Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators

Seriously, these things are amazing, and are an effective use of nuclear fuel and radioactive isotopes.

But what are they?  Well, lets start with the general idea of ThermoElectric Generators (TEGs). TEGs use the reverse effect that peltier coolers use, called the Seebeck effect. "Well, what is a peltier cooler?!"
A peltier cooler uses a bimetallic alloy, two metals pressed together (certain metals of course, such as copper and iron). This is connected to an electric circuit, and when electric current is sent through the circuit, the bimetallic element becomes a heat pump, with one side becoming "cold" while the other heats up (in reality, it is just transferring heat from one side to the other).  The Seebeck effect reverses this, which means if you create a thermal gradient across the bimetallic element, you will generate a voltage drop (and ultimately an electric current) when you complete the circuit.

"But how is this at all cool to use with Radioisotopes?"

Easy. This means if you create a chamber to hold a radioisotope that emits a lot of alpha radiation but little to no beta or gamma radiation, and store the radioisotope sealed inside of that chamber, the chamber will heat up. Surround that with a TEG, and you end up with a battery that produces a constant amount of power up until the half life time of the radioisotope has been reached.  If done correctly, you will have a constant power source for a century, and if properly constructed and sealed, it will pose absolutely no threat to anyone. Clean and constant power, which never needs to be recharged, only replaced every century or so.

Why aren't we using these? Surely if we put efforts into researching and developing this technology more, we'll get to the point where we can produce it relatively affordably, right? Unfortunately, that isn't the problem today.
It's the assholes who will crack these things open to get to the nuclear goodies inside, and we all know how much anything involving radioactive elements scares the living hell out of us.

If only, right?

Monday, November 15, 2010

New blog!

Sick of this randomized jumble of information? Head over to Science!

Science will cover a myriad of scientific topics, check back daily for updates!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New Blog Created!

I've created a new blog for a new group of things I want to post about! Informationals!

I'll soon be posting ones for science and tech, stay tuned!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Developing For Android

Interested in becoming an Android developer? I know I was. There are basically two ways of going around doing this.  First, you can download a Java Developers Kit and the Android Developers Kit, (My preferences are Eclipse with the Android sdk plugin).
To get started, here are a couple of links for you:

Android Developer's Guide
Android Developer's Main Site (With a link to the SDK)

Now, this requires some reading up, and when you do start understanding it, it requires a significant amount of writing of code, which spans knowledge of xml, java, and the specific Android language. A learning curve, but not impossible.

However, if you really aren't affinite with programming, that's fine too. There is another option for you, but it isn't as powerful or versatile as manipulating the hard code yourself: App Inventor

App Inventor requires you to sign up for the program, and it takes some time for you to get registered for it, however it comes with step by step tutorials to get you up and running fast.

Now that you've seen these, get out there and get developing!

Also, here is an app that I personally created: The Tip Calculator. Download it to your computer and transfer it to your phone, and then find it in your phone's file browser, and install it. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nerf Gun Guide for Humans Vs. Zombies

I'm sure some of you are familiar with the game played on college campuses around the United States, called Humans Vs. Zombies. To those unfamiliar with this game, basically there are two teams, the Human Resistance and the Zombie Horde. If a player from the Horde tags the Resistance player's armband, the Human turns into a Zombie. The only defense the Humans have are Nerf weapons, beit dart guns or foam swords (for safety purposes). If the Zombie is shot twice or struck once, they are stunned for a predetermined period of time based on the rules of that particular club.  Here, I will review the best possible weapons to use against the mindless horde.

The Maverick
      The Maverick is a powerful, well balanced blaster which can take every dart (although my personal recommendation is to avoid the Velcro tipped Dart Tag darts) in its six chamber rotating barrel, which is a godsend when in the middle of a dart battlefield, where you can pick up and use any darts you find. This blaster comes with a respectable range and accuracy for a respectable price (around $10 - $12 at most retailers). 
       Why would I recommend this blaster? Well it has a very decent range, anywhere between 20 to 30 feet under optimal conditions, and has a very little spread. It is a good blaster to carry around with you, and is good for stopping one or two zombies in most situations. It is very durable, and does not jam very often, though I have found when you are frantically trying to belt out as many rounds as possible in a short amount of time, you'll get a misfire, which will require you to do anything from reload and try again to completely rotate the barrel and re-prime the gun. Overall, in a jam, it is very quick to fix.
      My gripes with it? Well, despite the fact it works with every dart, it is a front loading barrel, and when you need to reload it is not as simple as the quick clip system Nerf has implemented in their newer weapons. This means you need to take longer to reload your blaster, and when facing a zombie horde, the longer you are without effective (legal) weaponry, the more vulnerable you leave yourself.

