Place text in byte sized landscape oriented chunks.
~ Use legibility optimized fonts and color combinations.

~ Provide "click magnify" options for smaller images or fine detail.
~ Make a favicon.ico icon available for Windows users.
~ Strongly encourage readers using Acrobat smoothing and CoolType.
~ Avoid home page changes. But stay accurate. linked, and up to date.
~ Learn and use WS_FTP and Putty for site maintenance.
~ Make aggressive use of newsgroups, both to promote and learn.
~ Make your site stats freely and readily available.
~ Use single column layouts, preferably without fill justification.
~ Provide half line visual breaks between paragraphs.
~ Emphasize with bold and color, not underlines or italics.

~ Create a Froogle data feed for all your products.
~ Spell check continuously! Nothing damages your credibility faster.
~ Forward and reverse link your eBay store.
~ Make sure you are fully Firefox and other browser compatible.
~ Combine client side JavaScript with server side .ASP or VB.
~ Try to stay on the subtle side of subdued.

June 17, 2005

It really galls me that it is virtually impossible to get funding for
or successfully market a true and genuine new energy efficiency
breakthrough
, while the non performing scams sail right through.

We see non-working hydrogen buses that are pushed by hand up
a hill and coast into the demo where the press lavishly praises
how silent their operation is. And other hydrogen bus demos in
Chicago where the hydrogen is trucked in from Pittsburgh. And
the utter absurdity of electrolysis continues as an outright scam.

Others who should know better are picking on poor little Iceland.

We see pv solar panels that have never generated one net watthour
of energy
. And are not today in any manner renewable or sustainable.
And never will be until the pathetic conventional silicon pv technology
gets flushed once and for all.

We see grossly overpriced home energy efficiency improvers that
simply do not work in most of the places they are wrongly used.
Besides trashing freezer contents when they fail.

Even such apparent winners as compact fluorescent lights are net
energy sinks
in many of the sockets where they are not in the
least cost effective.

We see recycling programs that replace one billable city manhour
with ten unbillable homeowner manhours and still need heavy subsides
to create overpriced, inferior, and largely unmarketable products.

May you live in interesting times.
Consulting services available.

June 16, 2005

One of the handiest things you can bring to an auction is a simple
flat castered dolly with a rope handle. These are thin enough they
do not take up much vehicle room and can go on a top carrier if
necessary. One or two collapsible milk crates can also be useful.

A thick pile rug makes a good cover that reduces slipping and
helps protect valuables. But, boy oh boy, does Percival Pussival
ever get pissed when you steal his bed at 5 am.

More tips on our Auction Help page. Your own custom regional
auction finder can be created for you per these details.

June 15, 2005

Added some unusual new items to our eBay store, including
Geiger/Muller detectors, Prichard pulsed light photometers,
a relly superb GR precision resistance decade bridge and
high load crossed roller sliders.

Soon to be added are improved CCD color cameras, KB-27A
aerial gun cameras, a superb 9 camera security motion detector
system, bunches of assorted precision roller sliders, and an ultra
fast
high end production wire stripping machine.

email me if you want to get in ahead of the hoarders on any of these.

June 14, 2005

White LED technology seems about to turn the corner into a
mainstream high power lighting solution. High reliability LED
cave lamps are offered by HDS Systems, one of our banner
advertisers
.

A new 28,000 Lumen, 1400 watt LED array is now being
sold by Lamina Ceramics. 75 watt incandescent replacements
are now available from Ledtronics. New 3 watt modules are
sold by American Bright.

Other useful suppliers and resources include Lumiled, The Delight,
Alltronics, Maxim, Aboetech, and Odd One.

A good review on LED technology just appeared in Science for
27 May 2005, pp1274-1278. It turns out there is no fundamental
efficiency limit known for LED's, shy of the 400 lumens per watt
dictated by energy conservation. In theory, a 3 watt LED could
match a 60 watt incandescent bulb and provide a lot better color
rendering at the same time.

June 13, 2005

OK. Here's my first actual job out of our new Bitmap Typewriter. It
starts with this Initial Scan, goes to this internal Working Bitmap and
ends up distributed as this JPEG Image for use on eBay.

Turns out I was waaaay oversampling in the original code, so the latest
version
is now three times faster. Speed is no longer an issue at all.

June 12, 2005

The URL verification that required a custom plug in in older versions
of Acrobat is now a standard menu item in Acrobat 7! It is hidden
under advanced ---> links. But is apparently Windows only.

There is a subtle difference in URL's between Acrobat 7 and earlier
versions of Acrobat: A space has been dropped between the URI and
the opening paren. My older graburls.psl will no longer work and has
been newly modified as graburls.psl.

While not nearly as fast or convenient as direct Acrobat 7 url verification,
this grabber remains quite handy for extracting a url list from any .PDF file
that gets converted to a standard .HTML document. And then can be easily
inspected or sent to Dr. HTML.

June 11, 2005,

Latest GuruGram #53 is on An Improved Bitmap Typewriter.
Sourcecode is found here. More on PostScrript in our PostScript
Library
and Acrobat Library pages.

June 10, 2005,

We are clearing out some older and less popular items, so we have
sharply reduced prices on a few of our eBay offerings. Especially
an absolute steal on a piece of HP fiber optics gear. With pods!

June 9, 2005,

Here's a beta release demo and software of the ultra legible fonts
in the latest version of our Bitmap Typewriter. Font characters are
now created algorithmically rather than the painfully tedious hand
editing that was involved back on our Precision Bitmap Repository
and previous Tutorial.

These routines are especially useful in retouching lettering on bitmap
images and photos, especially those of eBay products. They are also
handy for experimenting with eBook displays or making extremely
small signage such as for a model railroad.

The keys to ultra legitility are to lock the fonts to the underlying
pixels, to use a true bit-by-pit post anti-aliasing, to provide fully
transparent overlay blending, and to work at a final 1:1 size.

Full consulting services available.

June 8, 2005,

Latest GuruGram #52 is Full Transparency for Raw PostScript.
Sourcecode is found here. More on PostScrript in our PostScript
Library
and Acrobat Library pages.

A reminder that GuruGram #51 was a renumbering of our
ongoing Refurb Log. Refurb entries will appear in this News
Blog
first, then be batch added when convenient.

June 7, 2005,

Just acquired a very rare Prichard 1980A-PL photometer
and have placed it on eBay. These systems cost as much
as $44,000.00 each new and are by far the finest brand of
photometer available. Besides the uusual measurements
down to two minutes of arc, the -PL excels at measuring
changing light levels such as strobes, multiplexed displays,
LDC's, and phosphor persistence.

Only the mesurement head is offered. It appears to be a clean
mil surplus unit, but apparently needs a mechanical repair
to the lens rack adjuster. No lens, docs, or control box.

Please do not bid on this unless you have photomer expertise.

June 6, 2005,

REFURB LOG: Was having really ugly problems with our
cable DSL access till I dicsovered the problem was simply
stacking the Linksys router on top of the Linksys modem!

Thus stupidly blocking the cooling holes on the modem.
While forcing heat into what should have been convection
exits. Overtemperature was causing all sorts of subtle long
term problems. The rule, of course, is to never block the
cooling holes in any manner on any piece of electronic gear
.

Latest addition of the refurb log appears here.

June 5, 2005,

Got the full Adobe Acrobat 7 installed. There are now four
new operators for PDFMark. These are the crucial and way
overdue /SetTransparency, along with /Embed, /JDF, and
/Metadata.

/SetTransparency now lets you do full transparency simply
and easily from raw PostScript. Without any of the hassles
we looked at before. I'll shortly have a demo up as a new
GuruGram #52.

Apparently you have to area limit any transparency by suitable
choices of objects and clipping. Otherwise there is an annoying
interaction with text smoothing and possibly CoolType. I am
still working on the cause and cure of this bizarre behavior.

Sadly, you cannot have both Acrobat 5 and Acrobat 7 up
on the same machine, and apparently additional plugins
for 5 will not work on 7. It seems you now have to pay for
the Acrobat SDK, over and above all of its compiling hassles.

BTW, those annoying Acrobat 7 reader ads can be defeated
by going to Edit -> Preferences -> Startup and unclicking the
"Automatic Update" box.

The Acrobat7 PDF Reference Manual is found here, while
the PDFMark Reference Manual is found here. More as
the discoveries continue.

June 5, 2005,

Please welcome Global Spec as our latest Banner Advertiser.
Who are superb for giving you free engineering related info.

But please note our own "Search Guru's Lair" engine goes
much deeper into our own website as it can extract individual
words and phrases from any doc including Acrobat .PDF files.

A reminder that our super sneaky automatic banner rotator
tutorial and sourcecode can be found here and here.

June 4, 2005,

Added and corrected links to our Arizona Auction Resources
library page.

Your own custom regional auction finder can be created for you
per these details.

June 3, 2005,

On further playing with the Acrobat 7 Reader: The navigation is
ridiculously improved. Used to be if you clicked on an internal
.PDF link in a browser, you would end up at the start of your doc
Or worse. Now, you return to exactly where you left off. The
reader even remembers where you were between sessions, and
can let you pick up where you left of long ago. It also remembers
such things as open search boxes.

On the other hand, the Cooltype and/or Smoothtext options do
definitely slow the display down. Which means our .PDF animation
demo
runs somewhat slow, but still useful. A flashing text demo
with minimal page makeup still runs ok, but the eighth slide in
this demo has ugly glitches in it. At least with a 850 MHz machine.
Chances are the problem is reduced or eliminated with faster CPU's.

I should have the full Acrobat Upgrade installed in a day or two and
should be able to report other improvements or problems.

More on our Acrobat and PostScript library pages.

Please report what the flash glitches look like on a fast machine.

June 2, 2005,

Never store carbide in a non-locking carabiner.

June 1, 2005,

Is there any market at all for energy efficiency improvement? My
own
experiences and those of several solar pioneers I know seem
to verify that this is indeed a very rough row to hoe.

Compact fluorescent lights are widely (and wrongly) cited as superb
efficiency improvers. Yes, their lumens per watt certainly are much
higher than traditional bulbs. But they clearly are net energy sinks
for a closet light and are unlikely to have reasonable breakeven
times on any lamp that is not run 4 hours a day, 300 days a year.

While a fluorescent bulb should last a lot longer than an incandescent
one, this certainly does not seem to be the case with the rinky dink
sleezoid electronics included in today's bulbs. My own experience is that
these last either about the same as incandescent bulbs or perhaps
a little LESS. Unless quality is dramatically improved, any energy
savings based on extra lifetime appear totally bogus to me.

What about those motor efficiency improvers? A recent bankruptcy
(and what has to be something between a disappointment and an
embarassment for a large IC manufacturer) suggests these are an
outright debacle. Yes, a lightly loaded induction motor wastes as
much as 58% of its energy.

And yes, backing off on supply voltage does help some. And yes,
the devices do perform their carefully contrived lab tests as stated.
Even though their demos are clearly smoke and mirrors bogus.

But reviewers and end users consistently found no useful benefits
when run under real world conditions. And certainly no breakeven
in an acceptably short time period. A massive recall over a simple
production screwup did not help the firm's bottom line or pr all that
much as well.

My own energy efficiency improvements appear here.

May 31, 2005,

I've long used zekes.com as my ISP. And have found that a smaller
and more tech oriented ISP is often the best choice. Here are some
of the more subtle hosting features I have found important...

        ~ Unlimited and unconditional instant access to raw log files .
        ~ Availability of fancier log reports, such as Webtrends
        ~ Byte Range Delivery to background load long .PDF files
        ~ Adobe iFilter installed to permit searching .PDF files
        ~ .asp custom file delivery with includes, banner rotation, etc...
        ~ knowledgable tech help available 24/7. With straight answers.

More details on some of these in our older BWHISTLE.PDF tutorial.
With more banner rotation specifics found here. And more on custom log
file manipulation is found here and here.

May 30, 2005,

Latest GuruGram #50 is Secrets of Extreme Screen Display Legibility.
Sourcecode is found here.

Plus a reminder that we just updated our Refurb Log. Apparently there
were two GuruGram #34's, so we'll renumber and relist this log as #51.

May 29, 2005,

I have been rethinking my Precision Bitmapped Fonts that are useful
for retouching lettering on images and such. And may have come up
with an automated process for creating the thousands of variations
needed. The older process is painfully slow and limited to one font.

A better choice for a baseline font would be MyriadPro-Bold instead
of the Helvetica-Bold previously used. But no matter, because the
new algorithms let you input any font you want.

I've just got the bare bones system in a demo mode so far, but here
is how it works. The letter "A" is used as a baseline. This or any
other character is temporarily imaged and charpathed to a large 100
point size. The initial imaging will have white space around it, which
is eliminated by slowly moving the borders in until the PostScript
infill operator finds an actual character part. This gives you a true
character bounding box.

Since many characters have rounded outside edges, a reduced
bounding box (perhaps four percent smaller) gives a more useful
model for low resolution bitmaps.

Any size small bitmap can then be created by subdividing, sampling,
and again using my favorite infill PostScript operator. Should the
present character be wider or narrower than the representative "A",
the number of horizontal pixels is increased or reduced as needed.

The process can apparently be fully automated and is reasonably
fast. Possibly fast enough for real time true anti-aliasing rather than
having to create font sets ahead of time. Most bitmap lettering rework
usually only involves a few dozen to a few hundred characters tops.

Not sure exactly where I am going with this, but the usual Consulting
Services
are available.

May 28, 2005,

One possible sleeper opportunity involves Microchip's new PIC 10F
chips. These are a SIX pin micrcontroller that sells for fifty cents or
so. And defines new lower limits for when and where a microcontroller
can be used.

Their photo PR shows these being sprinkled out of a salt shaker. One
obvious use would be replacing older and obsolete ASIC integrated
circuits. Another is to resolve sticky interface problems.

Not sure if I can cram a Magic Sinewave demo into one or not. Sure
would be cute to try and do so, though. Maybe a blender speed
control type of thingy.

May 27, 2005,

Just noticed that Adobe has discontinued their Multiple Master Font
Technolog
y. Minion has been replaced with four instances of serif
fonts of differing weights. And Myriad has been replaced with four
instances of sans-serif (no "feet") fonts of differiug weights.

Myriad in particular remains quite useful as a "nondescript" gothic
font for great appearance at limited resolutions or small sizes.

May 26, 2005,

REFURB LOG: One of the key secrets of successful refurb is
knowing when to quit. Most items will either be very easy or
very hard to repair. Despite the obsessive challenge of getting
old stuff back working,
it pays to promptly flush any project
that clearly is heading south
. Especially low value ones.

