Category Archives: engineering

Radio!

At the suggestion of one of my readers, @zeron+, I have looked into AmericanRadioHistory.com with a view to reprinting some of their public domain scanned matter. I intend to credit every source I draw on and will appreciate a reminder if not.

Let’s start…

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Put that in your car and smoke it!

Browzing the backfile tuned up this gem from July 2, 1921:

11152017

For smokers

A little searching turns up the founder of the firm as a Charles Cuno, originally of Berlin. Further, his company, Cuno Engineering Corporation, was involved in a patent law case than ended up at the Supreme Court (!) and was decided in 1941, seen in raw text here.

Essentially, and as far as I can understand the Court’s writing, not being lawyerly, the dispute was over a reel-less version that superseded this one. Someone who knows the law or doesn’t fall asleep reading it is welcome to comment here.

Unfortunately, the ad does not list the names of the “seventeen well known makes of cars” that use this, but does encourage distracted driving!

 

Further grand motherly adventures

I am slowly cleaning out my grand mother’s attic and outbuildings. One of these outbuildings has always been storage for old things, and the other was supposed to store a riding lawn mower, but never did. Found this (Columbus day) time:

  • The wooden shell of an old television console that had belonged to her… niece? Anyway, it was full of old irons and was otherwise crapped up.
  • Three bags of completely set up concrete.
  • One unopened bag of rock salt for ice melting.
  • Two old 1 room school house desks.
  • A hole in the roof.
  • Ten t0ns of stink bugs.
  • Suprizingly few wasps and bees.
  • Miscellaneous wood scraps of no value.
  • Empty boxes and old styrophoam packaging inserts.

I am sure I’ve forgotten some things, but a good deal of trash was taken out and discarded. One of the outbuildings can now be walked into maybe 3 meters. The one with the hole in the roof still has to be torn down, as there is a large tree taking the roof off.

As an aside, one of the buildings is wired for electricity, and back in 2008 when a new roof was installed, the contractor unknowingly nailgunned through the Greenfield cable that ran the lights. This resulted in endless blown fuses until I was able to figure it out during a visit there. You can still see the writing on the cieling where I warn future users to not reconnect the wire. I should take that out someday.

New street light

Not a huge event, but the distribution company that serves my town replaced the street light across from my apartment building.

The old one was a probably 40+ year old HPS cobra head affair that had a bad lamp or ballast and kept turning on and off all night. I put in a work order for it, and in a surprizingly short time, they not only fixed it, but replaced it with a new LED full cutoff fixture.

I like the new white light cast. To my mind, sodium yellow I always associated with ugly neighborhoods you didn’t want to be in after dark. I have no idea if there is actually any correlation or not.

Sun day in the Park with Gibbs; or, I have no life and it’s all CarnotCycle’s fault

There are many data tables out there, that are unfortunately not transcribed into usable form, but are stuck as images that cannot be searched. A thermodynamical blog, CarnotCycle, has provided some of these here.

Having no entertainments of any lasting value, I’ve decided to transcribe that one into a common format, Microsoft Excel (2007+ file format). They are here: CarnotCycle-Thermodata.

Although he claims they are in SI, they aren’t. SI does not use the calorie as a unit of energy, instead using the joule. Similarly with degree centigrade and kelvin. I have added a tab to convert the semi-SI to full SI. Digit significance has been maintained while doing this.

I do not know what book he got them out of, so I have to request you cite them as coming from his blog, for now. If you want to credit me with the transcription, that is fine. Use your preferred/recommended/required citation style to do this.

Some notes:

  • Some values were given in parenthesis. In Excel, parentheses are used to indicate a negative number in accounting. I changed this format to gray background with center-aligned numbers.
  • One value was given with a question mark. This is marked with a red background.
  • One value is suspiciously positive, I have marked this with a yellow background.
  • Where needed, scientific notation is use to maintain the correct number of significant digits.

Tree interfering with lines

On the way to work for a couple of weeks I noticed a decent diameter tree, maybe 30 cm, fallen across some non-electric lines. I think they were cable or telephone. Unfortunately, I don’t remember ever learning how you are supposed to report these things. They aren’t in an obvious municipality, so I can’t just go to the local DPW and tell them.

What I wish is that 8-1-1 wasn’t just utility marking, but a general utility number for things like downed lines (well, maybe that is covered by 9-1-1), trees in lines, service outages and similar matters. Currently you have to call the local utilities special number, which is hard to remember. It’s also hard to find out when you’re in the middle of nowhere and see something like this.

At the beep, enter your language

If you live in a country or area that is at all non-monolingual, you will encounter telephone trees where the first prompt requests you specify your language. For example, in the United States, it is usually Spanish.

Unfortunately this does not scale well. If you have to deal with even, say, the UN languages, that’s 6 possibilities. Further, they are rarely standardized, so for one firm, you key in “6” to get Spanish. For another it’s “2”, etc.

I propose this:

  1. A universally understood tone or sequence of tones that means “specify your language” (SYL). These would be tones that a computer could recognize, like SITs. In this way, a person could specify to their phone/phone company what their language was and have them automatically reply.
  2. A universally standardized mapping of languages and dialects to numbers. For example, en-US = 1033 (Microsoft LCID).

This would result in the following pass:

  1. Caller dials some number with a phone tree.
  2. Called party PBX picks up.
  3. Called party PBX plays SYL SIT.
  4. Caller (or caller’s phone/phone company) recognizes the SIT.
  5. Caller (or caller’s phone/phone company) responds with language code
    1. This would include a termination character, like # or *.
  6. Called party PBX connects the caller to the phone tree or operator of that language.

Of course, even the UN isn’t going to maintain an operator for every possible language, so in those cases, a fail-gracefully routing tree would be set up so that the nearest neighbor language would be selected instead. As an example, if en-GB (2057) wasn’t supported, but en-US was (1033), the call would be routed there. Alternately, a message could be prerecorded in that language, telling the called party that their language wasn’t supported.

What do you think?