Thursday, December 13, 2018

8 fun Christmas things to do with Alexa via CNET

A bit of season fun using your Alexa-enabled devices! — Douglas

You're likely leaning Amazon this time of year to buy holiday gifts. But did you know you can employ Alexa, Amazon's digital assistant, to help with the holidays too?

In the weeks leading up to Dec. 25, you can use Alexa to set a festive mood at home, and keep party guests entertained. 

Let's take a look at the Christmas tricks Alexa can perform:

Read 8 fun Christmas things to do with Alexa via CNET


 

Looking for an Echo/Alexa Device?
Check out these recent upgrades and additions to Amazon’s product line!


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Historical Technology Books: Text-Book On The Steam Engine With A Supplement On Gas Engines By T. M. Goodeve, M.A. (1887) - 7 in a series

Technology isnt just computers, networks and phones. Technology has always been part of the human experience. All of our ancestors have looked for ways to help the survive and do less work for more gain. Archive.org has a host of old technology books (from mid-19th to mid-20th Century) available in many formats and on a host of topics. Many of the technologies discussed within these books are being put to use again these days in the back to the land" and homesteading movements. You might even find something that could address one of your own garden or farm issues, but has been lost to time and history. Enjoy! --Douglas


Historical Technology Books: Text-Book On The Steam Engine With A Supplement On Gas Engines By T. M. Goodeve, M.A. (1887) - 7 in a series

Historical Technology Books: Text-Book On The Steam Engine With A Supplement On Gas Engines By T. M. Goodeve, M.A. (1887) - 7 in a series2015 221239 Steam Engine 0002

Historical Technology Books: Text-Book On The Steam Engine With A Supplement On Gas Engines By T. M. Goodeve, M.A. (1887) - 7 in a seriesHistorical Technology Books: Text-Book On The Steam Engine With A Supplement On Gas Engines By T. M. Goodeve, M.A. (1887) - 7 in a series

PREFACE TO THE EIGHTH EDITION.

The plan of this book is the following* : — The first chapter contains a sketch of the steam engine as it existed in the time of Watt, together with an account of the ideas then prevalent as to the nature of heat, and concludes with a summary of some physical properties of steam. The second and third chapters are occupied by an investigation of the principles of the modern theory of heat in its appli cation to the steam engine. Then comes a chapter on the conversion of motion, which deals with certain salient points in the mechanism of an engine. The fifth chapter is mainly devoted to the expansion of steam, to the action of valves, and to the application of Watt’s indicator. The sixth chapter treats of boilers and the consumption of fuel. The seventh chapter is on compound cylinder engines, and is illustrated by some drawings of the engines con structed by Messrs. Maudslay, Sons, and Field for the White Star line of mail steamers making the voyage be tween Liverpool and New York. Finally, there is a chapter on miscellaneous details, such as steam-engine governors, Giffard’s injector, the link motion, modern valve gears, and valve diagrams. The part relating to the steam engine contains also an Appendix, with a series of examination questions and answers. There is in the present edition a Supplement on Gas Engines.

T. M. GOODEVE.

S Crown Office Row, Temple.

January 1887

Available in PDF, Text, JPG formats, and more

Publication date 1887
Topics Salar
Language English
 
* Click these links for more books and magazine in that date or subject area

Learn more about the history of technology with these books

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
† Available from the LA Public Library

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Alexa: All of Amazon's new Echo speakers reviewed via Engadget

Excellent and detailed review of the new Echo products from Amazon. If you are thinking about buying or gifts an Echo, give this a read first! — Douglas

Amazon may have defined the smart speaker category with the Echo and its successors, but many competitors have the company beat in one specific way: audio quality. Amazon says the No. 1 activity for Echo users is playing music, but anyone who has used an Echo knows that the sound quality is nothing to write home about.

Amazon must have recognized this, because improved speakers in the new Echo Dot and Echo Plus were a major talking point when they were announced in September. Reading between the lines, it seems safe to say that Amazon believes its Echo speakers can be the centerpiece of a respectable home-audio setup. How else would you explain the new $129 Echo Sub, a device that does nothing aside from wirelessly pair with another Echo device to bring the bass?

Read All of Amazon's new Echo speakers reviewed via Engadget


Looking for an Echo/Alexa Device?
Check out these recent upgrades and additions to Amazon’s product line!