I've been working through a pile of Tektronix TM500 series
plugins. As we have seen, a TM503 with its cover removed
makes a dandy test chassis, giving lots of access room and
not needing expensive and awkward extenders. And that CD
Tek docs are now widely and cheaply available on eBay. A few
modern and tiny IC grabber clips with short leads on them can
be used to pull difficult test points out for easier scope or DVM
access. And short wire stubs can be left on any point that is
likely to be revisited.

But I ended up flushing a FG501. This was a very early function
generator that only went to 2 MHz and had no switchable zero
offset. At best the difference between a working unit and a
repairable one would be $20 or so. And clearly not worth the
several days I foolishly spent on the unit of little demand.

Symptoms were an output stuck on the negative rail and a stressed
output resistor. But a DVM "diode" check of the two output
transistors showed them to probably still be ok. So were the supplies.
The output was sort of a homemade opamp whose problems got
compounded by feedback. And defeating the feedback tripped a
supply overload. What finally killed the project was extremely
difficult access to key components hidden underneath the front
panel controls.

The unit is now on eBay and offered as repairable or parts only.

Our main Refurb Log is found here.

May 25, 2005,

(Continuing yesterday's an-auction-that-is-really-blackmail topic...)

On the other hand, potential blackmail auctions should very much be
sought out, even if you rarely lose on one of them. Such auctions are
likely to include bunches of "contents of room" and "contents of
shelve" opportunities.

Even better, there is not much incentive for the auction to bring top
dollar. If the leinholder has a $50,000.00 lein and is holding half a
mil in inventory, and if they are pissed off, their goal would naturally
be to seek out a total auction net return of $50,000.37. Regardless of
how much the auction brings, the leinholder is only entitled to the
the lein value plus costs. Everything else (all thirty-seven cents)
goes back to the leinee.

So, a second tier auctioneer might purposely be chosen with shorter
notice and poorer public participation. With sloppy auction preprep.
The leinholder may also be in a hurry wanting to get their rental or
lease property quickly back on the market. The leinholder can also
probably nail some high value items for their own later resale. Under
the UCC Uniform Commercial Code, shilling is permitted in a distress
auction. See Section 2-328.

That's why it is so important to aggressively seek out info on all local
and regional auctions
. More on our Auction Help library page.

May 24, 2005,

Just drove 300 miles only to find an auction had been cancelled. The
auction house, of course, updated their web site five minutes after I
left home.

ALWAYS remember that an auction can be simple blackmail and might
be cancelled at any time for any reason. ALWAYS check at the LAST
possible instance before committing to a long trip.

This was the third recent example of auction blackmail. In the first
a bulk bid of five times value was placed just before the auction
opened. This gets paid with Monopoly Money since only the lien
amount plus some fees actually trades hands.

In the second, someone simply lied about all of their assets, and the
auctioneer found an empty lot where all the goodies were supposed
to be stashed. And, in yesterday's case, the store leasee decided that it
might be a good idea to pay their rent after all.

Much more on our Auction Help page. Ongoing live Arizona auctions
are found here, while your own custom regional auction finder can be
made available to you per these details.

May 23, 2005,

Let's use this example to look at some of my secrets of ultra legible eStories,
eArticles, and eBooks...

~ Use the Acrobat .PDF file format.

~ Encourage viewer use of Acrobat 7 and a high resolution LCD
   display in its native resolution mode. Be sure they use both the
   CoolType and Smooth Text options. These steps are essential
   for "better than a printed page" viewing.

~ Avoid any scanned bitmaps, minimizing those that are absolutely
   essential. Use PostScript text and PostScript stroked graphics
   when and where possible.

~ Always capture scanned text with an OCR reader, then convert
   to actual Acrobat text.

~ Use "screen optimized" fonts. Stone is especially good here.
   Favor sans seriff fonts.

~ Use full color when and where appropriate. It costs no more.
   But don't venture too far from the baseline of black text on a
   white background.

~ Think "byte sized" message units. Combine left justification
   with short kerned paragraphs with extra space between them.

~ Keep text widths "fairly wide", perhaps 43 characters or so.

~ Use bolding and color for emphasis, rather than italic or
   underlining. But seek a balance between so much that it is
   garish and so little it is drab.

~ Tightly link all figures, line art, or photos to their referring
    text. Placing them sequentially inline when possible.

~ Provide as many url links as possible. At least fifty in a
   ten page article. Make sure your links autotrack with any
   editing.

~ Typeset first and edit last. Always be ready to add or remove
   words to create visually "complete" paragraph modules free
  of spaciness, widows, or orphans.

~ NEVER hyphenate. Change the text or layout instead!

~ Use powerful layout tools. My Gonzo Utilities do outstanding
    layouts, text justification and figures and are totally device
    and platform independent. But are purposely non-WYSIWYG
    and have a very steep learning curve.

~ Use "two stage" photo or image access. Provide a reasonable
   resolution ( perhaps 250 pixels square ) image in the text that,
   when clicked on, expands to a full and glorious big hires image.

~ Use several graphic styles for emphasis. Such as color coded
    background spot colors (perhaps aqua for normal, purple for
    code, or a rare red for alerts). Seek out an attractive balance on
    each page that is halfway between solid drab black text and a
    garish overwhelming of mismashed colors.

~ Carefully use outdents and indents to organize and seperate any
   related message areas. Be consistent and provide nav.

~ Spend lots of extra time in photo post prep. I prefer to pixel lock
   all my photos to "architects perspective" having perfect verticals,
    most shadows removed, and knockout done to carefully selected
    backgrounds. Plus slight sharpening and gamma correction. A few
    of my tools are found here and here and here.

~ Have a consistent set of styles within any story and across any
    related groups of stories.

~ Use only single columns per page. Arrange viewing continuous, 100
   percent magnification and centered as defaults.

~ Make your sourcecode freely available.

~ Be sure full text PDF indexing is provided by your web server or other
    document source. This may need a special plugin.

~ Make the story the size it needs to be. But always favor shortening
   over lengthening.

~ Carefully spell check and verify all URL's. Always have a third
    party proof your final product.

May 22, 2005,

Updated and expanded our older Refurb Log.

May 21, 2005,

Adobe Acrobat 7 seems to have fixed the browser clickthru bug. If you
now click on a .PDF on the web link mid document, you return to just
where you started. Earlier versions infuriatingly returned you to the
document start.

May 20, 2005,

Continuing our Refurb Log:

Tektronix has recently and formally released the copyrights
on all of their obsolete test equipment. And eBay suppliers of
varying quality have been rushing to make Tek service docs
available on CD.

I was particularly impressed by the aa4df CD that has 38+
service manuals for nearly all of the Tek 500 Series plugins.
Typically at a $20 or so price.

The 500 series consisted of mainframe power supplies of one
through six slots that held individual single, double, and (rarely)
triple plugins such as function generators, oscilloscopes, power
supplies, counters, amplifiers, etc. While somewhat long in the
tooth, these remain highly useful for student or home use.

While there is a hard-to-find and pricey extender card available,
it is simplest to remove the cover of a TM503 and place the plugin
being serviced in the center slot. This gives somewhat better access
(especially at the front) than using the obvious TM501.

A recent TM501 repair found a separately dealt with plugin problem
and a "broken" power switch. This was traced to a tiny piece of
brittle plastic on the power control rod which was easily replaced by
a pair of ordinary nylon cable ties.

=======================

I've always wanted a shot blast cabinet, because these are absolutely
superb for refurbing water meters or finishing small metal parts or
stripping paint or removing rust or whatever. But these are huge and
dirty and require access to a big time air compressor.

A new alternative is to add a shot blaster attachment to a pressure
washer. Northern Tool has some nice ones for as little as $25. Getting
the media can be a real hassle over shipping costs. Checker Auto
specifically excludes this item from their "free shipping to your nearest
store" policy. I found McMaster Carr to have the best mix of shpping
and product costs. Search under "blast media"

=======================

The finest "aerospace era" oscilloscope of all time has to be the Tektronix
465. These remain an excellent choice in a high performance but somewat
dated solid state 65 or 100 Megahertz oscilloscope. And units needing some
repair or refurb can now be found at bargain prices.

One 465 I was working on seemed to have extremely erratic attenuators.
Normally the double gold cam driven contacts do not even need cleaning,
let alone any service. But between the contacts was a pair of 10X and 100X
plug in compensators. Reseating their pins a time or two cleaned up most of
the problems in a big hurry. These are under the shields that say "Caution --
Delicate Materials".

=======================

On another oscilloscope of lesser quality, the symptom was a ridiculous overshoot
on cal waveforms, combined with way too little amplitude. This was a plain old
broken wire on the input BNC connector! The picofarad or two betwen the wire and
where it was supposed to be soldered to was enough to couple the highest frequency
waveform components. A touch of solder provided an instant cure.

May 19, 2005,

Continuing our Walnut Grove treasure saga...

There's reasonably strong evidence that the town of Seymour
( aka "Seymore" or "Seymour Station" ) really did exist and
really was obliterated by the flood. Its exact location seems to
be another matter entirely.

Some think "three miles south of Smith's Mill" is a probable
good guess. I personally feel that three miles north of Smith's
Mill makes a lot more sense. There still are roads from here
to Vulture
and it seems a much better place to draw water
.
Also the northern site has canyon walls that would make a
flood quite destructive; at the southern site, the Hassayampa
is literally over a mile wide and has no side walls at all.

This dense artifacts + resources location also begs the "Why
didn't the dog bark?" question of why it does not have another
name and is not indexed elsewhere.

Barnes in Arizona Place Names ( ALWAYS your starting point
on these matters ) only marginally covers Seymour in their
Vulture entry under Maricopa County. And has one James
Seymour buying the Vulture mine and establishing a stamp
mill and town on the Hassayampa. PO established 1879, and
moved to Vulture in 1880 (probably after the flood).

Apparently, Seymour started out as some stamp mills and a
decent town. They then decided to move water rather than
ore, which downgraded the town into a pumping plant and
a way station on the Maricopa to Prescott stage line. A
good summary appears in Sherman's Ghost Towns of
Arizona
. Anecdotal lore also appear in Murbarger's
Ghosts of the Adobe Walls.

Possibly less credible is Hitt's "Lost Treasure of Seymour"
that appeared in Western Treasure Magazine for April of 1973
on page 41. Or Patterson's "Seymour's Missing Hoard" in
True Treasure for Aucust 1971.

Aerial Photos and Satellite Images of the area do not seem
to help all that much. The area remains a largely uninhabited
flood plain that apparently is mostly AZ State or BLM land. The
terrain (and probable lack of junk) might lend itself well to a
magnetometer survey.

May 18, 2005,

You might reasonably ask how a large blob on a screen is going to
look sharper and better than a small ink blob on a printed page.
First, on the printed page side, unless a screen is used, only one
ink color is permitted at a time. Further, ink is inherently analog
and offers all sorts of degradation opportunities during prepress,
production, distribution, and product lifetime.

The screen blob can be any shade of gray (or color). Since the
human eye can resolve about 64 gray levels, we have the ability
to present as much as 64 times as much info in a screen blob than
an ink blob. Further, if you have a LCD screen with individually
adressible color bars, you can have three times as many resolvable
lightable elements as you do pixels. So, at least in theory, a screen
blob can provide as much as 192 times as much info as an ink dot.

One route is to start with a 4X or larger temporary image and then
average out to do a true antialiasing. You then use a subpixel
splitting algorithm to further tripling of the apparent resolution.
The latest algorithms virtually eliminate any color fringing effects.

What we have right now is more than good enough to permanently
blow books out of the water
. And from here, higher screen resolutions
and better aliasing/presentation algorithms are a near certainty.

More details on some of this in our Subpixel Tutorial and our True
Antialiased Fonts library page.

May 17, 2005,

I probably was one of the first promotors of Book-on-Demand
publishing and have long been meaning to update our Library Page
on BOD. But I am seriously wondering if the door on BOD opportunities
is not about to permanently slam shut.

Yes, we have bunches of BOD outfits who are nothing but vanity
publishers in disguise who take half of the book cost and give the
other half to the distributor (or deep Amazon discount equivalents).
Leaving nothing for the author.

Business as usual, just as before.

And while we can easily and cheaply create most of a book one at
a time at home to take the vanitypub and distributor out of the loop,
some key products have yet to appear. Such as a super cheap way to
profesionally perfect bind a single book. And we still have zero inkjet
duplexers. While laser duplexers remain high end addons. A decent book
trimming shear remains a $2000 item requiring utmost care, extreme
safety, and expensive maint.

As we've seen two days ago, Acrobat 7 readers combined with a LCD
display now gives you legibility and attractiveness equivalent to the
printed page
and shortly will completely blow it away. Books are clearly
inferior and obsolete when it comes to full text searching; resouce linking;
u
pdating and correction; disability access; size and weight, addition
of sound, animation, or video; customization; forever backlists; ease of
magnifying; removal of size and length constraints; tiny niche markets;
full color; shorter prep time; and great heaping bunches more.

And the supposed better legibility of books is now forever gone.

eBooks do still suffer from the availability of a decent reading device.
But there is no technical breakthrough required here and absolutely
wonderful readers cheap enough to be given away as premiums can most
certainly be expected within a year or two.

Even though the current crop is mesmerizingly awful.

And people are getting a lot better about accepting and using small portable
devices with bad resolution and ludicrous ergometrics and user friendliness.

Remaining are the low perceived value of electronically distributed media
and the serious questions of whatever is going to replace copyright and
the protecting of legitimate intellectual property.

I'll try to work more of this up in our next GuruGram. Meanwhile, let's have
your thoughts on how suddenly books will go the way of printed circuit tape
and dots. May you live in interesting times.

May 16, 2005,

I have long been a fan of Southwestern and Arizona lost
mine and treasure stories. The problem with most of these
is that the treasure may not have existed in the first place,
probably is not remotely near where lore says it is, and
likely is not findable because it no longer is there.

One exception seems to me to be the two or three safes
full of gold and other goodies associated with the Walnut
Grove dam disaster. This one is solidly documented and
the chances are that a safe under duress would not wander
off all that far. Most likely heading straight down.

An excellent history of the Walnut Grove disaster (which
was comparable to Pennsylvania's Johnstown flood and
happened about the same 1890's time) is found in the
Journal of Arizona History, Autumn 1987. David B. Dill
Jr's "Terror on the Hassayampa: The Walnut Grove Dam
Disaster of 1890" pp 283-306. Details on the actual safes
are found in Newspaper articles available in library Arizona
Room Collections, especially ASU.

The dam site was a mile or so south of Wagoner with the safe
incidents happening much further downstream. Apparently
the town drunk was asked to spread the warning and decided
that this first called for a stiff drink or two. The death toll was
near a hundred, not counting any minorities for which they did
not bother to keep score. Some downstream communities,
most notably Seymour, disappeared entirely.

