Posts tagged ‘speed’

How to Read the Numbers and Letters on Car Tires

By Chad Upton | Editor

The weather is starting to change in many parts of the world so this may be when you start to look at new tires for your car.

Tire specs can be confusing, but it’s just like replacing a vehicle fuse, light bulb or most other car parts — you look at the model number or specifications of the current one and you try to find another one just like it. The confusing part about tires is that you have more options; slightly different sizes, treads and styles are likely compatible with your wheels.

Understanding what the numbers mean will help you make the best decision about new tires.

Because the tread and maintenance of your tires is so important to your safety, fuel economy, and performance, it’s very important that you buy tires that are suitable for your climate and performance needs. (more…)

April 6, 2012 at 2:00 am 7 comments

Measuring Speed in Knots Started With Tying Knots in Rope

By Chad Upton | Editor

Sailors have it easy these days — an inexpensive GPS will tell you how fast your ship is travelling. Heck, even your smartphone can do it if you have the right app. That’s how I clocked the car ferry on Lake Michigan at 35 mph (56 km/h) last summer.

However, a blackberry could not measure your speed 450 years ago. That required a “chip log” (aka “ship log” or “log”). This was a spool of rope attached to a small piece of wood. The sailors would place the wood in the water where it would drag in the water, unspooling the knotted rope. One sailer count the knots passing over the haul and another would use a 30 second sandglass to measure the time. They had a table to lookup the speed (“knots”) based on the number of knots that passed by.

Although the method has changed significantly, the units are still called “knots.” To put that in a way that might have more meaning, one nautical mile translates to 1.151 miles or 1.852 km.

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Sources: wikipedia (knots, chip log)

Photo: Rémi Kaupp (gnu license)

November 10, 2011 at 2:00 am 2 comments

Your GPS Will Disable Itself If It’s Going Too Fast

By Chad Upton | Editor

Whether it’s your windshield mounted Garmin or your pocket slung smartphone, your GPS device is programmed to disable itself under certain conditions.

If it’s travelling faster than 1200 MPH or above 65,000 feet in altitude, the GPS function will shutdown.

These restrictions were put in place to help ensure the technology could not be used for malicious intentions by foreign governments or terrorists.

Modern commercial airplanes do not typically approach this speed or altitude, so you can’t test this unless you build your own missile or weather balloon.

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Photo: avlxyz (cc)

Sources: wikipedia, gizmodo

August 20, 2011 at 2:00 am 3 comments

Standard Keyboards are Designed to Slow You Down

By Kyle Kurpinski

It’s no secret that you will probably spend a significant chunk of your lifetime prodding at a keyboard, but have you ever considered why keyboards are designed the way they are? Logic would dictate that the layout of the keys should increase typing efficiency and maximize your output. Reality, however, is not always logical, and the vast majority of modern keyboards are actually designed to make you type slower.

The basic QWERTY layout – the default keyboard layout you’re probably using right now – is a remnant of the very first typewriters. As a kid I used to play with my mother’s typewriter and I would frequently jam the machine by pressing too many keys at once. The same thing could happen if a proficient typist hit two or more keys in rapid succession. Due to the mechanical nature of the typebars, jams were increasingly likely with faster typing speeds. The QWERTY layout (named for the six letters at the left side of the top row) was specifically designed to space out the most common letter combinations, thereby reducing jams by stunting the user’s output. By the time newer devices made typebars obsolete, QWERTY had already cemented itself as the primary standard layout. So if you’re using this archaic configuration today (which I admit, I am), you’re actually making yourself less efficient and potentially increasing your risk of a repetitive strain injury like carpal tunnel. Fortunately, there are other options available.

In 1963, Dr. Augustus Dvorak and his brother-in-law patented the (you guessed it) “Dvorak Simplified Keyboard,” which is one of the more commonly used keyboard alternatives. And no, it’s not just for engineers or computer scientists (or at least, it shouldn’t be). Take a look at the Dvorak layout below and compare it to your QWERTY keys. Note how many of the most common letters in the English language – T, N, S, vowels, etc. – are located in the “home row” where your fingers normally rest. This allows you to type the majority of letters with minimal hand movement. Less common letters like Q, X, and Z reside in the bottom row where keys are the most difficult to reach. On a Dvorak keyboard, approximately 70% of the keystrokes will occur in the home row compared to only 32% on a QWERTY layout.

