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Showing posts with the label gadgets

Beating the "Always On" Inverter Syndrome

In order to camp away from electrical "shore" power, one need not be a Gandhi or Thoreau wannabee. In fact I rarely think about after-market "boondocking" equipment or most sections of "how to" forums; and I avoid obsessive modifications to my camper trailer.

It is only when a real problem shows up, that I go on the war-path. When a leaf spring broke recently on my trailer, weight-reduction became my 'Cause.'  The most immediate and large weight-reduction was to downsize the 6-volt (golf cart) batteries from four to two.

One project has been to break the habit of leaving the DC-to-AC inverter "On" 24 hours per day. (I use DVDs as sleeping pills at night.) Although I have an inverter that has a low "idle" power draw, this parasitic draw still totals up to 10 Amp-hours over a 24 hour period. One could argue that this is small compared to the nominal capacity of the battery pair (235 Amp-hours.)

Still, this is my current project, an…

What If You ALMOST Need a Generator?

Long-suffering readers know that I like to poke fun -- gently I hope -- at campers who are Gandhi or Thoreau wannabees. They also know that I am not a solar purist. A rational and professional camper uses technology up to the point of diminishing returns. (Or more correctly, the point of diminishing marginal utility.)

And yet there are solar purists who make it work for them. People who have vans or motorhomes probably don't count, since they can always charge their house batteries from their engine battery on a cloudy day. So let's only discuss trailers.

A trailer-puller can connect their tow vehicle to the trailer, and run the engine. But that charges too slowly, perhaps 7 or 8 Amps.

So what do you do when you finally admit that even Arizona is not sunny every day, and that you occasionally park under trees, or near the perpetually cloudy Coast? Buy a windmill? Never heard anything good about them. Besides, you need to supplement a solar system with a secondary system that doe…

Crappy Cellphone Service

From time to time, most cellphone users must have wondered why, with all the progress in telecommunications technology the last 20 years, cellphone voice quality is not as good as landline voice quality when Alexander Graham Bell was still alive. But then they push the issue aside because every third TV commercial is about the latest and greatest, cool, smartphone; so the world believes in all this exciting "progress" taking place in that field; so why think thoughts that make you feel like a crank?

It is very gratifying when I actually find something on the internet that is worth reading. And it happens so rarely, I feel like a fool for wasting as much time on the Internet as I do.

There is an interesting article on Karl Denninger's blog today about cellphone service ("The Destruction of Quality"). You don't have to agree with his politics to enjoy the article -- the article isn't political.

Wanna' Be the Successor of the Apple Cult?

Please don't think I'm on some kind of vendetta against Apple. I'm not. But the decade-long run that might be ending for their stock and company is quite unique in the history of the gadget industry. Are you likely to see something of the same kind and degree during the rest of your lifetime?

If you pay any attention to the gadget industry or the stock market, you might be getting tired of articles about the rise/fall of Apple. I am getting several such articles per day and I haven't even asked for them from . They don't seem badly written. They are the professionals -- I am just an amateur. (Hence, you should never take anything I say about investments as the basis for buying or selling anything.)

So what can an amateur expect to accomplish by writing about stocks, or Apple stock in particular? Some of the professional analysts seem like young whippersnappers who spend too much time playing with a spreadsheet program. They take the published financi…

Update -- Why Do Some People Dislike Apple So Much?

iSchadenfreude is everywhere! It is another bad day for AAPL stock due to a slowdown in the Apple pipeline of orders. AAPL bears are rejoicing -- they want to see the stock fall down through $500 because of the psychological significance. Even though I am an Apple hater, I will try to take a philosophical look at the anti-Apple syndrome.

First of all, why should any of us hate Apple? Is it just envy? How can we not be grateful for the innovations that Apple has brought forth, with some even benefiting the consumers of rival products? And what about all the jobs? (Some are even in the USA.)

One of the more emphatic critics of Apple is Karl Denninger, who recently said:
There are plenty of people who hate the linkage with iTunes that comes with Apple products...Everyone on Wall Street wants to talk about ecosystem, but what they're really talking about is a walled garden -- and the wall has razor wire and broken bottles embedded in the top.  It's a prison, which appeals greatly t…

Real Progress in Batteries?

Hey, I'm excited about what I read this morning about lead-carbon batteries. I've never heard of them before. So far, an RVer has only had two choices: good ol' flooded lead-acid batteries, and expensive AGM batteries.