Special techniques would probably work for finding a large but
deeply buried iron object well beyond the range of typical
metal locators. A magnetometer survey might work, as might
a custom built but hugely oversize receiver-transmitter style
locator. Enhanced by going to multiple low frequencies, amplitude
and phase measurement, ir coupling of synchronous demodulation,
and possibly using impulse radio uwb or spread spectrum.

I did a transmitter-receiver style locator project on back in the
January 1977 issue of Popular Electronics.

May 15, 2005,

Adobe Acrobat 7.0 and its combined Reader/eBook Reader
have just crossed a major treshold from which there will be no
returning: On-Screen PDF displays are now MORE viewable with
HIGHER apparent legibility than printed text!

I predict the demise of the printed word to be a lot more sudden
and a lot more total than most people expect. There is no reason
most printed books will not go the way of slide rules, printed circuit
tape and dots, litho cameras, mechanical calculators or records.

I further expect that unprecedented events such as a student revolt
against backpacks
to pay a major role in the conversion to screen
text displays of what traditionally was book material.

You can easily demo this stunning deveopment. Start with a LCD
Display such as an HP Pavilion VF15 in its native mode. Use at
least a 1028 x 768 resoution. Note that it is extremely important
that you are 1:1 addressing pixels. Then view something in
Acrobat 7 or an Acrobat 7 reader, being sure to turn on the Use
CoolType
and Smooth Text options. Be sure to allow the page
processing requested.

Acrobat uses subpixel techniques to dramatically improve the
viewability. Probably aided by true antialiasing and oversize
rescaling
. And further tweaking and improvements are almost
certainly expected. Even with present monitor resolutions.

Most of our newer .PDF files should now be fully viewable with
t
his stunning new breakthrough. Please report any viewing problems.

Note that this will NOT work on a CRT! It is also super important
to carefully adjust all of your LCD viewing options for best results.

May 13, 2005,

At last!!! All Dutch Universities have agreed to make ALL
of their research materials available free online! Hopefully,
other countries will shortly follow suit.

Yes, English translations are included.

Use this link for the developing story, or this access to the
slashdot discussion.

I'll be adding this Darenet link to our home page shortly.

May 13, 2005,

Org. There are TWENTY TWO major local auctions tommorrow!
Not even counting Monday's auction of concrete giraffes.

Details in our Arizona Auction Locator. Your own custom
local auction finder can be built for you per these details.

May 12, 2005,

Latest GuruGram #49 is Enhancing your eBay Tactical Skills II.
Sourcecode is found here.

May 11, 2005,

The eBay and other phishing attempts have been getting even
more subtle. Some clues that you have been had are...

     ~ The email starts with "member" rather than a username
     ~ The message is so wrong it causes instant outrage
     ~ You receive multiple emails in a short time
     ~ There are non-obvious spelling errors
     ~ There are English-as-a-third-language idiom absurdities
     ~ The browser return address does not agree with the url shown
     ~ The return address is in numeric 23.129.103.23 format.
     ~ The fact that you received the email in the first place

In general, eBay does NOT EVER ask for personal information via
email. If you ever have the slightest doubt, send a copy of the email
to spoof@ebay.com. They will promptly verify you are a scam victim.

Much more in my many tutorials on our Auction Help page.

May 10, 2005,

They finally caught the perp that was leaving boxes of kittens
on doorsteps all over town. And charged them with littering.

May 9, 2005,

Expanded and updated our Home Page. Added new items
to our Arizona Auction Resources portion of our Auction
Help
Library.

Your own custom auction resource finder can be created
for you per these details.

Expanded our GuruGram library to include PDFFLASH.PDF
and PDFANIM.PDF as #47 and #48.

Listed some superb heavy duty crossed roller sliders to
eBay. Several of our larger Adept sliders remain available
per this Inventory List.

A reminder that we have two outstandingly collectible early
commercial silent movie projectors circa 1906 available.

These are presently disassembled and we have not yet begun
refurb, making them UPS shippable and a lot cheaper than
later. email me if you have any interest in this opportunity.

May 8, 2005,

Sometimes an indirect approach can give you a quick answer to
what otherwise might be a sticky problem. The question came up
yesterday over "How much energy is in a magnet?"

Well, first, energy in a magnet is different from other energy
forms in that you can borrow it but you have to put it back. Sort
of like a piggy bank. There is no way to remove, say, a quarter of
the energy in a magnet and use it for something else. Assuming
you have a decent magnet to start with and do not stress it beyond
its saturation or Curie Point limits. And assuming that the magnet
is returned to the exact same configuration that you started with.

The how much energy question can be solved by math and physics,
but it is simpler to replace the magnet with a solenoid having a
similar core, building up an identical field, and using the plain old
1/2 ( L*I*I ) found in any electronics text. Which quickly tells you
that there is very little energy stored in a typical magnet.

Even quicker is to go to a manufacturer of magnetizers site like
http://www.maginst.com/halfcycle.html. Where we note that 2
kiloJoules is more than enough energy storage to fully magnetize
most common smaller magnets. Allowing for inefficiencies and
coupling loses, that means that a typical stronger magnet has
less total energy storage than half a watthour or so.

Note that 1 Joule = 1 watt second and there are 3600 Joules
in a Watt Hour. More in our Energy Fundamentals tutorial.
and on this Unit Conversion website.

May 7, 2005,

To me, the eBay reselling stores that are rapidly folding sure
seem like a poor business model. Obvious problems include
layering employees and real estate brick and mortar on top
of everything else; lack of specialized expertise needed to
bring top eBay dollars; wildly outrageous customer value
expectations; non-web promotion costs, stolen property issues;
excessive packing and shipping costs, and bad vibes from
competing pawn shops and local law enforcement.

Also the fact that eBay does not scale worth a damn.

But the real biggie is that the margins are ludicrous. We've
seen in our eBay Selling Secrets tutorial and elsewhere how
a sell/buy ratio of 30:1 or higher should always be sought out.
You can think of a comission as needing equivalent effort to
an outright buy and resale.

It is interesting to compare an eBay Selling Sell-Buy ratio
against
the equivalent Consignment Fee for the same amount
of placement
effort. The formulas are...

     
SBR = 100/(100 - COM) and COM = 100 - (100/SBR)

Thus a 50 percent commission equals an unacceptably low 2:1 sell/buy
ratio. A 20 percent commission equals a laughingly absurd 1.25:1 SBR.

May 6, 2005,

In local scanner parlance, an ATL (Attempt to Locate) means
"Everybody go out and get this guy".

So, it seemed somewhat redundant when the Dispatcher also noted
"Subject is paranoid and thinks everybody is out to get him".

May 5, 2005,

On second thought, I now feel that the Tucson eBid buying is
an outright scam. They have overstated the value of everything
by double and are using a fifty percent reserve!

More useful auction resources are found here, while your own
custom auction locator can be created for you per these details.

May 4, 2005,

Do we have a new miracle antenna? Or is it the usual bogus
pseudoscience
?

Wheeler's "Fundamental Limits of Small Antennas" on back in
the December 1947 Proc IRE pretty much convinced everyone
that you cannot have an antenna that is simultaneously small,
efficient, and wide bandwidth. A recent challenge did not seem
to make all that much difference to these fundamentals.

We looked at a previous round of miracle antennas on back in
MUSE138.PDF. Of these, the CFA crossed field antenna and the
CWHA contrawound toroidal helical antenna can probably be written
off as bogus. Because they long ago failed the "shit or get off the pot"
test. And fractal antennas have been pretty much shown to work
but offer no compelling size or other advantages.

The latest attempt at beating Wheeler is called a Distributed Load
Monopole Antenna
and is apparently a combination of a helical
antenna and a distributed loading coil. The usual significant size
reductions are claimed, but theoretical backing appears lacking.

Others have suggested that this one looks suspiciously similar to
the hotstick antennas long sold in most any truck stop.

You can search Google for "Distributed Load Monopole Antenna"
to keep track of the controversy that this development is certain
to generate. This one is way too early to call, but chances are good
that it ends up a useful but specialized technique that falls waaaay
short of its claims.

The fact that one of their "efficient" antennas burned up does not
bode well. The creator's title at the University of Rhode Island
is a "technical support specialist". Despite the weasel worded pr.

In a university environment, there is a tendancy to subject a peer
reviewed research contract to somewhat higher academic standards
than those of a lab rat pissing around on a personal project.

May 3, 2005,

Expanded and improved our Arizona Auction Resources
you'll find on our Auction Help library page.

There may be a one time opportunity here. eBid is buying
their way into the Tucson market with a one time half
million dollar auction of tons of useful goodies.

I predict it will be way underattended and underbid. The
question remains whether high reserves or shilling will be
used to prevent grabbing stuff at very low prices.

May 2, 2005,

Besides the language barrier and the customs hassles, the
main problem in shipping to New Mexico is that the truck
tires are a different size and spacing. So everything needs
reloaded at the border crossings.

Additional info here.

May 1, 2005,

I've long been impressed by a smaller and second tier
semiconductor house by the name of LSI/CSI SYSTEMS.
They offer an outstanding collection of eminently hackable
touch switches, phase controls, encoder interfaces, motor
controls, dimmers, counters, timers, and such.

April 30, 2005,

For a minute there, I was afraid that Bruno might have
whacked an ISP. But it turned out that he was just up to
one of his usual attitude relateralization facillitations.

The Norfolk and Waay website at http://www.norfolkandwaay.com
website was briefly dark, but apparently has gotten renewed
for at least a year. Many thanks to whoever is sponsoring this.

Norfolk and Waay, of course, is the only reputable dropshipper
for eBay buyers. This week only, they are offering free sample
pallets (limit five) with free shipping. From their choice of
Neiman Marcus, Land's End, Eddie Bauer, or Bruno's Trucking.

The Bruno pallets may occasionally include an odd body part or
two. Naturally, this is normal and expected.

More details at ENHEBAY1.PDF.

April 29, 2005,

"Energy can neither be created nor destroyed" has a certain
ring to it. But most people using this in an argument are
simply demonstrating their monumental ignorance of the
fundamentals of thermodynamics.

Exergy, Energy, and Entropy must always be considered
together.

Consider a room and a match. Strike the match. There was
the same amount of energy in the room before and after the
match was struck. Why would anyone prefer a match to a
slightly warmer room?

It turns out that the quality and the value of a kilowatt hour of
energy is determined by its exergy. Exergy is a measure of
the thermodynamically reversibly recoverable energy fraction.
Because of exergy, a kilowatt hour of electricity is worth a lot
more than a kilowatt hour of gasoline. Which in turn is worth
ridiculously more than a kilowatt hour of unstored hydrogen.

Why? Because you can go electricity--->motion--->
electricity and get most of your electricity back. Try going
gasoline--->electricity and you'll get less than one third of your
reversibly recoverable energy back. Try going electricity --->
hydrogen--->electricity and the chances are you will get less
than none
of your reversibly recoverable energy back.

After amortization and all costs are fully considered.


The key gotcha in all this is called Carnot's Law which states
that you can only recover an (often tiny) fraction of heat energy as
electricity or work. Thus, the slightly warmer room has a very
low energy quality. Which is why electric resistance room heat is
such a sucker bet and electrolysis an even more absurd one.

More in our Energy Fundamentals tutorial.

April 28, 2005,

Few people realize that there are slot canyons in the Phoenix
area as
well as further north. E.C. Canyon in particular makes
a superb one-day trip for the advanced hiker/beginning climber.

While a skilled climber team can do the canyon with no ropes,
two 50 foot handlines plus an experienced leader are strongly
recommended for novices. Best group size is four or five.

Proper helmets, footgear, and safety items are a must!

Floods may have changed what follows: Do NOT attempt this
trip if there is running water in the canyon or if you see a cloud
ANYWHERE
in the sky! No dogs (unless Jumar qualified).

Start with the red topo route marker and go 3/4 of an inch south
to a small parking area and a cow tunnel under the road.
Go east
through the cow tunnel and drop into the main canyon.

Head down canyon.
In half a mile, the canyon spectacularly narrows
but remains eminently hikeable.
Shortly after you will come to a
twenty foot drop into a (sometimes full) tinaja.

Experienced freeclimbers will find an invisible route to the right
along a very steep and narrow (2 inch wide) descent ledge.
Others are best advised to do a free climb on belay, a rappel
walkdown, or simply allow themselves to be winched down.

The canyon then widens a bit with interesting non-caves and
vaults.
The next challenge is a cave-like climbdown to the far
right, again twenty feet or so. There are lots of footholds on the
ceiling and this is a simple chimney climb. Rank beginners
should be on belay!


The canyon continues for a while and eventually narrows again.
There will be a slot to the extreme left with a large overhung
boulder and a ten foot drop. There are a number of very
convenient foot or handholds hidden on the west wall underneath
the boulder. Once the first person descends, the rest should have
no trouble. Again, a belay is recommended for rank beginners.

The final minor challenge is a long sloping walkdown to the left.
The canyon should open up after that and a steep open hike west
and up should take you back to the highway a mile below where
you started and considerably lower. You may want to preplace
a second vehicle here or have someone pick you up or hitchhike.

Your mileage may vary.
Batteries not included.
Some assembly required.

April 27, 2005,

We have to clear a storehouse in a hurry, so we are offering
SUV cargo nets at unheard of prices. $19.63 per CASE of
FIFTY plus shipping. All as new, clean, and top quality. The
dealer list is around $24 per net. Available in quantity.

Full details on eBay.

April 26, 2005,

With all of the boondoogles and ridiculous political prattle
over the "hydrogen economy", a poster to sci.energy.hydrogen
asked what the follies of hydrogen were.

For openers...

(1) Hydrogen is only a highly inefficient energy carrier.
      Here on Earth, hydrogen is not an energy source.

(2) No large scale terrestral source of hydrogen is known.
      Water, of course, is a hydrogen sink, not a source.

(3) Hydrogen creates severe safety issues that are greatly
     compounded when compressed or liquified.

(4) The energy density of hydrogen by volume is pitiful.

(5) The contained energy density of hydrogen by weight
      is much less than gasoline.

(6) No personal vehicle compatible method of storing
      hydrogen is known. Except for low cost, convenient,
      proven, and safe carbon liquid bonding.

(7) There is more hydrogen in a gallon of gasoline than
      there is in a gallon of liquid hydrogen.

(8) Electrolysis is utterly useless for bulk hydrogen because
      the value of a kilowatt hour of high value electricity is
      many, many times higher than the value of a kilowatt
      hour of unstored hydrogen gas. As is guaranteed by
      thermodynamic fundamentals involving exergy and
      reversibly recoverable energy fractions.

