Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wordpress Drop Down Menu's with NO programming.

I have been raving over the new features in Wordpress and I need to clarify that I am talking about Wordpress with the "Twenty Ten 1.2" theme.  That theme is installed by default and yesterday I blogged about the built in thumbnail support, today its about the drop down menus.  There is a new 'appearance' tab called 'menu' from there you need to select the category from the bottom center select box.  You check the boxes you want then select 'add to menu'.  A simple menu is that simple.  Drop downs require that you offset the drop downs to the right of the main category as can be seen on the right side of the menu 'Parts' tab.
Once that is done click on "Save Menu" and then check to see if ti is all working like you wanted it to work.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordpress now features thumbnails!

The default installation of Wordpress now features thumbnails in the search and category listings. You just have to enable them.  The first step is to select 'Gallery' in the new 'format' box.  then select 'Set featured image' (all the way at the bottom right corner) to add the image that will be the 'thumbnail' (although it is a bit larger).
Then when the pop up comes up you upload the image like you do for other images but there is a new thing at the bottom called 'Use as featured image' that you need to select.
If you do everything right then there should be images in the search results and the category listings. This is all done without any special coding.

Perhaps tomorrow I will show you how to set up pull down menus also without any coding!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Changing a Ford Radio

Changing the radio in a Ford is supposed to be as easy as buying the special tools, inserting them and removing the radio.
The tools go in about 1 inch then are pushed outward to deactivate the catches.

Now to be honest I had tried a screwdriver and may have messed up the catches. However my solution was to pull out the drink tray remove the 2 screws behind that and then snap out the surround that goes all the way up around the radio.  Above the radio there are two screws that have to be carefully extracted by breaking the plastic around them.  Then the whole thing pulls out and you can disable the radio catches from the side and remove the radio.  If the plastic is broken carefully it will snap back together and hold everything in place.   You can add a thick glue if it is needed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New battery technology - NiZn 1.6 volt rechargable AA's

These batteries only lasted about 6 months before one shorted out.  Now I cannot even get 2 of them to work!  Normal rechargeable batteries last about 2 years.

If you are like me you have a camera that eats batteries like crazy!  Someone ended my misery by stealing my Sony HC2 camera.  However I also use an Olympus battery eater.  Then I came across the Power Genix 1.6 volt NiZn technology rechargeable batteries.  To say the least the improvement is amazing.  I can do a photo shoot without worrying about killing the batteries and the flash is very fast so I do not have to wait so long between pictures.

The problem is that most cameras do not realize the you are using rechargeable batteries so they insist that the batteries are not good when they have lots of power left in them.  That is because normal batteries are 1.5 volts and rechargeable batteries are usually 1.2 volts so they look like almost dead batteries.  To be honest Fuji makes a camera that has a setting to work with 1.2 volt batteries, but most cameras do not have that ability.  So a 1.6 volt rechargeable solves the problem.

Make sure you get a new charger with the NiZn batteries your old 1.2 volt charger will not do the job!

Western Digital WD2500BEVS laptop 250 gig hard drives are dying!

Western Digital WD2500BEVS laptop 250 Gig hard drives are dying like crazy.  I have had to replace 2 of them in the last week.  They are mostly found in Gateway W350 Laptops.  I have switched to Seagate hard drives my self.

I then decided to warn a Gateway laptop owner of the problem and he advised me that he had to replace his hard drive 3 times!  Hopefully it is under warranty because they die when they are exactly three years old.

Speaking of Seagate they just bought out Samsung's hard drives.  That with Western Digital's acquisition of Hitachi really narrows down the manufacturers of hard drives.  maybe they see the handwriting on the wall. Solid state hard drives are taking over, no moving parts!  However solid state hard drives are still too expensive for me!

Friday, April 15, 2011

There is a lot of shaking goin on!

The earthquake count is above 1000 a week in the US for the first time in 2 years. That last one coincided with a planetary alignment. This time I do not know of any real alignment, there are some strange ones being reported on YouTube? There are also a lot of solar flares going on too!