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Get Giant Plugs Out of the Way With a 10-Pack of Mini Extension Cords via Lifehacker

I finally picked up a box of these after meaning to do it for sooooo long. I first used these regularly when I worked in IT, but with today’s plethora of devices with their huge wall wart transformers they have become critical in the home. If you want to get the most use out of your power strips and cut down on the overall clutter in your home and office, pick up some of these.

Giant plugs that cover up half the outlets on your power strip should be outlawed, but until that day arrives, these short extension cords will have to do. $17 gets you a pack of 10 (with code HKOYHBNX), which should be enough for even the most advanced home theater setups.

Read Get Giant Plugs Out of the Way With a 10-Pack of Mini Extension Cords via Lifehacker

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Real Time Satellite Tracker Shows You What’s Going Over Your Head via hack a day

Some of the best technology projects are those that help make the invisible visible. In this case, it shows you the satellites orbiting  above your head and helps to give you a view into a dimension that is extremely difficult, if not impossible to see otherwise, — Douglas

Whilst modern technology relies heavily on satellites, it’s easy to forget they’re there; after all, it’s hard to comprehend mostly-invisible lumps of high-density tech whizzing around above you at ludicrous speeds. Of course, it’s not hard to comprehend if you’ve built a real-time satellite tracker which displays exactly what’s in orbit above your head at any given time. [Paul Klinger]’s creation shows the position of satellites passing through a cylinder of 200 km radius above the tracker.

Each layer of LEDs represents a specific band of altitude, whilst the colour of the LEDs and text on the screen represent the type of object. The LEDs themselves are good old WS2812b modules, soldered to a custom PCB and mounted in a 3D-printed stand. The whole thing is a really clean build and looks great – you can see it in action in the video after the break.

Read Real Time Satellite Tracker Shows You What’s Going Over Your Head via hack a day


Get Raspberry Pi Boards and Components from Amazon
Get Raspberry Pi Boards and Components from eBay


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Historical Technology Books: The Radio Antenna Book (Engineering Staff of Radio) (1936) - 6 in a series

Technology isnt just computers, networks and phones. Technology has always been part of the human experience. All of our ancestors have looked for ways to help the survive and do less work for more gain. Archive.org has a host of old technology books (from mid-19th to mid-20th Century) available in many formats and on a host of topics. Many of the technologies discussed within these books are being put to use again these days in the back to the land" and homesteading movements. You might even find something that could address one of your own garden or farm issues, but has been lost to time and history. Enjoy! --Douglas


Historical Technology Books: The Radio Antenna Book (Engineering Staff of Radio) (1936) - 6 in a series

Historical Technology Books:: The Radio Antenna Book (Engineering Staff of Radio) (1936) - 6 in a seriesThe Radio Antenna Book Engineering Staff of Radio 1936 0001

Historical Technology Books:: The Radio Antenna Book (Engineering Staff of Radio) (1936) - 6 in a seriesHistorical Technology Books:: The Radio Antenna Book (Engineering Staff of Radio) (1936) - 6 in a series

Available in PDF, Text, JPG formats, and more

* Click these links for more books and magazine in that date or subject area

Learn more about the history of technology with these books

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
† Available from the LA Public Library

Monday, November 26, 2018

Use an Arduino and a PIR sensor to detect simple motions via Arduino Blog

In this article, we’ll show you how to make a gesture detector by simple components like PIR sensor and Arduino Nano. At the end of this article you can:

  • Explain PIR sensor applications and how it works
  • Run an 8-Pixel PIR sensor named TPA81
  • Use PIR sensor to detect motion and gesture by Arduino
  • Make a cool detector to increase or decrease your speaker volume

Read Use an Arduino and a PIR sensor to detect simple motions via Arduino Blog


Arduino Boards and Components via Amazon

Arduino Boards and Components via eBay


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Historical Technology Books: Byte Magazine Volume 00 Number 01 - The Worlds Greatest Toy - 5 in a series

Technology isnt just computers, networks and phones. Technology has always been part of the human experience. All of our ancestors have looked for ways to help the survive and do less work for more gain. Archive.org has a host of old technology books (from mid-19th to mid-20th Century) available in many formats and on a host of topics. Many of the technologies discussed within these books are being put to use again these days in the back to the land" and homesteading movements. You might even find something that could address one of your own garden or farm issues, but has been lost to time and history. Enjoy! --Douglas


Byte Magazine Volume 00 Number 01 - The Worlds Greatest Toy

While this a bit more recent than other books and magazines that I have shared, Byte Magazine was one of the most important publications of the burgeoning computer age. I remember reading an issue as early as 1977 or 78 (not long after they started publishing) and continued to read it quite religiously into the early 90’s. 