(9) The explosive range of hydrogen is among the widest
      known. The spark energy to trigger is among the lowest
      known. It is enormously difficult to suddenly release all
      of the energy in a tank of gasoline. It is trivial to do with
      a tank of hydrogen.

(10) Hydrogen rots metals through embrittlement.

(11) Hydrogen is inherently a pollution amplifier that
       increases the pollution of its underlying sources.
       It is utterly ludicrous to state that hydrogen is in any
       manner "non-polluting".

(12) Hydrogen improperly burned in air produces nitrous
        oxide pollutants.

(13) Energy in the carbon bonds of most fuels are quite
        significant. They also appear to be the key to being
        convenient and safe room temperature liquids.

(14) Colorant and odorant issues have yet to be addressed.

(15) The DOT orange book recommends daytime nonwind
        evaculation distances of 2600 feet from any occupied
        structure for hydrogen.

(16) Hydrogen is both a proven boondoogle and a political
        
"business as usual" feelgood.

Hydrogen is still number one on the charts, though.

Uselful and intelligent alternatives are found in energlfun.pdf
and in our It's A Gas hydrogen resources library page.

My own new energy efficiency solutions appear in my magic
sinewave
library. Or in this tutorial. Or this proposal.

April 25, 2005,

Well, maybe just the punch lines...

"The koala tea of Mercy is not strained".
"The thong has ended, but the malady lingers on".
"Pardon me Roy, is that the cat that ate your new shoes?"
"Its a Hickory Daquiri, Doc."
"Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear".
"Poncho Villa" is an emergency rain shelter for NM hikers.
"It's a knick knack, Patti Whack. Give the frog a loan".
"People in grass houses shouldn't stow thrones"
"Couldn't hit the barn side of a broad"
"Old MacDonald Farm computer interface is now an EIE I/O".
"Tarzan stripes forever"
... handle so long no insect can "Fly above Cayuga's swater"
"The vet had to charge for the cat scan and the lab tests"
"Crossing a state lion with a gull for immortal purpoises"
"Opporknockity tunes but once."

Plus, of course...

"The squaw on the hippopotamus hide equals the
sum of the squaws on the other two hides."

April 24, 2005,

There can be some subtle gotchas in inserting images into
a blog, such as we did yesterday. Even if you use Adobe's
GoLive or a similar layout program.

HTML is very crude about scaling images. To properly
scale an image, you normally have to go to a High Resolution
Cubic Spline
such as are in my Swings and Tilts routines
or are provided by ImageView32 or a similar program.

It is super important that the requested image size exactly
match the actual image size. In both directions.

It is also a good idea to provide a click-on link to a higher
resolution and larger image for those wanting more detail.

Centering a portrait and a landscape image so they look good
together can be done by adding some hard spaces (shift-space)
and possibly a period or another inobtrusive character. The
character can be made even more invisible by a suitable choice
of color.

Finally, the original images had a white border that didn't set
too well with our blue background here. And had to be cropped
and saved to a new filename. A slight (one click) sharpening of
the final reduced image might also prove useful.

Details are found by clicking on "view source" on your browser.

April 23, 2005,

We rarely get into any fine art items, but we did pick up a
pair of Picasso student reproductions by Volkins that we've
put up on eBay. We tenatiively title one of them "Man
with llama"..

  .

and the second "Sisters with masks"...

You can single or double click on these to expand them.

These are quite upscale and formed the focal point for the
reception area of a Phoenix, AZ pharmaceutical firm. Please
email me if you can tell us anything more about Volkins.

April 22, 2005,

I should soon get our latest GuruGrams of Flashing Text
in Acrobat
and Extracting Text from Acrobat linked to
our GuruGram and Acrobat and PostScript library pages.

April 21, 2005,

Added some new links to our Auction Help page.

April 20, 2005,

An outstanding series of tutorials on auction law and insider
secrets is http://www.maineantiquedigest.com

Texas auction law: http://www.license.state.tx.us/auc/auction.htm
I'll try to add other states as I find them.

Auction law is covered by section 2-328 of the Universal
Commercial Code
. There is surprisingly little here.

But important rules UCC rules are that once an item is put
up on the block for auction without reserve, it must be sold
and may not be withdrawn. Withdrawing an eBay item that
has been listed is thus clearly a no-no.

Once outbid, the price does not revert back to your previous bid.
Even if the winning bid is withdrawn or defaults.
And shilling
is permitted if preannounced or if a distress sale. Otherwise,
if shilling occurs, the only henious penalty is that the price
reverts to the preshill one.

There is nothing in the UCC on bid collusion. Any auctioneer
claims that the Sherman Antitrust Act applies to an ordinary
auction is using a bogus scare tactic.

Auctioneering books appear few and far between. One short
but useful one is Inside the Auction Game

More on auctions on our Auction Help page.
Or get your own custom regional auction finder here.

April 19, 2005,

Just picked up a pair of eminently collectable and potentially
restorable 1906 professional SILENT MOVIE projectors
originally used in a long defunct Clifton, Arizona theater.

We had to disassemble these to get them out of a basement
and have not yet done any cleaning or initial refurb. In
present form, they would be UPS hundredweight shippable
and would cost you a lot less than after a rebuild.

email me if you are interested in this outstanding collectible
opportunity. These units in this condition are believed to be
extremely rare. A complete or near complete restoration
of at least one of the units appears fully possible.

April 18, 2005,

Acquired a few absolutely unused original HOWDY ORANGE 
SODA bottle caps. These were the precursor to Seven-Up and
were second only to Orange Crush. You can email me if you
want to get in ahead of the hoarders on these

April 17, 2005,

The attempted hydrogen injection via electrolysis we've been
looking at in the last few days seems to have another huge
and deadly ridiculousity associated with it. Apparently mixed
hydrogen and oxygen is sometimes being used for injection.

A stoke mix of hydrogen and oxygen is highly explosive. The
explosive mix range goes from 4 to 95 percent, by far the
highest of any common gas mix. The spark energy needed for
blooey is also less than 0.02 Joules, nearly the lowest known
and less than one-fifteenth that of gasoline or LNG.

It is trivially easy for an experimenter to go for both the
X-prize and the Darwin Award at the same time. In fact,
some have already done so. In one case, the garage just
barely missed going suborbital. Leaving that big hole in the
map between California and Utah where northern Nevada
used to be.

None of the mixed gas benefits make any sense to me. The
somewhat simplified electrolysizer design gets offset by
a need for extreme backflash prevention.

And while it does somehow sound "better" to be using both
products, a 5% hydrogen injection would only be a 2.5% oxygen
injection, equal to a 12.5% air injection, equal to a new input
of only 12.5/13.5 = 0.925% at an optimum 13.5:1 fuel air mix.

This is probably utterly negligible. Yes, the injected nitrogen
would be four percent lower, but this would in no manner
make up for the extremely deadly safety issues. The
oxygen might see some use in exhaust or catalytic converter
injection if properly kept as a separate stream.

More in our Energy Fundamentals and Electrolysis
tutorials.

April 16, 2005,

Added a Google Maps link to our home page.

April 15, 2005,

On April 7th and April 11th, we discussed an obvious Nigerian scam
foisted off on me and three other eBay sellers.

To recap:
Scammer #1 picked up a throwaway account and in twelve
seconds
did four BIN's from four eBay industrial sellers. It was
obvious that the offers were never read (especially our no checks,
no foreign, FOB AZ parts and the fact that the item was ludicrous for
international shipment) and that choices were based on price alone.

eBay promptly NARU'd.

It was the usual "a $3200 check/mo/whatever is being sent for a $600
item. Keep the change but send me $200.00" as an agent's fee sort
of thingy.

We simply turned the noncompliant BIN matter over to eBay and
relisted the item.

But Scammer #1 continues to email us repeatedly, getting more
desparate each time! Scammer #1 may be New York based.

It is also becoming apparent that Scammer #1 is (sometimes not
even wrongly) filling in the blanks in several hilarious English-as-
a-third-language forms. They are now in absolute panic over the
fact that I have never responded and that an (almost certainly
mythical) check has never arrived.

Premise: Hidden mystery scammer #2 sold the ripoff rights script
to scammer #1 for an undisclosed fee, and Scammer #1 (who
appears dumb as a post to me) has not yet figgured out that
they have been royally had.

The
emails are ALL CAPS, of course.

Your c
omments are welcome.

April 14, 2005,

There seems to be several firms offering on-board electrolysis
based hydrogen injection kits for ICE engines. Several readers
have asked me whether these $199 items are scams.

Temporarily forgetting about "Looks like a duck, quacks like
a duck"
...

Well, there are a number of IJHE and SAE papers that show that
modest (5%) hydrogen injection can in fact show benefits in the
way of economy, power, and pollution.

The key question is whether an onboard process can be built that
does not consume more engine horsepower than it returns in net
power or equivalent benefits. Any such means of creating hydrogen
for injection would obviously have to be very efficient. Possibly
an exhaust gas driven reformer might be one useful approach.

See our November 27th 2004 News entry for an analysis of
how obscenely bad the onboard electrolysis numbers seem
.

The problems with onboard electrolysis are its woeful inefficiencies.

An ordinary car alternator (besides being ridiculously too small) has
rather low efficiency by itself. An efficient low voltage alternator
would need synchronous recitifers instead of power diodes and
permanant magnets instead of wound fields, and would require
smaller air gaps and a more limited speed range.

There's no really compelling reason to make a car alternator
super efficient. Daytime use difference is typically less than
one horsepower. Goals of being cheap and reliable and able
to work at idle speeds dominate the engineering mix.

Homebrew electrolysis inefficiencies compound the alternator
inefficiencies. It seems to me that less than ten percent of the
belt input can be returned as hydrogen gas energy and this would
be waaaay to little to provide a net injection benefit. Even before
amortization.

Or dealer profits.

A decent electrolysizer DEMANDS use of platinized platinum and
exceptionally fancy current control. Stainless steel electrodes are
hilariously "not even wrong" owing to their very low energy passivated
surfaces and their high hydrogen overvoltage of iron. Much of the
gas in homebrew designs is simply water vapor caused by grossly
inefficient design as well.

There are, of course, some minor benefits of injecting water vapor
into an ICE. Which (along with a strong placebo effect) possibly
explains away any positive observed results.

Thus I see no way in hell that a $199 onboard electrolysis kit
using slaptogether low technology for hydrogen injection could
possibly work. Although alternate solutions do appear to
eventually be possible.

Not to mention the safety considerations that easily can lead to
a Darwin Award.

Finally, the EPA in their infinite wisdom has made it a felony to
REDUCE the emissions on a vehicle if you tamper with any
pollution control device in the process.

Much more on all this on our Its A Gas hydrogen energy page.
In particular, see our Energy Fundamentals and Electrolysis
tutorials.

April 13, 2005,

That can of Brasso from a few day's ago brought back some
best forgotten memories of two years of compulsary ROTC
back in college. The Chem-E's simply gold plated all their
brass insignia, leaving the demerits for the rest of us.

April 12, 2005,

Sharply dropped the pricing on our remaining few Adept precision
sliders
. These are also up on eBay at present.

April 11, 2005,

The scam continues: See our April 7th entry. Whoever is trying
to run the BIN Vengence scam is apparently just filling in the
blanks of a script someone else sent them. So far, they apparently
opened a throwaway email and sent eBay a bogus credit card.

They then in TWELVE seconds did four random BINs from
four industrial supply sellers. It was obvious they did not even
read
the offerings (ours clearly stated FOB AZ, no checks, no
foreign. Besides being ludicrously inappropriate for international
shipment), but simply picked items with a BIN in the range of
$600 to $1200. eBay promptly NARU'd them.

Amazingly, despite our only response being a filing with eBay,
they continue to send us detailed instructions that are clearly
English-as-a-third-language with some blanks obviously not
filled in properly. It will be interesting to see if they actually
send a check and if some foresnics are possible.

This appears to be one really dumb scammer.

April 10, 2005,

REFURB LOG: Think twice and then some about refurbing really
valuable antiques. Its super easy to do irrepairable damage and
trivial to get in over your head. Ferinstance, plugging in an old
tube radio to "see if it works" is guaranteed to cause smoke
and fire because the electrolytic caps are near certain to be
shorted.

An associate asked me to rework a Weston panel meter that
seemed to have a wide spread between "as is" and "museum
quality restoration" pricing. Brasso and some Q-tips promptly
revealed the totally unlegible nameplates were in fact near mint.
A careful check with a current limited 9 volt battery showed a
perfect pointer and accurate operation. The unit seemed to be
a low serial but clearly later variation on a Weston's Model 1
with an 1880's patent date. The lack of a model number was
very encouraging.

The pumice or whatever in Brasso seemed to be about the right
coarseness of abrasive, so I mixed it with orange super cleaner
and again used Q-tips to scour the awful grime off the lacquered
copper case. There was a finish break or two, but the improvement
was otherwise spectacular. Repainting would obviously be a no-no
because of the unique original red lacquered finish.

The wooden bases cleaned up beautifully by cleaning, sanding,
and oiling. Separating them was a no-no becuase of the complex
wiring to the antique series resistor in the lower base.

Here's the partially refurbed photo. Item is now up on eBay.

April 9, 2005,

Ask any Chemist or Chem-E: If you are not part of the solution,
then you are part of the precipitate.

April 8, 2005,

A few months back, I was playing with superimposting aerial
photographs and topo maps. The sourcecode appears on our
Fonts & Images library page, and a new bumped contrast
example of the Pacman Arizona greater metropolitan area
appears here.

Google Maps is coming close to offering the real thing. What
would really be nice is a blender and scale zooming sliders
that would give you a mix of topo maps, street names and
numbers, color imagry, uv imagry, and ir imagry. To tenth
meter resolution with a stereo option, of course.

I am also stripping the last of our Richards light tables, and now
have a badly damaged but restorable precision optics assembly
that lets you either superimpose or stereo view two images of
different size and orientation! The zoom controls and the porro
prism rotators apparently are working perfectly, as is the video
output optical channel. email me if you are interested in this item.

April 7, 2005,

There is a new eBay annoyance we might call a "Vengeful BIN".

If you (or anyone else on the hit list) responds or annoys a
"Nigerian" scamster (typically from Canada or New York),
they might go ahead and BIN from you anyway.

Which stops your auction and forces a nonpayment report.

Only partial defense is to save your Nigerian emails and
cross-correlate them against suspicious BIN's. And report
them immediately.

BIN's in the $500 to $1500 range from industrial equipment
dealers seem to be chosen targets.

April 6, 2005,

That $49,000.00 Richard light table your tax dollars bought
for the military only to get raped by kinky sex with a forklift
and then left to rust in the rain is not a total loss after all.

