Archive for October, 2008

The Metric System

Posted in General on October 21, 2008 by camarojones

OK. I’m in a house with no furnishings, and I’m watching the limits of the current internet TV revolution (youtube, CNN live, Hulu, etc). I was watching a piece from CNN on the Indian probe that is launching to map the moon. No big deal.

After about 3 minutes, they go to the weather. So a front is moving through, and it’ll be about 38F Wednesday night. All right! Winter is on its way! Soon after the loacl forecast, they go to world weather. 19C in Europe, 22C in India, 9C in southern Australia. Huh? Oh yeah…that’s right, the U.S. and 2 other countries have not gone to the metric system for temperature and distance. That got me on a few-hour-long search for everything metric.

Supposedly, in the 80s, the U.S. decided it was going to convert to the metric system. They contacted 4 states and asked them (with government funding) to change their speedlimit signs and distance markers to reflect both mph and kph (miles/kilometers.) They did. Then broadcasting stations added Celsius to their Fahrenheit temperatures. But folks started complaining that the screen was too busy, so the weather stations removed it. Then the DOT didn’t go anywhere with metric mileage, so those 4 states removed it from their signs. The two major units of measurement that we use daily, and it failed.

Before then, several other countries decided on a “cold-turkey” approach and gave a two- or three-year period to change over. For Canada, on 1 April 1975, Fahrenheit temperatures were replaced by Celsius. In September 1975 rain started to fall in millimetres and snow in centimetres. From 1 April 1976, wind speed, visibility, and atmospheric pressure started using metric units, with the pressure in kilopascals (instead of millibars). During the Labor Day weekend in 1977 every speed limit sign in the country was changed from mph to kph. From the same time every new car sold had to have a speedometer that showed speed in kph and distance in km. The distances on road signs were changed to kilometres during the next few months. Still, they haven’t gone completely over, as some units like ounces or gallons are still used, but for the most part, the everyday measurements are metric.

For the U.S., it really shouldn’t be that hard. Cooking uses the Imperial system (cups, pints, etc), but a lot of packaging has both…well…pretty much ALL consumables have both. The reason is because if we export our products to any country, it must have the metric weight/volume (because all other countries are metric. The same goes for products imported. They are metric, we are imperial.

The only major hurdle would be temperature and distance. Hearing someone say it’s 20C…would you want a jacket, or shorts? Well, thats around 66F. I’d probably go for a sweater. Which is cooler…5C or 38F? Once we get over this hurdle, the rest should fall in place, but we need to just up and DO it. ALL at once. No more Fahrenheit.

The other hurdle would be distance. I don’t really have a problem with kph though. I’ve always went by 1.6km=1m and 1km=.6m That .6 has always stuck with me. Moving stuff around, 100mph is 160kmh. half of that is 50mph/80kph. And 55mph is 88kph. Each 5mph is 8kph.

Yes, the US was built on square miles and acres…barrels of oil and gallons of gas. But if other countries can change, a few years of confusion would be worthwhile to watch the weather and know what the temperature is, or be able to truly compare gas prices worldwide. Plus the conversions are simple.

A few things that we don’t think about (or did about 10 years ago) is how cars are built using the metric system. How computers are built using the metric system. How most dimensions of everything small in our house is expressed in the metric system. Laptop thicknesses, r/c parts, automobile bolts…all metric.

So why haven’t we changed already?

Some folks say that it was our rebellion from Britain. Others grew up on it and refuse to change. Here’s the problem…every military part, every small electronic device, every major employer that deals with war, manufacturing, space, medical…they all use the metric system.

So if the govenrment uses it to protect us, if, automobile manufacturers use it, if NASA uses it to explore space, if the medical field uses it to save YOUR life…why don’t we?

Sound under Vista

Posted in Computers / Tech on October 21, 2008 by camarojones

Having problems with the On Screen Display for Vista? Have you removed some bloat-ware and now you don’t have one at all?

Try this:

3RVX – http://matt.malensek.net/software

Once you install it, go to C:\Program Files\3RVX\3rvx.exe Once it’s running, you’ll see a new speaker icon in the bottom tray. You can right-click it to set delay options, skins, etc.

First real flight!!!

Posted in Radio Control on October 18, 2008 by camarojones

Today I had my first REAL flight of an R/C airplane.

Today was our R/C club’s fun-fly and swap-meet. It started about 8:30 this morning, and ended around 6pm. After my earlier post about wanting to go into airplanes, I jumped on an offered deal and bought my first airplane. It is a Hobbico Nexstar 46. The wingspan is around 6 feet, and it’s about 5 feet long…maybe less. It didn’t come with a receiver, so I pulled the one from my helicopter.

The first flight was a little weird. I was trying to get used to the aircraft, get it trimmed out…basically getting a feel for it. The person I bought it from stayed in control using the main transmitter and I was on a buddy box. He can hold a switch to let me control it, but if he senses anything wrong he can take control immediately.

My second flight was fun. One of our main club members was on the main transmitter, and he only controlled it during take-off and landing. I did do a few mock landings to get used to where to turn, how to manage the throttle, but I got uncomfortable after the third try so he landed it for me.

On my last flight, my trainer was confident enought to let me take off on my own, and after about 10 minutes I started the landing tries. He told me to go further out so that I had more time to line up and get my speed down. After my third try, I landed it. ALL BY MYSELF….from take off to landing…all mine! I think I know what WIlbur and Orville Wright felt when they flew for the first time. EXHILARATING!!!

