Dan's Data letters #18Publication date: 1-Jan-2003.
Last modified 03-Dec-2011.
Something to bang your head against, maybe:
Ah, free energy.
Basically, it's another free-energy "licensing" scam. "Genesis World Energy" are trying to sell people licenses to "assemble, distribute, sell and service" their magical "Edison Device", which is a thing that's supposed to crack water into hydrogen and oxygen, and then recombine it, using less power to crack it than it outputs in recombining it. It no doubt also increases the size of male genitals, prevents bad weather, and removes cat poo from behind the couch.
The cool thing about running a free-energy scam in this way is that you, the scammer, don't need to make any significant number of your impossible devices. You make a rigged demo unit or two and show it to the rubes in your travelling dog-and-pony show, a la Dennis Lee (see here and here if you want to hear his side of the story), but you state right up front that nobody can buy the devices from you. They have to buy from licensees, see, who will make the slick retail units that you haven't made yet, which is why your demo unit looks so fake.
And wouldn't you know it, buddy, but this is the ideal time to get in on the ground floor as a licensee yourself! Hey, can I interest you in a $5000 reservation fee, to make sure that you'll be the only licensee in your county? Once you've paid that, we can start talking about the license fee itself!
It's always the same deal with these sorts of operations. They scam the gullible, they take the money, they make excuses until the money supply starts drying up, then they blow away.
This particular free-energy mole has only just popped up, so nobody seems to have had time to whack it yet (despite the fact that Genesis World Energy's claims, if true, would arguably represent the single greatest technological advance in human history, there seems to be practically no information about these people anywhere). But assuming it's not just a harmless hoax (the domain is registered to the "Law Offices of Charles Shaw", so who knows) it's nothing new at all.
Over and over, some amazing visionary alleges that he's done an end-run past every physicist in the world and come up with an incredible new technology that actively contradicts all of the scientific knowledge that brings you all of the high-tech stuff that you see working every day. Sure. And yet people will pay money to have a chance to sell this snake oil to others, despite not having had the chance to check the thing out properly.
The good folk on sci.energy.hydrogen frequently bat these scam artists around, for all the good it does.
Update on this story, as of the end of 2005: Original Genesis World Energy site toast. New "Beyond World Energy" Genesis Scientific site alive, but not updated for some time, which may just possibly have something to do with the proprietor's arrest and indictment.
Further update, as of November 2006: He got five years.
I saw your old review of the Diamond Viper V550 video card and I'm hoping you can answer a couple of questions for me. In the review, you mentioned that you were using Nvidia's "Detonator reference" drivers.
The first question is, don't you have to use Diamond's drivers?
Are Nvidia's drivers compatible even though this is (was) a Diamond-made board?
I realize it's using Nvidia's chipset, but it didn't occur to me that I could use Nvidia's drivers. It doesn't make sense to me that Diamond would provide their own drivers if Nvidia's drivers work.
Anyway, I certainly hope I can use them, since I've been living with a Photoshop display glitch for 2 years now. Perhaps a new driver will fix it, since Diamond's latest drivers are circa late 1999 / early 2000.
Also, if I upgrade to Nvidia's drivers, what do I miss? For example, there's an icon in my system tray from Diamond's software that allows pull-up menu video mode switching, which is kind of handy. Do I lose this entirely or does Nvidia's driver have a similar function? It wouldn't be the end of the world, but I just want to know what will be different.
Also, do you have any installation tips / gotchas like do I have to remove the old drivers first, etc. or can I install with the old ones still active?
Nvidia's current reference drivers work with everything from the original TNT to the GeForce4, and that's always been the case. It's not actually the same driver for every card; there are lots of them all rolled up into one ball, as it were, which is why the self-extracting archive from Nvidia's site expands to about 20 megabytes of data.
Yes, you can use the reference drivers with any card using one of the supported chipsets, no matter who made it. Some extra features on some cards might not work properly with the reference drivers - TV in and out, 3D glasses and such - but apart from that, they'll be fine.
Almost every maker of a graphics card using a particular company's chipset releases its own drivers for that card, even though the chipset maker's reference drivers will work. In many cases, the "brand name" drivers are just a minor facelift, purely for branding reasons, of the reference drivers. Sometimes the drivers provided with the card are the reference drivers, completely unchanged.
Usually, switching to the generic drivers won't mean you lose anything important. The Nvidia drivers offer a "QuickTweak" thing that's not unlike the old Diamond resolution switch widget, though not quite as simple. It's easy to use outboard applications to do the same thing, though; Entech's PowerStrip is probably the most popular of them.
Provided your current driver install isn't broken, you should be OK to upgrade by just running the Setup program from the reference drivers and following the prompts. If you're paranoid, you could try changing your video adapter driver back to the basic Standard VGA driver first.
Why is DDR RAM being sold as "DDR SDRAM"? Is that not saying "double data RAM single data RAM" ?
DDR memory is SDRAM; "SDRAM" stands for "Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory".