A neighbor has made a chicken incubator out of part of it.

April 5, 2005,

Just saw the Robots movie. The entire Columbian drug
production from the last several years must have gone into
making this flick. The animators and CGI folks were clearly
into some really heavy shit. Fortunately, the entire film was
shot on location. Must view this on the big screen.

April 4, 2005,

There is a little known yet profundly fundamental thermodynamic
reason why electrolysis from high value sources will NEVER
play any rule whatsoever in producing bulk hydrogen energy.

The quality (and thus the value) of a kilowatt hour of energy gets
measured by its exergy, or its thermodynamically reversibly
recoverable energy fraction.

The exergy of electricity is exceptionally high, while the exergy
of unstored hydrogen gas is either very low or actually negative.
Electrolysis is thus a net destroyer of value that throws away most
of the utility of the converted kilowatt hours of energy. It is pretty
much the same as 1:1 exchanging US Dollars for Mexican Pesos.


More in our Energy Fundamentals tutorial.

April 3, 2005,

A recurring urban lore myth at the alt.online.marketing.ebay
newsgroup is that using dropshippers is an instant way to effortless
riches. Uh, a much better term would be dropshitting.

Problems with dropshitting include...

     
(1) There are far too many fingers in the pie.
     
(2) The sell/buy ratio is ludicrously too low. Always seek out 30:1.
     
(3) Other competitors are certain to panic and utterly trash prices.
     
(4) Opportunities for personal value added are sorely limited.
     
(5) The merchandise is typically overpriced worthless garbage.

and, of course...

     
(6) It is YOU that get hung out to dry on the inevitable no
          
ship, late ship, or wrong ship.

Tested and proven useful sources of supply for eBay sellers that
meet the required 30:1 sell/buy ratio include privitized military
surplus
, dotbomb bankruptcies, industrial distress sales, and
community college auctions. Links and details on these appear
on our Auction Help library page. A custom resource locator
can be built for your regional area per our Auction Resource
Locator
info page.

April 2, 2005,

I have this associate who is forever bringing me old trashed
electrical meters of negligible value. But this time he may have
really done it. Possibly a Weston's Model ONE dating from the
turn of the century, working perfectly with intact pointer, and
eminently restorable to museum quality. Rather dark and
murky, but looks like a real gem underneath. You can email
sotofamilia@cableone.net for further details.

April 1, 2005,

The problem of unwanted email spam has been eliminated
completely with today's long awaited passage of House
Bill 27-234. Which places a tax on anyone admitting to
reciving any unwanted email. Initially 35 cents per email
on a sliding scale up to $4.37 in June of 2007.

Because it would place an unfair burden on the spammers
themselves and because of ISP considerations, the tax
was placed on the sendee rather than the sender. The
number of admitted unwanted emails is expected to
shortly and dramatically drop.

Thus eliminating unwanted spam once and for all.
Additional details are found here.

March 31, 2005,

Thought I'd review some of our present photo processes and
procedures. Having come from a 4x5 view camera with swings
and tilts approach to electronic project photography, my main
goal is to have the best photos on eBay, bar none. These do
seem to give me a 2X to 3X increase in eBay gross return as
a secondary yet welcome side effect.

Some recent examples appear here, here, here, here, and here.
I feel that you should spend at least two hours in image post prep
and that less than five percent of your photo effort should involve
taking the actual picture. Which we've already looked at in our
EBAYFOTO.PDF, SWINGTLT.PDF, DODGEBUR.PDF and
related tutorials on our Auction Help page.

Here's how This Photo got that way: A Nikon CoolPix 5000 was
used with flash to take This Raw Image. The image then is cropped
to size and has its distortion corrected with my custom free swings
and tilts utilities
. The background is next knocked out to white,
maintaining a one pixel alignment accuracy for super sharp and
totally "shadowless" results.

Normally, one of our AutoBackgrounder routines with vignetting
would be done at this point, but the subject was a little skewed.
So I split the intermediates into two layers. In the first layer, the
lettering was made perfectly horizontal and the plugs made equal
height. In the second layer, the "can" shape was made perfectly
horizontal. The two were combined with a cut and past and then
the vingnetting autobackgrounding was done.

Custom consulting and seminars available.

March 30, 2005,

Moses' facillitating negotiator coming down from the mountain:
"Well, I got him down to ten. But adultry is still in."

March 29, 2005,

The bottoms of yesterday's light tables do seem to have some
new possibilties as incredibly and ridiculously beyond super
rugged castered workstation bases. Bases that have a precision
electrically variable height adjustment! Again, email me if you
want to get ahead of the hoarders on these. There are three
medium size ones and one larger one.

March 28, 2005,

Picked up four Richard photo aerial photo interpretation
light tables in really bad condition. Your tax dollars paid
$28,000.00 or more for these which were left out in the rain
after being rudely handled. I'll be stripping these for
precision ball sliders, Bauch & Lomb stereo components
and similar items. email me if you have any specific interest
or need any replacement parts.

March 27, 2005,

My Magic Sinewaves are a newly discovered class of ultra
sneaky math functions
that promise to dramatically raise the
efficiency of low distortion digitally synthesized sinewaves. As
used for motor controls, electric vehicles, solar power, inverters,
avoinics, telephony, and power quality systems.

Any chosen number of low harmonics
can be forced to virtually
zero using the absolute mininum number of switching events
to do so. Evaluation chips are now available that allow the
zeroing of the first 22, 28, and 34 harmonics in both "best
efficiency" single phase and "delta friendly" three phase
designs.

You can click here for an intro tutorial and here for three
phase power specific further info. Or here for my Magic
Sinewave Development Proposal
. Or here for Custom
Consulting
.

The history of the Magic Sinewave program is found here.

March 26, 2005,

Just noticed that the Simpson panel meters use a diagonal
measurement for their size. Their "3-1/2 inch" meter is less
than three inches across. Omega still seems honest. Their
"5-1/2" inch pyro meters are actually wider than that.

March 26, 2005,

More on triage. This time the rerefurbables...

Make a determination as quickly as possible whether an item
can be sold as is, as is with minor cleanup, needs minor repair,
needs major rework, sellable as is, sellable for parts, mixed and
matched with others in the group, stripped for parts, held for
parts, or flushed outright.

The earlier you flush an unsellable product and the less time you
spend with it, the lower your losses in dealing with it.

A dozen projects needing minor rework (tighten screws, replace
knobs, improve cosmetics) can be done in the time it takes to doing
anything major to one item. Always ask "What am I getting into?"

Have your hired help do the routine stuff such as initial cleanup and
final out-the-door appearance upgrading. Spend your own time
where it will do the most good; delegate otherwise.

eBay can often be used as a lending library to get the repair and
service manual for any higher ticket item with a high probability
of repair. Always try to have full tech info before attempting
anything major in the way of repairs. Often the manual can be
resold at a profit or as item added value.

It is super important to keep your refurb area clean! Ideally, a
project should be handled only once. If absolutely necessary
while waiting for parts, the item can be placed in a tote and tagged
with required further action.

Any item kept for ten weeks without completing refurb will most
likely never be finished. Continually review these projects for
downgrading and elimination.

There is no point in trying to compete with instrument repair and
calibration houses. Normally, the unit should be brought up to
"clean used - appears fully functional - guaranteed servicible"
condition. Warranty repairs and meeting original factory specs
are another game entirely. One that takes all sorts of special
gear, NIST tracability, factory authorization, and expertise. In
exchange for a much lower price unit, the buyer is expected to
assume a modest to moderate amount of risk.

While it pays to keep an inventory of crucial items for popular
gear (such as common hardware and Tektronix or HP knobs),
keeping tons and tons of random replacement parts makes no
sense whatsoever.

If you do not like the vibes at any time or point during refurb,
flush or downgrade the project. Never sell anything you feel
bad about in any manner. The final key test is "Would you be
proud to keep this as a personal tool or instrument?"

Some of the simplest tools will often end up the most useful.
Hex Allen wrenches, Vise Grips, and live power field tracers
for sure. Potent home cleaners and goop removers. Fresh
adhesives that include silicon rubber (use most), epoxy, and
superglue.

Sources of repair and replacement items include a hardware
store or two, Small Parts, W.W.Grainger, and McMaster-Carr.
Plus, of course, the electronic houses such as Digi-Key, Mouser,
or as last resorts, Allied or Newark.


Do not attempt any repair or refurb without having the mininum
test equipment needed to properly deal with it. A modern
oscilloscope (or its pc equivalent) is essential for just about
any technical work.

Be sure to research item demand before you even think about
beginning refurb. Useful tools include present and past eBay
sales, Google, Froogle, guessing names, Thomas Registry, the
Wayback Machine or such newsgroups as sci.electronics.design
or sci.electronics.repair.

It is often possible to take a dozen broken identical items and end
up with ten good ones by mixing and matching parts. This often
will end up your most economical refurb and upgrading route.

It is infinitely better to compete three of four refurb items than to
have dozens of them piling up unfinished. Do not start any new
projects before you eliminate some of the older ones.

Second tier brands are probably not worth pissing over. HP and
Tektronix test items are more sellable than everything else put
together. But HP Oscilloscopes are totally worthless, their last
useful one being the 130C.

More on refurb in our Refurb Log, our Thoughts on Refurb, and
our ongoing refurb commends in our What's New? blogs.

March 25, 2005,

There's a simple cure for those JPEG "ghost lines" that
seem to plague outline edges of eBay Photos and similar
items. Use a truly random background pattern rather than
a fixed color (or white) for your edges. This will confuse the
JPEG machinery just enough that different renderings will
be used on succesive edge pixel blocks.

Some stock backgrounds appear here, while an automated
tool that does random backgrounds with or without optional
vignetting appears here.

The JPEG files will get somewhat larger, but not excessively
so. The tradeoff for clean edges is more than worthwhile.

Custom consulting available.

March 24, 2005,

Continuing yesterday's eBay triage discussion...

It is of utmost importance to have a way to get rid of inventory
that is not selling fast enough, is below your standards, has
value/weight/volume/quality issues, or is simply plain old junk.

For this, we have the Alvin Pile. Following our "reversed cash
flow" guidelines we first looked at back in ADVETORL.PDF,
I've convinced Another eBay Seller to pay me $200 per month
to haul away all of my useless items.

In exchange for taking away everything unwanted, they get to
keep any income they make for items they sell for less than $79.
Any excess above $79 is split as a 50-50 comission. Which averages
out to a lot more than pocket change.

It is super important to continuously triage your inventory.

Otherwise forgotten items will utterly overwhelm you. I know
of several individuals in Phoenix and Tucson who literally have
warehouses bursting at the seams that you can only walk thru
on the narrowest of tunnel paths. They do not have the faintest
clue what they have in stock or what its value is. And are paying
rent to store stuff that probably will never yield any return.

Actual operation of the Alvin pile is simplicity itself. You put
stuff on the pile and it magically disappears. Every few weeks
some cash even more magically shows back up.

March 23, 2005,

Continuing yesterday's eBay triage discussion...

Our main storage consists of four rental units for incoming,
stripping, sorting, and prelist; a $48,000 mil surplus doghouse
for proven items, shelves for books, manuals, and smaller high
value items, a "ready reserve" in the shipping room, the
"ready to list" shelf in the computer room, a box room for
recycling shipping supplies, plus mechanical and electronic
refurb areas.

Stuff received is usually dumped into a temporary storage unit
or spread out in the driveway long enough to free up any
trailer rentals or casual help. It is quickly grouped by topic and
everything not obviously usable is gotten rid of through the Alvin
pile, free radio ads, fire department giveaways, or by exchange
with local merchants. We find yard sales not worth pissing over.

The "best of best" is then chosen and quickly checked and placed
on eBay. With goals of doing a cashout for the entire lot within
twenty one days. Typical choices might be the finest of big ticket
items, or high quantity ones with the best long term sales potential.

Remaining smaller items are rough sorted and placed in totes,
with the intent of doing a secondary triage after the dust settles.
Items to be stripped also follow a two step process, with a rough
and fast initial teardown aimed at dramatically reducing weight and
volume.

Every few weeks, inventory is carefully reviewed for progress
and suitability. Everything unpromising is agressively flushed.
A major goal is no long term storage of any unpaid for items.

March 22, 2005,

Some eBay Seller inventory triage guidelines...

Always seek a balance between how fast you are accumulating
new items compared to what goes out the door as sold. Try to
keep your on-hand inventory as low as possible at all times.

Have designated seperate areas for each class of inventory.
Incoming, unlisted, strippable, refurbable, ready to list, listed, and
long term winners. Always know exactly what is in each area.

Try to do a rough preliminary triage on any incoming items within
five days of receipt. On useful items, aim for a twenty one day
cashout and a fifteen month hang time. Get rid of everything else.

Be able to immediately answer any phone or email inventory
question involving quantity, condition, or model number.

The sooner you get rid of trash, the less it will cost you. Have
an "Alvin Pile" that you continuously farm out to some Other
eBay Seller
. Ideally, you want the other seller to pay you to
haul all your trash away. Preferably $200 per month or so.

It is trivially easy to damage items by sloppy initial loading, by
leaving things outside, by throwing junk on top of them, letting
them get wet or dusty, or by other mistreatment. Always give
any and all items the care they deserve at all times.

The top half of most storage areas is usually wildly underutilized.
Ugly shelving or cabinets are usually cheap to free at auctions.

Flush anything over three years old, unless it is a consistent best
seller
or a rare collectible that raises "metering" or "market
saturation"
issues. Never keep items in long term storage that
have not already clearly paid for themselves.

The optimal quantity of any item is usually around 65. This is
consistent with one sale every seven days for fifteen months.
Hopefully shortened most of the time by "I'll take them all".

When stripping items for later sale, rapid weight and volume
reduction should be your immediate goal. Balance time and
labor against total possible return.

B
orow temporary storage when and where appropriate. If you
have four storage rentals, chances are you can use a fifth for
free for an occasional day or two. Sometimes it is faster and
easier to move to the one next door than emptying and then
refilling one you already have.

Continuously review your older and deader items. Flush them
without mercy.
Just because you value them does not mean
anyone else will.

Be realistic about refurb. Don't pile up more broken items than
you can reasonably repair in a sane time frame. Keep only a
reasonable inventory of backup and replacement parts, and then
only from items you are likely to see a lot more of in the future.
Sell the losers as "broken" or "parts only" instead. Or put them
on the Alvin Pile. More in our Refurb Logs and their What's New
continuations.


Avoid keeping or selling any items you cannot hold extended at arm's
length. Remember the UPS limits of 150 inches and 150 pounds.
Make sure you have a very good big bucks reason to deal with the
heavies or bulkies. Especilly if freight rates are obscene in your area.