Historical Technology Books:  Byte Magazine Volume 00 Number 01 - The Worlds Greatest Toy - 5 in a seriesHistorical Technology Books:  Byte Magazine Volume 00 Number 01 - The Worlds Greatest Toy - 5 in a series

Historical Technology Books:  Byte Magazine Volume 00 Number 01 - The Worlds Greatest Toy - 5 in a seriesHistorical Technology Books:  Byte Magazine Volume 00 Number 01 - The Worlds Greatest Toy - 5 in a series

Available in PDF, Text, JPG formats, and more

Carl Helmers:

What is BYTE?

"It could not have been long before some wizard of verbal magic figured out that a group of little bits must constitute a mouth watering BYTE."

"... the term byte has become part of the lexicon."

For the hardware person, "the fun is in the building."

This is the first issue of a new publication — BYTE — a monthly compendium of information for the owners and users of the new microcomputer systems becoming widely available at moderate cost. To formal and informal students of computer science, the choice of the name BYTE is quite appropriate. For a large number of applications of this new technology of inexpensive computers, character string and text, data (basic unit, one byte) is an important consideration. Bytes are the units of data manipulated by many of the small computer systems designed by readers — or assembled using one of a number of kit products now on the market.

The most c ommon definition of a byte is that of a unit of information containing 8 bits. This unit of information can at any time represent one of 2 8 = 256 possible things — for instance, one of the ASCII or EBCDIC character codes, one of the integers from to 255, a signed integer from -128 to +127, etc. The origin of the term "byte" lies in IBM's documentation and terminology for the extremely successful System 360 series. The folk tale has it that IBM needed a more "personalized" (i.e. unique) term for the old standby of earlier generation computers, the "character". The term had to be less tied to a specific type of data such as character codes — and had to take on a generic meaning as "unit of storage". With that functional specification for the required term, it could not have been long before some wizard of verbal magic figured out that a group of little bits must constitute a mouth watering byte.

With the term's widespread use in the computer field due to IBM's benign influence, the term byte has become part of the lexicon. The fundamental significance of a byte as a unit of information makes BYTE an appropriate name for the publication. BYTE is your unit of information on the state of the art of small computer systems for individual persons, clubs and classroom groups. Each month you will find information ranging from computer club announcements to manufacturers' advertisements, from technical details of hardware and software to humorous articles and editorial opinions.

The Home Brew Computing Trilogy

The story of computing is a story composed of several elements. A good way to look at the story is as a trilogy of interrelated themes . . .

HARDWARE

SOFTWARE

APPLICATIONS. ..

You need the hardware before you can progress through the first gate of a system. A virgin computer is useless so you add some software to fill it out. And the whole point of the exercise — in many but not all cases — is to come up with some interesting and exotic applications.

The technical content of BYTE is roughly divided into the trilogy of hardware, software and applications. Each component of the trilogy is like a facet of a brilliant gem — the home brew computer applied to personal uses. The trilogy is not confined to home brew computers alone of course.

In the personal computing field as in any endeavor there are people who will have foremost in their minds any one of these three topics to the exclusion of the other two. For instance some of the people I know are interested in software — and pretty exclusively software. They'll tend to concentrate on software as much as possible and try to get a minimal amount of hardware sufficient to experiment with software. A person with a primary interest in software will oftentimes be the person who purchases a kit computer because the kit minimizes the amount of hardware knowledge the person is required to have.

An example of another kind of person — in terms of isolated characteristics — is the hardware kind of person. Here the emphasis of the work with home brew computing is on putting together the hardware, designing the hardware, making things that quote "work'' unquote. A "hardware person" in many cases may not do much else — but he or she certainly will accomplish the design goal. This is the person who builds

(the first) editorial

up a computer system to the state where it might even be able to do a bootstrap off tape — then drops the system and decides to build a better one. The fun here is in the building, not in the using and programming.

Then in this description of possible ways of approaching the home brew hobby there is the applications person. This person's attitude is somewhat a synthesis of the other two types. The applications person is typically interested in getting a particular program up and running. So a Space War freak would spend a good portion of available time getting the hardware and software needed to play space war. A LIFE addict would spend a fair amount of time getting the hardware and software for the game of LIFE — and fooling around with LIFE patterns. And a person who enjoys other computer games — using the game as a goal — spends much time assembling a hardware/software system for the game. A person interested in toy robots would have a combined hardware/software problem of coordinating and controlling movement — this home roboteer must design the mechanical details, design a control algorithm — and if sophisticated fun is required, must design a pattern recognition input device and algorithm for interpreting scenes. A model railroader requiring a computer controlled layout again has this applications model — computer controlled yard and main line switches — and faces a choice of possible hardware and software components needed to make the application.