California is over 500 earthquakes this week. Over 100 of them are around Hawthorne NV including one bigger one. Maybe we are ramping up to the 'Big One'??

 Things are continuing to get 'shakier'. The earthquake per week for California has climbed to 672.  Several solar flares hit earth a few days ago.  Here is the solar wind recording showing that on the 14 th of April.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I have a newer van!

My old van was at 162,000 miles. It needed work on the breaks, the steering, the belts, the exhaust, the rear hatch, the engine, new tires and a few other things. So it was time to say good bye.  BTW I gave it away.

Here is the 'new to me' van. It has only 99,000 miles. There was a short delay while they installed some recalls and now here it is at our home. Next is to install a CD player and modify it so it gets 25 or more miles per gallon like I did my other vans.

You might notice that its a Ford. I guess I will have to change this category to 'van repairs' instead of 'Dodge van repairs'?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Predicting Earthquakes via Magnetic Field Monitors

This device has been improved upon.  See the improved version.

Back in 2000 I wrote an article for Nuts&Volts magazine about predicting earthquakes via a electromagnetic monitor.  Back then the EM sensor rotated through 180 degrees taking readings as it went.  That was because EM sensors were expensive.  Today they are cheap and I am working on a new device that uses 8 sensors in a circle.  I am not sure If I should read them or take their difference and read that?

My article: 
This is a picture of the device that was published in April 2000:

Since my article was written several others have written on this concept.  According to Wikipedia there is even something called the VAN method of predicting earthquakes:

My method is superior because it involves using magnetic field sensors and recording them like the seismometers that are currently in use.  I will upload pictures shortly.  I am using a Arduino as the recording device then via USB it is sent to the computer.  This is an earlier picture of my no-moving-parts setup:
Those are UGN3503 Hall Effect sensors arranged in a circle.  The op amps are dual versions like the LF 353.  Here is the updated photo.  Why do I still have that green LED there on the Arduino?

I came up with this idea over 10 years ago because animals behave strangely before earthquakes.  They know something is about to happen.  I also know animals can navigate magnetically.  If you put baby sea turtles in a pool they will swim east to west.  If you add a magnet the will arc around it.  That why you can take a dog to California and it will find its way back to NY.  Then I discovered that there are many magnetic abnormalities around the fault lines.  At that point I added the quartz into the equation and came up with this method of predicting earthquakes.  How accurate it can be in predicting earthquakes is yet to be determined.

Here is the Arduino code to read the 6 analog ports:
 Reads an analog input on pin 0-5 & prints the result
 This example code is in the public domain.

void setup() {

void loop() {
  int sensorValue = analogRead(A0);
  int sensorValue1 = analogRead(A1);
  int sensorValue2 = analogRead(A2);
  int sensorValue3 = analogRead(A3);
  int sensorValue4 = analogRead(A4);
  int sensorValue5 = analogRead(A5);
  Serial.print(sensorValue, DEC);
  Serial.print(sensorValue1, DEC);
  Serial.print(sensorValue2, DEC);
  Serial.print(sensorValue3, DEC);
  Serial.print(sensorValue4, DEC);
  Serial.println(sensorValue5, DEC);
  delay (100);

This is what you should see on your screen.  The OP amps are connected with 1K from the sensors to their negative inputs and 100 K to their outputs for a gain of 100. The positive inputs go to a 2.5 volt reference. They were needed to increase the sensitivity.  The Arduino's 6 analog input ports are connected to sensors for North, South, East, West, up, and Down.

The video is on YouTube:

Now I am waiting for someone to give me several million to set up sensors all along the major fault lines to monitor the magnetic fields and see if it is possible to predict earthquakes that way.

Here is the schematic diagram.  One of three circuits is shown.  The OP amps are powered by what is marked as 'Vin' to the Arduino, that should be about 9 VDC.  The gain of the op amps is about 100.  The 2.5 volt reference can be two 10K resistors in series, but you might want to add a trimmer to adjust it so that the output of the op amps average around 2.5 volts.  With this setup the sensitivity is still on the low side of what it should be.