Posts filed under ‘Geek’

Bluetooth Technology is Named After a King

By Chad Upton | Editor-in-chief

King Harald Gormsson ruled Denmark from c. 958 until his death in 985 or 986 (sources vary). He also dabbled in ruling Norway for a few years starting in roughly c. 970.

bluetooth_vikings

He is known for building the first bridge in southern Scandinavia. It was a huge bridge for the time at 5 meters (5.5 yards) wide and 760 meters (831 yards) long. Bridges were of course useful, and this was the longest known bridge in the Viking era — a prestigious symbol for the builder. (more…)

May 21, 2014 at 8:00 am 2 comments

Dogs Poop in Alignment with Earth’s Magnetic Field

By Chad Upton | Editor

In case you don’t know, the Earth is basically one giant magnet. That’s why a compass always points to magnetic North. This is extremely useful for navigation and other location based activities.

Apparently, dogs also find it useful for pooping.

Dog Hydrant

Photo: Scott Spaeth (cc)

Scientists recently published a paper describing their observations and analysis of the direction that dogs poop. For two years they monitored 70 dogs and recorded the axis upon which they defecate. (more…)

March 27, 2014 at 11:00 am 8 comments

Fake Art Can Be Detected Because of Nuclear Bombs Detonated in 1945

By Chad Upton | Editor

Art forgers have become experts at creating the types of paints and canvases used during popular and valuable art periods, to the point that art experts may not be able to distinguish a fake from the real thing.

But, Dr Elena Basner, a long time art curator, worked with scientists to create a much better way to detect forged oil paintings.

Prior to the first nuclear bomb detonation in July of 1945, isotopes such as strontium-90 and cesium-137 simply did not exist in nature. They were created by the massive neutron bombardments that occur during a thermonuclear explosion.

Since those isotopes didn’t exist in nature prior to 1945, paintings created prior to 1945 could not contain them originally.

550 nuclear bombs were detonated from 1945 to 1963, when most nations agreed not to test nuclear weapons any longer. The isotopes created during this period bind with the types of crops that are used to produce oil based paints. Therefore, oil paintings created after 1945 will contain trace amounts of these new isotopes.

If someone is trying to pass a work that is dated prior to 1945, but it contains these isotopes, it is almost certainly a fake.

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Sources: TheArtNewspaper.com, Wikipedia (Nuclear Weapon)

November 20, 2012 at 2:00 am 12 comments

The US Postal Service is FedEx’s Largest Customer

By Chad Upton | Editor

FedEx Express currently owns 697 airplanes, with another 48 on order. That makes FedEx the 6th largest airline by fleet size. They operate more Airbus 300 and 310 airplanes than any other airline and there are only five airlines with more planes than FedEx.

  1. Delta Air Lines
  2. SkyWest
  3. United Airlines
  4. Lufthansa
  5. Southwest Airlines

The next five airlines after FedEx are: American Airlines, Air France-KLM, International Airlines Group, Air Canada, and Chine Southern Airlines.

The FedEx airfreight concept was dreamt up by Fred Smith who wrote a college paper proposing the idea. His professor gave the paper a ‘C’ grade and that’s kind of how the company started out in 1971.

At one point, the company was losing up to a million US dollars per month. Smith tried to raise capital from General Dynamics, who turned him down. While waiting for his flight home to Memphis, he decided to take a detour to Las Vegas where he won $27,000 — enabling the company to make payroll the week after.

That gave him enough time to raise between $50 and $70 million in additional funding. By 1976, it was a profitable company that set many trends in the industry. They were the first shipping company to computerize and offer parcel tracking. In 1994, they were the first shipping company offer online tracking.

Tip: Enter a FedEx, UPS or USPS tracking number in google and you’ll get a link to the tracking info.

Fedex’s largest customer is actually the US Postal Service. This is a bit strange since FedEx introduced its overnight mail service in 1981 to compete directly with the USPS’s express mail service. But, in 2001, FedEx signed a deal to carry Express and Priority Mail for the USPS — that contract has been extended to 2013.

Last but not least, the FedEx logo has an arrow between the letters “E” an “x”.