This is confusing, of course, because "Single Data Rate" gives the same three letters as "Synchronous Dynamic Random", and "SDR SDRAM" therefore looks like a mistake. But it isn't.
I've been reading through your site, and came across something about megabytes (1000 kilobytes) vs megabytes (1024 kilobytes), plus something else about bits and bytes.
Someone asked me about this a couple of weeks ago and my first reaction was as yours - 1024 is kilo, 1024 times 1024 is mega, as far as bytes go - but it's seemingly not so.
This National Institute of Standards and Technology page lists the standard 20 SI prefixes for use with the SI units. These are all defined as powers of 10 - 10^3 = kilo (k), 10^6 = mega (M), etc.
The interesting bit is at the bottom:
"Because the SI prefixes strictly represent powers of 10, they should not be used to represent powers of 2. Thus, one kilobit, or 1 kbit, is 1000 bit and not 210 bit = 1024 bit. To alleviate this ambiguity, prefixes for binary multiples have been adopted by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for use in information technology."
...and they provide this link, which introduces the base-2 prefixes. So (according to NIST), a hard disk manufacturer who sells you an 80Gb drive (80,000,000,000 bytes) is correct. When you format it and look at the free space under Windows, and it says 74Gb or so, what it is actually referring to is "gibibytes" (which I think could be a contender for the best computer terminology ever - especially for FPS fans).
I've mentioned the poor orphaned kibibyte and mebibyte and gibibyte a couple of times, in passing; see here and here, for instance. Their existence is pretty much irrelevant, because people, including OS developers, just don't use them. As you say, if you format your new "80Gb" drive in Windows, bing, there's 74.5Gb of space on it, every time.
OK, maybe drive makers are technically correct, but they're still going against what people actually understand the terms to mean. You can make the argument that you're technically correct if you say "the rebel forces have been decimated, lord Vader", when you have killed one in ten of them, because that is indeed what "decimate" means. Unfortunately, in common usage, and in the dictionaries these days as well, "decimate" generally indicates much greater casualties, or damage. If Lord Vader assumes you meant you'd wiped out at least half of those scruffy irritating Jedi sympathisers, most of those smelly Wookiees, and all of the bloody Ewoks, then your technical correctness is likely to count for little in his cybernetically enhanced eyes when he discovers that nine out of ten of the blighters are still out there.
I don't think drive manufacturers give two hoots whether they're technically correct or not. They'd use powers-of-ten units even if the IEC wanted them to use powers of two, and threatened them with orbital laser bombardment if they didn't. The manufacturers just want a unit that makes their drives look bigger.
I am thinking about asking somebody for a radio controlled Dodge Viper for Christmas, but I have no idea where to point them! I want something a little bit more powerful than the Mini-Z. I was wondering if you have any hints.
If you want a "proper" R/C car with a Viper body, there are tons of options. You can put a Viper body on any 10th scale R/C on-road car, and if you don't want to build a kit, there are quite a few ready-to-run ("RTR") pre-built options, some of which come with a Viper body, and all of which can accept one - though if you start with a short-wheelbase kit or RTR car, you'll probably need to get a couple of option parts to stretch it to suit longer bodies like a Viper.
Nikko have a pre-built 10th scale Viper that looks about as good as an entry-level on-road kit. If you want something more tweakable, though, an actual entry-level on-road kit is definitely the way to go. Start with a Tamiya TL01, or something, and just slap a Viper body on it.
An HPI Micro RS4 with a Dodge Viper body would be small (18th scale), but very fast.
Here's some info on RTR 10th scale cars.
I read your info on LEDs. I want to connect 3-4 LEDs together. I connected two wires from a "AA" battery (1.5V). I connected the positive to a resistor (brown, black, brown), then the other side to an LED's long leg, then the other leg of the LED to the negative of battery. Nothing happened.
What did I do wrong?
You fed the LED too little voltage. Depending on what kind of LED it is, it probably would give you a glimmer of light, at best, from 1.5 volts without a resistor. With a hundred ohms in series, it won't do anything.
You need to know the nominal ratings of your LED, and work out your power supply from there. I describe how to do this in my caselight piece.
I just bought a lamp for my bedroom, and when I wanted to turn it on, I could find no switch! And then when I touched the base of the lamp, it turned on. Each time I put my hand (or a finger) on the base, it turns on or off. I checked the box, and it talks about a touch based switch, in marketing language.
How can that work? I tried with a pen and things like that; nothing happens. Same thing with my fingernail. But even the smallest tap with my finger will turn it on.
Since I don't really want to break it, I won't open it, but I would like to know if you know how it works.
Lazy Dan's Links That Answer The Question So He Doesn't Have To:
Thanks for your old review of the Teac CD-C68E. My problem is, I have no driver for Win2000 for it. Is there one?
No, there isn't. As far as I know, no ATA CD changer will work as more than a single slot device in WinNT, Win2000 or WinXP. You can manually swap discs, but that's hardly a solution.