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Tell them to stop listening to my farts

jwz
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Anna Trupiano:

Today in 1st grade one of my Deaf students farted loudly in class and other students turned to look at them. The following is a snippet of a 15 minute conversation that happened entirely in American Sign Language among the group of Deaf students and I.

Kid 1:

Why are they looking at me?
Me:
Because they heard you fart.
Kid 1:
Whhhhat do you mean?!?!
Me:
Hearing people can hear farts.
Kid 2:
*Totally horrified* Wait, they can hear all farts?!?!
Me:
Well no. Not all farts but some of them yes.
Kid 3:
How do you know which farts they can hear and which farts they can't?
Me:
Hmmm....you know how sometimes you can feel your butt move when you fart? A lot of those they can hear. But if your butt doesn't move it's more likely they didn't hear it.
Kid 1:
TELL THEM TO STOP LISTENING TO MY FARTS! THAT IS NOT NICE!
Me:
Hearing kids can't stop hearing farts, it just happens.
Kid 2:
I just will stop farting then.
Me:
Everyone farts, it is healthy. You can't stop.
Kid 3:
Wait. Everyone? Even my mom?
Me:
Yep.
Kid 2:
My dad?
Me:
Yep.
Kid 1:
......You?
Me:
Yep.
Kids:
*Laugh hysterically*
Kid 1:
...So you can hear and smell all the farts?
Me:
Some of the farts yes. Not all of them.
Kid 2:
Can hearing people see farts?
Kid 3:
Yeah. Green smoke comes out of their butt, I saw it on TV.
Me:
That doesn't happen in real life.
Kid 1:
What?! Ugh. I don't understand farts.

......I went to college for 8 years to have these conversations.

Previously, previously, previously, previously.

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digdoug
1 day ago
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Louisville, KY
reconbot
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New York City
satadru
1 day ago
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New York, NY
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StunGod
1 day ago
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This is just beautiful.
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth

Gallium nitride is the most important charging innovation you'll never see

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It's always been "better" but too expensive for consumer electronics — until now.

You don't need to know about a FET or what a bandgap is, but the company that makes the gadgets you buy does. And it's all on the verge of a big change for the better — in ways we will see, like safer, more efficient, and smaller high-power chargers — because of a chemical compound called Gallium nitride.

Back on October 25, Anker held an event to show off some of its latest innovations, including a new USB-C Power Delivery wall charger that uses GaN semiconductors. Normally, nobody would care about the launch of wall wart that charges your devices, but this time things are different. Anker's new PowerPort Atom PD1 charger offers 27 watts of output power and is the size of the little charging block that came in the box with your last phone. To put it another way that's a little more exciting, it puts out enough power to effectively fast charge a MacBook Pro and is about one-third of the size. It's also cooler to the touch and will use less power because it's more efficient.

Anker isn't the only company out of China to build a USB Power Deliver charger using GaN FETs (a FET is a Field-effect transistor and is used to control the flow and behavior of electricity). RAVPower has a 45-watt model in the works and industry experts say all the names you've already heard of will soon be offering a high-output, cool-running, and low profile high output USB-C Power Delivery chargers using the technology. Not because Gallium nitride is something new, but because it can now be profitable.

GaN is the optical layer on the LED that reads CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Ray discs so you're already using it.

Gallium nitride is already used in products you own, but for an entirely different purpose. GaN crystals have been used on a sapphire base to produce full-spectrum LEDs for quite a while, and if you have any RGB or "Daylight" LED lamps, they are probably using Gallium nitride. Other specialty uses like high-end Class D audio amplifiers and microwave telecom equipment also use GaN, and everything that uses it does so for the same three reasons. Compared to a traditional silicon transistor, Gallium nitride runs cooler, is more power efficient, and a lot smaller — which is exactly what you see when you look at Anker's new tiny 27 watt USB-PD charging block. GaN has always been a superior bandgap semiconductor compared to silicon, but it's also been much more expensive to reliably produce.