Other alternative configurations are also available, including one-handed keyboards for people who like to type and use a mouse (or other peripheral) simultaneously, but Dvorak is probably the place to start if you’re looking for a quick way to increase your word-processing efficiency. Yes, it will take some vigilance to re-learn how to type on a completely different layout, but the results could very well be worth it. Besides, doesn’t it feel a little funny to willingly use a device designed to handicap you?

If you do decide to make the switch, the software to run Dvorak is already included with all major operating systems and can typically be activated with a with a simple change of preferences. You won’t even need to buy a new keyboard – Dvorak decal sets are available online (usually for a couple bucks) or if you’re ready to scrap QWERTY altogether you can manually remove and rearrange the keys yourself.

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Source: Wikipedia

Image: josue salazar

January 24, 2011 at 2:00 am 8 comments

License Plates and Headlights Increase Visibility to Traffic Radar

I did a previous post about how speed enforcement radar works.

There are two primary types, laser and tradition (Doppler) radar. Even if you have a radar detector, laser is the most difficult type of radar to avoid getting caught by. Laser radar gives officers a near instant reading on your speed, so you don’t have time to slow down before they get a reading on you.

Your best defense is reducing or even preventing the laser beam from bouncing back to the radar gun. The front license plate and your headlights are the most reflective thing on the front of most vehicles. If you’re not required to have a front plate in your area, get rid of it.

The next best thing is laser jamming, although it’s not legal in all places. But, if it is allowed in your area then you can buy laser jamming or scrambling units which prevent the radar gun from receiving a usable laser reading.

If laser jammers are not allowed, you have some other options. You can get plate covers and headlight treatments to help reduce the amount of laser light that is reflected back to the radar gun.

Reflectors on the back of your car are also an ideal reflector for Laser radar guns. For safety and legal requirements in some areas, you should probably keep these reflectors on your car.

I hope that some these tips will help you avoid some speeding tickets.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Source: Wikipedia Laser Lidar

June 15, 2010 at 1:37 am 7 comments

Police Do Not Have a Speeding Ticket Quota

A friend of mine is a cop and I’ve been lucky enough to go on a few ride-along trips with him. It’s pretty interesting to get a firsthand look at the job of a police officer. It gives you a lot of respect for the tough job they do.

When they’re not responding to calls, they’re doing paperwork and enforcing speed limits. On one particular ride-along, we spent a couple of hours trying to catch speeders. This was of great interest to me since I am a chronic speeder.

The first thing I wanted to know, what is the deal with quotas?

He said they don’t have a quota. Although, he added that if he didn’t write any tickets then it wouldn’t look like he was doing his job. Also, there are some cops who are trying to get promoted and write a lot of tickets, so if the other cops don’t write a fair amount of tickets then they come across as slackers. So, while there isn’t an official quota, these are the reasons why cops are driven to write tickets.

There are many tools that cops use to catch speeders. There are two speed measuring technologies, doppler radar and laser (aka Lidar, Ladar and “Laser Radar”). Doppler radar technology is the same technology that is used by meteorologists to analyze clouds and predict weather patterns. It’s also used at many stores to control automatic doors. Doppler radar units for law enforcement, come in many varieties: hand-held, vehicle mounted and automated photo-radar. (more…)

May 13, 2010 at 12:01 am 7 comments

The Ideal Vehicle Speed for Best Fuel Economy

The precise number varies by car and environmental conditions, but the sweet spot is generally between 40-60 mph (65-95 km/h). Most small and medium size cars get the best mileage at about 50 mph (80 km/h).

A lot of factors affect the fuel economy of your car. Some of them don’t vary much with speed, such as the resistance of the engine pumps and accessories. Other factors, like the size of the frontal area and the drag coefficient create increasing resistance with speed.

