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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Old Computers: Not as bad as you think

Last night I pulled my old Compaq out of its laptop bag where it has been staying for the past few months. Actually, after a little bit of work on it, it still runs fine. Sure, it's Windows 2000 and parts of the plastic is cracking off but it still works and has one of the highest pixel density laptops even compared to the ones today.

There is no built in wireless card inside the machine so I use a PC Card that I bought for it about  six years ago. The keyboard types really really well (it truly is one of the best keyboards that I have every typed on. There is no end to how much I want to type on this keyboard) The keys are really responsive making it really good for fast and accurate typing. There is little space between each of the keys so there is little chance that crumbs or hair will get stuck inside the keyboard and make it ridiculously hard to type on.

Although the keyboard is nice, I find that the main problem with the old computer is that it's a little noisy. The high pitched sound of the fan brings me back into the Bad Old Days. (It also runs pretty hot, but that's true of almost every laptop)

Touchpad is a little small and unresponsive at times. It would be nice if it supported multi-touch but that really isn't necessary.

The battery won't hold a charge anymore. Maybe it's because the PC Card for the wifi sucks up too much energy but it sometimes feels like the computer runs out of battery the moment that I unplug it.

Overall the laptop still works well for basic tasks, provided that you are near a power outlet and don't mind having a PC Card sticking out for WiFi.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Monday is tomorrow

With the weekend over and the basis workings of my next app already done, I have to say that this was a pretty good weekend. The basics of my app are simple, but I need to investigate the market to figure out how to market this app and what adaptations I will need to make.

This may be the first time that I make an app that will need to use the cloud. We'll see.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Project has been shelved

Yesterday, I decided to shelve my previous project. After tremendous work on it, I feel like it's unlikely that one person can solve a problem that usually takes teams of people and many years. If I come up with the answer one day, I will keep on working and get this product into fruition. Hopefully, that day will be soon, but my brain hurts too much over the past few days to keep on going

On the bright side, I'm finally working on the app I told myself to make over one year ago. It's should be done by the end of this weekend (I'm not kidding).

Peace out

Ben

Monday, April 16, 2012

Accelerometer Development Shortcuts on Cell Phones

I've noticed that the accelerometer on modern-day smartphones can often be extremely enigmatic, especially if you are only familiar with computers and less so with physics. I am going to try to clarify some of the confusion with using the accelerometer as well as what it can do.

Basically an accelerometer measures acceleration. While this may seem quite obvious, the answer is not what people often think. Acceleration is not velocity, nor is it position. Acceleration is the change in velocity. If you look at a velocity vs time graph of an object, the slope (it's derivative) is the acceleration of that particular object.

Therefore, by using integration (the area under the curve, or the opposite of differentiation) both the velocity and the position can be found from the accelerometer data, assuming that we know what the starting velocity and starting position are (a simple way to do this is to assume both start at 0). However, due to the precisions of the sensors in cell phones, this use of the sensor may not be practical.

Also, the accelerometer can be used to measure force. Below is the force equation as shown from one of Newton's laws:

F = ma
F stands for force. m is mass. a is acceleration.

Since the mass of the cell phone is constant, we know that the force is directly proportional to the acceleration. Because we don't know the true mass of the particular device we are dealing with (some phones can weigh dramatically more/less than others) it would be a hassle to the developer and/or the user to display the force being acted on the cell phone in standardized units. However, since force and acceleration are directly related, we can use this for applications where position is not necessary, such as sensing if the phone has been dropped or shaken.

Another use of the accelerometer is (as you probably might guess) determine which way gravity (a force) is acting on the device. Since the accelerometer gives 3-axis data, we can determine which way the device is oriented and set the layout accordingly (this is now done on all modern day cell phones) It is very easy to find the orientation based upon the data from the accelerometer. Since the data is given in G's the device's orientation can be found by the axis with a value of ±1

Friday, April 13, 2012

Had Some Time for a Post

Hello Friday. So we meet again.

After a hectic week of random events and mundane life, I am still typing away seeking a way to solve this dilemma I have. Like the past few posts I've written, it's almost there but there is just this one little issue that I have not found a solution for. Stay tuned.

Aside from that, life has been okay. One interesting thing that I found recently were these blue trees. (I don't think they are actually blue. It appears that they are painted blue to catch people's attention. Either way, they are a sight to see.)

If you look towards the bottom of the tree, you can see that the tree's natural color is not blue.

The seeds on the trees are also not blue :(