Your RF Cafe
These items are an archive of past Topical Smorgasbord items that have appeared on the RF Cafe homepage. In keeping with the "cafe" genre, these tidbits of information are truly a smorgasbord of topics. They all pertain to topics that are related to the general engineering and science theme of RF Cafe. Note: There is also a huge collection of my 'Factoids' (aka 'Kirt's Cogitations') that might interest you as well.
|2||Boston Consulting (who?)|
|84||Booz Allen Hamilton|
|2||Greg Brown||Motorola Solutions||29,329,052|
|3||Lowell McAdam||Verizon Comms||23,120,499|
|8||Ralph de la Vega||AT&T Mobility||9,898,542|
|9||Dan Mead||Verizon Wireless||5,660,641|
The old adage "flattery will get you everywhere" might not
be a universal truism, but at least for Jonathan Soroko at the Popular Logistics website/blog,
and at least for this one time, flattery gets him somewhere - a highly coveted appearance on the RF Cafe homepage. Even though he spelled my
name "Kirk" rather than "Kirt," I still appreciate the unsolicited plug on his website recognizing all the wonderful things
that are RF Cafe (see "Popular Logistics proudly adds link to
Kirk Blattenberger and RF Cafe").
What exactly is Popular Logistics? From the website, "On Popular Logistics we explore the long term national security and community security
ramifications of energy, environmental, economic, emergency preparedness, and public health policy, and the interrelationships between the people,
the companies and the various systems involved in implementing or holding back the paradigm shift to sustainable models." Jon and PL
co-founder Lawrence Furman ("with assistance of Jenny Gage, and other persons named and not named") address
a variety of topics with a good combination of wit, humor, and facts to analyze various topics - often contemporary headlines. It appears to
be a fair treatment from the authors' viewpoints without interjecting insulting political or social dogma (well,
not too much, anyway). I like reading articles that contain information that I should have known but didn't. E.g., do you know what Pascal's
Wager (aka Pascal's Gambit) is? What about the Precautionary Principle? Me neither
(assuming you answered "no"). Thanks to Popular Logistics and Wikipedia though, now I do. Were you aware
of the relationship between a particular emergency whistle and a subsystem in the F-16 Fighting Falcon? I wasn't...
Sometime around 2006, Celestron introduced the NexStar series of telescopes that offered a relatively low cost introduction to its renown line of high quality catadioptric scopes. Computerized "GoTo" controllers were incorporated to allow even entry level amateur astronomers an opportunity to learn his/her way around the night sky. In order to keep prices down, the 30-plus-year tradition of using a dual arm fork type mount for holding the optical tube assembly (OTA) was replaced with a single arm that produces a cantilevered support. Heavy duty worm gears were replaced with standard spur gears. The ramifications of those two changes will be addressed as I discuss the photographs taken in preparation of this teardown report. A picture of my NexStar 8SE telescope is shown to the right. Note that in the following series of photos, the NexStar 8SE is mounted to a Celestron CPC heavy duty equatorial wedge, sitting atop the standard tripod. A picture of it in the standard alt-az configuration can be seen here. My guess is that the mount for the NexStar 6 SE uses all of the same components. Click on the thumbnail images for large versions. The built-in GoTo system for the two axes consists of a microcontroller and driver PCB assembly (two boards), stepper motors driving gears on each axis, and the pushbutton hand controller seen in the picture above. A 40,000-objet database allows the user to command the telescope to automatically "go to" a particular star, galaxy, nebula, or planetary object once an acceptable alignment is obtained. My experience has been...
In the last decade many news reports have highlighted instances of academic fraud. It comes in many forms including plagiarism: copying someone's work and claiming it as your own, data fabrication: presenting results of work that never occurred, deception: implying facts without outright lying, cheating: think crib notes, bribery: accepting or offering remuneration for illegal or unethical favors, sabotage: harming people's work, professional misconduct: altering a student's grade, and impersonation: taking a test for someone else. The Wikileaks people recently released e-mails and other research data from the global warming players that exposed much fraud and coordinated deception on the part of both universities and governments (gw is a $$$multibillion business). For some recent notables, see 10 Academic Frauds Who Had Everyone Fooled. In order to help combat the problem, the folks who brought us the $5 trillion deficit, the Branch Dividian inferno, and the Fast and Furious gun running scandal are here to help - yes, the U.S. Government. The Department of Health and Human Services has prepared a role-playing scenario titled "The Lab," centering around a video of a fictitious case of academic fraud. You get to make decisions for various actors and see if your innate behaviors are acceptable. If you are a student or researcher, you might, however, consider playing on a library computer or one with a masked IP address because you can bet you're being monitored along with most other online activity. If the guys wearing dark glasses and having curly wires coming out of their ears show up at the lab shortly after you make a bad decision in The Lab, don't worry - it's probably just a coincidence.
