Covered Topics

Please see the list of the topics I've covered. It's located near the bottom of the page. Thanks for stopping in!!

Friday, September 14, 2018

A Serious Question for Android and Apple iPad Developers

This is a serious question and I'd like a serious, straight answer from someone directly involved in development of Apple iPad/iPhone and Android platforms.

I've owned Android phones for several years. I've owned an iPad for a little over a year. I love them both, albeit for different functions. And I use them productively every day. But I also have a major beef with both systems: NEITHER device has a DECENT file manager app for sorting one's photos or other files into folders for organization and quick retrieval. ANY other platform I have ever used - Windows, Mac OX_X, LINUX ALL have decent file manager apps whereby one can create a folder and stuff it with whatever files you need/want in it. That way you do NOT simply have a HUGE folder with every file you have ever created in one huge mess that you have to sort through whenever you want to find a particular file. On my laptop I have folders such as "Lake Cabin Summer 2016", or "Industrial Rectifiers", … that I stored photos to so I can rapidly find them. [Who wants photos taken at your friend's lake house mixed in with industrial rectifiers?] But not so with my Android phone or my iPad. They are all in one HUGE PILE that I have to sort through whenever I want to find one picture. I use the camera on my Android phone on a daily basis at work to document how something is wired or assembled before I tear it down for repair - or for that matter, how it looks when I'm done. I also have pictures on that phone I have taken on family holidays, as well as of stuff I'm doing in my home lab or the work I'm doing restoring an old Chevy truck I recently acquired.

What has happened though is that when I want to show somebody a picture of something I did a couple years ago in my home lab, or if I need to pull up something I did weeks or months ago at work, or I want to show a buddy at a social gathering what I've done on my Chevy, I have to thumb through DOZENS or even HUNDREDS of photos I've taken since then to find it. For such an otherwise useful device, this aspect is a royal PAIN to deal with.

WHY CAN'T you folks give us a simple and usable FILE MANAGER so we can organize the photos we take on our mobile devices???? A simple drag and drop of the photo [or any other file] to a folder of one's own making would help so much. Heck, I'd PAY a few dollars EXTRA for my devices to have this functionality!

Inquiring minds wanna know.

Two Major Windows 10 Annoyances

In December of 2016, I bought a HP laptop with Windows 10 on it. One of the things I quickly found out about Windows 10 is that they have removed many of the adjustments or tweaks I used to be able to make. One of these is being able to schedule WHEN or IF an update was applied. This was useful to me for several reasons: One was that I'd usually wait a couple weeks to be sure that whatever update being pushed didn't cause major issues - if it did, at least the "early adopters" found out the hard way rather than me. Another reason I liked being able to set my own schedule is that when I need my computer for writing a major paper for school or doing a report for work, it's awfully nice to NOT have the computer tied up installing an update when I need it. Alas, with this latest version of Windows, Micro$oft decided it knows better than I do when and how I should use my PC.

Tonight, I planned to work on some online homework for a college class I am taking. When I opened the laptop, instead of being greeted by my desktop photo and a functioning computer ready to work, I found a green screen with a circle of dots spinning around and the message "Working on Updates 45% Don't turn off your PC. This will take a while". NOT what I needed to see when I'm working on a deadline!!

The second thing that I found very annoying is that when I bought this laptop, it was fast - NOT blindingly super fast, but nice. But within 6 months - after a couple minor software updates from Micro$oft, the thing had slowed down A BUNCH. Adding more RAM helped some, as did installing and using a free app called "CC Cleaner". One can do a Google search for this and find it easily. But it still is a pale shadow of what it was when I brought it home that first evening.

I originally got this because I needed something less expensive than a $1500 MacBook Air, but I'm thinking I'd sooner make payments on a credit card bill for a MacBook than put up with this nonsense. Even if I forked up $800+ for a better laptop, if it isn't an Apple I'll STILL be putting up with Windows and Micro$oft.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Retrofitting New Window Screens On Restored 'Retro' RV Camper

RV camping is currently enjoying a resurgence in America. Among the thousands of people taking to America's highways in trailers and motor homes in recent times, there is a growing segment of folks who are restoring older units. This is often done for nostalgic reasons and/or to beat the high cost of a new RV. Recently, I got my hands on an online bargain. The camper shown in the photo dates to the early 1970s and was near completely restored by the previous owner. He sold it to me because he has a child and large dog, and now needs a larger RV. There was one issue with this camper: The restoration job did NOT include screens on the windows. And anyone who has been camping knows how troublesome mosquitoes and flies can be. Also, anyone who has camped in an RV knows that if one is camping in an area where power for the air conditioner is not available, it quickly becomes a "sweat box" unless one can open windows for cross ventilation. So window screens are a MUST.

This RV presented a unique problem due to the design and construction of its windows. Most RVs I have owned or traveled in have a crank that operates the window. On some, this crank is intelligently positioned into the window frame; in others, there is a small, discrete hole in the screen through which the shaft for the window crank protrudes. In the case of this particular camper, the latches which hold the window glass closed are located directly behind where a window screen would be. Thus, it would be impossible to open and close the window when using a conventional window screen. The next photos show this problem:

I came up with my own novel engineering solution. I'm not saying this is necessarily the best or only solution, but it is what I came up with and it works. My approach was to have an immovable section of screen in the middle of the window, between the bottom latches, with movable screens resembling shutters on either side to allow access to the window latches. The next photo shows my completed installation:
When I first installed this, I realized that despite considerable care in minimizing the gap between the movable and fixed screens, that gap was still wide enough to potentially allow mosquitoes and other "no-seeum"type insects to get in. So I used an outdoor-rated duct tape to seal this opening. This can be seen in the next three photos:

To some folks, the tape scheme might seem a bit "hillbilly", but it was inexpensive; I had it lying around, and it is certainly easy enough to fix if/when needed. And finally, the next two pictures show how it operates:

I hope this helps someone restoring an older RV or at least gives them ideas for a workaround.