Now, aspects of the trilogy exist in any particular person who experiments with the computer systems. A common combination is for the application to drive the hardware and software choices. Then there is the person who builds the hardware first — getting caught up in the "neatness" of a logical construction in the same way that a mathematician goes off the deep end with a neat theorem. If you're starting as such a hardware hacker, you may come to the point where you say "Hmmm — I've built the hardware, so now what do I do with it?" Here the applications are following the design of the computer. It's the same way with many kinds of programming ... the software is an exploration of the possibilities of the hardware. As a software hacker you might turn to the pure logic of programming — writing and trying out routines for things ranging from augmentations of the instruction set to file managers, to games simple and sophisticated. Or you may just fool around with programming with no specific end in mind in terms of applications, for the sole purpose of seeing what you can do with the machine.

As a home brew computer software experimenter, you'll find an emotional kinship with the people who take part in the automotive hobbies. What does a "performance" automobile buff do with the machine — once all the optional improvements and features have been added underneath the personalized paint job? The auto nut takes his car out to the local drag strip or other test track and opens up the throttle to see what the engine and drive train will do in terms of speed and acceleration (proper spelling: exhilaration). Well, for computer experimenters there is a logical drag strip in every computer — an instruction set waiting to be explored. You exercise this logical drag strip by seeing what you can do in the invention of neat little (and not so little) programs to do useless (equivalent of real drag strip) performance tests in artificial circumstances — or really useful tasks (equivalent to normal transportation functions of autos). I haven't yet figured out what the computer equivalent of an air scoop hood is — or the equivalent of the weird mechanical contrivances I often see on the derriere of "muscle" cars.

You might even be the type of person who wants to do a certain programming technique just for the sake of programming you say to yourself: "OK — I want to write a BLURPTRAN language compiler and code generator, so what hardware do I need to do it?" As such a person, you would then choose a computer system in packaged and/or self-designed form such that it would fit the compiler writing goal.

In truth many will find it best to seek a sort of

"A virgin computer is useless so you add some software to fill it out . . ."

Sophisticated fun requires sophisticated thought and hard work . . .

"Hmmm — I've built the hardware, so now what do I do with it?"

"Well, for computer experimenters there is a logical drag strip in every computer — an instruction set waiting to be explored . . ."

interactive — balanced relationship between the three aspects of the computer trilogy. At any given time, almost anyone has some aspects of all three combined within his own philosophy of home brew computing.

BYTE — the magazine addresses this mixture that occurs in various people by providing articles permuting and combining these areas.

* Click these links for more books and magazine in that date or subject area

Learn more about the history of technology with these books

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
† Available from the LA Public Library

Friday, November 23, 2018

Favorite Alexa Commands: Bluetooth Pairing

The Amazon Echo is quite a nice speaker on its own and it can be easily be used as an external speaker for your phone or tablet when you want to share audio with friends or family. 

Pair your device with your Echo, or Echo Dot by saying...

Alexa, Pair

The Echo replies 

Searching...

Open the Bluetooth Preferences on your device and look for a new device called ECHO-xxx where xx is a 3 digit/letter code.



Select that device and wait for your Echo to say,

Device Connected Successfully

In the future, simply saying...

Alexa, disconnect my device 

...will stop the connection to your Echo

Also, saying...

Alexa, connect my device

...will automatically reconnect your device since you have already gone through the pairing process.

If you have a Bluetooth compatible home audio system, you can also connect your Echo to that by putting the soundbar or other device into pairing mode (see your manual) and asking Alexa...

Alexa, Pair

It should locate the device that is in pairing mode, tell you its device name and ask if you wish to pair with it.

I often use this when playing Alexa games with friends so that everyone can hear louder and more clearly,

Alexa will also remember this device for future use once it is set up.


Looking for an Echo/Alexa Device?
Check out these recent upgrades and additions to Amazon’s product line!