A major focus should always be to end up with clean, new, popular,
compact, lightweight, proven selling items in substantial quantities.
Items that can "run on auto" with little personal further attention.

Your normal item parameters should allow at least a $19.63 net
eBay sale, should have shipping costs only a tiny fraction of their
value, and should be easily packed and shipped unless of unique
or exceptional value. A minimum of a 30:1 or higher sell/buy ratio
should always be sought out. Additional eBay guidelines appear
in many tutorials on our Auction Help library page.

Your ultimate triage guideline: Review your current stock and
ask yourself "How much would you bid on this if it was at a
new auction?"

March 21, 2005,

We'll be putting all sorts of unusual items up on our eBay
store in the next few days in an attempt to clear out room
for some expected new stuff. Much of this will be priced
a lot lower than usual. Included are some interesting
automation stuff such as "bed of nails" test assemblies,
pogo pins, vacuum pumps, premium grade test adaptors,
smt caps, toggle clamps, heli-coil inserters, reed relays,
power supplies, original and rare hp agilent software and
manuals, large current probes, fiber optic adaptors,
mint panel meters, and great heaping bunches more.

We do ask that you mix and match on the lower price
items for which we will glady combine postage. As usual,
all of our items are absolutely top quality. Most are
unused in "as new" condition.

March 20, 2005,

Watch out for the ping pong ball!
"What ping pong gloullckkk?"

Watch out for the ladder!
     "What ladder dedadder dedadder dedadder?"

Watch out for the cliff!
      "What CLIIIIIFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFfffffff?"

Watch out for the revolving door!
       "What revolving door ... ing door ... ing door ?"


Does anybody remember the rest of these?

March 19, 2005,

We've got all sorts of odd electronic and pneumatic components
from automation bankruptcies and such that we'll be putting up
on eBay over the next few days. Usually we will use a link
instead of a photo to keep your costs down. Yes, we normally
will combine shipping for you to get you the best possible deal.

Everything offered is absolutely first rate. Anything that is not
gets passed on to another eBay seller for even lower prices.

March 18, 2005,

As we have seen in our Energy Fundamentals Tutorial, not one
net watthour of pv solar electricity has ever been generated. And
that true energy breakeven is unlikely to take place until eight years
or so after the fully burdened total system costs drop under eight
cents per kilowatt hour.

PV solar proponents apparently go to great lengths to draw an
utterly bogus distinction between panel energy versus return
while ignoring the energy that goes into the dollars required for
amortization. As we have seen, the fully amortized true cost of
a synchronous inverter alone is enough to fully guarantee that
any silicon pv system remains a net energy sink that destroys
gasoline. Even if the panels themselves are free.

Any subsidies simply make matters a lot worse. A typical energy
sink penalty of 3X to 5X can reasonably be expected for a tax
break or subsidy. Unless, of course, it turns into one of the usual
alternate energy outright debacles.

Conventional silicon pv is pretty much a sunset technology that
I feel probably NEVER will achieve energy breakeven, owing to
its inefficiencies and material intractabilities. If renewable and
sustainable solar pv is going to happen at all, it will take new
developments such as multiple or variable workfunction devices,
MEMS nanotechnology direct microantennas, dye molecule
linking, photonic lattices, economical area substrates, or processes
based on metalloradicals.

Every few years right on schedule, a company comes out of the
woodwork and makes outrageous claims about their major new
breakthrough developments they think they are going to make
in the pv solar area. Eventually one of them may really and truly
do so. It is only a matter of time.

But probably still remains a few years off.

The claimant Du Jour appears to be http://www.nanosolar.com.
These folks would be a lot more believable if they did not have
fundamental and mesmerizingly awful technical boo boos in their
press releases and promotional materials. Such as confusing
energy density in watts per square inch versus watts per square
meter. Or in claiming that efficiency depends upon surface area.

March 17, 2005,

The ancient and nearly lost Oriental martial art of Tai Won
Oun consists primarily of getting totally snockered. But
always doing so in a professional and workmanlike manner.

March 16, 2005,

We are phasing out our VIZ radiosondes. The remaining
inventory is
around 80 of this outstanding scientific collectible.
email
me if you are interested in the lot.

March 15, 2005,

Check the population age distribution you will find plotted at
http://www.city-data.com/zips/18966.html Apparently every
time a baby is born, a man leaves town.

I'm more than curious if this data is real and why?

Actually, our own 85552 data is also kinda bizarre. But
this one is explained by our EAC community college.

March 14, 2005,

An optimal or "absolutely best" eBay product for me would be...

Deep distress from industrial or dotbomb bankruptcy.
30:1 or higher sell/buy ratio.
75 or so usable near-identical items on pallet.
Buy for $190, eventually sell for $6000.
Average selling price $59 to $79.
Weighs between 3 and 15 pounds
New or easily cleanable used.
21 day cashout, 15 month hang time.
Value at least $19 per cubic foot or $5 per pound.
Personal value easily added for nonobvious uses.
Usability equivalent to current production.
No shelf life, long product interest span.
Brick to breadbox size.
Minimal testing and refurb.
Other bidders fail to realize significance.
Crucial data and docs and pricing web available.
Specialized expertise required to recognize value.
Rare eBay item with little or no competition.
Superior quality recognized name brand
Reasonable distance/loading/storage/trip convenience.
No life safety or compliance hazards.
Minimum personal involvement after first or second sale.
Photogenic enough for pixel locked, distortionless & shadowfree.
Idiot proof enough to not be trashed by buyer.
Buy at 0.25 cents on dollar, sell for 7.5 cents on dollar.
About as fragile as an anvil.
Items stay sold with high feedback praise.
Zero foreign or scammer interest.
End user d
ocs included or free online access.
"I'll take them all" sales highly likely.
Self-packaged for final shipment.

And, of course,

Similar opportunities repeat at least 20 times a year.

March 13, 2005,

Looks like the cows are finally going to come home to roost.

Even the IEEE has admitted that scholarly pubs are no longer
either viable or working. And are desparately clawing around
for solutions or workarounds.

What's wrong with this picture: Slovenly and sloppy uneducated
Researcher "A" throws some shit together in a PDF file and
puts it on the web. It immediately reaches both Google and
tens of millions of viewers worldwide.

Meticulous and thorough Researcher "B" spends thousands of
dollars of their own money to have their work carefully peer
reviewed and then placed in a totally inaccessible scholarly
journal that even their own libraries can no longer afford.

IF the journals are to survive and IF those publishing in them are
going to continue to be treated seriously, then ALL PREVIOUS
SCHOLARLY PAPERS that are MORE THAN FIVE YEARS 
OLD simply MUST be put on the web for unlimited free access.

Access that does not even require registration or a password.

March 12, 2005,

Got the autoclave fully refurbed and up on eBay. A lab
oven is next, followed by an automated wire cutter.

March 11, 2005,

Managed to get our Flashing Text into our Acrobat Powerpoint
Emulator
. Per this Demo on Magic Sinewaves. See slide eight.

The first try was disappointing because of some glitches caused
by slow Pattern imaging during Acrobat run time. After some
careful checking, it seems there is an enormous amount of
Pattern overhead over and above the imaging time. It turns out
that 63 replicated imagings of a 50x50 pixel Pattern is MUCH
slower than 12 replicated imagings of a 120x120 pixel Pattern.

The PDF Reference Manual recommendation that TilingType 3
is faster than TilingType 1 did not seem to help much.

There was a 20K penalty for the larger image, but size remains
ridiculously smaller than a "real" PowerPoint presentation,
besides looking a lot better and imaging a lot faster. This all
with Acrobat 5 and an 800K Pentium. Probably much less of a
problem with newer Acrobat versions and faster CPU's.

March 10, 2005,

Latest GuruGram #48 is a tutorial on Flashing Text (and
graphics) in Acrobat
. It self-demos and works quite well on
most Acrobat files, unless they have extremely long rendering
times or run on a very slow machine. But patterned backgrounds
may glitch on you. A workaround should shortly be found here.

The tutorial source code can be found here. More on Acrobat
animation is found here. And additional GuruGrams here.

March 9, 2005,

Sadly, KDKB's Helium Hilarity is no more. Tim and Mark have
left. A limited archive seems to remain at...

http://web.archive.org/web/20040214055404/http://www.kdkb.com/misc10029.asp

Two of their better Gila Bend jokes were the Amish family who
moved there and really wanted to fit in. So they put a dead horse
up on blocks in their front yard. And the Gila Bend church that
decided not to buy a chandelier because nobody in the congregation
knew how to play one.

For those of you not in Arizona, it is not totally unfair to say that
Gila Bend is somewhat shy of being the toniest of upscale yuppy
enclaves. KDKB actually gave free computers to the Gila Bend
schools as a bribe so they could keep telling Gila Bend jokes.

March 8, 2005,

Latest GuruGram #47 is a tutorial on Acrobat Animation of
a 3-Phase Power Simulation
. It turns out that real time and
large size fast animation is quite easy to do in a .PDF file by
using some amazingly simple JavaScript commands.

The actual animation appear here and the tutorial source code
can be found here.
More on fields analysis here and here.

March 7, 2005,

Thanks to Slashdot telling us the New York Public Libray
has an incredible and free image collection newly online.
I'll soon add this to the offsite links on my home page.

March 6, 2005,

Here's a preview of an upcoming GuruGram: Animation
of large images totally WITHIN Adobe Acrobat at quite
high frame rates!

Simulation is of a three phase power conductor using our
Rebounding techniques. Related concepts can be used to
make sequential slideshows INSIDE a web browser or to
flash text in an Acrobat Powerpoint Emulation.

March 5, 2005,

Local EMT lore has it that a South Phoenix free clinic was
having all sorts of problems with prescription pads getting
stolen. Sure enough, a pharmacy called later wanting to
verify that they had prescribed a "gallon of more fine".

March 4, 2005,

REFURB LOG:

Some medical gear can resell for outrageously high prives.
Others are totally worthless, or may need one unobtainable
part for refurb. Much of it may require a FDA Certificate or
involve eBay Restrictions for resale.


In general, med equipment is a lot simpler than it may first
appear, but it may do strange things in funny or dangerous
ways. It is super important that you understand exactly what
the instrument is intended for and the safety considerations
involved in its use. Any items specifically involved with life
safety are best avoided entirely.

Just picked up an autoclave sterilizer at an auction. Autoclaves
are basically a pressure cooker that often runs at 121 degrees
Centigrade and 15 PSI. These values are high enough to
destroy all known organisms for medical sterilization or to
provide curing for industrial adhesives, plastics, and related
processes. Apparently the "tatoo parlor" market is driving
eBay prices for autoclaves quite high.

This particular unit looked like all it needed was a "Sherwin
Williams Overhaul". After a thorough cleaning I replaced the
line cord and a broken fuseholder and a broken drain line and
reglued and tightened or lubricated a few other items. The knobs
and feet were replaced as they were mangy from outside storage.
And the case was repainted. The seal looks just barely ok. A few
minor details remain, but I should have it up on eBay shortly.

A Thoughts on Refurb tutorial appears here. And our Refurb Log
is found here.

March 3, 2005,

Texan bragging about how big his spread was: "Why I
Could start driving first thing in the morning and not get
half way across my place by lunchtime."

"Yeah? I had a truck like that once, too."

March 2, 2005,

While it is normally not a very good idea to do upgrades
for the sake of upgrades, my personal productivity has
soared thanks to a major overhaul of everything. I had
to start with a 256 Meg memory upgrade to let me install
Windows XP on a ME system. This was combined with
a change to cable modem from a flakey wireless and
switching to the incredibly superb new and free Firefox
browser and Thunderbird mail/news systems. Plus some
printer rework via USB.

In retrospect, Windows ME was an outright atrocity. All
of its blowups and hassles and incompatibilities are gone.

March 1, 2005,

Completed the inventory of our BTL ATT color reference
standards and updated our eBay listings on same.

Expanded and revised our Arizona Auction Resources page.

February 28, 2005,

An optimal or "absolutely best" live auction for me would be...

Midweek - to discourage addicts and casual big spenders.
Very short notice - so the word does not get out.
Early start - for maximum inconvenience
Lousy weather - 120 in the shade except for three inch hail.
Outside of auctioneers speciality - doesn't know your items
Mistakes - moves tech items to small town, runs wrong ads
Terrible terms - no VISAs or checks, plus huge deposit.
Horrific website - none or badly done and way out of date.
Poorly promoted - wrong ads in wrong papers.
No pissing contests - troublemaking competitors absent.
No online bidding - or else incompetently processed
5 gottahaves, 15 wants - enough to make trip worthwhile
Unspecialized - items of your interest a tiny fraction of total
Pallet lots - bunches of identical items going for much less
Passes my "Globe" test - is it worth a 72 mile trip?
New merchandise - hopefully with original packaging
In place - NOT recognized, higraded, moved to auction barn
Deep distress - nobody cares about value, other goals dominate
Low registrations - preferably zero in your area of interest
No bad vibes - no owners (or next of kin) present or involved
Contents of room - or shelf or cabinet opportunities abound
Many lots - auctioneer gets behind; others run out of money
Dark and murky - or high on hard-to-view dusty/dirty shelves
Wildly mixed lots - high value items buried in abject trash
No bulk bids - or other "monopoly money" participation
Personally lose less than $25 to bidding errors.
One auctioneer - so you do not have to retrain over again
Second tier auctioneer - out of area but not national.
Huge bizarre beasts - $2.50 items strippable for goodies
Poisioned lots - "Put it with the next one" for "next" steal
Poorly organized - only a few bidders can get near items
Very long - auctioneer gets very tedious then sloppy
Not nationally promoted - local or regional only
Shilling and lowballing possible - accepts subtle $2.50 bids
Hard to find info - poorly promoted in wrong places

and, of course, ...

No restrooms - or at least none with doors or water.

February 27, 2005,

Latest GuruGram #46 is a tutorial on a PostsScript based set
of .PDF  File Reader and snooping utilities that include updates
on the word frequency analysis of our previous GuruGram.

The actual utilities appear here and the tutorial source code here.

February 26, 2005,

At a live auction today, one little old lady commented to a friend
"That man has been talking all morning!"

February 25, 2005,

As much as possible, we try to follow our rule of "Don't sell
anything on eBay that you cannot hold extended at arm's
length. One of the big reasons for this is that local trucking
options remain an utter outrage. If you have a 400 pound
item to ship, it will cost you $800 and twelve weeks, plus
interminable arguments over classifications and rates.

Needless to say, such bargain rates do not include packing,
palletizing, shrinkwrapping, banding, pickup, or residential
delivery. Local arrogance and gross incompetence goes well
beyond mesmerizingly awful.