It's always been more cost-efficient to build a GaN device than a traditional silicon device because of its final footprint. Simply put, you can fit a lot more GaN FETs on a wafer than you can MOSFETs, which use a silicon base. The problem was the cost of the wafers themselves. A Gallium nitride wafer is still more expensive than a silicon wafer of the same size, but production techniques have been refined (turns out nitrogen made a mess of things) and the gap is narrow enough to make it an attractive option for companies that produce the transistors. This has caused a huge uptick in the market, with 17% growth per year expected between 2019 and 2024.

How this affects us

Gallium nitride CPU wafer, courtesy Arizona State University.

I'll assume that almost everyone reading this doesn't care if the tiny parts inside their gadgets use silicon or Gallium nitride or pixie dust, as long as they work. But I also know that carrying a tiny Anker charger instead of a big heavy brick charger for my laptop would make me happy. When I realize that this same charger will also work for my phone, my tablet, my Nintendo Switch, and even my wireless charging case for my Bluetooth earbuds, I'm even happier. We want our tech to become more complicated — do more things in cooler ways — while becoming less complicated at the same time.

Safety shouldn't be ignored, either. A GaN device uses less power to operate (you need to supply an electronic switch with its own power to make it able to switch input and output power) and switches a lot faster. This makes it run cooler so less electricity is lost as heat and it's more efficient, but also safer. It's been well over two years since the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, but the learning experience it gave many of us will always live on: our portable electronic devices can be dangerous in extreme circumstances.

Moore's law always meets Murphy's Law if you give things enough time.

Each iteration of all the various fast charging techniques brings us closer and closer to those extremes and we haven't even come close to the end. Several years ago I got to witness a demonstration of a microwave oven heating a frozen pizza while being powered using a wireless charging plate. I watched behind a plexiglass blast shield because even though you can power a 1,500-watt device using induction, that doesn't mean it can't go wrong.

While we will never need to use 1,500 watts to power a phone or even a laptop (maybe the Nintendo Switch 2?) 9 watts can be dangerous when everything isn't done correctly. As we call for smaller and more convenient things, manufacturers have to edge closer to the extreme to deliver. Small, unseen things like a change in the semiconductor base which allows for more efficient and safer things gives those manufacturers more room. Not everything that makes the next generation great is something we can see.

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satadru
5 days ago
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Smaller laptop bricks please.
New York, NY
reconbot
4 days ago
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New York City
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A Year in the Dark [EPISODE]

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Early on the morning of September 20th, 2017, a category four hurricane named Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico. It was a beast of a hurricane — the strongest one to hit the island since 1932. Wind speeds hit 155 miles per hour, making it almost a category five.

Daniel Alarcón went down to Puerto Rico to report on the aftermath of the storm. He wrote a piece for Wired about the almost year-long struggle to get power working on the island, and the utility worker who became a Puerto Rican folk hero.

Jorge Bracero

Jorge Bracero

The morning after the hurricane, lots of people woke up and surveyed the damage done to their homes. One of them was a man named Jorge Bracero, from the capital city of San Juan, who was completely caught off guard by how bad this storm was.

Jorge works at the Puerto Rican Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the public utility that provides electricity for nearly the entire island. When he got to work, he made his way over to a big computer screen that showed the outline of Puerto Rico. Every single line was down, which had never happened before.

The scale of the destruction was hard for Bracero to comprehend. He knew on that day that he would spend the next several months helping Puerto Rico recover through his work with PREPA. What he didn’t realize yet was that thousands of people would come to count specifically on him to help them get through their year in the dark.

Collapsing Giants

The first priority was to get power to essential structures, like hospitals and water treatment plants. The plant Bracero worked at was one of seven major ones on the island, but all of the others were down. Without those other power plants to help, his plant kept crashing.

Imagine a game of tug-of-war. The power plants are giants on one end, and the clients are on the other end pulling hard. If one power plant goes down, the other power plants have to work harder, sometimes to the point of collapse. After Maria, there was only one giant power plant on Jorge’s side of the rope, and on the other side, hospitals and water treatment plants were pulling for power on the other end. Every time there was a collapse, Jorge and his colleagues would have to spend hours rebooting everything and start again.