Raider CS-35
The CS-35  was the gun to debut the drum for the quick clip system, and is a quick clip only blaster. It requires two hands to operate, but with skill, can be the fastest firing Nerf blaster on the market. It is by no means automatic; it requires a pump before every shot. However, the pump is ergonomically and efficiently designed that a skilled user could get 3 rounds a second out, and with its smooth sliding, I have found this gun to jam rarely. The barrel it comes with holds 35 streamline darts, which is considerable, though it can only be reloaded with streamline darts.
This blaster should be used in close range combat, due to the gun's enormous spread at 15 feet, making it effectively innacurate against one opponent at mid-range and a completely ineffective gun at long range. The range on the CS-35 is also stunted compared to other blasters, and in some cases, has a range less than a Recon with a barrel. So, if you have multiple zombies closing in, and they are grouped, let loose with this blaster as fast as you can, and you should do well, and this gun can be reloaded with any quick clip magazines.

CS-6 Deploy
The Deploy is a lightweight, compact two handed blaster which became a complete surprise to me. Nerf designed this to be a torch, until you pressed a button and the stock extended, the grip and trigger deploy and the magazine feed fell 90 degrees, opening a pseudo sight. When it is deployed, it seems like it would be a little flimsy, and while the grip and trigger move about a centimeter if wiggled around, the blaster is surprisingly solid. Also surprising, is that it deploys from a little larger than the Maverick to about the size of the Raider. 
But, if properly maintained, it boasts an extraordinary range for its size with very little spread. However, if the gun is stored in the cocked position, the power will quickly be reduced to that of the Recon. I have gotten ranges up to 40 feet with this blaster, with very little spread. 
However, if you attempt to rapid fire with this blaster, it will get jammed. 
Overall, this is my favorite two handed Nerf blaster, but keep in mind it will only keep its phenominal range if kept very well maintained, unlike the other guns, which don't require such attention.

Out of every model I have tested, I have preference for these three blasters, and if you've yet to find the blaster to suit your style, I would recommend starting with these.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Droid 2 Root and Where to Get One

Own the latest Droid iteration from Motorola? You've come to the right place then. Rooting your device enables you to utilize the full features of the phone, along with several apps that require root access. Is it necessary? No, and in fact, the Droid 2 is already very open for many applications.  However, there are a few apps alone which would warrant rooting your device, such as Wireless Tether for Root Users, which enables you to turn your phone into a free Wifi hotspot without having to pay extra tethering charges to your carrier.

Interested? Here's how it's done then:

You are going to need the sdk from Google for Android. Download and install it.
You will also need the Droid 2 Root files (conveniently packed into a .zip archive for you).
Extract those root files into the /tools directory in reference to where you installed your sdk. From this point forward, it will be referred to as C:/sdk/tools.

Plug your Droid 2 into your PC via the USB cable. First, set it to any mode apart from PC mode, and then ensure USB Debugging is enabled. Then switch it back to PC mode, and allow the drivers to install.

Next, open the command prompt (or the appropriate terminial program for your OS). Change your directory to your C:\sdk\tools folder (cd C:\sdk\tools)
Enter the following commands:

adb devices
 This ensures that your Droid 2 is properly connected and that your sdk is properly installed. If it doesn't show up, make sure the Droid 2 is connected with the computer and is in PC mode. Next comes the commands needed to root the Droid 2. If you do everything correctly, you won't see anything happening, you will only be given an error if you do something wrong.

adb push rageagainstthecage-arm5.bin /data/local/tmp/rageagainstthecage-arm5.bin
adb shell
cd data/local/tmp
chmod 0755 rageagainstthecage-arm5.bin

After that command, you will see a self explanatory process in the Command Prompt window. You will need to wait on this one for some time, and I have found it doesn't work every time perfectly If it works correctly, you will see it explain itself, you will see yourself return to the shell prompt, ($) and finally, you will return to the original command prompt (C:\sdk\tools>).  Enter these following commands:

adb kill-server
adb devices
adb shell

You should now see a # where the $ used to be. If this is the case, continue. Otherwise, repeat the above steps as they did not install correctly.

