Dan's Data letters #86Publication date: 21 Jan 2004.
Last modified 28-Apr-2012.
I recently upgraded my digital camera to the Canon PowerShot A70 from a Kodak DC210 that has given me quite a few years of good service.
My question is about CompactFlash cards. I currently have a SanDisk 64mb CF card that says "4X" on it. Is there really a difference in the speed that a camera can write to the memory? What guidelines would you recommend in choosing the right card? 3.2 megapixels takes up a decent chunk when shooting really nice pictures.
A shout-out to all the competition over at DPChallenge please, too!
Yes, there is a difference - and you've got a slow one! SanDisk may have invented the format, but their cards have been playing catch-up for a while now. Some reasonably current numbers are here, but Rob Galbraith's comparison is better.
Slow write times aren't a problem for modern cameras with a reasonably large buffer, unless you're shooting like crazy and have filled the buffer up. Your A70 has a seven shot buffer even at maximum JPEG size and quality, so you're not likely to notice much improvement from a faster card.
You could probably use a bigger card, though; 256 and 512Mb cards are quite affordable these days, and at least a 128Mb would give you substantially greater image capacity. There are a few cheap brands with excellent performance, so you needn't feel too worried about just buying a cheapie on eBay (from a dealer with lots of good feedback, naturally).
I have a laptop with a IBM 2.5 inch HDD, part number 25L2714. I have bought a 2.5 inch to standard IDE converter so I can plug it into my desktop. I want to copy some files from the laptop to my desktop (and my laptop doesn't have a NIC or any other easy way to get data from A to B).
My problem is I don't know which way around to plug the ribbon cable into the drive. The pins on the drive are keyed (a pin is missing), but the ribbon cable is not. Bearing in mind that the power goes in through the cable, If I get it the wrong way around I'm going to cook something. There are no markings on the on the drive and I can't find anything on the Net.
I know I have to fit the marked (in red) end of the cable to pin 1 on the drive.
Using my poor ASCII art skills the end of the drive looks like this:...................... .. ............ ......... ..
My ASCII art skills are also poor. Fortunately, my photography skills are 1337.
The layout of the 44-pin connector is actually the same as it is for the bigger 40-pin IDE connector. Looking at it like this, pin 1 is at the top right of the main block of pins (the four separate ones are "vendor specific" and need not concern us here). Pin 2 is below pin 1, pin 3 is to the left of pin 1, pin 4 is to the left of pin 2, and so on. So, as with regular 3.5 inch drives, the striped wire of the cable goes to the right, if you're looking at the drive right way up and from behind.
Check Your Work addendum: The missing "key" pin is number 20.
You can find a full 40/44 pin connector pinout, and various others, here.
I have a Digitrex DSC 2100, and I just finish reading your review of it. I think you forgot to mention that uploading MP3s to the camera often hangs it. Actually, all the time!
I used "Mass Storage" mode, used WinXP's default Mass Storage driver, and use the normal method of copy and paste in Windows Explorer. It starts to copy, then hangs the camera and Windows pops up an error: "The location you are trying to copy to does not exist."
Well, the one I reviewed didn't do that. Uploading worked just fine - it just pretty much sucked as an MP3 player.
I'd guess that the fault lies with your camera; DSC2100 quality seems to vary quite widely, with some people getting real lemons and some people getting cameras that hang hardly ever. It's possible there's an issue with your USB controller as well, though, though my first suspect would be the camera.
You may remember the UV dye for water cooling review you reviewed a while back. I m finally giving water cooling a shot, and I figure, why not go the extra and make it creepy/cool with some dye? Is there anywhere in Australia I can get the stuff?
The only Australian PC parts place I know of that's got it is here.
Note, however, that you may well be able to find the same dye elsewhere - call your local air conditioning/refrigeration service and repair place and ask. UV dye is used for leak tracing.
I've just bought an 800 watt car amplifier, which I want to connect to my household stereo. But I can't get it to run off a 12 volt, 4 amp power converter. Is it possible to run the car amp off standard 240 volt power from a wall socket? Or if not, what is required to power it?