Outside of the plant, things were even worse. Lines were down all over the island and there weren’t nearly enough workers to fix them. Support would eventually arrive from the U.S mainland, but for the first week or so, Puerto Ricans were on their own. But Puerto Rico only had about 230 power brigades, which meant only about 690 people servicing the island, more or less — not nearly enough. As a point of comparison, the state of Florida had 16,000 workers on call in preparation for Hurricane Irma.

Un-PREPA-red

There’s a reason why Puerto Rico was so ill-prepared for Maria. In the decades before the storm, businesses had left the island in droves as the U.S. government phased out a series of tax breaks. To make up for all the lost revenue, the Puerto Rican government began borrowing money in the form of bonds.

Year after year, the government issued more and more bonds hoping things would turn around, but they didn’t. By the time Maria hit, the government was in the middle of an enormous debt crisis, and PREPA was not immune. The utility itself had nine billion dollars in debt, and was constantly postponing maintenance as a result.

On top of all of that, PREPA had basically no strategy for communicating with the public. It had no social media presence to keep the public updated to the situation. Jorge Bracero decided he would give the people the information they were craving — “I decided to become the news outlet.” He’d do it on his Facebook page, and he wouldn’t ask permission.

The One-Man Power News Outlet

In the beginning, Bracero’s posts were very technical and specific. He would explain that a certain brigade would be working in a certain area. This information was supposed to be for company use, but Jorge began leaking it to the public. Every night Bracero would come home from a sixteen hour shift at work and start writing.

&

Special Update: Subestación ”Abuelo” energizacion estimada viernes o sábado Linea 5800Luz a pueblo viejo, Puerto…

Posted by Jorge Bracero on Thursday, December 7, 2017

Bracero would often spend up to four hours a day just writing and calling friends from the field, asking them to verify information. After he’d gathered all the information from his sources, he would type out extremely long posts — sometimes 1,000 words or more — with his thumbs on an iPhone. Bracero’s goal was to to give people the information they needed, but he also wanted to show them that people were actually out there working on getting their power back.

The challenge with Puerto Rico’s geography is that a mountain range cuts across the center of the island. A majority of the population lives above this mountain range, but the majority of power is located below it. Servicing the towers that were down in the mountains was not easy, and would sometimes require dropping in by helicopter and hiking to a tower.

Cordillera Central is the main mountain range that crosses the island from west to east and divides the island into northern and southern coastal plains.

On top of the difficulty of the work, PREPA just didn’t have the supplies it needed. Ten days before Maria, Hurricane Irma had done major damage in Florida. A few weeks before that, Hurricane Harvey had wreaked havoc in Texas. This meant that all the things Puerto Rico needed were high demand in other places