Enter the following commands:

mount -o rw,remount -t ext3 /dev/block/mmcblk1p21 /system

adb push Superuser.apk /system/app/Superuser.apk
adb push su /system/bin/su
adb push busybox /system/bin/busybox
adb shell
chmod 4755 /system/bin/su
chmod 4755 /system/bin/busybox

You're done! Now your Droid 2 has the Superuser Permissions app, which will be activated the first time you use a new app which requires root access.


Keep the internet free, but always remember to give credit where it is due.

Don't own the latest Droid, but interested and are able to upgrade? You can get the Droid 2 for $50.00   $ 39.99 on places like 
Or, you can get the Droid 2 for FREE here. I'm a little miffed myself, as I just purchased my Droid 2 two months ago from these guys for $50, but hey, that's what I get for not waiting.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Give yourself any ringtone you want on a verizon phone, Free.

This is probably old as the internet, but I've had friends of mine ask how I get such cool sounds on my phone. It's simple, really. All it requires is a phone capable of receiving PIX and FLIX messages (preferably for free, right), a Gmail account, a computer with a headphone and microphone jack, and one of these:

                                                  This is a Male-to-Male jack for audio.

The next part's simple, no Batman assassinations necessary!     

   At this point, I'm assuming either you are running Windows OR are familiar with how to record sounds on your computer.
First, locate the Sound Recorder application (for current Windows versions, start > Sound Recorder). You can pick a third party app if you want, but this is just out of the box Windows we're dealing with here.

I pray this isn't actually necessary.
Next, find the sound clip you actually want to record. Go to the point in the clip that you want to start at, plug the male-to-male cable into both the headphone and microphone jacks, and ensure your volume is up.

A quick tip though: when you begin recording, make sure your sound is up at least to 80 % and that you click "record" on the sound recorder BEFORE you click play on your clip.

Once it is recorded, save it, etc. Go to your Gmail account and add the sound as an attachment to the e-mail, with the adressee field filled with <yournumber> (for verizon wireless customers).  Not sure how to send it to your phone? Have your phone send a picture to your e-mail first, then just reply.

Already have the full clip without needing to record? You get to skip the recording parts!
Just e-mail the sound or video to your phone.
Ta-daa! Now go irritate your friends and aquaintences with sound clips you thought were funny at 2 in the morning.

Smartphone with 2ghz processor coming by the end of the year?

So, there are rumors abound that Motorola is currently working on a smartphone with a 2ghz central processor, and they have slated to release it by the end of the year.  As a computer geek myself, a few flags fly up at this incredible boost in power:

First, a 2gHz processor, regardless of size, will still have relatively enormous thermal dissipation issues in relavance to the current chips in smartphones. You certainly don't want your phone bursting into flames in the palm of your hand even if it could play Crysis on high settings.

Next, with more heat comes more resistance, and in order for the processing chip to maintain its processing capabilities under higher thermal duress, it needs to draw more electrical power, ulimately increasing the heat and (even if they deal with the thermal dissipation issues) depleting the battery incredibly. The Motorola Consumer Site for the Droid X states its battery to be a 1540 mAh battery, weighing in at little more than an ounce, which in and of itself is a pretty powerful mobile device battery. However, will a battery similar to this one (lets say up to 1700mAh) even stand a chance against a 2gHz monster? Will the battery be big and clunky, or will it require constant recharging throughout the day? That being said, will it have a huge screen akin to the X or will it be more like the Droid 2? Perhaps the 2gHz is a "spike limit," where, in a burst, the phone could utilize up to that much processing power, but not continuously. These will all be limiting factors in battery life, and it will be interesting to see how Motorola tackles this issue alone.

Personally, I think we should be seeing faster, reliable chipsets of this kind of power in netbooks before we see them in phones, more of a proof-of-concept if you will. And who knows? This could probably just be hype to keep peoples' attention and keep Motorola on its current gravy train, or maybe they may just wow us come the holiday season.