The amp ought to work from any 12V power supply with a rating of a few amps - you won't be able to turn it all the way up (that 800 watt rating may or may not be a complete lie, but even if it's over-rated by a factor of four then it'll still want at least 17 amps for full power), but it should power up and run at low volume.
If the amp's not working with your power supply, then maybe it has a large start-up inrush current that the power supply can't deliver (which might mean the supply's now blown a fuse), or maybe the power supply's connected backwards or outputs AC rather than DC, or maybe the power supply's dead, or maybe the car amp's dead.
(Or, as a couple of readers suggested after I put this page up, maybe you've forgotten to connect both the main +12V input and the "remote turn on" or "power antenna" wire to 12 volts. Without voltage on the turn-on wire, a normal modern switchless car amp won't power up.)
You can't run the amp directly from the mains; you need a beefy 12 volt power supply of some description. But the one you've got should be adequate.
Not many people run car amplifiers in home audio applications, because they're really not a great choice, once you factor in the price of a power supply that'll get them up to something like their full output, and also consider the fact that their full power output is only likely to be possible into nominal four ohm or lower impedance speakers (normal home audio speakers are eight ohm nominal). Car audio head units, however, generally want a lot less power (provided they don't have some hefty amp built into them), and often have very good tuner sections, so they're more practical for home use.
To rule out power supply problems, you could try running the amp from a car battery using jumper leads.
I have a parallel scanner with an external power pack. Long story short, I needed to use a different power pack with it. The correct one was 10 volt 500 milliamp, and I used an 8 volt 1 amp one, which burst one of the capacitors on the scanner's circuit board, and still wouldn't work after I'd soldered in a new one. Going from your numerous letters regarding power, this shouldn't have happened, as the scanner would only draw as much power as it needed - and the power pack wouldn't have been forcing one amp onto the scanner.
Any ideas what happened?
Was the polarity right? Most barrel-plug DC connectors are tip (inside) positive, barrel (outside) negative, but you shouldn't assume this.
There can be similar problems if you plug an adapter with AC output into something that expects DC power, or vice versa.
Another possibility, though not a terribly likely one, is that the 8V 1A plugpack wasn't regulated. An unregulated plugpack will deliver more volts when it's more lightly loaded; its unloaded voltage will be the square root of two times its rated voltage.
Root-2 times 8V is still only 11.3V, though, and that's for zero load. The scanner probably only seldom drew something close to the 500mA rating of its regular plugpack, but it still wouldn't have been getting much more than 10V from an "8V" 1A unregulated plugpack. So I'd bet on wrong polarity.
When it comes to batteries of any rechargeable sort I was of the old school - you run them absolutely dead before recharging. I continued this philosophy with mobile phones.
But now I hear that with the new lithium ion batteries, you should not do that.
What is the deal with this? How should I charge the new phones and electronic shavers?
Running batteries of any kind flat before recharging is seldom necessary, and usually a bad idea. I can save myself some typing here, because I've written about this issue before.
I need to buy some ferrofluid. I see some places selling it in one ounce bottles, but I'm interested in larger quantities, like by the gallon.
I'm quite a big reader of scientific and quasi-scientific journals (and Playboy). Yesterday, however, I was totally disarmed when a young lad of my acquaintance asked me "How do magnets work?"
I opened my mouth to spew forth my wisdom on the subject before realised that I don't have a clue. Having read several interesting websites, I still don't have a clue. Does anyone know? Do you know?
It's less than transparently obvious how magnets work, but yes, science does have a decent idea about it. The best Web page I've found on the subject is part of Rick Hoadley's disturbingly complete collection of pages on all things magnetic.
Those seeking a more mystifying description of neodymium magnets in particular could try here.
Regarding UK magnet shopping, a quick eBay search turns up a decent collection of results, including one grab bag, as I write this.