We have all seen news reports about the often
exorbitant salaries of government employees as compared to the earnings of folks in equivalent private sector jobs. According to a March 2012
report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average total compensation
for the average private industry worker was $28.57 per hour worked whereas for the federal government worker it was $40.90 per hour - a 43%
difference! When you look at the ranges of job titles and pay for government workers as compared to equivalent private industry workers there
seems to be no logical correlation between which jobs pay more with the government versus private industry. There are currently about 22 million
U.S. government employees - a staggering number indeed.
Asbury Park Press (APP.com) recently made available a database of year-2011 earnings for government employees, searchable by department/agency, division, job title, location, and even employee name. If you know someone who works for the government, this is your chance to find out how much they make. I wanted to find out what people in technical agencies were making, so I concentrated on organizations like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institute of Standards (NIST), etc. The results are in the table below where I counted people whose base salaries are at or above $100,000 per year. It took a lot more time than I really had to spend on it, but after a while it gets addictive.
One thing to keep in mind is that government agencies are notoriously top-heavy in management, which tends to push the pay scale upward. Looking at the filtered results bears out that fact since it reveals that most top earners are in management positions...
A couple weeks ago, my local newspaper, Erie Times-News, printed this letter that I submitted:
"As an electrical engineer, I have always embraced the technology behind wind, hydro, solar and other forms of 'alternative' energy production. It is undoubtedly cool. What I despise is an agenda by special interest groups to mislead the public regarding the maturity and efficiency of those systems in an effort to destroy the nuclear and fossil fuel industries that drive our economy. The recent failure of the 5-year-old wind turbine at Tom Ridge Environmental Center is a good example. Numbers were not provided for that turbine, but were for the one on Barracks Beach, also offline (Erie Times-News, March 31). The turbine and tower cost about $36,000 in 2004 dollars, when installed. The stated best-case energy generation for it is 15,000 kwh/ year. Electricity rates around here are about 13 cents/kwh, but I'll use 15 cents for best-case analysis. That multiplies to $2,250 worth of electricity per year. So, it would take 16 years to recover the cost of replacement at that rate. The turbine has lasted 8 years, yielding an amortized cost of $4,500 per year. Installation would include expensive cost for cables and equipment for interfacing the wind generator power to the commercial power, which are not figured into my calculations. Similar numbers dominate for solar power as well since installation costs are high and the cells lose efficiency over time. Yes, we must continue pursuing other forms of energy generation to supplement fossil fuels. No, we must not punish and cripple the country's economic well-being in mindless obeisance to groups that are making billions of dollars pushing their disingenuous agenda."
About a week later, I received a telephone call (my letters on various topics often invoke phone calls) from Mr. John Droz, Jr., stating...
If you have a project planned or in the works that you would like to try to get someone else to fund, you might want to visit the Kickstarter website. Unlike having to swallow your pride and grope before relatives and or venture capitalists, Kickstarter is an online venue where you present your plan to the world and hope that it is compelling enough to convince people to donate. You are obligated to deliver if successful. Here, I'll let the Kickstarter folks explain it: "Kickstarter is the world's largest funding platform for creative projects. Every week, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields. A new form of commerce and patronage. This is not about investment or lending. Project creators keep 100% ownership and control over their work. Instead, they offer products and experiences that are unique to each project. All or nothing funding. On Kickstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Why? It protects everyone involved. Creators aren’t expected to develop their project without necessary funds, and it allows anyone to test concepts without risk. Each and every project is the independent creation of someone like you. Projects are big and small, serious and whimsical, traditional and experimental. They’re inspiring, entertaining and unbelievably diverse. We hope you agree. Welcome to Kickstarter!"...