"col·lu·sion \kə-´lü-zhən\ Noun:
Secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, esp. in order to cheat or deceive others" By now everyone knows that unless you take extreme measures
to prevent it, almost all websites contain elements that have the ability to track some or all of your movements around the Internet. Not every
method of tracking is nefarious, and some is even welcome by Web surfers. In fact, it is unreasonable to expect that any website which provides
subscription-free access to its contents not be permitted to serve revenue generating advertisements to pay for the overhead costs and even
allow the purveyor to make a profit. However, there are scads of stories about companies that set cookies on your computer that allow them to
track your every movement even if it is not related to your mission. Mozilla recently came out with an AddOn for their Firefox browser named
"Collusion," that allows you to see exactly how many external sites are
tracking your activity and even displays the names of the websites doing so. As I was snooping around for technical headlines today, I took
the time to plug many of websites into the Collusion application to see what they looked like. The resulting Collusion maps are shown below.
The target websites are displayed in green and the "tracker" website names are in yellow. Lines interconnect websites according to their relationships
with other websites. Note that for many sites, trackers go on to send your information to other tracker websites...
A huge collection of my 'Factoids' can be accessed from my 'Kirt's Cogitations'
table of contents.
Topical Smorgasbord, another manifestation of Factoids,
are be found on these pages:
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4 | 5
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11 | 12 |
13 | 14
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16 | 17 |
18 | 19
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21 | 22
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24 | 25 |
26 | 27
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29 | 30 |
31 | 32
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34 | 35 |
All pertain to topics that are related to the general engineering and science theme
of RF Cafe.
There has been a headlong rush by companies to set up accounts
on Facebook, Twitter, and other social websites and services. The thumbnail to the left shows 100+ such entities managed by the
AddThis website (for the Engineer website). I have visited
the Facebook pages of quite a few high-tech companies that offer circuit components, equipment racks, software, design services, books, etc.
All of these companies also have very nice and useful traditional websites. From what I see, Facebook in particular seems to be a colossal waste
of time and effort since most of what appears there is self-promotion, with almost no interaction by anyone else. I won't cite specific companies'
Facebook pages, but pick five or six for yourself and see if my claim is valid. There are a handful of exceptions, as always, but in general
it is true. When there is any activity at all, it is usually when a contest or a special pricing deal is being offered when a visitor clicks
the "Like" button for them. When you do click the "Like" button, that company's postings then begin to show up on your Facebook page, so you
either need to hide everything they post or "Unlike" them. I set up a Facebook page for RF Cafe mainly to prevent anyone else from usurping
and exploiting the name. ...OK, also because I felt obligated to participate in the fad. There is almost no activity on the page, but at least...
n" list has been published, this time by CNN
Money for the top 100 best companies to work for. The list never includes the plethora of great locally-owned companies that employ the
majority of people in the country. However, if you prefer to work for megacorps, then it might be time to pull out the resume and update it
with keywords that will bubble to the top in HR's candidate selection software. Looking at the top salary list, you might be inclined to go to
med school since average physician pay at S. Ohio Med Center (#36) is $490k. Not so fast, though. Engineers
at Devon Energy (#28) average $178k, and at AutoDesk (#52) they make $150k
on average. Intel comes in at $134k and Qualcomm (#18) doles out $132k.
* we shop there - great place
Boston Consulting (who?)
Booz Allen Hamilton
3/9/2012It has been a while since I reported salary data for chieftains
in the electronics industry. With all the violence being threatened against achievers in the corporate world these days, I was a bit reluctant
to throw fuel on the fire by pointing out what long hours and hard work can achieve. No, not every one can get there, but the promise of a higher
goal motivates people to apply themselves to a greater degree than others. Natural-born intelligence and drive, plus a helping of luck, can
and often is the discriminator between who becomes king of the hill; however, there are lots of prince and knight positions available for the
rest of us (I'm more of a court jester in the regal line of ascension).
Fierce Wireless' 2011 list shows Apple CEO Tim Cook reaping $1/3B (up from $1/20B in 2010),
with the #2 slot earning less than 1/10th of that. The #10 position in
2010 yielded $5.9M for
U.S. Cellular CEO Mary Dillon, whereas #10 in 2011 only netted $5.0M. 2011 had a 75:1 ratio between the #1 and #10 position
(x=$52M, std dev=$115M). 2010's spread was only 10:1
(x=$17M, std dev=$16M).
Ralph de la Vega
For the last week, we have been inundated with stories on the 100-year
anniversary of the "unsinkable" RMS Titanic. Even after a century of research and exploration, no definitive cause has been determined relating
to how the ship's crew managed to hit a gigantic iceberg on a star-lit, glass-smooth sea. The prevailing theory seems to be that an optical
illusion due to an atmospheric inversion caused the crew to misjudge the position of the iceberg. An article in the March 2012
magazine lays out the scenario, complete with diagrams. The same edition has a story titled, "They Missed the Boat,"
discussing some of the famous people who were originally scheduled to make the voyage, but decided not to before it departed. Amongst the notables
was none other than 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics honoree Guglielmo Marconi. Instead, he left for America on the Lusitania three days earlier.
Interestingly, he also made the Atlantic passage on the Lusitania three years later on the trip immediately before a German U-Boat sunk it.
Talk about a charmed life! Marconi played a critical role in the Titanic drama without actually being aboard, since his company, Marconi Wireless
Telegraph Company, Ltd, owned the radio equipment aboard the Titanic and also employed the two radio operators. The April 2012 edition of the
ARRL's QST magazine...
Our president and other pontificating politicians,
particularly, it seems, those who hold college degrees in non-science realms, have recently taken to referring to anyone who does not hold their
points of view as "Flat Earthers" and anti-science. BTW, these are the same people who regularly chastise their opponents for name-calling and
uncivil discourse. Right out of the box they are hypocrites on that point alone. So, if to them others are anti-science, then they obviously
deem themselves to be pro-science. Would you consider a person who laments the invention of the ATM machine because it replaces bank tellers
or a ticket kiosk at the airport for robbing counter clerks pro- or anti-science? What about people who prefer to cripple society with a blinders-on
approach to energy production by insisting on using "renewable" sources while ignoring advances in fossil and nuclear power sources? Excuse
me for getting all sciency[sic] on them, but how is any form of energy production "renewable?" Once energy is extracted from wind, sunlight,
or water, can that spent energy be used again for something else? Of course not; that energy is converted into electrical energy so it NOT RENEWABLE!!!
Unless a wind generator has 0% efficiency (i.e., no electricity produced), its blades slow the air by robbing it of kinetic energy. Air exits
the blades at a lower speed. Yes, you might be able to argue that the energy in the wind is "renewed" in...
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
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
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!"...