More OTA information

Over at the denialism blog there is a post with a nice history of the OTA. There is also a list of links to other blogs who have posted on this subject at the end of the article, thanks for the link Mark. After you’ve made up your mind that we need the OTA back, go sign the petition and if you can, write or call your senators and congressman to ask them to bring back the OTA.

(I’m sure my three readers will all come to this conclusion because they are obviously very intelligent, they read my crap musings).

Calculation bug in Excel 2007

Users have discovered a rather severe calculation bug in Excel 2007. Some calculations that should result in 65,535 as a result end up giving 100,000. This could really screw me up if this slipped in to the middle of a long chain of calculations. I’m really glad now I decided to move to OpenOffice rather than upgrade to MS Office to 2007.

This week in EE Times

I read a couple of articles in this weeks EE Times that may be of interest to non-EE’s as well.

The first is about a pending war of the serial interfaces, USB 3.0 guns for Firewire. The print edition also contains a drawing of the new cable core for USB 3.0. The new cable has six additional conductors to accommodate the new two channel physical layer. I didn’t see any indication of what the new connectors will look like but, since they are leaving the existing four USB 2.0 conductors intact, it should be possible to make backwards compatible connectors. IEEE-1394 (Firewire) is also in the process of speeding up the transfer rates to about the same as USB 3.0. Firewire has an advantage in that its cable and connector system does not need to be changed to get the higher rate. Since USB 3.0 has 3 parallel serial channels maybe they should rename it UPSB, on second thought that sounds like a discount delivery service. 🙂

The other article is about how measurement and analysis methods from Electronics help predict global warming.

Some good mainstream Rachel Carson and DDT coverage

On this weeks Bill Moyers Journal they had nice coverage of the Rachael Carson and DDT topic, you can watch and/or read the transcript online. They also have a good article on their blog “E.O. Wilson on Rachel Carson” more show information here.

In the blogosphere, Tim and Bug Girl both pointed out a good new post by Aaron Swartz at FAIR , “Rachel Carson, Mass Murderer?“. Also, I’ve been pointed to more good posts on this topic by Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, see DDT and Rachel Carson .

Of course there is always tons of great info this topic via Tim of Deltoid here and Bug Girl here, here and, here.

The Rev. Moon and his Unification Church

Ed Brayton has been writing a series of articles for the Michigan Messenger on the Rev. Moon and his church entitled “Bad Moon Rising”. I remember when the Moonies first appeared in the US I was around 15. I thought they were just another silly cult that wouldn’t go far and would hopefully disappear. My Dad, an American Baptist minister at the time, told me he thought they’d be around a long time and he was concerned about their potential to cause problems here in the US. Well after reading Ed’s three articles I have to say, Dad, you were right.

FCC and CPSC news

Via Conformity magazine, Radio Operator Fined for Failing to Make Equipment Available for Inspection. This is important for US citizens to remember, if the FCC requests access to your property to investigate an interference claim, you are required to admit them. Failure to do so leaves you open to large fines, Mr. Winston could have avoided this $7000.00 fine if he had cooperated. Here’s the FCC’s forfeiture order for this case.

Most of the time I write about the FCC coming down hard on companies and individuals. For a change of pace here’s a case where the FCC is being very nice to an offender. The FCC issued a citation to for selling illegal wireless cameras. The cameras were operating at 1.2GHz which is a clearly restricted band allocated for aeronautical navigation systems. The company stopped selling the cameras as soon as they were notified of the violation so, the FCC did not fine them. The lesson here is, if your selling electronic devices and the FCC says stop, don’t resist, don’t hesitate, just stop selling them and cooperate as much as you can with the FCC. This will help you prevent receiving a big forfeiture order from them.

OK, I guess this needs to be said, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A LEGAL JAMMER. This is one of the very few areas of FCC regulation that is simple, nobody is allowed to jam radio signals of any kind. If you build, import or sell any type of jammer you can be fined if caught. Read about the latest actions on this issue over at Conformity.

Finally, the latest list of notable CPSC recalls is up at Conformity Magazine.

Custom quick launch pop-up menu for XP

I wanted to have a pop-up menu on my taskbar for accessing my Wizmo shortcuts. Rather than use an add-on program I wanted it to use just the standard OS supplied resources. When not activated it looks like the first image. All you see of it is a – and a >>, clicking the >> pops up a menu like the second image.

Here’s how I created it:

  1. Create a directory to hold all the shortcut’s you want in the menu (e.g. C:Utilities-). The name of the directory will be seen on the taskbar, in this example the name is “-“.
  2. Place all your shortcuts in the directory.
  3. Left click on the taskbar, choose “Toolbars – New Toolbar…”
  4. In the dialog that comes up, select the directory and select OK.

I’ve skipped over the basics of locking/unlocking the toolbar and setting it’s options, some instructions from Microsoft are here: Windows XP: Unlock Toolbars to Customize Them. One key option you need set for the custom toolbar to function as a pop-up menu is to have the “Show Title” option selected for the toolbar. You also need to shrink the toolbar size as much as possible to avoid seeing the toolbar’s icons in the taskbar.

Here are some links to sites with more info on customizing the taskbar and its toolbars:
Customize the Windows Taskbar
Create Your Own Custom Taskbar Toolbar
Customize Toolbars And Taskbar > Add New Toolbar
Windows XP: Customize the Taskbar

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