Travel, Code, and Engineering
on March 27, 2016 by Kurt Tomlinson
Everyone uses the table of elements, but not everyone calls the elements the same thing. For example, in the UK, the element with atomic number 13 is called "aluminium", whereas in the USA, it's called "aluminum".
I decided to look at the differences in names for some of the elements of the periodic table in American English and Korean. I found that, generally, the longer an element has been known, the more likely it is that the Korean name for that element differs from the American name.
In the table below, you can see the names of elements 1-56 and 72-86 in American English, Korean, and Romanized Korean (if the Korean name is substantially different from the American name) as well as the date of discovery. The date of discovery is given as * if the element was known to ancient civilizations. Generally, if an element was discovered before 1774, then the Korean and American names differ. Otherwise, they're the same outside of a few exceptions. This is interesting because one of the first efforts to systematically classify elements was published in 1789 by Antoine Lavoisier.
A couple notes about the Korean names:
Table 1. Selected Elements of the Periodic Table Sorted by Date of Discovery
Photo by Hans Splinter
on March 25, 2016 by Kurt Tomlinson
Apple recently made headlines for its newly unveiled "Apple Renew" program. What is it? It's a buyback program for old Apple products. Why are they doing it? According to Apple, it's good for the environment, and it rewards their customers for recycling their phones with cash. Really, it's just another way to increase revenue.
Is it really a coincidence that Apple unveils plans to buy back old iPhones on the same day that it launches the lowest-priced iPhone ever, the iPhone SE? Nope.
Let's start with a little bit of history. The iPhone SE replaced the iPhone 5S as only new 4-inch iPhone being sold directly from Apple in March, 2016. Before the iPhone SE was revealed, a new, unlocked 16 GB iPhone 5S sold for $450. On eBay, a used 16 GB iPhone 5S went for around $180-300 depending on its condition. In March, 2016, the iPhone 5S was replaced with the $400 iPhone SE.
Before the iPhone SE was released, people looking to buy an entry-level iPhone (or just any 4-inch iPhone) were probably trying to choose between buying a used iPhone 5S for $250 or a new iPhone 5S for $450. That's a pretty big premium to pay for a new phone over a used phone, but the Apple ecosystem is able to support it because of its luxury branding.
However, things change dramatically when the iPhone SE enters the picture. Now, consumers have to choose between a used iPhone 5S with internals that are 2.5 years out of date or a phone with an identical exterior, a much better camera, and an up-to-date processor. On top of all that, the new model only costs $400, the lowest a new, off-contract iPhone has ever cost. Now imagine what that will do to the resale value of the iPhone 5S. The iPhone 5S resale value would absolutely plummet. The price premium between a used iPhone 5S and the equivalent new iPhone drops by $50, and the opportunity cost of going with the used phone has increased because the new iPhone is faster and has a better camera. Additionally, the supply of used iPhone 5S phones would increase as the Apple faithful upgrade to the newest 4-inch iPhone, and increased supply causes additional downward pressure on the resale value. The resale value of the iPhone 5S would instantly drop by $50 to $150.
This pushes the cost of a used iPhone 5S down to $130 to $250, conservatively, or $100 to $220 in a more realistic scenario.
Each iteration of the iPhone has been successively less revolutionary, and this makes consumers desire the latest and greatest iPhone less and less. It's more and more common for people to stick with their iPhones for longer because there are fewer compelling reasons to upgrade now than in the past.
Consumers, faced with choosing to buy a $100 iPhone 5S or a $400 iPhone SE would shun the new phone in droves. Who wouldn't want a relatively recent, off-contract, iPhone for $100? Apple's iPhone sales have been growing more slower as of lately, and the huge supply of cheap, used iPhones has been a huge drag on Apple's main source of revenue: new iPhone sales.
