MAKE blog link dump

So many interesting projects that I can’t write up an article for all of them. Check these out for some pretty neat projects.

Now that’s a lot of reading for you to catch up on.  And me, too.  I’m so far behind on my techie/geek reading.

[tags]MAKEzine, MAKEblog, MAKE, link dump[/tags]


In trying to rework the site theme and change how things look, I messed up the sidebar.  I apologize for that, and will work on getting it fixed as soon as I can.  Until I get it worked out, the sidebar is at the end of the page instead of the top.  Ooops.

Depression Patch Approved

Well, the folks covered in the following article won’t need this, but I’ll probably find a use for it, personally.

WASHINGTON (AP)—Federal regulators approved the first antidepressant skin patch on Tuesday, providing a different way to administer a drug already used by Parkinson’s disease patients.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the selegiline transdermal patch, agency spokeswoman Susan Cruzan said. The drug belongs to a class of medicines that is rarely a first or even second choice to treat depression.

Shoot. Not a first or second choice? Guess that leaves me out of the likely market. My problems are easily handled by the most mild anti-depressants out there.

The FDA will require the drug to bear a so-called “black-box” warning of the risks of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children and adolescents treated with antidepressants. The drug is meant for use only by adults.

Honestly, I’ve always been surprised that anyone is surprised to hear people who are very depressed have suicidal thoughts when on the strongest anti-depressants. Really, if these people are depressed enough to need the stronger medicines, don’t they already fall in to the group of people likely to have suicidal thoughts? I don’t mean to make light of this, and I certainly don’t know enough about the statistics of various groups to know if there is any real meaning, but it doesn’t come as a shock to me that very depressed people sometimes have suicidal thoughts, even when medicated.

[tags]Anti-depressant, Depression patch[/tags]

The Keys to Happiness, and Why We Don’t Use Them

Yeah, I take anti-depressants.  According to this article, I shouldn’t need them.

“Research shows that people who are grateful, optimistic and forgiving have better experiences with their lives, more happiness, fewer strokes, and higher incomes,” according to Easterbrook. “If it makes world a better place at same time, this is a real bonus.”

Hmmmmm.  Have you ever seen Groundhog day?  The scene where Andy McDowell’s character is listing her traits of a perfect man and Bill Murray’s character says “Me. Me. Also me.” comes to mind here.  Only for me, I’d think of the above characteristics and say “Not me.  Not me.  Not me.”

“If you are looking for something to complain about, you are absolutely certain to find it,” Easterbrook told LiveScience. “It requires some effort to achieve a happy outlook on life, and most people don’t make it. Most people take the path of least resistance. Far too many people today don’t make the steps to make their life more fulfilling one.”

Hey!  Now that’s starting to sound like me.    🙂

One route to more happiness is called “flow,” an engrossing state that comes during creative or playful activity, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has found. Athletes, musicians, writers, gamers, and religious adherents know the feeling. It comes less from what you’re doing than from how you do it.

Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California at Riverside has discovered that the road toward a more satisfying and meaningful life involves a recipe repeated in schools, churches and synagogues. Make lists of things for which you’re grateful in your life, practice random acts of kindness, forgive your enemies, notice life’s small pleasures, take care of your health, practice positive thinking, and invest time and energy into friendships and family.

The happiest people have strong friendships, says Ed Diener, a psychologist University of Illinois. Interestingly his research finds that most people are slightly to moderately happy, not unhappy.

Well, I have strong friendships.  It’s just that mine are with the same people I was friends with 20+ years ago or with people I only know online.  But that counts for something, I’m sure.  And look – I’m up there in the list of people who know the feeling of the “flow.”  See, I’m a gamer.  My wife will be happy to know that I know how to be happy.Oh, and according to the article, happy people “…on average have stronger immune systems, are better citizens at work, earn more income, have better marriages, are more sociable, and cope better with difficulties. “  Sounds just like me.  See, this article has already improved my life, my wife’s life, and my marriage.

[tags]Happiness, How to be happy[/tags]

Build your own lightbulb

DIY light bulb

Building your own lightbulb this way is not economically feasible (the author estimates $50 to do one bulb), but it’s just so dang cool.  I may seriously have to try this out myself and then do it with my kids.  I think they have enough of my geek genes to appreciate the cool geekiness of this project.  And I’ve learned about how lightbulbs work just reading about how to build one.

It’s a whole lot easier to just displace the air with an inert gas that’s at the same pressure as the surrounding air, which is how most modern bulbs work. Common household lightbulbs use a mixture of argon and nitrogen. Fancy krypton flashlights and xenon headlamps use those eponymous heavier noble gases to allow the filament to burn longer and hotter.

So you don’t even need a good vacuum pump – just a reliable way to get inert gas into the bulb.  The article even covers that (he used helium).

[tags]Light, DIY[/tags]

Bird Flu Jumps to Cat in Germany

Well, this can’t be good news. I haven’t kept careful track of the bird flu lately, but I suppose jumping species is never considered a positive thing.

BERLIN (AP)—The deadly strain of bird flu was confirmed Tuesday in a cat in northern Germany, the first time the virus has been identified in a mammal in the 25 nations of the European Union.

[tags]Bird flu[/tags]

Black hole flight simulator

This is so unrelated to anything of interest to most people, I’m not sure I should even post it.  But hey, this is my bandwidth, and I get to put what I want.  So, up goes the story of the black hole flight simulator (New York times web site – registration required).

The “Black Hole Flight Simulator” was created by Andrew Hamilton, an astrophysicist at the University of Colorado, for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The 23-minute show contains segments that required 90 hours of supercomputer calculation for each on-screen second. You can see the trailer here (and look out for the guy in the canoe).

Wow!  A 23 minute show that required 90 hours of computation for each second displayed?  Let’s see, that’s 23 minutes times 60 second per minute times 90 hours per second showed.  Work that out, and you get something like, ummmm, a whole buncha-lotta-wowza time required to build that (actually, I think it comes to about 16.5 years of computing time required to build the video).

I’m going to have to watch that video when I get some time to sit and watch it all.  Sounds fascinating.  Now, when will they make a game out of this?

[tags]Black hole, Flight simulator, event horizon[/tags]

If I were king II

People who listen to their radios so loud that you can’t hear your own radio when you are next to them at a traffic light would have their radio removed from the car.  If they want to get a new one, that’s up to them.  But another offense will result in another radio removed.

[tags]If I were king[/tags]

Repair your laptop display on your own

I’ve never needed to do this to a laptop, but I’ve done it to a cell phone.  The process is pretty much the same, you’re just working with more expensive parts.   🙂

The worst thing that can happen to a portable computer owner – aside from having his wife or girlfriend leave him or his hard disk go up in smoke – is irreparable damage to its built-in, but relatively sensitive liquid crystal (LCD) display. (No, I’m not putting women on the same pedestal as hard disks, what are you thinking?) This might happen because of an entirely innocuous-seeming mishap, such as leaving a pencil lying on the notebook’s keyboard and failing to remove it before closing the clamshell. A firm slap on the top deck to force the unit closed and presto you’ve got a serious problem with your LCD! Another common misadventure involves cracking the screen when you or a colleague trip over a portable’s power or network cables, hurling the computer to the floor with a sickening crunch. Ouch!

[tags]LCD, laptop, DIY repair[/tags]