Flux Capacitor Powered Appliance Project

I've had many people ask me for an update on my Flux Capacitor appliance project (ok, several people). I wanted to let everyone know just where I am with the project and some of my successes and failures that I've experienced along the way.
The first major hurdle that I had to overcome was the power output conversion from the Flux Capacitor to 110 volts AC. The Flux Capacitor is a DC power output device that kicks out 1.21 jiggawatts of power. The typical household appliance blows up real good when current is applied directly to the motor. After a little tinkering, I was able to get a standard DC-AV inverter to work (after I buffered the power output down to a reasonable rate).
For a little background. I started this project with the intention of sending a working washing machine, dryer or dishwasher back in time approximately 40 minutes. This way, I would have a completed load of laundry or dishes flash in front of me without having to wait for the entire wash cycle. Pretty good concept, eh? Saves a ton of time on household chores.
I didn't have much luck with the dishwasher. The field side affects of the Flux capacitor did some strange things to anything that was non metallic which didn't please my wife.

The dryer experiment didn't work at all as the drum didn't spin fast enough in any of the tests. Any modifications made to increase the RPMs only resulted in lackluster results for any delicate clothes which caused me to scrap that experiment.
The washing machine was a mixed results experiment in that it worked perfectly with an unexpected outcome. The bad news is that I think I have a decimal error in my calculations and sent the washing machine back in time either 40 or 400 years. I've been at the archives reviewing old newspapers to see if any stories about the sudden appearance of a strange alien device filled with wet cloths made the headlines. I'm also trying to figure out just where I made the error in my math. The good news is that it work! I just have to iron out the bugs in my math.
I've also had requests for a Flux Capacitor powered vacuum cleaner. Thus far, this is still on the drawing board as I can't find a willing volunteer to go back in time with the vacuum cleaner (it can't drive itself people!). I don't see this one getting very far.

I've had to suspend the experiments for now and look for a new washing machine for my wife. Any future experiments will be done on older washing machines (I promise).

If you don't care to experiment with a Flux Capacitor but would like to show off your very own replica to your friends and fellow geeks, hurry to ThinkGeek before they run out again (they go quickly). Please note: This is a replica and doesn't output the power needed to manipulate time.

(photo courtesy of Thinkgeek)

Yes, I've tried to power my entire house with the Flux Capacitor but you have to remember that this device only supplies power for short bursts which makes it impractical for powering the house. Believe me, I've tried.

We Are Moving

I have grown tired of the limitations of blogspot. I posted a question/query to Twitter wondering aloud if I should migrate to Wordpress and had an overwhelming number of people recommend Wordpress.
I have already setup my new account and working on the process of moving my posts over to the new site. I have all kinds of housekeeping to take care of before I redirect. Hopefully it will not take more than a couple of weeks to complete.
Say tuned... I will do my best to make this as painless as possible.


Some Assembly Required

I got a call from friend the other day. The entire conversation was focused on the crappy instructions that he got with a very expensive garage lift. Turns out, after getting most of the unit assembled and in position, he discovered that certain steps in the assembly guide were assumed and not documented. This required some backtracking to fix the mistake and get the lift to work properly.
This got me to thinking and recalling my own experiences with out of the box manufacturer assembly instructions.

I remember, as a teen, working at a major department chain store at an after school job. Weekdays I spend my time as a gopher running errands, stocking shelves with merchandise and fixing whatever was broken. Weekends were a different story as I spent my time assembling all the bikes, swing sets, barbeques and other stuff that had to be put together for eager shoppers.

I spent many weekends at work, parts spread out on the floor around me, flipping pages upside down and right side up, scouring the floor around me, looking for that elusive part that would connect A, B and G together for a new swing set. I would often wonder who the brainiac was that scratched together the unintelligible guide and if they had ever seen the swing set or even tried to put it together using their own instructions. Or, at the very least, watched someone attempt the same feat using said instructions.

I look back fondly on those days (they were care free) and wonder why technology hasn't really improved that part of our lives. The last barbeque that I bought and assembled was not that long ago and the process has not changed much from when I was a kid. The instructions are just as vague and include those hard to understand drawings and technical schematics. I understand that keeping expenses down are key to getting these products to market but does it really cost that much for a company to provide an easy to understand set of instructions? I mean, really....

It seems to me that the best aid for the average consumer is the Internet and not the manufacturer. It is relatively easy to find someone who has posted a video, blog or forum post with detailed instructions. I just wish that these companies would hire a tech savvy person to copy and paste these URLs to the front page of the instructions. Or even pay the author for the rights to include them in the box. Until then, I will continue to look to the Internet for the real instructions.....

