Not Breaking Broken Glass

01.19.54 - Mark

Results of engraving part of an glass bottle
While I still need to improve on cutting panes of glass in less random lines, and cutting glass bottles that don't resemble a bar fight, I've been keeping some of the scraps for tests or side projects. Today I was playing with engraving them with a dremel tool and some diamond tip engraver bits I acquired last week. Nothing special, but a fun little project. However if I do more of it, a dremel flex shaft would be a wise investment.

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Unsafe at any Amperage?

22.54.58 - Mark

There's a neat round table discussion over at MAKE showing the thought process behind a decision to drop a high voltage project from the 9th issue. The project in question recommended using parts from an old CRT monitor to build a small levitation device.

I've seen these before, they're pretty neat and I can see building one. Even if I don't build it I want to see that article. However I also understand the issues at hand, I've been active on hardware hacking forums for years, and I've seen several dozen sides to the dangers of CRTs argument.

I will personally do some work in AIO macs and have taken apart a couple of monitors, but mucking about in a CRT monitor isn't my idea of a real good time. To date, I've never been shocked and I only have a few basic rules I go by (good insulated gloves, treat CRTs with respect, always have someone nearby in case the worst happens)

Getting to the point, I don't know if they were right or wrong in the decision to kill the article. I'm almost inclined to say they were wrong in cutting it. There are still mentions of the lifter project (page 54 - Electrogravitics), and there were at least two projects in the fringe issue that dealt with high voltage devices (page 66 - Kirlian Photography and page 138 - TV Set Salvage).

What I would probably do, especially where there doesn't seem to be any really solid resource on the threat posed by CRTs, is publish more safety information. Every single science textbook I've ever laid hands on had one of its first chapters dedicated to safety. A safety column or mini-poster in each issue wouldn't add too much cost, but add a good deal of value. Outline the dangers in that quarter's issue and run down the safety measures.

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Too many options

03.19.17 - Mark

90% of the time Ubuntu Linux rocks, and is easy to move to and from in the 4 OS enviroment I'm crazy enough to live in (Mac OS X, "Classic" versions of the mac OS, Windows XP, and Ubuntu)

It's that 10% of the time that keeps it (and linux in general) from being a major desktop OS contender. Sometimes its almost needing a computer science degree to get software installed, fighting with various devices to work, or even occassional wonkiness when going about everyday use that you either find a work around or dig though pages of bug reports and command line hacks. What really keeps it out of reach for many users is the thirty-two thousand ways you can do any one task.

A couple weeks ago on Black Friday I picked up a cheap hard drive figuring I'd need it somewhere eventually. I wasn't dissappointed when my linux box shard crying for more storage space a week later. After getting some better IDE cables (the box has physical space management issues) I went and installed the drive yesterday. On a windows box, I could use the drives included software to format the drive. On a Mac, I could just use Disk Utility.

Under Ubuntu I had to use 7 or 8 seperate software tools, consult help documentation on at least 3 of them. Study several online howtos, actually had to follow two of them, and muck around in a handful of system config files. Yes I like having control over my computer, but I don't happen to like spending an hour and a half partitioning, formatting, and mounting hard drives when I should be able to do it in 10 to 15 minutes.

To save others a bit of time This article covers how to wipe the drive and install a filesystem, then this one tells you how to actually get your new drive to mount on startup.

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