&

14-diciembre-2017 _ Los muchachos de la AEE Comercial Vega Baja trabajando fuerte a las 10:25 am en la Calle 1 de la Urb. Villa Real de nuestro pueblo de Vega Baja frente a la oficina del dentista Ariel Jusino Córdova y adyacente a la Farmacia y Cafetería Villa Real de mi amigo el Lcdo. Ramón Monchito Cano. Estoy casi convencido que hoy le llega la luz a ambos para que dejen descansar las plantas eléctricas que han utilizado por 85 días para brindarle sin fallar el servicio a sus clientes y/o pacientes. Espero que Dios permita que todos los vecinos de ese mismo bloque reciban luz en o antes de que se termine la noche y eso incluye a mi primita Annie Melendez Rivera y también a la distinguida madre de mi amiga Grisel Marrero Marrero quién tiene sobre 100 años y necesita más que nadie la electricidad de regreso en su casa. Así lo quiera Dios, Amén. Sitios, rincones y sectores en Vega Baja que no tienen luz (14-diciembre-2017):Urb. Villa del RosarioResidencial Enrique CatoniExtensión CatoniParte de la Urb. Villa RealUrb. GuaricoReparto SobrinoLa Corchado en el pueblo de Vega BajaCalle Sánchez LópezPueblo NuevoCeiba SabanaBrisas de Tortuguero Río ArribaLas GranjasUrb. Jardines de Vega BajaParte de la Urb. Alturas de Vega BajaParcelas AmadeoLos NaranjosUrb. San DemetrioCarmelitaRío AbajoLa Trocha Almirante NorteAlmirante SurParte de la Urb. Colinas del Marqués Urb. VelomasBrisas del RosarioArenalesLa PlayaPanaini, ColomboSector Santa RosaUrb. Villa Pinares Urb. Ciara del Sol en GuaricoParte de la Barriada SandínCarretera 646 Sector Lomba, entrando por el Centro de Envejecientes Bartolo JoyPugnado Adentro Quebrada ArenasCarr. 644 Sector La Línea …y todos los que ustedes añadan a la lista.Vídeoclip y fotos tomadas por Robert Rivera#AEE#TEAMAEE#IluminaMiPueblo#PRSeLevanta#PUERTORICOSELEVANTA#VegaBaja#PuertoRico#HuracánMaría#NOESTÁSOLVIDADOJaime BraceroThomas Jimmy Rosario MartinezRamon Monchito CanoAnnie Melendez RiveraCarmen Rey

Posted by Robert Rivera on Thursday, December 14, 2017

Bracero was trying his best to explain the reality of these challenges in getting power on the ground through his Facebook posts. He had accumulated tens of thousands of followers on Facebook, and over time Bracero’s posts earned him a kind of celebrity status on the island — memes featuring his likeness and activities began to surface, too.

All I Want for Christmas is Luz

By Christmas about half of the island had its power restored, but the mood on the island was grim. Many people were still in the dark, and no one felt much like celebrating. Still there were moments of lightness. A local musician had re-written the Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” replacing “all I want for Christmas is you” with “all I want for Christmas is luz,” meaning “light” in Spanish.

&

A Cantar con la gran Karirmalice Ronda!!! Feliz Navidad a Todos!!!!!La versión original de ella y las diferentes canciones la pueden ver en su página But i love this one!!!Merry Xmas

Posted by Jorge Bracero on Monday, December 25, 2017

By spring of 2018 around 85% of the island had power, but there were still thousands of people who didn’t. Bracero continued with his daily updates about which lines were being fixed and where the brigades were headed next. To keep up a sense of momentum and share some hope, he also shared videos as new places got power.

Bracero began asking people to record videos of their lights coming back on, and every week a new town celebrated.

The Next One

Finally, in August of 2018 PREPA announced that the entire island had been reconnected to the grid, just six weeks before the one-year anniversary of Maria — and just in time for the next hurricane season.

Still, PREPA is arguably in a worse place than it was before Maria for a number of reasons. Among other things, there has been a lack of steady leadership over the last year — five different directors have cycled through the position at the helm.

For years, too, FEMA had a strange rule in place that damaged infrastructure couldn’t be replaced with anything better or more expensive. For example, wooden posts couldn’t be replaced with stronger metal posts. As a result, Puerto Ricans missed out on opportunities to improve their infrastructure. It’s the same grid they had before, with a population that is significantly more vulnerable.

Puerto Ricans were traumatized by Maria — by the destruction and the loss of life, of course, but also by the realization that the security they felt before the storm was an illusion, and that no one could help them fast enough. As Daniel Alarcón puts it, what the “aftermath of the storm told them [was] essentially: we don’t care about you. You’re forgotten. You don’t matter. The depth of this wound is just very, very deep.”

PREPA is in the process of privatizing, and being sold off, piece by piece, in hopes that a private company or various private companies will be able to deliver better service than the government has. A lot of people are skeptical that privatization will have this desired effect.

Pepino Power Authority alt logo created for Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal series on Puerto Rico

When asked if he thinks the island is ready for the next hurricane Jorge Bracero’s answer is a definitive no. “We need time and just — just give us maybe two years — just give us that time in which our people can keep working, keep working, keep working so that system can hold a little longer.”

