WATT !?!

All ideas have a time. They come, they go. What we do with them while they are around, is up to us. We can even turn them into real things. But I was too stoned at the time.

It must have been about ten years ago, visiting a friend, and pretty baked, discussing, of all things; lighting - this particular friend has a bit of a fetish about indoor lighting; highly underrated subject matter, to be sure. Creating these artificially-lit environments has had a massive impact on our species, I could begin.. But I'm not getting into that right now.

On this occasion, we were talking not about light temperatures or architectural design, nor the confuzled pineal gland, but about Watts; the basic electrical cost of lighting, particularly the newer "energy-efficient" lamps (which I am proud to say have occupied all my home's light fittings for almost a decade - okay, I'm just cheap, but still...), which seem to put out an amazing amount of light for the allegedly minuscule amount of Watts they use, or rather; KiloWattHours. In short, lumens-per-buck.

"It would be good to know exactly", I said, "you know, the actual out-of-the-socket Wattage that is being used.."

"You can measure the Ampage with a multimeter and work it out easily enough", came the reply.

"Yeah man, but what a pain! This thing would just plug in, and boomya! read-out!", you can tell I was minced, using speech like that.

A couple of tokes later I had the whole thing designed; a simple mains plug, with a digital readout, and a socket in it - it looked like one of those 24 hour timers. You plug it into the wall, plug stuff into it, and there displays all the info you need, current, wattage, voltage, etc., and over time, the actual cost of said electrical appliance. We did a sketch, and then skinned up again, using the corner of the sketch as a roach.

But ideas have no loyalty, and are fairly promiscuous, to boot. As I've proven countless times; even the cutest, most original idea is most likely burrowing its way through the imagination of countless other human beings at the very same time, or real soon now. Not just inventions, either. Nothing is sacred; songs, philosophy, you name it! (and then it's yours, I guess, in a weird, unnatural way). Sometimes, your part is to add some spin to it, send it on its way, and be happy with that. Letting go can be tricky, but is always worthwhile.

Some will dismiss "their" idea as fantasy, others as improbable or impossible. Others still will forget it immediately. Mother nature doesn't mess around, though; and spreads her seeds far and wide, knowing that somewhere they will take root. For every idea, there is someone with the talent, opportunity, belief, motivation, and resources to bring the thing to fruition, whatever that might be*. Except the one about stretching all the worms in the world from here to the Moon. Face it buddy, that's not gonna happen.

Of course, There's the other category; too smashed to do anything about it. Replace "smashed" with whatever your poison does to you. Or even, "busy", I guess. I was in there somewhere, elsewhere.

Cut to August 2008; me scrolling the latest Maplin Special Offers Mail, where I discover that not only does this device now exist, but that I can have it right now for knock-down price of £7.99! My face is a grin, and after leaping around for a while shouting "YES!" and words to that effect, I click "Buy It", being fairly sure I have a tenner in my PayPal account, thanks guys!

In fact, I'd almost completed the transaction, and arranged delivery, when I remembered that Maplin is, in fact, just over the road. I look out the window; yup, still there. I check the Aberdeen store's stock level at the maplin site (how handy is that!); eight items in stock. One of those items, it goes without saying, is now mine.
an image

Okay, it's not bungie-jumping, truly pleasing a crowd, or that dream where I wake up flying on a magic carpet surrounded by voluptuous concubines, but still, this thing is fun! I've easily had £7.99's worth of fun out of it already! I mean..

Brewing a cup of coffee only uses 0.025W of electricity, regardless of the fact it's a 1000W machine, so there! - Brewing 40 cups only uses 10p of electricity, that's only £1.40 a week! smiley for :lol:

I could do with a new PSU for my peecee, cutting it fine, there.

My old P1 Laptop (now silent Linux server) uses under 10W of electricity to do all its magic (20W if you open the lid). It can stay!

My fridge needs to be replaced, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

And the big question.. how many Watts does an 18W lamp use. I mean exactly. Time to find out..

for now..

;o) Cor

* even a blog

Brushing up..

When I want statistics about the hardware on my PeeCee, I use Everest (the free version). It has joombles of information about the devices on your system; motherboard, memory, hard drives and so on; invaluable. Note, there are many other tools that show more or less the same details, just with different knobs and whistles. One handy pane is the system sensors, where you can see, amongst other things, the temperatures of your CPU.

If you are overclocking a puter, this is particularly useful information. Although theoretically rated at 85°C, things do seems to start to wonk out around 67, at least in my setup. My initial attempts to overclock the Athlon failed at this barrier.

Whilst in about the gubbins I notice the CPU fan needs a clean. Actually, it needs a Damn Good Clean, so I brush and blow it back into a fairly gunk-free state. it's amazing how much muck can collect in the gills of these things.

Back in everest there must be an error, because the CPU is now at 47°C. I wait a minute or two, because the machine was switched off for a while, it'll start to toast any second. Sure enough, it starts to climb, 48, 49, 49, 49. Hmm. I calculate Pi to a few million decimal places, heat things up a bit; 49°C, still. Cool!

So, after boning up on Ram timings, FSB limits, frequency multipliers and all that jazz, it turns out the biggest hurdle was in fact, accumulated gunk; the solution, two minutes and a brush.

I must remember to schedule that.