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Sources: wikipedia (world’s largest airlines, fedex)

March 8, 2012 at 2:00 am 3 comments

The Dropped Call Rules

By Chad Upton | Editor

No matter which mobile phone carrier you use, you’ll eventually drop a call with somebody. Even if you don’t have a cellphone, you still have to deal with dropped calls when you’re talking with people who do.

Sometimes you both try to call each other at the same time and get each other’s voicemail. Other times, you try to call the other person and they’re still talking away, oblivious to the fact that the call was dropped.

Rule #1: Whoever initiated the call, initiates the call back after a dropped call.

To some, this rule is obvious. But, it needs to be stated to remove any confusion and prevent the double voicemail dilemma.

Rule #2: Whoever was listening when the call was dropped, remembers the last sentence the other person said.

This is less obvious, but since the listener is the only one who knows exactly when the call was dropped; they need to remember the last sentence or at least the topic — this may be the same person who needs to call the other person back.

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Photo: addicted eyes (cc)

December 8, 2011 at 2:00 am 3 comments

Finding Home and End on a Mac Keyboard

By Chad Upton | Editor

I use both Mac and Windows computers and I appreciate some attributes of each. For example, I really like the home and end keys on Windows keyboards. These guys make it a breeze to select a single line of text or jump to the end of the line to keep writing after an edit.

Because Apple market share is at an all time high, I’m sure a lot of people are going to notice the absence of these keys when they switch. Unless you’ve got the full-size apple keyboard, the “home” and “end” keys are absent on your desktop or macbook keyboard. But, if you hold down the fn (or control) key, you can use the left and right arrow keys as home and end keys respectively. Hold shift while doing this to select the characters between cursor positions.

Speaking of the Mac keyboard, the delete key is equivalent to the backspace key on a Windows computer — it deletes characters to the left of the cursor. But, you can make Mac’s delete key function like the Windows delete key if you hold the fn key while pressing it — deleting characters to the right. Another favorite keyboard shortcut on Mac OS is fn + F11 which will temporarily hide your windows to expose your desktop, allowing you to easily select files without going to the finder or minimizing all of your windows. Then press fn+F11 to bring all your windows back to their original positions.

By the way, you can plug a Windows USB keyboard into a Mac, although not all of the task keys function the way they do on a PC.

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January 10, 2011 at 2:00 am 37 comments

9 Volt Batteries Contain 6 AAAA Batteries

By Chad Upton | Editor

The batteries in most consumer electronics produce 1.5 volts each.

Different products use different numbers of batteries to achieve different voltage requirements. For example, a TV remote might be designed to run on 3 volts, so two 1.5 volt batteries will provide the necessary voltage when connected in series.

Larger devices, such as radios with large speakers or large kid’s toys, typically have larger batteries, like C and D cells. Smaller devices often use AA and AAA batteries, allowing the devices themselves to be smaller. All of these batteries output 1.5 volts, but the larger batteries have much higher capacities, meaning they last longer. D batteries have four times the capacity as AA’s. So, if you’re going to be blasting music on the beach, you’ll change fewer batteries if your radio uses D batteries.

There are many other types of batteries that are not 1.5 volts. One of the most popular is the nine-volt battery, which is technically called a PP3 battery. Smoke detectors, garage door remotes, transistor radios and a variety of other devices use these batteries.

They’re pretty convenient, giving you the voltage of six batteries after only inserting one battery. In fact, that’s exactly what they are — they’re just containers that link six smaller batteries together. Here’s a picture of a nine-volt battery that I took apart:

Each of the six batteries outputs 1.5 volts, giving a total of 9 volts when connected in series. The name brand nine-volt batteries usually contain six quadrouple A batteries (AAAA) which are rather uncommon in consumer electronics but find a home in medical devices such as glucose meters.

Some of the lesser known battery brands may contain 6 flat cells which are not easily reusable. As you can see in the picture above, AAAA batteries are very close in size to AAA cells. That’s worth noting since they could save the day if you’re short on AAAs:

Keep in mind, device manufacturers often use standard batteries in their rechargeable products and you can replace them yourself.

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Sources: Wikipedia (Batteries: D, AA, AAAA, nine-volt)

December 20, 2010 at 2:00 am 6 comments

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