But it's really nice to read about a third choice. This is an investment article  -- we're not talking about a science lab show-and-tell project here. Do you know of anybody who uses the new lead-carbon batteries in their RV?

Will the Windows/Nokia Phone Succeed?

"Postscript": At the end of the day I noticed that NOK stock had gone up 13% in European trading. Gosh, I didn't know that this blog had so much clout! Being a "market mover" is just too much responsibility. (grin) 

People who have no interest in the world of investments are missing out on a fascinating part of our culture. What's worse is that they are doomed to poverty in old age since we will probably be in a Zero Interest environment for many years to come, while real inflation cruises along at two to three times what the government officially admits to. People tend to underestimate the damage that inflation can do to their standard of living. (Unlike cynical ol' Boonie, a true optimist and positive thinker would hope to die before too many years of negative real interest rates reduced him to panhandling.)

Readers know that I'm not a qualified investment adviser, so they must promis…

Pop Quiz on 'How to Read a Book'

Occasionally it is fun to see if I can catch the readers sleeping by giving them a pop quiz. A couple comments about eReader gadgets recently revealed an opportunity for me to move in for the kill (grin). There seems to be a misunderstanding of what it takes to read a book comfortably

This is an important topic for those of us who see internet addiction (on trivial and repetitive websites) as a serious problem to overcome. Has anyone ever beaten a vicious habit by trying to replace it with a vacuity? I doubt it. They need to replace it with something that has a positive existence; something that is tangible, lively, and takes up time. In my case that means giving up the insulting trivialities of the blogosphere and going back to reading "books."

Now for the multiple choice quiz: which factor has the greatest beneficial effect on your comfort, endurance, and attention span when reading a book?
Display size of the eReader, i.e, 7", 10", etc.Operating system of the eRe…

A Two-Netbook "Minimalist"

Go ahead and laugh. I responded to the news about the $500 Windows RT tablet by going to Walmart to buy a second Acer Aspire One (model 722-0473) netbook. This is the first time in my life when I've owned two computers.I panicked into concluding that, over the next couple years, the computer industry will kill off the netbook and leave the chumps only the following sorry options:

1) $800-1000 WINTEL "ultrabooks" or,
2) $500-600 tablets based on ARM microprocessors, similar to those insmartphones, that only offer a "half-internet" experience or,
3) inexpensive 7" tablets that are basically just smartphones without the ability to make phone calls. Or call them vending machines for media consumables from Amazon or the iShackle store (Apple's iTunes). Last but not least,
4) the usual overpriced "walled garden" at the Apple store, built around its notorious iShackle media store, and incompatible connectors and operating system.

None of these is an attr…

The Public Wi-Fi Experience

It wasn't so long ago that "AT&T" charged $20 per month for wi-fi at Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, McDonalds, and various hotel chains. Now all the wireless telecoms are delighted to give you free wi-fi at such places. Off-loading data to wi-fi hotspots to lessen the data traffic jam at cell towers is a huge trend these days. In theory this should be a nice help to travelers.

Having failed to win any looks of envy (or even respect) at Starbucks with my new $200 netbook, it seemed like McDonalds might promise more success: surely some toothless old man would be impressed with my spiffy new machine; you know, the old boys who find section D of yesterday's newspaper and read it in slow motion while drinking bottomless refills of senior coffee.

Old habits die hard: walking into the store my eyes scanned the walls for an electrical outlet. First, they seem to design public wi-fi places without a single electrical outlet. That must be deliberate; they're not run…

Forever Un-cool in Gadget Land

It was a thrill for this chronic late-adopter and used-computer-buyer to finally have his first new computer. I boldly squatted in the parking lot outside the Target where I bought my new 11.6" Acer netbook at the loss-leader price of $200 and brazenly challenged a security guard or parking lot Zamboni to even try to kick me out. Nobody dared.

I stayed up until midnight -- real midnight, as in media noche, as in mitternacht, not motorhome midnight of 9 p.m. -- transitioning to the new netbook. I had always feared doing this but it ended up being fun watching functionality and the software breath-of-life appear on a soul-less machine, step-by-step.

At 530 in the morning I practically leaped out of bed, wondering if Starbucks would waken at 6 am. I didn't have to drive far in New Mexico's megalopolis, Albuquerque, to find one. Soon I was ensconced in a chair next to a personable floor lamp, with a scone and a (disappointing-tasting and over-priced) espresso, and pretended t…