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Comment redundancy is important but be realistic. (Score 1) 307

I have WIRED landlines in my house, not just cordless. Next to my bed and in the kitchen. I have the cell phone. I have the battery packs, chargers, and all that.

Pager, no. Never again.

The wired phones were installed the day after the cell phone was dead, and the cordless phone too. A concerned coworker ended up showing up with the cops at 3am...

Comment Gifts for the advanced child in mathematics... (Score 1) 238

As previously mentioned
fencing lessons (or any martial art really)
slide rule, but get something nicer than a "student" model

Add in Arduino or some other microcontroller that has a practical interface. Get the development kit.

Model aviation is a blast. Free flight, control line, remote control, drones, rocketry, they are all good and I recommend all of them. I find control line most satisfying, but have flown all of these. I fly RC about as much as control line. I currently do not do rockets but this will probably change again.

(Remember that balsa can be glued really well with common school glue, just an annoyingly long drying time, with performance equal to expensive stinky glues.)

Applied ballistics are pretty fun. A small trebuchet set up to launch tennis balls, or golf balls, can make for many afternoons of fun. Back up with martial arts, firearms, air rifles, and archery also provide quite a bit of satisfaction.

Sit down and design a project - THEN GO DO IT TOGETHER. Time is probably the most valuable gift you can give your child, so whatever you choose to get, make it something you can both participate in.

Phil

Comment GPS can't find my house as it is... (Score 1) 177

My address is off by more than 1/4 mile in gps, google maps, google earth, and mapquest. Truly awful.

Getting regular deliveries is sometimes a problem especially since I am on a road named with a SOUTH at the end and the same road exists in my zipcode as a NORTH! My house number exists on the north too, although there is no structure there.

Now a computer is going to get this right? I am slightly skeptical.

Phil

Comment Hacking hardware is nothing new. (Score 2) 481

I know an old mainframe tech who would "clip a resistor" to "upgrade" a system from one clock speed to a faster speed. This was also in the days when 1K of RAM was a rather sizable card.

Now if you have a HiTech Flash 4 RC radio, an early computer radio in 72mhz, one can "upgrade" to a Flash 5 by adding a couple switches, and jumping certain pads on the board. The firmware is already loaded.

Phil

Comment Apartment or house? (Score 1) 388

For an apartment you are somewhat limited. Wall hangings made of heavy fabric are helpful. You can add inexpensive moving blankets behind the decorative layer to aid in sound control.

For your own house added insulation is really effective. Insulate the exterior walls, blown in is pretty effective.

If you really need quiet ripping out the interior walls and putting in isolation walls with fiberglass or cotton batting will be much much more effective, both as insulation and soundproofing. You only need to treat the exterior wall although doing select interior walls will provide added privacy as well.

Replace your old windows with high quality high R value, multi pane windows properly installed.

Become friends with the dog and the neighbors. Yappy dogs yap less at people they know.

Phil

Comment I got laser printer (Score 1) 268

I don't have much need for color, and not much need for printing at all. Typically I print about 10 pages a month. With an inkjet printer I would have a cartridge last one or two months, so 10-20 pages, then the cartridge would be dry. Dried out dry. This was on two different printers, an HP (horrid) and a Cannon.

I bought a Brother laser printer and have been on the same toner cartridge for over a year. OK, the refills are expensive, nearly $100. The ink cartridges were almost $60, because it would not let one just replace the BLACK... I still see it as having saved the cost of the printer over buying ink every month!

When I need color, which is for presentations, I have them professionally printed. I have yet to spend $60 on a stack of color printouts for a single presentation.

Naturally your mileage may vary much more than mine has.

Comment Smartphone + keyboard (Score 2) 508

A smartphone and a blue tooth keyboard is fully capable of what you ask, as long as the videos and websites are capable. The headache will be on your end with supporting several different word processors, as the better ones are not free, and there are several respectable free choices including Google Docs.

So what does this offer? The middle class American child already has a smartphone, or their parents do. Pretty high power devices are also available as the "low end" option, and older devices are capable so a castoff or hand-me-down phone that is in good shape will do the job quite well (yes, batteries need replaced about every 2 years). All smart phones have wifi access without having phone service turned on. This means that they can use wifi at the coffee shop or use data on their parents' devices for the actual submission.

Bluetooth keyboards start at about $25.
A prepaid smartphone is about $50 for the device.
Yes, this operates on the assumption that the student has access to a good smartphone (with or without service), and can get wifi access via local businesses.

Try this before you expect your students to use it, they will expect you to support them technically.

Comment how rustic? (Score 1) 146

Car camping? Sure! RV? No problem! Live-aboard size boat? Why not?

Engine+battery means near unlimited power. If you are within range of cellular then a cellular booster on the roof (not cheap) will get you pretty good range. Basically makes 1 unreliable bar into a usable signal.

Not cheap at $600 for a Shakespeare cellular booster, but not any more than any other nice piece of technology. Less expensive than a nice laptop or tablet. Check Westmarine.com

Going a little farther with the RV or boat? HAM it up with your radio license. Packet radio is real, and useful. I have only information handed to me from others who use it, there is a lot of information available.