Many UPS Stores in other areas of the country now offer
reasonable and cheap shipping options for heavier or
bulkier options. FedeX also now has ways to ship the
heavies. And new firms such as Craters & Freighters or
Freight Pro now offer hassle free low rates elsewhere.
Another new possibility for really heavy or bulky items is
the City-to-City moving option of Door to Door Storage
Who, by the way, sometimes have interesting auctions
.

Additional resources on our Auction Help page.

February 24, 2005,

Seems there was this long abandoned interurban street car line
in my back yard where I grew up. I've long been fascinated by
the Pittsburgh, Harmony, and Butler Street Railway. The southern
end of one of its routes ran from Pittsburgh's East Street where
it tied into the Pittsburgh Streetcars. It then went north through
Evergreen, up Babcock Boulevard, through Keown Station, Highland,
over a spectacular tressle, continuing to Ingomar, west of Wexford,
to Warrendale, and then on to points north.

And, in 1908 and later, offered travel times FASTER than today's
highways in the area. A surprising amount of photos and info is
starting to show up on the web. Including...

http://www.fyi.net/~zhs/HarmonyLine/welcome.htm
http://davesrailpix.com/odds/pa/pa2.htm
http://www.bchistory.org/beavercounty/BeaverCountyCommunities/Koppel/Koppel.html
http://www.purvisbros.com/mars/short01.htm
http://www.pa-trolley.org/
http://www.transitgloriamundi.com/trolley_videos/pittsburgh_north_side/narration.html
http://www.ross.pa.us/township_history.htm
http://pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/entertainment/events/calendar/artexhibits.ht
http://library.wustl.edu/units/spec/archives/guides/pdf/car-company5.pdf
http://www.rachelcarsontrails.org/ht/

Two useful books on interurbans in general are Electric Interurban
Railways in America
and The Interurban Era.

February 23, 2005,

Elsevier is the leading publisher of energy related pubs such
as the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy. You can
subscribe to free email listings of the tables of contents of
many of these publications. A clickable list appears in our
Energy Fundamentals tutorial.

February 22, 2005,

I've been rather slow in keeping our Refurb Log up to date,
so what I thought I'd do is add the notes here and then do
continuing bulk updates at a later time.

REFURB LOG: I was rudely surprised when the big pallet full of
sealed slot machine display boxes had mostly upgrade pulls in
it. At any rate, these rebuild fairly well with some effort, and we
have the really great results up on eBay. These are absolutely
superb as a first student microcontroller or Basic Stamp project.

They also are legal to own anywhere as the displays have no
mechanism or provision for coins or tokens of any kind. But
actual use of your final total design should obey any and all of
your local or state regs.

Besides cleaning and an occasional broken pilot light assembly,
the big usual problem was burned out bulbs. These turned out to
be a standard long life incandescent bulb called a 657 that Allied
Radio
and others have for 45 cents each.

Two reassembly tips following a total teardown: The cable retaining
clip is best put in by loosely setting the wheel sideways on the
frame up out of the road. The clip then snaps right in but otherwise
would be a real bear. There is also a loose "U" bracket between the
stepper and the frame. To avoid trying to hold too many things at
once, use a pair of long nose vice grip pliers to clamp the bracket in
place. This ridiculously simplifies reassembly.

The 28 volt bulbs can be tested by dimly lighting them with any old
12 or 15 volt supply. The lower left socket pin is common, with the
three horizontal pins on the same level being the low, medium, and
high bulbs.

Because of the time and extra bulb costs, it doesn't pay to get too
much ahead of actual sales. Keeping two units on deck ready to go
and four diagnosed for repair seems to be about the right mix of
risk and reward.

February 22, 2005,

Added more links to our Arizona Auction Resources page.
A Custom Regional Auction Finder can also be built for you.

February 21, 2005,

Many industrial auctions still insist on stiff cash deposits and
payment in certified funds. This can work in your favor as
it tends to drive away any casual bidders and buyers.

I hate to carry much cash around, so I use a "1-2-4-8" ploy
instead. You go to the bank and get cashier's checks made
out to you in $100, $200, $400, and $800 denominations.

Most auction houses will accept a blank one of these as your
deposit. As long as you do not sign them, you can get a full
refund on any unused checks. Make the checks "to you" and
"from you".

Keep your receipts separate! Lost or stolen checks can be
refunded with your receipt and have no value to anyone else.

February 20, 2005,

On second thought, there is one time when outrageously
high bulk bids make sense at an auction. That's when one
bidder is playing with Monopoly Money (those "j-dollars
from my Incredible Secret Money Machine).

If a landlord forces an auction on you (or on the holder in due
course) for $50,000 and you bulk bid $327,000, the landlord
only gets to keep their $50,000 or so, and you get a "refund"
of $277,000 minus some auction house charges. But anyone
bidding against you has to pay the going full rate.

More on our Auction Help library page.

February 19, 2005,

Added a Loan Amortization Calculator link to our Off Site
Resources
on our Home Page.

February 18, 2005,

There seems to be quite a bit of unhappiness over eBay's
recent fee increases. I very strongly feel that eBay remains
grossly undervalued for what it delivers and remains the
ultimate marketing opportunity. Especially when tightly linked
to your own website and when your costs are fully understood
and fully accounted for.

Any "competitor" to eBay that attempts to offer an identical
service is clearly doomed. First because of the overwhelming
volume of eBay. And second, (similar to a third political party)
the competitor will disproportionally attract the problem buyers
sellers and scammers. Particularly if their prices are lower.

Froogle ultimately should provide serious eBay competition
because it has a much better model: No listing fees, no value
fees, update or list anytime for any lenght, true reverse Dutch
auction (prices drop till items sell), and each bid is an instant
and certain winner.

You can apparently start up your own direct eBay competition
by using the products at Rainworx.

Some other alternatives to eBay include...

amazon.com
auction.com
auctiondollar.com
bidtoget.com
epier.com
livedeal.com
loudfrog.com
onlineauction.com
overstock.com
sellatonce.com
yahoo.com

I do not use any of these except for amazon.com.

February 17, 2005,

If you have a silicon pv solar panel electric utility buyback
system, the cost of the synchronous inverter alone today is
enough to GUARANTEE you have a net energy sink that
is in no manner renewable nor sustainable.

That assumes that your cells are free, the panels are free,
the labor is free, and the installation is free. It also ignores
the obscene net metering tax forced on other utility users.

A decent sinewave synchronous inverter might retail for
$2200.00, neglecting the costs of wiring and installation.
By using this link, we find that the daily amortization of
a $2200, five year, five percent loan is $1.38 per day.
Possibly generating around 6 kilowatt hours of electricity
worth $0.60 per day. And thus a net energy sink.

More at http://www.tinaja.com/glib/energfun.pdf and at
http://www.oilanalytics.org/neten/neten.html

February 16, 2005,

Beware of preplaced bulk bids at any auction. Chances are
overwhelming that the lot bids will not even remotely add up to
the bulk bid price. Chances are also overwhelming that the bulk
bid itself is a stupid mistake, paying waaaay too much.

In a motor control auction, one bulk bidder forced the price way
high and then lost. Had they instead just done a token bulk bid,
they could have walked away with most, if not all of the lots at
a much lower price. But this New York dude had to show the
yokels how it was done. They lost many thousands of dollars in
airfare and other expenses, compared to the locals whose costs
were pocket change.

In a wholesale art bankruptcy, the bulk bid was almost TEN times
what the lot bids added up to. There is no way in hell that the
items could have been worth nearly as much. Chances are that
this was some sort of a desparate salvage scheme by whoever
the lien was against. Clearly it involved other people's money,
and clearly it was a ripoff.

Lot prices normally drop sharply towards the end of any auction
for a number of reasons. People run out of money or leave when
they get what they want. Or simply get tired or impatient. Or the
auctioneer gets way behind and sloppy. That is when all of the
"contents of room" and "contents of shelf" and "poisoned lots"
opportunities abound.

Much more on our Auction Help pages. Your own custom auction
finder can be found here.

February 15, 2005,

There are sneaky tricks to convert a PostScript string into a
temporary file object. This gives you powerful new tools to
manipulate file objects, including direct read and write,
along with powerful new searching abilities.

For a string reading, use...

      /inputfile yourstring 0 () /SubFileDecode filter file def
      
inputfile workstring readline

For a string writing, use...

      /outputfile yourstring NullEncode filter file def
      outputf
ile workstring newstring writestring

Many more details on our PostScript, Acrobat, GuruGram,
and InfoPack library pages.

February 14, 2005,

Added some more offsite links to our home page. Updated
and improved our Auction Help page, including new display
ad searches and ad email alerts.

February 13, 2005,

You can watch our ongoing floods happening in nearly real time at
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/az/nwis/uv?09448500 What is even more
impressive is tiny Burro Creek in Western Arizona that is usually
a superb swimming hole. Peaking at ONE THIRD the Mississippi
river! At 60,000 CFS or almost an acre foot and a half per second!

So far, Clifton has been evacuated and has seen significant
damage. Local damage here has been some flooded fields and
a garage or two so far. We are probably past the peak. San
Carlos saw 70,000 CFS. Which is almost certain to cause major
damage.

Also interesting are the programmable flows at Phantom Ranch
in the Grand Canyon. Which look just like the output of a very
fancy function generator. Which they are. For other Arizona
info, use http://waterdata.usgs.gov/az/nwis/rt
, or change the
state code for elsewhere.

February 12, 2005,

Latest GuruGram #45 is a tutorial and set of utilities for Word
Frequency Analysis
, a powerful tool to improve writing quality,
extract web page keywords, create indexes, or evaluate reading
grade levels. esources. Sourcecode available as WORDFREQ.PSL.

February 11, 2005,

The Phoenix Republic has also just added an ad alert email
service
. This should be most useful for upcoming auctions
that appear as display ads only. I've added this link to our
auction help page.

February 10, 2005,

Figured out how to do display ad searches for the Tucson Daily
Star
and the Phoenix Arizona Republic. Added these links to our
Auction Help page. Note that editorial searches can be done from
the link at the top of the classified search page for both sites.

Apparently, two of the services that let newspapers place
display advertising online are http://www.harvestinfo.com
and http://www.travidia.com Harvest Info now claims 400
newspapers use their online ad searches.

A reminder about our Custom Auction Finder services.

February 9, 2005,

Oops. Just missed a "perfect" auction ( hi-tech - obscure -
poorly promoted - deep distress - many lots - only enough me
stuff to not attract big competitors - short notice - reasonable
drive away - midweek - bad weather ) because the promotion
was TOO poor. An ad only appeared in ONE wildly inappropriate
newspaper in the entire state.

Being able to search newspaper online display ads is apparently
becoming a critical issue.

More on our Auction Help page.

February 8, 2005,

After a week's use and testing, I am very much impressed with
the new and free free Firefox browser and Thunderbird mail
sever. I particularly like the easy searching that "turns red"
if the search string is absent. The real biggie, of course, is the
utter absence of IE oriented malware and viri.

February 7, 2005,

Some of the many advantages of magnetic tomcats include:
(a) They will point north if you pick them up by the tail (b)
they store easily overnight on the side of your refrigerator;
(c) hearding cats is a lot easier if they are all oriented in the
same direction. And, of course (d) you can levitate them by
using an appropriately powered electric blanket.

More on related topics in MARCIA.PDF.

February 6, 2005,

Newspapers are just beginning to make their display ads
searchable. This can be a problem when an auction is big
enough to use "real" ads rather than classifieds. Most
especially when the auction house is an outsider biggie.

February 5, 2005,

Latest GuruGram #44 is a guided tour of our Arizona Auction
resources. As file AZAUCT01.PDF. Sourcecode is also now
available as AZAUCT01.PSL.

February 4, 2005,

Managed to get more or less reconfigured even without
Bruno's help. Present thinking is to use a 800 MHz HP
Pentium running Windows XP and browsing with the superb
new and free Firefox browser and Thunderbird mail and the
News.Individual.NET news server.

I am very much a "bare metal" type of programmer who
centers on using PostScript as a general purpose computer
language. Acrobat and Distiller are thus the central essentials
of my computer. Combined with my extensive custom Gonzo
PostScript
routines.

Web access is by way of a blazingly fast DSL cable modem. I do
use both Adobe GoLive and hand coded HTML and ASP routines.
Webmastering is handled by WS-FTP and Putty. Much is done
with Wordpad, helped along by QuickPhrase. Word is present,
but used only for spell checking or very long files. My own custom
routines
are used for log file analysis.

Our core eBay components are a Nikon CoolPix 5000 and a HP
3190A scanner. Extensive image post processing is done by using
plain old Paint and ImageViewer32. Helped along with some custom
routines of my own that do Swings & Tilts and Dodges & Burns and
Vignetting AutoBackgrounding. Instead of PowerPoint, I use my
own custom faster and much better looking bare metal code.

Much of my energy research work centers on my Magic Sinewaves
and similar explorations. My custom PostScript and JavaScript
code gets helped along by a Pocket Programmer, the Oshensoft
PIC Simulator, and SigView32.

Defensive programs include the Registry Mechanic, Spy Sweeper,
Pest Patrol, and the Norton Utilities. Accounting and taxes and such
are done by Bee on a separate machine using Quicken and TurboTax
and similar software.

I'll try to work up some more details in a future GuruGram.

February 3, 2005,

Added a dozen new links to the Offsite Resources section of
our home page.

February 2, 2005,

Upgrading from Windows ME to Windows XP is maddeningly
infuriating. If you value your time and your sanity, it is FAR
cheaper and faster to run out and buy a brand new computer
than to attempt an upgrade.

Among the dozens of hassles, there apparently is some init
glitch in XP that makes the machine blow up a random time
into any online session, yeilding a LSASS.EXE forced shut
down. This even on a complete bare metal rebuild with nothing
but XP on the newly wiped machine! The problem finally
went away with a Firefox and Thunderbird installation that
also eliminated any Windows messaging.

Also mesmerizingly awful was the lack of the uninstall where
it was supposed to be and no obvious way of doing so.

February 1, 2005,

Picked up some interesting industrial safety and environmental
items. Including some broad spectrum gas detectors easily
recalibrated from their Freon 24 settings. Plus some superb
low pressure water filters that use porous plastic to block many
pathogens and most turbidity. I hope to get these up on eBay
just as soon as our reconfig gets completed.

January 31, 2005,

A reminder that an excellent free News Server is News.Individual.NET.
This one works beautifully with the new and free Firefox
and Thunderbird browser and mail combo.

January 30, 2005,

WeI've received one or two requests to set up an RSS feed on
our What's New and GuruGram announcements. Is there any
further interest in this? email me if you want to see this.