The faster you drive, the more energy is needed to overcome the aerodynamic resistance of the car. Up to 40 mph, that isn’t really even a factor. So, if you’re driving a box then your best fuel economy is likely closer to 40 mph than 50. If you’re driving a teardrop shaped eco-car, then you’re likely closer to 60 mph. Of course, engine size and other factors are involved too. (more…)

February 25, 2010 at 12:01 am 5 comments

How Do You Solve a Rubik’s Cube?

When you bought your Rubik’s cube, it was already solved. If you just left it alone, you wouldn’t have to solve it. I’m just saying.

Of course, we all know it’s impossible to leave it alone. You have to mess it up. At first, you turn a couple rows and then turn them back. Then you turn a few more and a few more again and eventually, you can’t get it back! Now, you have to actually solve the puzzle.

To make a short story long, you’ll try to solve it by working very little over a long period of time.

Rubik’s cube will sit on your shelf for a few days before you try it again. Over the next six months it will get picked up by a few smartypants friends who want a crack at it. After another year, you may pick it up and work on it for a short time, maybe even get one or two sides complete. Again, you’ll put it down for the next rainy day. It will seem like you’ve worked really hard on it, but you haven’t. Still, there comes a time in every cube owner’s life when they decide it needs to be solved, at any cost.

From my experience, there are three approaches to solving a Rubik’s cube.

I learned the first strategy from my brother when we were children. Every time we visited my Grandfather, he’d be working on his cube. On one visit, our small minds were blown when we realized he solved the cube. As I already stated, it’s impossible not to mess up a solved Rubik’s cube, and that’s especially true when it belongs to someone else.

When my grandfather realized we unsolved the Rubik’s cube, he told us that we’d have to re-solve it before we left. He was serious, or at least we thought so at the time. My brother’s solution, which I thought was pretty clever: peel off all the colored stickers and reapply them on matching sides. Although we got all the colors in the right places, it was still a big mess — similar to our paint-by-numbers work.

These days, I’d consider that cheating. But, it’s a good strategy to be aware of, you never know when you’ll be in a hostage situation that is one Rubik’s cube away from freedom.

The second approach comes in true internet style: have your computer solve it for you! Your computer is probably smarter than you anyway, why let that talent go to waste?

There are a number of web-based Rubik’s cube solvers. Basically, you paint the onscreen Rubik’s cube to look like yours and it generates a list of moves required to solve it. Click here for one that I have vetted. It works on the traditional 3 x 3 cube, and also on the newer 2 x 2 and 4 x 4 cubes. This is still cheating. But, it’s much less detectable than relocating the colored stickers.

Finally, the official approach, sanctioned by Rubik himself. This is the cross, corner, middle, top, corner method. It’s a combination of moves that systematically solve the cube. Once you know these moves, you can solve any cube. For the complete tutorial, click here.

The original 3 x 3 cube is a classic. But, they have released many different versions of the Rubik’s cube and similar puzzles. There is even a touch screen Rubik’s cube called the TouchCube. Click on the picture to check it out.

Broken Secrets

Written by: Chad Upton

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January 19, 2010 at 12:26 am 3 comments

Roadway Marks Used For Speeding Tickets

Look at the two white marks highlighted in the photo below.

Radar is not always the best way to catch speeders, especially in open areas where the police can’t hide.

But, radar isn’t the only option, Police can also use these marks to measure how fast you’re going. This pair of marks will be followed by a second pair further down the highway. In the United States, they’re usually a quarter mile apart and in Canada, 500 meters.

An officer in an airplane or unmarked car will use a stopwatch to time your car between the two pairs of marks. The time it takes will give them your average speed between those two markers, and if it’s high enough then they can write you a ticket. In the case of aerial surveillance, the plane will notify police cars waiting on the ground.

Either way, I’d recommend a good radar detector (where legal of course).

BrokenSecrets.com

Sources: AOL, Nashville.gov, City of Ottawa

Photo: dougtone (creative commons)

January 12, 2010 at 12:40 am 4 comments


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