Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

April 3rd, 2009:

Odd Lots

  • My Web article on how I designed my workshop has just been aggregated on the Make Blog.
  • Here is the best summary of sunspot-less days I’ve yet seen. We may be coming out of a freakish-high period of solar activity; five of the ten most intense solar cycles ever recorded have occurred in the last 50-odd years.
  • Even NASA admits that our near-record solar minimum may get even deeper. I guess I don’t need to build that 6M vertical any time soon. (Thanks to Mark Moss for the link.)
  • On the other hand, the DX can be had, with some–heh!–effort. In fact, some guys in Germany recently bounced a radio signal off of Venus and heard the echo. They used the same 2.4 GHz radio frequency as Wi-Fi–just with 6 KW of power. No word on antennas or ERP, though the words “big” and “parabolic” come to mind.
  • Print-on-demand meets the magazine business with MagCloud. Basically, the magazine is printed when you order it. All pages are in full color, printed using the HP Indigo technology, with a saddle binding. The price is still steep: 20c per page, giving you a 48 page mag for $9.60. Of course, that’s all content and no ads, so it’s not utterly insane when you consider that a lot of modern magazines are lucky to have 48 pages of Real Stuff. The system works like Lulu for the most part, and if you have the need to publish a short, full-color booklet of some kind it might be worth a look. (Thanks to Jim Dodd for the link.)
  • Pete Albrecht sent a link to some WWII posters, and the interesting one is about not using broadcast receivers. Few people know that nearly all ordinary radio receivers are also very low-level radio transmitters, courtesy of the local oscillator or oscillators in the frequency conversion stages. It’s possible to detect superhet receivers at considerable distance using a good directional antenna, and this was evidently done during the War. The BBC also used to do this (and may still, for all I know) to enforce receiver licensing rules, by sending a truck around towns listening for local oscillators and logging street addresses. (I learned this from the UK pub Meccano Magazine circa 1962.)
  • It’s the not the fat. It’s the high-fructose corn-syrup. Here’s another brick in the edifice of evidence. (Thanks to Frank Glover for the link.)
  • And finally, a food pyramid that I can get behind.