An interesting link found among my daily reading

Leonardo da Vinci’s Earliest Notebooks Now Digitized and Made Free Online: Explore His Ingenious Drawings, Diagrams, Mirror Writing & More via Open Culture

I visited an amazing Leonardo exhibition in Milan back in September (See the Leonard 3 Museum)  and it will be great to further explore his history with these digital manuscripts. There is often so much to learn from how people were thinking in past eras and it can help inform our thinking today! -- Douglas



Do a search on the word “polymath” and you will see an image or reference to Leonardo da Vinci in nearly every result. Many historical figures—not all of them world famous, not all Europeans, men, or from the Italian Renaissance—fit the description. But few such recorded individuals were as feverishly active, restlessly inventive, and astonishingly prolific as Leonardo, who left riddles enough for scholars to solve for many lifetimes.
Leonardo himself, though world-renowned for his talents in the fine arts, spent more of his time conceiving scientific studies and engineering projects. “When he wrote in the early 1480s to Ludovico Sforza, then ruler of Milan, to offer him his services,” remarks Catherine Yvard, Special Collections curator at the Victoria and Albert National Art Library, “he advertised himself as a military engineer, only briefly mentioning his artistic skills at the end of the list.”
Read Leonardo da Vinci’s Earliest Notebooks Now Digitized and Made Free Online: Explore His Ingenious Drawings, Diagrams, Mirror Writing & More via Open Culture


Learn more about Leonardo Da Vinci with these books

All available at the LA Public Library

An interesting link found among my daily reading

Monday, November 19, 2018

Hands-on with the new Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ and new Raspbian Linux release via ZDNet

Hands-on with the new Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ and new Raspbian Linux release via ZDNet

The Raspberry Pi Foundation made two significant announcements last week. First, the availability of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+, which has been eagerly awaited; then, the next day, a new release of the Raspbian Linux operating system. That means I have a lot to talk about today, so let's get busy!

First, the new Pi 3 Model A+. This is a scaled-down and lower cost version of the Pi 3 Model B+. In the most important functional areas it is identical to the Pi3 B+: it has a 1.4GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU, and dual-band 802.11ac wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.2/BLE. That means the performance is very similar to the Model B+.

Read Hands-on with the new Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ and new Raspbian Linux release | ZDNet via ZDNet

Get Raspberry Pi Boards and Components from Amazon
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† Available from the LA Public Library


An interesting link found among my daily reading

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Historical Technology Books: The ABC of Vacuum Tubes In Radio Reception by E. H. Lewis - 4 in a series

Technology isnt just computers, networks and phones. Technology has always been part of the human experience. All of our ancestors have looked for ways to help the survive and do less work for more gain. Archive.org has a host of old technology books (from mid-19th to mid-20th Century) available in many formats and on a host of topics. Many of the technologies discussed within these books are being put to use again these days in the back to the land" and homesteading movements. You might even find something that could address one of your own garden or farm issues, but has been lost to time and history. Enjoy! --Douglas


Historical Technology Books: The ABC of Vacuum Tubes In Radio Reception by E. H. Lewis - 4 in a series

Historical Technology Books:  The ABC of Vacuum Tubes In Radio Reception by E. H. Lewis - 4 in a series

Historical Technology Books:  The ABC of Vacuum Tubes In Radio Reception by E. H. Lewis - 4 in a series

Historical Technology Books:  The ABC of Vacuum Tubes In Radio Reception by E. H. Lewis - 4 in a series

THE A B C OF VACUUM TUBES
IN RADIO RECEPTION

AN ELEMENTARY AND PRACTICAL BOOK ON THE
THEORY AND OPERATION OF VACUUM TUBES
AS DETECTORS AND AMPLIFIERS. EXPLAINS
NON-MATHEMATICALLY THE FUNDA¬
MENTAL PRINCIPLES UPON WHICH
ALL VACUUM TUBE CIRCUITS

ARE BASED

Includes

PRACTICAL CIRCUITS AND PRACTICAL QUESTIONS
AND ANSWERS. IT IS WRITTEN ESPECIALLY
FOR THE BEGINNER. ALL ELECTRICAL AND
RADIO TERMS ARE FULLY EXPLAINED

BY

E. H. LEWIS

Assoc. I.R.E., Radio Instructor,

East Side Y. M. C. A., New York City.

FULLY ILLUSTRATED

New York

THE NORMAN W. HENLEY PUBLISHING CO.

2 West 45TH Street
1922

Available in PDF, Text, JPG formats, and more

Collection VacuumTubesBooks
Language English
 
 
* Click these links for more books and magazine in that date or subject area

Learn more about the history of technology with these books

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
† Available from the LA Public Library