Hiking? Well Ham Radio sets are now quite portable. There are portable handsets that weigh less than a pound capable of packet radio.

Hiking in an area with cell signal? There are a lot of these kind of areas around. Pack some lightweight Lipo batteries, such as from model aircraft, and a power converter to USB, available for about $10. (check Hobby King USB charging adapter)

With old cell phones external high gain antennas were a real thing. Aiming a nice directional antenna at a tower on the horizon (5-10 mile away) would make a phone go from no signal to full signal as long as the aim was held. I am unsure if this type of thing exists for modern phones.

Don't discount modem over satellite phone. Yea, I wouldn't want to go there either.

So having to walk with equipment for making these calls and having internet access? I wouldn't want to though it can be done. Camping with a car, boat or RV, not a problem

Phil

Comment Re:Waste of time (Score 1) 417

So true. My phone has a better speakerphone than my new Silverado. The mapping is better than the built in nav system, AND I can set up my route from the comfort of my armchair or dining room table where I have all the written information NOT in my lap. Onstar is less than stellar, although having the added safety of dispatch service is rather nice to think about (never have needed it, hope it stays that way).

Heck a nice chassis, reliable drive line, and adequate suspension are all I *NEED* in a vehicle. Radio optional. OK, I like a radio, but I don't need 5 billion features, just make it sound good and give me a half a dozen preset equalizer settings *on one button* so I don't have to spend 20 minutes fiddling when I change stations.

This is the first time I have my own brand new vehicle that I got to choose. Huge step up from the used cars and beaters I have driven the rest of my life.

Phil

Comment Re:Track stability (Score 3, Informative) 149

True modular design is not necessary. Simply making it come apart in small enough pieces for two people to take through a door is all that is needed. Some bracing on the underside of mating panels that can be bolted together rigidly with probably 4 or 5 more bolts than necessary.

Some thoughts as to layout around the breaks - a lot can be done to make the breaks come apart cleanly without having to redo the entire section of landscaping
use stiff plastic to make sure the "fault lines" are going to divide nicely.
use flocking - redoing a small area of flocking is pretty easy... messy but easy.
use fabric over the base material then decorate the fabric. Make sure the fabric has a seam that can peel near the mating edges
have the town roads split. The split will be near invisible if a "naturally straight" feature is part of the edge, such as a car road, track bed, or building.

Plan for grade plan for access with hands. Use tunnels, building and other features to make "trap doors" so there are reaching holes that allow access to the center of the board.

Pre-plan the whole diorama. If you have access to CAD use it. Have poster printouts made to become templates that can transfer information quickly and easily

Make sure there is wiring paths, plan these to be accessible from underneath so use conduit, loom, or other means to organize the many, many wires that inevitably happen.

I do a small Christmas layout most years using O27 Lionel. The track all comes up, and the boards get put away in the basement. Even though this is super simple and dead flat the failures are mind boggling at times.

Phil

Comment molded silicone earpieces? (Score 1) 179

I am surprised that the git appears to only offer molds for making silicone ear pieces. I am not going to deny that the silicone earpiece is likely superior both for comfort and for ambient noise elimination. It seems like having additions options available would be important.

If these are being printed in a resource poor area a set of ear tubes that have ball ends built directly onto them so added material resources of liquid silicone is not necessary would seem to be an essential! Of course several diameters would be required since not all ears are the same size. Yes, this will prove to be a duplication of parts, but the cost of having an alternate design available is minimal, especially if it means that the device is more readily useable.

Availability of the diaphragm plastic is happily not essential as a stethoscope without a diaphragm will still perform better than an ear pressed to the patient.

A noble project. Stethoscopes are used for listening to the heart and lungs, the abdomen for digestion/gas sounds, taking blood pressure, and likely more.

Phil

Comment Re: COMAPRISON REQUIRED (Score 1) 64

Gonna take a lot longer than 50 years to get robotics to replace straight/bent stick laprascopy. Payers (Medicare, Medicaid) have a strong preference for the older technology - to the point of dropping robotic certified physicians!

It also turns out that the advances in ROBOTIC surgery have lead to advances in Laprascopic surgery! Laprascopic surgery has more trained surgeons (effectively ALL of them), is part of regular surgeon training, has typically shorter anesthesia time (although this gap is closing), and is not going away anytime soon. Open surgery is also going nowhere because robotic cases, like laprascopic cases, must have a fail-safe option of open procedures.

Laprascopic procedures are faster, use cheaper instrumentation, and the surgeon population is much better trained that in robotic surgery.

Effective robotic surgeons ONLY do robotic surgery. They also do not do procedures that are already optimized for existing procedures, such as gall bladder and appendicitis.

Robotic surgery is just another tool in the kit. The old tools will not be thrown out because of a shiny new tool. Robotic surgery will likely remain in the realm of specialists and sub-specialists for a long time

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