Feed Your Geek

Unless you are someone who lives in self imposed technological dark ages, you will have; at some point in time, asked a geek for help.

For most people who seek out help, they are faced with one of the following options:
1. Phone a friend (hope they have the answer)
2. Call the vendor/manufacturer support help desk (how many times has this really helped?)
3. Pay someone who knows (which can get expensive)
As life gets more integrated into technology, this can become a never ending circle of upgrades, updates and repairs. No single person can keep up with this, except a geek. Geeks get it and are always up to date with technology, gadgets and gear.
I don't plan on providing a "how to guide" on seeking out and securing your very own personal geek. Instead, I want to impart one simple yet effective tip that you must follow if you do happen to find someone who is willing to lend you a helping hand now and then with your technology problems.

The one thing that most geeks have in common is the need to eat. You can use this to your advantage and take your geek out for lunch at least once a month. Please avoid fast food joints and look for a place that has tables, menus and people who will take your order. If your geek has been working hard on a difficult project, then I would suggest taking him or her out for dinner somewhere that has meat on the menu. Treat your geek to a great meal and your technology will be in good hands for as long as you follow the Care and Feeding plans for a geek. Oh, and one last tip. Friday's are a great day to take out your geek for late lunch or early dinner. This way, you can add some beer to the offering.

Have you found your geek yet? I still have a couple of free lunch hours open during the month.

Tales of a Teleworker

I work out of a home office in a virtual office environment. This involves dialing into conference call #s on a daily basis to attend meetings. I don't enjoy all the meetings but it is the price that I pay for working from a home office.

This week my telephone service provider (& ISP) called to informed me that the numbers I was calling on a regular basis are considered business use and I am limited to 200 minutes a month with these numbers. I was baffled as my current phone plan includes unlimited long distance calling within North America and all the numbers that I dial are toll numbers. I even go the extra mile and not dial toll free numbers to save on costs.

After the warning about using these numbers, I was then given three options to remedy the situation.
1. Continue to use these numbers and if I exceed the 200 minutes, my phone service would be suspended for 24 hours.
2. Upgrade to a business phone package. (But I am not a business and can't justify the additional expense.)
3. Buy and use a calling card to dial into these numbers.

I am working on option #4. Change phone providers!

With the current state of the economy, more and more companies are forced to get creative with cutting costs and trimming expenses. Closing down offices and moving employees into home based offices appears to be a common practice and an easy way to quickly shed expenses. Now I am being penalized by my ISP which forces me to incur more expenses. It is a vicious circle.

If anyone has any creative thoughts or solutions, I would be happy to hear from you. I'm looking for advice on other phone companies that don't have this policy.
I would also welcome hearing from other Shaw customers who have been given the same "warning" and what you did to solve or work around your problem.
Also, has anyone else heard of this policy? I couldn't find it anywhere but then again, I'm no lawyer.

Until then, I will have a timer running during my next call. At least I will have a great excuse to drop off the call early.

Twitter - The New Online Vanity Plate?

Disclaimer: This graphic is for demonstration purposes only. It in no way implies or refers to an actual license plate or individual.

I was looking at the number of Twitter accounts that have folllowers in excess of 100,000 and though about some of the recent news stories outlining how some of these Twitterers have been able to use their tweets to help public causes using a single (140 character) tweet. It got me to thinking about the domain name squatters who have made a living at registering domain names, parking them and finally selling them to the highest bidder at a very tidy profit. Could the same be done with Twitter?

Twitterers who have large (and sometimes very loyal) followers can get a message out to 100,000+ people in a matter of minutes. These tweets can then be RT (retweeted) to another 100,000+ people in a couple of more minutes. Given enough time, these tweets can become viral.

Think about it for a moment. If you have enough followers, a great branding message and a cool (or name brand) Twitter username, you have the potential to make a lot of money either leasing yourself out or selling your twitter account outright to the highest bidder.

What about those people who have moved on from domain squatting to Twitter squatting? How much money do you think they could make selling brand name Twitter usernames? In the current economy, I don't think too many companies will be making any outrageous offers in the near future. But when things turn around and the economy picks up again, I think we might see this turn around.

There is a lot of buzz in the media about Twitter. I'm assuming it is because of human interest, popularity, and the ability for one Tweeter to have a significant affect with 140 characters. I can only assume that all of this media attention will have corporations running out to see if they can secure their Twitter usernames and get on the new social media bandwagon. Those that are too late....well, let's just wait and see.