Posts filed under ‘Geek’

What Do AM and PM Stand for?

You might see these acronyms every day and never even think about what they actually stand for. But, at some point, you’ve probably set your alarm for PM and been late for something in the AM.

I asked my dad about AM and PM at the curious age of five. He had a really good answer. It wasn’t the right answer; but, it was a good answer.

According to him at the time, “AM” stood for “At Morning” and “PM” was “Past Morning.” It made sense and kept my mind at bay until now, and it’s not that far from the actual Latin translation.

AM is a Latin acronym for Ante Meridiem, which is “before midday” when translated to English.

PM is Latin for Post Meridiem or “after midday.”

Now, if you want to showoff you can lose the acronym and throw down, “post meridiem” the next time someone asks “AM or PM?”

BrokenSecrets.com [available in the Amazon Kindle Store]

Source: WP

January 11, 2010 at 12:46 am 2 comments

Google Provides Free 411 Searches and Connections

Google has a lot of cool services that most people don’t know about. One of my favorite Google secrets is Google 411.

Just dial: 1-800-GOOG-411

It is just like your local telephone company’s 411 service, except it’s free and it automatically connects you to the number for free. It works from US or Canadian phones and can be used to find US and Canadian business listings.

It also has some cool features. When you find a listing, you can say “text message” and Google will instantly text you the phone number, address and a map link for the address that opens in Google maps on a capable phone.

There are even cordless phones available with a dedicated button for Google 411.

Remember goog-411 the next time you need to make dinner reservations or order takeout — it couldn’t be easier or cheaper.

BrokenSecrets.com [available on kindle]

Photo: morrowplanet (cc) | Source: Google 411

January 8, 2010 at 1:14 am 5 comments

Colored Sunglass Lenses Can Improve Your Sight

Let me be clear, they don’t improve the focusing power of your eyes but they can change the way things look so you recognize them more easily. That’s important when reaction time is critical.

Yellow lenses are a popular option but it’s a myth that they make things brighter — they do not amplify light. But, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, they do enhance depth perception. This is because they block some of the blue light that can make objects look hazy and reduce sharpness.

For this reason, yellow lenses are popular with pilots, cyclists, shooters and boaters in low light. In daylight, blue lenses are good for pilots and skiers because they enhance the contrast between objects that are white (snow and clouds) and other objects. For boaters, red lens are good because they increase the contrast between water and objects that are in the water.

Although colored lenses can increase contrast in specific conditions, the downside with any colored lens is that they obviously distort color. Brown colored lenses are the happy-medium; they offer minimal color distortion while improving contrast, so they’re great for everyday use.

BrokenSecrets.com

Big thanks to Todd for sharing this secret with me!

Sources: American Academy of Ophthalmology (PDF)

January 7, 2010 at 12:40 am Leave a comment

Automatically Add WWW. and .COM to a Website Address

Because I spend so much time on the internet, I have bookmarked hundreds of websites, maybe thousands. They’re neatly organized into folders by category, some of them 8 folders deep. But, I rarely see anyone else use bookmarks — I know that you’re typing in the address for many of the sites you visit.

This secret will save you some keystrokes.

Instead of typing “www.BrokenSecrets.com” and then hitting enter, just type “BrokenSecrets” and press CTRL+ENTER (Mac users use COMMAND + RETURN). That will automatically add “www.” to the beginning and “.com” to the end.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, look at the top of your web browser (the program you’re using to view this site).  You’ll see a text input area that starts with, “http://brokensecrets.com”.  That is where you can type web addresses that you’d like to visit.  For most sites, you need to at least type the address and the extension (ex: brokensecrets.com).

In Windows, this works with: FireFox, Internet Explorer and Chrome. On Mac, this works with FireFox and Chrome, but use CTRL + RETURN for Chrome. It does not work in Safari for Mac or Windows.

BrokenSecrets.com

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January 6, 2010 at 12:12 am 7 comments

How to Get Free HDTV Channels

When I say free, I don’t mean free with your paid cable or satellite package.  I mean 100% free without paying for any service.

When television broadcasting began in North America, the broadcasts were completely free. The costs associated with producing TV were covered by program sponsors (advertisers). TV signals were received over the air, so all you needed was a television and an antenna (aka “rabbit ears”). This worked great at the time because TV was new and nobody knew if it was going to be successful; laying cable to distribute signals didn’t make any sense and satellites weren’t an option yet.

Once television was a proven success, viewers wanted more content on bigger and better televisions. Today, those demands haven’t changed, but the technology has.