Obviously I’m still new to the whole airplane-flying thing, but I’m sure after a few more flights on a buddy box, I’ll be good to go without it.

Now I just need to get my own support box (charger and starter) and fuel.

Windows 6.1 or Windows 7

Posted in Computers / Tech on October 16, 2008 by camarojones

As found out by some beta testers this week, the official name of the next windows release will be called Windows 7. The problem though, is that internally, and for compatibilty reasons, it’s actually Windows 6.1

Yep…a service pack, minor update, whatever-you-want-to-call-it. It’s an update to Vista.

If you go into your command line (start, run, cmd.exe….or start and stype in cmd.exe) then type ver, the version of your current version is displayed. In the case of Vista, right now it is 6.0.6001.

The name game started with Windows 3.0. Following it was Windows NT which was code versioned as Windows 3.1. Then came Windows 95, which was code versioned as Windows 4.0.  Then, Windows 98, 98 SE and Windows Millennium each shipped as 4.0.1998, 4.10.2222, and 4.90.3000, respectively. So we’re counting all 9x versions as being 4.0. That’s also why they looked basically the same, and programs made for 95 worked just fine under Millennium.

Windows 2000 code was 5.0 and then Windows XP shipped as 5.1, even though it was a major release they didn’t’ want to change code version numbers to maximize application compatibility. Strangely enough, software for the 9x line ran quite good, but there was a glitch with a couple of programs and that is why you have a compatibility edit option under the properties of a file or program.

That brings us to Windows Vista, which is 6.0.  But this one was major, MAJOR release as some of us have found. Aero, Sidebar, crashing programs. All of it. And now they’re spoiting Windows 7 as our next logical significant release and 7th in the family of Windows releases. The issue with it is that it is coded as 6.1…just like 98 to 98SE (4.0 to 4.1). Some change.

Between XP continuing to get life extensions, it seems that many users are hanging on to XP for dear life until they absolutely have to. This means that when 7 finally hits, its going to be a shocker for most.

However, for us Vista users, there probably won’t even be a noticeable change, except one such as the change from 95 to 98.

Presidential Elections

Posted in General on October 16, 2008 by camarojones

Obama or McCain. Which one am I going to vote for? Tough question for some…easy for me.

You see, the whole idea of a Presidential Election is to let the people vote for who they want to run the country. Is it a popular vote? No. It is an electoral vote. But first, what is an electoral vote?

According to Article II of the Constitution, the Electoral College consists of 538 popularly elected representatives (438 state representatives and 100 senators) who formally select the President and Vice President of the United States. Note that it says “elected representatives.” These representatives are who you voted for in your state election, and who others voted for in their respected states. They are the ones making the vote based on who people choose for the President.

Oklahoma, for example, has 7 votes they can give. If 51% of the population votes for 1 person, that person gets 7 votes towards their total. California has 55, Texas 34 and so on. This seems like a good system. The larger the state’s population, the more votes they can give. But there is a problem…

Let’s say that California is on the fence. 51% Obama, and 49% McCain. Obama would get all 55 votes. They don’t get split. Now lets add…Texas. Texas might be gung-ho for McCain, and it may look like 99% McCain and 1% Obama. Ok. McCain has 34. So now it’s 55 to 34…favor for Obama. But wait! What about the popular vote?

California has 36.5M people. (for simplicity, lets say they’re all registered voters and they vote.) Texas has 23.5M. The stats for the vote would look like this:

Candidate——–Obama—McCain
California———18.6M—17.9M
Texas————–.2M—23.2M
Total————-18.8M—41.1M

Looks like McCain should’ve won that one, wouldn’t you say? And there is the problem. (Obviously the votes won’t sway that much from one state to another, it’s just a way to look at it.)

Like the 2000 election between Bush and Gore, one candidate can have more actual votes than the other candidate, but still lose the election based on where the votes came from, and how many electoral votes they got. That’s a problem that needs to go away.

But anyway, back to the reason for this post.

Like I said earlier, the reason for all of this is to let people vote for who they want to be president. Many of us know that the Candidates will make promises of health care or lower taxes, and they will try to make their plans known for accomplishing this task. But they’ll also try to discredit their opponent. Personally, I could care less about this.

If McCain wants to roll his eyes, or make commercials about how he has been in a war and Obama hasn’t, or how Obama brings out the bad things that Sarah Palin has done…they can do it, but to me, it makes them look childish and immature, and they discredit themselves by doing so. I don’t care what YOU think about your opponent…I want to know what YOU are going to do for me.

IMHO, I believe this election has turned into a circus. Who do I want to vote for, the Devil or a Demon? Both are bad choices in my eyes, and I may express my right to vote by not voting for either of them. If that means I don’t vote, then I won’t vote. It’s the lesser of two evils here. Vote for someone I don’t believe in, or don’t vote at all. There isn’t really an Independent in this one…Ross Perot maybe? LOL

I do think that this election is one that will be remembered throughout history though. A black man for President, and a white woman for Vice. Definately something that I’ll be paying CLOSE attention to.

Congratulations

Posted in General on October 16, 2008 by camarojones

Next time, have someone with a dirty mind read it before you finalize the print.

Yes…I’m a geek!

Posted in General on October 16, 2008 by camarojones

Just got these yesterday…

I know…I’m a geek!