So, if you're Apple, how do you stop used iPhones from eating into your new iPhone sales numbers? Simple, you put a cap on the minimum value resale value of your used phones. Apple did this in a brilliant marketing maneuver where their true intentions are hidden, and the public applauds them for being an environmentally green company: the Apple Renew program pays $150 for a used iPhone 5S. This program does two things for Apple. It increases the lower limit for the price of a used iPhone to a hard $150, and it reduces the number of used iPhones in circulation in the used iPhone market.
The lower limit supports the price of used iPhones, and the reduced number of used iPhones in circulation reduces used iPhone supply. Both put upward pressure on the price of used iPhones.
Now, the consumer looking to get an entry-level iPhone or just a 4-inch iPhone has the much easier choice of buying a used iPhone with a 2.5 year old design in sometimes unknown condition (when buying online) for about $250, or a brand new iPhone SE. Given the much smaller gap in price between the used iPhone 5S and the new iPhone SE as well as the spec differences in the two models, many consumers will choose to buy a new iPhone SE.
The end result? Huge numbers of iPhones sold. Who knows if Apple's profit will increase because of this move or not? Maybe the cost of running the Apple Renew program will eat most of the revenue gained by selling more new iPhones. Maybe it won't.
What's certain is that Apple will sell record numbers of iPhones and achieve record levels of revenue for another year. And that's all that matters to shareholders. In the end, Apple is just a company that's trying to make as much money as possible for its shareholders. If it can earn a positive image as a green company while doing so, then that's just icing on the cake.
Note: I'm sure the good people working at Apple do care about the environment. The main point I'm trying to make is that Apple is just a company, and anthropomorphizing it and believing that it "cares" about the environment is naive. Companies are nothing more than legal entities that don't have the capacity to care about anything. In this situation, as in most situations in life, there is a level of nuance that isn't always readily apparent. My goal in writing this was solely to share my observations on a piece of marketing that I found to be particularly well executed.
Photo by Yagan Kiely
on March 20, 2016 by Kurt Tomlinson
My wife recently bought a selfie stick at Target for $5. It worked the first couple times she tried it after bringing it home from the store. However, problems emerged a few weeks later when she tried to use it again. We'd already thrown away the receipt, so fixing it was the only option.
I dutifully broke out my multimeter and set to work. I measured the resistance between each of the four terminals on the audio jack both with and without the button depressed. There was an open circuit between all of the terminals when the button was not depressed, as I had expected. When I pressed the button, the resistance between the two terminals farthest from the tip dropped to about 219 Ω.
I did a little bit of research and found out that those two terminals are the microphone and ground terminals.
While researching how selfie sticks for iPhones work, I found a couple more important details. I already knew that selfie sticks worked by sending a volume down/volume up command just like the remote control in a set of Apple earphones. Obviously the up and down commands have to be different so the phone knows if you want the volume increased or decreased. With a button, the easiest way to do this is to make each button have a different resistance.
Since I measured a non-zero resistance when the button was depressed, and the resistance changed when I depressed the button, it seemed like the stick should have been working just fine. When I pulled the rubber handle up to examine the pushbutton, I saw that the terminals of the button were exposed solder, and they were able to contact the metal frame of the selfie stick. My theory is that the switch was sometimes shorted out when it wasn't supposed to be, so the phone identified it as malfunctioning and ignored all commands from it.
My fix for this was pretty simple. I placed a piece of masking tape between the button and the metal frame. I then added a couple more pieces of tape on top to keep the button in place. Since making this simple modification, the selfie stick is now working normally again. You can see the modifications I made in the image below.
Sources / additional reading:
Photo by Nick Hubbard
on March 13, 2016 by Kurt Tomlinson
A lot of Raspberry Pi projects I've seen on the internet are pretty complicated and require the use of a lot of extra components. The projects that get the most attention are usually esoteric or hard to reproduce. I was able to find a couple useful projects that pretty much anyone can do without purchasing any extra components. This is the second blog post in the series, and it covers how to use a enable SSH without a password on your Raspberry Pi.