Receiving signals over the air was not perfect, there were a limited number of channels that could fit in the airwaves. Reception was spotty, but Cable and Satellite services came along with more channels and reliable signals that didn’t require any adjustments.

The technology has changed again. The development of digital signals has allowed broadcasters to fit many channels in the same space that used to only fit one channel. Although it caused a lot of disruptions in June of 2009, the United States ceased all analog TV signals within a specific frequency range. That means the once crowded airwaves are much more useful with digital signals that can stuff more channels in the same space.

Some broadcasters have been distributing their television signal over-the-air for more than 50 years and they continue to do so, now in digital. The secret to picking up these free channels: rabbit ears.

Seriously.

To many people, this will sound like a huge step back, and in some ways it is. You’re not going to find John and Kate or Jersey Shore on the free channels, but it could be worse: you might find John and Kate or Jersey Shore on the free channels.

If you’re on a budget; or you only watch the most popular network shows; or you want to stick it to the cable-man; or you want to pickup really good HD signals on a TV without a cable box or satellite receiver, then this is an option to consider. In many cases, digital over-the-air signal quality rivals cable and satellite signals, where signals are highly compressed because of bandwidth limitations.

Digital rabbit ears are much better than the coat hangers of the past — if you’ve upgrade to a digital cordless phone in the past couple years, you’ll understand the difference in reception, reliability and clarity that digital signals offer.

Depending on where you live, your channel selection will vary. In some places, you can get 10+ HD channels and dozens of standard digital channels, all for FREE! If you live in the United States, you can enter your zipcode in AntennaWeb’s search engine to see a list of the channels you should receive. In many places, you should get most (or all) of your favorite prime time shows in free HD. All you need is an HDTV, an ATSC tuner (most HDTVs have one built in) and an antenna. Here are some examples of affordable indoor and outdoor antennas that you can buy.

BrokenSecrets.com [now available on Kindle]

Photo: Dano (cc)

January 5, 2010 at 1:27 am 14 comments

How to Prevent a GPS From Falling Off the Windshield

You’re driving along, minding your own business, when your GPS unit suddenly annuls its marriage to the windshield. It crashes into the dashboard, slides into the door, high-fives your passenger and bounces on the floor. Your GPS is not broken; but, it will be the next time it startles, then attacks your passenger again.

In the winter, it’s especially tempting for the suction cups on your GPS or radar detector to take your electronics skydiving. The suction cup relies on a vacuum tight seal to maintain its grip on the windshield. Cold weather, or direct flow of air conditioning, can degrade that seal enough that it can’t support the weight of the device.

The secret to getting a good seal: warm the windshield and suction cup(s) before getting them back together. You can warm the suction cup(s) with your hand or treat them like takeout food and warm them with your seat heaters. Using the defogger, blow hot air on the windshield for at least 10 minutes, then pull over in a safe place and apply the warm suction cup(s).

The idea is to create as much suction as possible inside the suction cups. Before you push it against the window, be sure the suction lever is all the way back, then push the suction mount HARD against the windshield, then push the suction lever forward. Because the windshield and suction cups are warm, you’ll get a better seal that should maintain enough suction to support your GPS unit or radar detector.

If you still don’t have any luck, try cleaning your windscreen and suction cups with glass cleaner wipes and repeat the steps above.

BrokenSecrets.com [Now available on Kindle]

Photo: redjar (cc)

January 4, 2010 at 2:07 am 9 comments

Leap Years and Leap Seconds

Happy New Year!

You probably know that leap years occur every four years. On leap years we add an extra day to keep our clocks and calendars in sync with Earth’s rotation.

On the other hand, most people don’t know about leap seconds. Leap seconds are used for the very same reason as leap years, to keep our clocks in sync with Earth’s rotation.

Because Earth’s rotation varies, leap seconds are added or subtracted up to twice per year when needed. Leap years add a day in February while leap seconds can be added at midnight on December 31st or June 30th when necessary.

An extra day on the calendar isn’t going to go unnoticed, but an extra second is difficult to sense. That’s why most of us don’t know about them. Accurate time keeping devices (atomic clocks) are updated appropriately and you may notice the update on connected devices like cell phones or GPS units, but generally it goes unnoticed by nearly all of us. The last two leap seconds were added on New Year’s Eve of 2005 and 2008. The next time a leap second will be added is not known.

Here’s a video that shows an extra second inserted between 59 and 00 on an atomic clock.

BrokenSecrets.com

Sources: WP – Leap Year, WP – Leap Second, TimeAndDate.com,

January 1, 2010 at 12:01 am 1 comment

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