The post A Year in the Dark appeared first on 99% Invisible.

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digdoug
11 days ago
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this was such a great episode
Louisville, KY
reconbot
11 days ago
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New York City
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Colorful Language: Decoding Utility Markings Spray-Painted on City Streets [ARTICLE]

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In 1976, construction workers accidentally cut into a petroleum pipeline running under the streets of Culver City, California, resulting in a fatal explosion that essentially leveled half of a city block. It wasn’t the first or last accident of its kind, but it helped catalyze the systemization of critical color-coded utility markings — mysterious-looking tags that look like nonsense or a secret code until you start to decipher them.

On that fateful June 15th, workers were excavating Venice Boulevard to widen the road when disaster struck. Pressurized gas from a ruptured line ignited into a fireball and smoke rose hundreds of feet into the air. Flames engulfed businesses and apartment buildings along the block, killing and injuring dozens of people. Three months later, the state created the DigAlert system for contractors and citizens to contact when planning a subterranean dig to help avoid future disasters.

Keeping track of work areas and what’s underground can be tricky, so organizations like DigAlert mandate the use of white (paint, chalk, flour or flags) to mark off construction zones, plus Uniform Color Codes developed by the American Public Works Association (APWA) for the temporary marking of underground utilities. These “safety colors” were formalized by the American Standards Institute (ANSI) as Safety Color Code Z535.

  • Red: electric power lines, cables, conduit and lighting cables
  • Orange: telecommunication, alarm or signal lines, cables or conduit
  • Yellow: natural gas, oil, steam, petroleum or other flammables
  • Green: sewers and drain lines
  • Blue: drinking water
  • Purple: reclaimed water, irrigation and slurry lines
  • Pink: temporary survey markings, unknown/unidentified facilities
  • White: proposed excavation limits or routes

These colors cover the general categories of unseen hazards workers need to take into account, but they are only part of the equation. Notations are also necessary to keep track of the locations, widths and depths of conduits, cables and pipes and identify the associated utility company. Accordingly, the Common Ground Alliance maintains a set of Guidelines for Operator Facility Field Delineation to indicate where and how to mark things with arrows, numbers and symbols.

The stakes are high for underground excavation and construction projects. Negligent digging can cause everything from a major utility outage to gas leak evacuations (or worse). Hitting a water main may also trigger local flooding or require a boil-water advisory. In the US, thanks to the 2002 Pipeline Safety Improvement Act, most municipalities require that people call before digging. Utilities will then send people out to mark out underground hazards. Other countries have evolved various similar systems to avoid accidents as well.

Deciphering Utility Codes Around the World

Some places, like Scotland, offer excavators detailed maps of utilities, but in the rest of the UK, for instance, people are on their own when it comes to finding and avoiding obstacles. Many thus rely on CATs (Cable Avoidance Tools) to identify dangers. For metal pipes and cables, electromagnetic equipment can help workers “see” below the surface. For plastic or concrete piping, ground-penetrating radar is employed.

Utility locator tool in use, image by Macs4life (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Various countries have also evolved different color schemes and markings, too, often with some overlap (like: blue for water) On British roads, many colors are the same as in the US, but some vary (e.g. green is used for telecom rather than sewage and drain lines). In terms of markings, a number next to a “D” indicates depth and a looping infinity symbol marks the beginning or end of a project area. For electrical lines, “H/V” means high voltage and “L/V” low voltage, while “S/L” is for streetlights. For gas lines, “HP” denotes high-pressure while “MP” refers to medium and “LP” stands for low pressure. With standards guides in hand, these odd hieroglyphics start to become increasingly legible.

Australia has its own system too, using orange for electricity, yellow for gas, blue for water, light blue for air, white for communications, red for fire services, cream for sewage, purple for reclaimed water, silver or gray for steam, pink for “unknown,” brown for oils and black for other liquids. Most of Canada uses the same system as the United States.