Monday, July 16, 2018

This Is The Stuff Nightmares Are Made Of

An article came out today in the Idaho Statesman that enumerates various incidents where the US government has LOST weapons grade nuclear materials. According to the article, "since the cold war ... 6 TONS of bomb materials have gone MUF", meaning "material unaccounted for". The article goes on to say that some of this "may be stuck in pipes at processing facilities, etc." so just because it is unaccounted for does NOT necessarily mean that 6 tons were stolen.

That said, the article starts off mentioning some samples of material that WERE recently stolen from a rented SUV that was being used by "two security experts from the Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory." While these samples were NOT sufficient quantity to make a nuclear weapon, it bespeaks of a lack of security in the handling of such materials.

Idaho Statesman Article

But knowing that there are 6 TONS of nuclear material - much of it weapons grade - that are MISSING or unaccounted for, does NOT leave one feeling "warm and fuzzy". This is theoretically enough to "make hundreds of nuclear explosives', according to the article. Also, according to the article, an amount of plutonium the size of a grapefruit is sufficient to produce a bomb.

Think terrorist bomb, 'dirty bomb', possible EMP weapon, etc. SCARY!!!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Help In Preparing For Emergency/Austere Medical Situations - A Shout Out To A Fellow YouTuber

Folks who read my last post know I got my EMT-Basic certification about a year ago. But I didn't stop there.

In my constant effort to be more prepared for whatever comes, and to be of help to my family, friends, neighbors and colleagues, I took some additional seminars dealing with emergency medicine in an "austere" setting. What do I mean by "austere"? My EMT training was primarily geared toward helping the patient stay alive, and preventing further injury, until they could get to the hospital. This is all well and good, and works in most situations. But what about a massive grid down situation? Or another hurricane Katrina, where massive flooding prevents rescue workers from getting to you in a timely manner? Those situations can be termed "austere", because doctors, nurses and hospital care may NOT be readily available - for some time, if at all. A fellow YouTuber comes to the rescue for these scenarios.

There is a Registered Nurse (RN) who maintains a YouTube channel called "The Patriot Nurse". If you go back and search through her videos, you will find she has posted lots of valuable medical information - as well as some at times brutally frank, politically oriented ones. I'm NOT here to debate politics or to comment one way or the other on the merit of the political stances expressed in some of her YouTube and Patreon videos - THAT is for another blog. I will NOT address or render comments on politics or take sides here in this forum. BUT the FREE MEDICAL information she provides in some of her videos is outstanding and is of concern and potentially helpful to all of us - regardless of one's religious or political persuasion. Additionally, she offers a series of paid seminars called "Medical Prep 101, Medical Prep 201, and Medical Prep 301.

My adult step daughter and I took all three of the medical prep classes several months after I got my EMT-Basic patch. So I had some background with which to evaluate the course content. In short, I think the classes are EXCELLENT - especially for laypersons, or even people with a "nurse's aide" level of training. There was another EMT there besides myself; we both thought it was a good review as well as offering certain valuable info that we DON'T normally get through EMT training and continuing education. To follow is a very brief synopsis of what you get during the classes:

Medical Prep 101 and 201 - covers all major aspects of first aid, diseases one is likely to encounter now or during a disaster, and also offers frank discussion of how quickly medical care deteriorates when infrastructure is damaged or destroyed. She comes from a background of having been a nurse in 3rd world countries where the facilities and technology we take for granted are at times severely lacking. Video presentations and a course notebook she provides augment the lecture and hands-on exercises. A question and answer period after each "chapter" or section gives ample opportunity for students to get their questions answered, as well as for class discussion that can be quite informative.

Medical Prep 301 - briefly recaps some material covered in Medical Prep 101 and 201, then offers excellent coverage dealing with new and re-emerging old diseases which bear watching now, and which can quickly become problematic during a disaster. She presented good information about the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria, ebola, plague, tic-borne diseases and other potential threats - diseases that can in themselves trigger a major disaster. Exctensive coverage is given to nutritional and holistic approaches to maintaining health as well as helping the body's own defenses and systems fight back and heal from a disease or injury. Issues such as maintaining adequate sanitation when water and sewer utilities are damaged/destroyed are discussed at length and are a topic EVERYONE should know and be equipped to deal with.

Other topics include feminine hygiene, childbirth, preventing (and recognizing) STDs.

Much of the information she presented dovetailed nicely with my prior EMT training. After all, emergency medicine is emergency medicine. However, FOR ME, the true value I found in it was the viewpoint or "angle" the material was presented from. As stated earlier, all of my prior training was STRICTLY geared toward pre-hospital care during "normal" times in "normal" circumstances. Her presentation is more akin to what is given in's book titled "Where There Is No Doctor". But UNLIKE reading Hesperian's book - which I DO recommend - The Patriot Nurse offers the hands-on experiences, the classroom interaction and question-answer opportunities one does NOT get from reading a book.

And As I mentioned earlier, these classes are a superb primer for those with little medical knowledge, yet contain enough solid information to arm even those folks to contribute meaningfully to helping during a disaster or grid down scenario. The information that my step daughter has gotten from Patriot Nurse's Medical Prep seminars has also helped empower her in terms of knowing what to do in a medical emergency.

And what is wonderful about knowledge is it is one thing that cannot be taken away from you. FWIW.