;o) Cor


As the keeper of an actual fish tank, I find myself compelled to comment on the digital variants, aka "Aquaria", which I like, a lot. Though I don't use a screen saver, as such (it just goes blank - boring but functional), I like to keep a few of these things handy on my desktop. They are almost as good as the real thing.

The point of fish-in-a-tank, I think, aside from stirring up chi next to your till (or wherever), is to relax the viewer. I know, I've spent countless hours lying in front of my real fish tank, just gazing, relaxing. It works, and the maintenance is no more than a few minutes a week, tops, once it's established. The maintenance time for digital aquaria, however, is zero, and herein lies the appeal.

In the not-too-distant future, when you can pick up a K7 class laptop for a tenner, I plan to setup some virtual fish tanks in my living areas, perhaps powering up automatically when someone enters their vicinity, motion detectors and so on; a cool, relaxing two minute kick-back for passers-by.

But relaxation isn't the only reason people keep fish in a tank, and this is where the digital versions need to catch up..

My own tank is simple goldfish, which relaxes; but other folk have far grander setups, and for other purposes. Especially when it comes to tropical aquariums, as many of the digital versions are, setting up a tank is quite literally playing God. You create a mini ecosystem, and populate it with very specific aims and desires. Fish behaviour is the all-important factor.

Some people like to setup a fight, with maybe gangs of opposing fishes, well-known to be aggressive to each other. Others will setup a tranquil paradise, with many shoals of tiny, friendly fish, and then throw in a small shark, just for fun. I'm not going to comment on the moral issues here, any more than to say, surely a digital version of this would be better for everyone! Not to mention, cheaper!

Fish have feelings (regardless of what Kurt Cobain says, stick a needle into one of them and you'll see!); they have particular traits and characteristics, too. A Clownfish, for example, doesn't go racing off all over the place; he has a small territory, an anemone, his home, and along with his small family, pretty much stays there. Also, males turn into females when the mama-fish dies, as well as lots of other interesting, not to mention entertaining stuff.

The next generation of Aquarium Screen Savers, I hope, will incorporate real behaviours into fishes. As monitors get bigger and wider, There's no reason not to push the boundaries, incorporate huge shoals of fish that think and act like shoals, responding to danger, predators; actually getting chased around and eaten*, just like the real thing..

While all this evolution may have a temporary negative impact the delicate economies of the rural fish collectors who source these scarce breeds, it will definitely have a positive impact on the actual flesh-and-blood real versions, swimming around in their actual liquid environments. The fisherman can learn to make pots, or something.

Of course, the trouble may be, with such amazing digital Aquariums, little universes on our desktops, would we get any work done?

for now..

;o) Cor

The net could be used to create a vast, single sea-network, with users controlling their own territory, yet able to view any other. Fish could be allowed to roam far into other territories, battle, mate, and all the other fun activities that fish indulge in. Evolution could be programmed in; entirely new breeds of fish could appear, with unique and surprising sets of characteristics, and so on, and so on.. Over!

Going Green

By the way, if you gargle blue mouthwash and spit it down the side of the bowl, piss directly into that, it turns green on contact. Pretty cool.

I miss that, a bit, since I started mixing my own.
it's better for everyone.

;o) Cor

p.s. and for fabric softener, dilute vinegar and bicarb. Google it.


All sorts of things cause delay.

Macros. I have one for "everything", which is to say; any task I do more than a couple of times, gets scripted. I have many; a set of functions one could knock together with AutoIt et al, without too much trouble and some weeks to spare, maybe less, depending on delays. But Macros, as a rule, remove delays. Though in creating macros, we sometimes add them, intentionally..

Take two Explorer macros, "show hidden items", and "hide hidden items". Sometimes I need the former state, though prefer the latter, it's neater; so I have two macros, activated thus; Right Alt+H to hide, Right Alt+U to unhide, aka, "show". U is easier to get to with your Left thumb on the Right Alt, which in HotKeySpeak, is actually "Ctrl+Alt", but that's more information you don't need.

They simply do mouse clicks and keystrokes, open the Explorer folder options dialog, switch to the correct pane, and check/uncheck the checkbox to show/hide hidden items, close the dialog, job finished. I stave off the RSI this way, or at least, make the damage count for meaningful tasks, like writing here probably isn't.

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I penned the pair circa '96, and noticed today, on my super-fast machine - Yes, I finally took the plunge, threading the tiny copper wire into those two pin holes in my Socket A, threw this Athlon XP 2400+ (Thanks Joker!) into overdrive - that these two macros were not fast. In fact, they were painfully slow. I click the M in the tray to investigate; Macro Express, affectionately known as "Mex".

It turns out I had three delays programmed into them. The first, to wait for the window to appear, the second for the correct tab to select and paint, and the third, for the checkbox to highlight before clicking the okay. 500ms + 750ms + 550ms; clearly I had these timed down to a ball hair, circa Windows98 + shoebox peecee.

I halved the values and toggled the hidden Explorer items. Obviously, twice as fast, yet no cues are missed; the macros function fine. I half them again and all is well, though of course, with quadruple velocity. And again, and again. AOK.

So I remove the delays, and Boom-Boom, both macros function perfectly. Of course, I don't actually see it happen, being faster-than-the-eye, and all. Hmmm..

100ms + 100ms + 100ms

Yeah, that's about right.

;o) Cor

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