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Tech Smorgasbord Archives - 6

RF Cafe University"Factoids," "Kirt's Cogitations," and "Tech Topics Smorgasbord" are all manifestations of my ranting on various subjects relevant (usually) to the overall RF Cafe theme. All may be accessed on these pages:

 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37

Whence Cometh "Anode" and "Cathode"?

English scientist William Whewell suggest the new words to Michael Faraday, who was at the time experimenting with the electrolysis process. The terms are based on the Greek prefixes "ana-" (up) and "kata-" (down). This comported with the day's theory that electrons "flowed" from the negative to the positive terminal, like water flowing down a hill. The suffix "ode" means "path." Whewell also coined "anion" and "cation" for Faraday rather than Mike's suggested "zetode" and "stechion."


Have You Been "Plutoed?"

The American Dialect Society has named "plutoed" the 2006 Word of the Year:
to pluto/be plutoed: to demote or devalue someone or something, as happened to the former planet Pluto when the  Int'l Astronomical Union decided Pluto no longer met its definition of a planet.

Other 2006 Words

data Valdez: an accidental release of a large quantity of private or privileged info (Exxon Valdez).

climate canary: organism or species whose poor health or declining numbers hint at a larger environmental catastrophe on the horizon.

boomeritis: afflictions or injuries of Baby Boomers, caused by their age.

flog: a fake blog whose purpose is to promote a commercial product.


Some Things to Do With Your Camera Phone

* Use the Pictavision Postcards software to turn you phone pictures into instant e-postcards, with text and voice messages if you like, and send them instantly, for about $3-$6.
* Engage in what is essentially phone cam espionage or voyeurism. Upload your phone pic of anything, anywhere, to  ScanR.com, and they will send you an e-mail with a PDF file containing the image. Warning: Don't think they don't keep a copy to turn over as evidence if necessary.
* Take from 10-35 shots of any item from all angles, upload them to Picture Cloud, and the site will create a 360° object that can be rotated for viewing.
* While walking around, take a picture of a 2-D barcode on something and upload it to Semapedia. The website will take you to the Wikipedia page describing the object.


Sony Li-Ion Battery Recalls in 2006 Cost: $429 M

Company Quantity
Apple 1.8 M
Dell 5.1 M
Fujitsu 287 k
Hitachi 16 k
IBM/Lenovo 526 k
Sharp 28 k
Toshiba 830 k


Time for a Split?

If you think that Google's (GOOG) recent stock price of over $500 per share is extravagant and a split is about due, consider this.

Gazillionaire Warren Buffet's company, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) today, November 28, 2006, is over $106,000 per share. You read it right. That makes it the highest priced stock on the market.

Engineering Salary vs. Hours Worked

 Electronic Design Research 2006

Hours/Week Salary
≤40 $82,353
41 to 45 $85,220
46 to 50 $90,725
51 to 55 $93,833
56 to 60 $102,150
>60 $109,563


0.9 = 0.999... = 1 ?

Yes, the decimal with an infinite repetition of 9s is in fact precisely equal to the number 1. The proof is quite simple, and many proofs exist. Consider that 0.3 = 0.333... = 1/3, exactly. It goes like this: 1/3 = 0.333..., and 3 x 1/3 = 1, so 3 x 0.333... also equals 1. Well, obviously 3 x 0.333... = 0.999..., therefore 0.999... must also equal 1. Q.E.D. Not convinced? Here is another. Let c = 0.999..., so 10c = 9.999..., and 10c-c=9.999... - 0.999... = 9 = 9c. Solving then c = 1, which according to the original definition, c = 0.999... = 1. Q.E.D. again.



22,300 Miles

This altitude is significant because it produces an orbital period equal to the Earth's period of rotation (known as the sidereal day), which of course results in a geosynchronous orbit. OK, so maybe you knew that already. Did you also know that the mailing address of Comsat Labs is 22,300 Comsat Drive Drive, Clarksburg, MD? Comsat was the U.S. signatory for the Inmarsat radiotelephone system, and developed the "Comsat Maneuver" that maintains a constant footprint on Earth. I worked for Comsat at that location for a little over three years in the early 1990s. Anybody out there?


Meteor, Meteoroid, Meteorite?

Contrary to the belief of many, a "meteor" is only the streak of light seen as a "meteoroid" travels through the upper atmosphere. Once the meteoroid hits the surface, it becomes a "meteorite." A meteoroid is any interplanetary particle larger than a grain of dust, but smaller than an asteroid.

Fact #1: A foot-thick blanket of Kevlar protects the International Space Station from meteoroid impacts.

Fact #2: Martian meteorites fetch up to $500/gram.

Fact #3: You can buy validated meteorites on eBay.

Patent Cooperation Treaty

Application by Nationality


(applications for U.S. patents

by foreign interests)

EETimes Research

Country # Patents
  China 13,500
  India 10,500
  Canada 6,900
  U.K. 6,900
  Germany 4,000
  France 2,400
  Russia 2,000
  S. Korea 2,000
  Japan 1,800
  Australia 1,300
  Italy 1,000
  Israel 1,000
  Iran 700


Global Spending on NanoTech ($Millions)

  US EU Japan
05 1,081 1,050 950
04 989 950 900
03 862 650 800
02 697 400 720
01 465 225 465
00 270 200 245
99 255 179 157


Genesis of the Transistor Schematic Symbol

Have you ever had a "well, duh" moment? I had one while researching the Bel Labs notebook page from December 24, 1957, describing the first transistor1947 notebook page from Bell Labs describing the invention of the first transistor. First point contact transistor from Bell LabsThe linked page above shows the entire contents. Of particular interest is the part where Brattian drew his team's point contact transistor. Note the excerpt to the left that depicts the transistor. Now, remove the "point contact" and you see what looks like today's bipolar junction transistor symbol. Coincidence?


An Argument for Nuclear Power

Newly commissioned aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) can exceed 30 knots and carries USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77)80+ aircraft in its 1,092-foot length. Its four brass propellers each weight 30 tons and are powered by two nuclear reactors that can operate for *20* years without refueling. Now *that* is why we need to bring back nuclear power plants!

Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy ™

Top Reasons Why Engineers Change Jobs

 Electronic Design Research 2006

Reason Rating
Higher compensation 1
More interesting work 2
Personal fulfillment 3
Job stability 4
More dynamic company 5
Stock options 6
More responsibility 7
Personal/family needs 8
New geographical area 9
Poor management 10
Seeking less stress 11
Skill set underutilized 12
Fear of layoff 13
Join a start-up 14


Distribution of Professional Occupations in the U.S.

 Electronic Design Research 2006

Profession %
Education, Training, & Library 30
Health & Technical 24
Computer & Math Science 11
Engineering & Architecture 9
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, Media 9
Community & Social Services 8
Life, Physical, & Social Sciences 5
Legal 4


How Average Are You?

According to Electronic Design's latest extensive poll of more than 2,500 engineers and managers, the "Average" engineer has following traits:

 Is Male

 • Is 47 years old

 Makes $96,319 per year

 Has 21 years of


  Works 54 hours per week

 Has been at his current

   company for 10 years

 Has been promoted 2

    times with that employer

  Has worked at 3 or 4

    different companies in

    his career

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