January 29, 2005,

We are doing a major reconfiguration in midst of wireless and dialup
problems, so please expect some busy signals and slower responses
for a few days. Sorry about that.

January 27, 2005,

Alexander Graham Kernatski was the first telephone pole.

January 26, 2005,

Picked up some very interesting BASIC STAMP (or other
small microcontroller) accessories. These are TI 500-5008
bulletproof 8-channel multiplexed optocoupler inputs intended
for an earlier PLD. A stamp or whatever will easily fit inside
the rugged cast zinc 1x6x9 inch case. Should be up on eBay
in a few days; otherwise you can email me. As new in original
mil surplus packaging.

January 25, 2005,

JavaScript over Acrobat has some exciting new possibilities,
and the JavaScript extensions are tutorialed in Adobe's
TN5186 JavaScript Guide found on the Acrobat CD and
elsewhere.

Among other capabillities, you can now pick up 64 bit math
for those apps where it is essential, such as my Magic Sinewaves.
The full screen slideshow options (which are not available from
inside a browser) are easily added. Better yet, you now have
millisecond time increments making for some superb animation
possibilities.

Looping is simple as this.pageNum = 0 added to the final page as
an opening page JavaScript action. And full speed animation is
simply done as this.pageNum++. More on this soon.

January 24, 2005,

Mess with their heads department: Get yourself some carrot
sticks. Find a mark who is WEARING GLASSES and near a
CRT TYPE computer monitor. Tell the mark that the triboelectric
energy generated while chewing a carrot is enough to generate
significant electrical interference on any nearby computer
monitor.

The mark will try this, and, sure enough, they will see a glitch on
the display every time they chomp on the carrot. They will then,
of course, make complete fools out of themselves when they try
to show this to someone WITHOUT glasses or on a LCD display.

January 23, 2005,

Many thanks to everyone who made the Winter ARA a smashing
success. Especially TFD.

January 20, 2005,

One day to the Winter ARA! Our papers this year are
absolutely outstanding. Anyone with an interest in caves is
welcome to attend. No charge except for optional $7.50 lunch.

January 19, 2005,

Latest GuruGram #43 is an absolute heresy in that it shows
you how to quickly solve complex electromagnetic fields
while using ZERO fancy math. File is REBOUND1.PDF and
its sourcecode is REBOUND1.PSL. Companion PostScript
utilities are in BUSONLY.PSL

January 18, 2005,

Got some brand new and huge projection tv lenses from a
recent bankruptcy. Fujinon VP5110B. f0.95, 110 mm, about
four inches in diameter. Perfect for home theater experiments,
opaque projectors, camera obscuras, etc.
email me for details.

January 17, 2005,

One of the consequences of the stunning bandwidth advances
in twisted pair copper has been the total demise of any interest
whatsoever in short haul fiber optics.

I have got zillions of brand new in original packaging fiber optic
patch cords that I am going to scrap out if you do not immediately
offer me three cents on the dollar for them. email me for details.

January 16, 2005,

Picked up a bunch of new-in-box digital electronic "fruit"
style triple slot machine displays. Stepper driven. See our
eBay offerings for details. These make a superb student
first microcontroller or BASIC STAMP project.

January 15, 2005,

One week to the Winter ARA! Our papers this year are
absolutely outstanding. Anyone with an interest in caves is
welcome to attend. No charge except for optional $7.50 lunch.

January 14, 2005,

A reminder that our seconds, rejects, brokens, leftovers,
and unsolds get farmed out to our Sotofamilia associate
where they can often be found at ridiculously low prices.

January 13, 2005,

Up to 56 LED's can be individually controlled from ONE
8-bit microcomputer port by use of the sneaky tricks in
MUSE152.PDF. Or 132 from a 12-bit port. Or 240 from
a 16-bit port. Technique works best when only a few LED's
have to be lit at once and when lower brightness levels are
acceptable. ZERO external parts are required!

January 12, 2005,

The Glenn Miller cover of "Stairway to Heaven" appears at
http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~jw/Stairway.html

January 11, 2005,

A reminder that Bee and I will be hosting a technical seminar
on Caves and Caving Saturday January 22nd at the Thatcher
Fire Department from 9 am to 4 pm. Anyone with an interest
in Arizona caving is welcome to attend. There is no charge
for the papers and an optional $7.50 for a catered lunch.

You can visit the Arizona Regional Association website for
paper listings, maps, trips, our party, and such. We now
have an exceptional paper seminar schedule but still can
make room for one or two more if you email us. Or you can
call us at (928) 428-4073.

The main ARA Website may not be updatable for a day or
two because Paul is on a cruise, so you can find the latest
info here instead. Some paper abstracts have been newly
added.

January 10, 2005,

In an amazing DNA breakthrough, they have just managed
to prove what everybody already suspected: Socks are the
larval form of coat hangers! Metamorphisis requires a dark
closet.

January 9, 2005,

Just noticed that recent Acrobat Distiller versions are
3011.104 or higher, meaning that they offer full Level III
PostScript. The PostScript Reference Manual is also now
upgraded to its third edition.

January 8, 2005,

It just occured to me that there is a sneaky trick that can
make our Fun With Fields routines stunningly more versatile.
If before each new averaging, you re-replace the boundary
conditions, you can simply work with most any geometry at all.
The secret would be the obscure PostScript infill operator. I'll
try to work a new GuruGram up on this shortly.

January 7, 2005,

Most electronic devices run on smoke. If you let the
smoke out, they do not work anymore.

January 6, 2005,

Judging by their many auctions, Wal-Mart apparently
routinely builds a new store near an old one, rather than
updating or improving an existing facility. On the theory
that it is apparently better to disrupt the community rather
than the store traffic flow.

January 5, 2005,

Latest GuruGram #42 is on PostScript Array to Image
Conversion
. You can also find the sourcecode here. And
similar resources on our PostScript and Acrobat pages.

January 4, 2005,

Closed out our WHTNU04.SHTML news blog and started this one up
as WHTNU05.SHTML.

January 3, 2005,

Government Liquidation aparently dropped their dollar minimum
bidding as a December-only promotion. Many of their items are
simply not worth gambling on a $35 opening bid.

January 2, 2005,

Wal-Mart is in the process of moving one of their buildings a few
hundred feet. In doing so, they are utterly disrupting the
economies of TWO Arizona communities. This after three
expensive new streets were custom built to the old site.
Naturally, there was a K-Mart between the two sites that will
have to be torn down.

December 31, 2004,

Several alt.marketing.online.ebay posters have asked about Bruno.

Bruno is the AMOE attitude relateralization facillitator. One of
his specialties is reconfiguring top posters. In a related endeavor,
Bruno is also a product durability tester for a major New Jersey
baseball bat manufacturer.

Bruno also does trucking for Norfolk & Waay. Who, in a Kilgore
Trout
sort of manner are NOT me and NOT my website. I have no
idea who their webmaster is.

December 30, 2004,

I was suprised how much the value of tv repair shop inventory
has recently dropped. Photofacts sell only marginally on eBay
at four cents each, and full tube caddies seem to be not doing
very well at $30 or less.

The fact that old tv's even needed repair was telling. As was their
lack of cable and video inputs, their huge size and weight, their
pitiful pre-comb color separation, their lack of regulation that left
you with a tiny midscreen image and everything else wrapped
around, and the need to reconverge your color alignment in a very
painful process if you so much as moved the tv a few feet. Plus
sound best described as mesmerizingly awful.

More on my earlier tv repair experiences in WAYWERE.PDF

December 29, 2004,

There is an easy way to spot an extroverted enginer: They stare
at your shoes rather than their own.

December 27, 2004,

Latest GuruGram #41 is on Enhancing your eBay Tactical and
Strategic Skills
. You can also find the sourcecode here. And
similar resources on our Auction Help and Custom Auction
Resources
library pages.

December 26, 2004,

A reminder that Bee and I will be hosting the ARA winter
regional here at TFD on January 22nd, and that anyone with
an interest in caves is welcome to attend these free seminars.
Check the ARA Website for ongoing details.

December 25, 2004,

Added a new third party paper on Bezier Circular Arc
Approximation
to our Cubic Spline Library.

December 24, 2004,

We have sold out of our Agilent multiport multiplexers,
the machine vision illuminators, triac optocouplers, the
Athena termperature controls, Thompson sliders, and the
ice cube relays. And are down to our very last Astronomy
table. A few of our superb Adept linear sliders remain,
mostly in the large and extra rugged one meter length size.

I've got bunches of new stuff to list on our eBay store,
especially high end HP manuals, and premium GR and
Leeds/Northrup cal lab instruments. email me for details.

December 23, 2004,

The little nickel and dime stuff can eat you alive in any
business venture. While obsessive micromanagement is
usually NOT a good idea, it may pay to label the costs on
such items as Ziplock bags, Bubblewrap rolls, and strapping
tape.

December 22, 2004,

All of which raises a larger issue of decades of technology
that may end up "lost", just because they were barely pre
word processor. Again, it is not obvious who would fund such
activities and why they would do so.

An obvious first candidate would be all of the Tektronix
manuals, which have now been released to the public
domain. Once a Tek archive is set up, H-P and others
might be willing to follow suit. As might the Sams Photofacts.

I'd also like to create a definitive website for the Mount
Graham Aerial Tramway
, but the time and effort and risk
involved in processing the hundreds of photographs would
be enormous.

December 21, 2004,

In answer to several recent email and helpline questions,
The ISMM Incredible Secret Money Machine is pretty
much in limbo. Outrageously expensive copies can be
found at Amazon Books, while the intro remains available
here. But I have started rework as a background project.

I'd like to offer all of my earlier books and articles as free
ebooks on my website, but it is not clear who would fund
this how. The ISMM was pre-computer, so a total rework
would be needed for decent file sizes and artwork quality.
There is also the dilemma as to who would read it why, since
so much has changed in so many different ways.

December 20, 2004,

Apparently http://geoheat.oit.edu/bulletin/bull23-1/art1.pdf
have done a major rework of the earlier NOAA hot spring
and hot well directories for DOE. There are now nearly
12,000 entries, mostly in Arizona and Oregon and Idaho
and other western states. Cost on CD in three formats is
$10 per state or $25 for them all.

December 19, 2004,

There's a new toned down video version of "Debbie Does
Dallas" out. It is titled "Doris Does DesMoines".

December 18, 2004,

Just really, really pissed off a telephone salesman with my
old scam trap. Very simply, you NEVER answer the question
"How are you today?" For the rule is that the next person to
speak   - - - - - > - - - - - > - - - - - > - - - - -> loses!

Friends or family or any legit calls will go on talking if you do
not answer. Without missing a beat. Only a salesman following
a script has to wait for their totally unexpected disaster to strike.
Loads of fun.

And is 100 percent devastatingly effective. Try it.

December 17, 2004,

"Keep trying wierd stuff till something works" can be a
useful strategy when finding web answers starts to get ugly.
Ferinstance, I was looking at an aerial photo of the grade
school I had attended and noticed that the play areas were
now a large parking lot. Could something have actually
happened there since Patti Winterhalter and I ate library
paste together in the cloak closet of Miss Lockhardt's second
grade class?

Just entering the school name into Google produced no (!)
results at all, except for a totally empty data base listing in a
historical building register. And the school district website
made no (!) mention of the property. Emailing them might have
worked, but a bureaucratic mind is a wonderful thing to waste.
Likely results would have been no answer at all or a security
alarm or a pedeophile alert involving the men in black. Best
to leave as few tracks as possible in any cyberspace visit.

Trying the guess the street address through Maps On Us
produced the usual problem of their numbers being off by just
barely enough to end up useless. And Googleing the street
address without the number had the minor problem that
this street was a 95 mile long endless succession of slurbs
that produced 32,641 hits.

The key turned out to be the tax rolls. The township zoning
office had an outstanding web page that let you click and expand
any property. Which promptly gave you the name of a commercial
developer and the correct address. While there was no developer
website, punching the real address back into Google then produced
a short list of assorted second tier financial planners, drug testing
services, radio broadcast advert tracking software, and realtors.

The web bits and pieces strongly suggested that the three story
structures ended up as ADA compliance nightmares that were quietly
swept under the rug and then Dilbertized. The only two reasons that
Dilbertizing made any sense at all was an utter dearth of commercial
property space and a major new thruway literally to their front door.

December 16 2004 (rev 001),

All of which begs the larger question: Is it my imagination or does
library paste not taste nearly as good as it used to? I suspect one
lost secret is serving it with a steel edged maple ruler.

December 16, 2004,

My kind of technological breakthrough: It turns out
that plain old house wire makes an excellent Mystery
Band
TeraHertz waveguide or antenna! Through a new
process called a surface plasmon polariton. Per EE Times
for Nov 29, 2004, page 49.

December 15, 2004,

Updated and corrected some links on our Home Page. Especially our
upcoming
ARA Arizona Regional Association seminar and O'Reilly
new Make hacker magazine.

December 14, 2004,

Latest GuruGram #39 is on Fun With Fields. You can also find the
sourcecode here, the PostScript field plotting code here, and the .PDF
field image here.

December 11, 2004,

For years, I've been creating what, for a better name, we might
call Lancasterisms. These are intentional but apparent
topographical errors intended to reveal a higher or greater truth.

Such as a groundswill of popular demand. Or what those French
Veternarians call a "four paw". Or being overly enameled on some
idea. Or ending up a few bricks shy of a full deck. Frosting the lily or
guilding the cake. Or not being able to hit the barn side of a broad.
Or the mythinterpretiation of something.

Or sources close to an associate of the barber of a usually reliable
spokesperson. New uses for Chebycheff Polynomials would take
the Cheby to the Leby.
Many of the web perpetual motion schemes
and those electrolysis fantasies seem to involve electrocity.

All in one swell foop. Provided there's no oint in the flyment.
Letting the cows come home to roost. So long as they are
elected by acrimination. That little dip between the winter slump
and the spring slack period. Sort of the qualm before the scorn.

Plays a mean eclectic guitar. Pioneers new methods of animal
husbandry. Speaks Esperanto like a native. Bruno's attitude
relateralization facillitation. Or the long lost oriental martial art
of Tai Wun Oun. Will be persecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Thus reaching a new millstone.

These are somehow related to the Stengleisms of others, such as
"Nobody goes there because it is too crowded", "Deja Vu all over
again", or "Let's keep the Status Quo right where it is. Or "When
you come to a fork in the road, take it".

Or Ed Abbey's classic "Androgynous Ammonia". Which might
even involve an engendered species.

I have a hollow feeling I've lost some of the better ones of these
somewhere along the way. As you go through some of my older
books and stories, please report any that may be missing in
action.

Because Opporknockity tunes but once.




 
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