Do you know anything about the "Everled"? It seems too good to be true, except for the price.
I haven't played with one, but apparently they're quite worthwhile.
Note that because these are mere one watt LEDs, they won't be as bright as the stock bulbs in really big PR-bulb lights, like the giant six-cell Maglites. Longer battery life, yes, smoother output, yes, The Last Bulb You Need Ever Buy, also yes. And the blue and green versions will be about as bright as a decent after-market bulb for a three-cell flashlight, or maybe a even a four-cell light's stock bulb. But one-watt-ish Luxeons can't match the brightness of the three-to-five-watt incandescent bulbs that many multi-cell flashlights use.
I enjoy stopping by and reading your site every so often, I couldn't imagine you'd be the sort to actually condone the kind of BS in the "Lucky bastard of the month" letter here.
Those with some clout, regardless of industry, should not act as though this was not theft.
I can judge freely, cause this was wrong.
I'm figuring you're on the wrong side of the world to ever have shopped at Harvey Norman (Walt's domain name is registered in Oklahoma). Had you done so, you might be less outraged.
Harvey Norman is one of those appliance/furniture/computer monster-stores where you may get a good shopping experience, in the fairly unlikely event that you attract a sales assistant who's competent, helpful, and has time to talk to you.
People who actually know computers only shop at Harvey's if they absolutely must (need a printer cartridge, everywhere else closed...) or if they've seen something cheap in an advertisement that they already know they want. Even then, it's not a popular choice - in my experience, you call to see if it's in stock, and if they say it is, there's about a 50% chance that they'll actually have one to sell you. Look for horror stories about Harvey's in the usual Australian online computer-reseller-evaluation places and you won't find any, because every nerd avoids the place as a matter of course. For the same reason, sartorially splendid Australians seldom have much to say about Lowes.
Harvey's certainly aren't the scum of the earth, mind you (he hastened to add, smiling nervously in the direction of the lawyers). Dig into their corporate history and you'll find things like minor corporate governance scandals and investigations over bait-and-switch advertising, but nothing that you won't find in the record of pretty much any other big chain store. But computer newbies still get ripped off at Harvey's about as often as they do in regular department-store computer sections, which is to say, all the time. Seldom to an actually actionable degree, of course. Harvey's, like so many other dealers, do what they can get away with.
Which brings us to my correspondent, who also did what he could get away with.
Is it morally right to take your windfall from a big corporation, knowing you've no right to it, and run? No.
Is it something that I, personally, would lose sleep over? Also no.
I think a good argument can be made that it's morally wrong for me to do all sorts of things that I do - eating meat, buying Nestlé products, living a luxurious Western petroleum-fueled life in general. I still do these things, though, because they're fun.
Regarding a big-windfall situation being treated very seriously, I dare say it was. I'd be surprised if the job of the shop assistant involved lasted long past that evening's sales reconciliation.
One could argue that a box of memory modules was a small price for Harvey's to pay to discover the incompetence of this particular employee.
(I was going to say "remarkable incompetence", but actually, at Harvey's, I don't think there's anything that remarkable about it.)
Should you take back extra goods accidentally given to you by an incompetent shop assistant, as your part of the bargain that should ensure you'd receive similar restitution should it become apparent that an incompetent shop assistant has given you less stuff than you bought? Sure.
Would Harvey's take out ads in the paper to find a cash customer they discovered, at the evening reconciliation, to have been given only five memory modules after paying for ten?
I'm almost certain I read about this on your site but I can't find it. I can't find it with Google either, which is why I'm e-mailing you.
I was after the URL for the scanned pages of the original German Tiger manual. Well, maybe not the original one. It was done with cartoon characters and simple(ish) language, in order to appeal to the average panzergrenadier of the time.
Would you have the link handy?
The famous Tiger Fibel used to be at http://tiger1e.com/fibel/, but that domain's owned by one of those odious squatter companies now.
But, O joy, you can find it here.
And, as a bonus, the same kind soul has also scanned the Panther Fibel!