Typing in your username and password every time you log into your raspberry pi can be a pain. By creating a public/private RSA key pair, you can log into your Raspberry Pi without typing a thing.
First, using [PuTTYgen], "Generate" a key pair, "save private key" somewhere safe where you can easily access it, and copy the "public key for pasting into OpenSSH authorized_keys file."
Then log into your Raspberry Pi via SSH. Open up the authorized_keys file by entering the command nano /home/pi/.ssh/authorized_keys. Right click to paste your public key into the file. Press Ctrl-O, enter, Ctrl-X to save the file and exit Nano.
In PuTTY, you can add your private key to your saved Raspberry Pi profile by adding the private key. (Ignore the ₩ symbols in the file's path. My PC's region is set to Korea to support certain non-Unicode-aware Korean programs. This causes issues with how the backslash character is displayed in some programs because of some reasons that I'd rather not explain right now.)
Did YOU have success following these instructions? Let me know in the comments.
Photo by Jacob Bøtter
on March 6, 2016 by Kurt Tomlinson
A lot of Raspberry Pi projects I've seen on the internet are pretty complicated and require the use of a lot of extra components. The projects that get the most attention are usually esoteric or hard to reproduce. I was able to find a couple useful projects that pretty much anyone can do without purchasing any extra components. This is the first blog post in the series, and it covers how to use a Raspberry Pi [Raspberry Pi] as a print server so you can put your printer anywhere in your house.
If you've got an old USB-only printer, you might be a little tired of it by now. It's annoying that the printer has to be on your desk or otherwise within about 10 feet of your computer. And what if you have a laptop? Then the computer that the printer is connected to has to be turned on and properly configured to share that printer with every other computer in your house. It's a hassle, and leaving that main computer powered on is a huge waste of energy. If you use a Raspberry Pi as a printer server, you can save a lot of that energy, and put your printer anywhere you can put your Raspberry Pi. I put mine in my closet along with my WiFi router and cable modem.
These basic steps are the same for pretty much every Raspberry Pi project. Connect all the cables and make sure you have a bootable operating system.
Run the commands below to install CUPS. CUPS is the software that will any computer on your network to use your printer.
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install cups
Then you need to add the pi user to the "lpadmin" group so you can configure CUPS.
sudo usermod -a -G lpadmin pi
And finally, tell cups to allow itself to be configured remotely.
sudo cupsctl --remote-any
sudo /etc/init.d/cups restart
If you're using Uncomplicated Firewall, open a hole for CUPS with the command below.
sudo ufw allow 631/tcp
At this point, you can disconnect from your Raspberry Pi. The rest of the work can take place on any computer on your LAN. To add a printer, you have to point a web browser to port 631 of your Raspberry Pi. For example, if your Raspberry Pi's local IP address is 192.168.1.123, then you can type "http://192.168.1.123:631" into your browser and hit enter.
Once you've reached the CUPS configuration page, go to the Administration menu and click the "Add a Printer" button. The rest of adding the printer is straightforward. Just make sure to check any checkboxes that enable sharing for this printer. If you can't find the right driver for your printer, you can try searching on Google for "CUPS driver XYZ" where XYZ is your printer's model.
Adding this printer to Windows computers is dead simple. Go to the CUPS configuration page in your browser, click the "Printers" link, and then finally click on the click for the printer that you installed. Once you're on your printer's CUPS page, copy the URL from your browser's URL bar. It should look something like "http://192.168.1.123:631/printers/Brother-HL-2040".
In Windows, press the Windows key, type "printer", and click "Add a printer". In the box that pops up, click "Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer". Then click "The printer that I want isn't listed". Click the button "Select a shared printer by name" and paste the printer's URL into the box. Click next.
That's it. You can try printing a test page now to see your networked printer in action. How did these instructions work out for YOU? Let me know in the comments below.
Photo by Clive Darra