Utility markings in beautiful downtown Oakland, California, image by Kurt Kohlstedt

The subterranean stretches of most cities are teaming with utilities, not to mention mass transit and road tunnels. Mapping and marking all of this is a complex task often done by third-party contractors whose sole job it is to locate and tag potential hazards below. The biodegradable paints they use are generally designed to fade over time, but, for those in the know, these odd scribblings provide a unique temporary windows into the complex systems running underneath our built environments. And for residents, as well as workers in a dangerous industry, these codes are essential to public and workplace safety.

The post Colorful Language: Decoding Utility Markings Spray-Painted on City Streets appeared first on 99% Invisible.

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reconbot
14 days ago
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Latest Revision to ARM Instruction Set Includes Optimizations Just for JavaScript

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Apple’s A12 chip is the first to support the latest ARM specification, ARMv8.3, which includes instructions specifically to make JavaScript faster. Greg Parker:

More precisely: ARMv8.3 adds a new float-to-int instruction with errors and out-of-range values handled the way that JavaScript wants. The previous [instructions] to get JavaScript’s semantics were much slower. JavaScript’s numbers are double by default so it needs this conversion a lot.

Back when the iPhone XS first shipped, people noticed that it performed seemingly impossibly well on JavaScript benchmarks. E.g., David Heinemeier Hansson:

The iPhone XS is faster than an iMac Pro on the Speedometer 2.0 JavaScript benchmark. It’s the fastest device I’ve ever tested. Insane 45% jump over the iPhone 8/X chip. How does Apple do it?!

Apple touts the new A12 as “only” 15 percent faster than the A11 at CPU tasks, and JavaScript is mostly (entirely?) CPU-bound. These new instructions make that big a difference. The iMac Pro is a professional desktop and it’s getting beaten by a phone.

Everyone can enjoy the fact that ARMv8.3 makes JavaScript faster. Comp sci nerds can further enjoy the fact that we now have CPUs being optimized for a specific weird programming language and not the other way around.

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reconbot
20 days ago
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This is crazy interesting
New York City
jimwise
33 days ago
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We’ve been optimizing CPUs for a specific weird programming language — c — for a very long time.
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Sublime Merge - Git, Done Sublime

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(You can download Sublime Merge from https://www.sublimemerge.com/download)

There's a company that makes photography accessories, called Really Right Stuff. They make lovely equipment, but what I really like is the name. It embodies the idea of building something that goes beyond the minimum: making it as good as it can be, paying attention to the details, and getting it really right.

When it comes to software, getting it really right goes beyond functionality. The feel, aesthetics, and performance all have to be there.

There's a real pleasure using software that gets it really right, as a lot of the time, it doesn't. We're all too familiar with clunky layouts, unresponsive buttons, choppy scrolling, tedious splash screens, and flickering on every interaction.

After typing git add -p in the terminal one too many times, I thought to myself: we've got some pretty great tech in Sublime Text. What if we used it to build a Git client? Could we make it fast? Could we make it buttery smooth, without flickering or blocking? Could we make something that's really, really right?

Today, I'd like to introduce Sublime Merge. It combines the UI engine of Sublime Text, with a from-scratch implementation of Git*. The result is, to us at least, something pretty special.

Sublime Merge - Commit Dialog

You can download Sublime Merge, and try it for yourself - there's no time limit, no accounts, no metrics, and no tracking. The evaluation version is fully functional, but is restricted to the light theme only. Individual purchases are buy once, use forever, with 3 years of updates included in the purchase. Business licenses are available on a subscription basis. Sublime Merge runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.

It's still early days for Sublime Merge - it has only been used by us and our small team of beta testers so far. We'd love to hear what you think. We'll be on the Forums listening to any feedback - let us know how you get on with it!


* We have a custom implementation of Git for reading repositories, which drives a lot of our high performance functionality. However we defer to Git itself for operations that mutate the repository (Staging, Committing, Checking out branches, etc).

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reconbot
33 days ago
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New York City
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DMack
55 days ago
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hm!
Victoria, BC
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