Dan's Data letters #178Publication date: 3 November 2006.
Last modified 03-Dec-2011.
What is a better video card? BFG 7600GS 512Mb GDDR2 or BFG 6800GS 256Mb GDDR3?
Both are AGP cards. I need a better video card for working on a website. When I work on the website, the screen is choppy when moving around, and the loading is very slow. Going from page to page is slow also. Cutting and pasting is real slow as well.
I am working on a website with hundreds of pictures. Would the 512MB card be better for something like this? I am using a Dell Dimension 8300, Pentium 4 3GHz, with its stock 64Mb Nvidia card.
I would really appreciate some help on this issue. Thank you very much for reading this email.
Shot (Well, that's what his e-mail address started with, anyway)
You don't need a new video card.
Every video card in the world has been more than fast enough for all kinds of 2D graphics for several years now. Your computer is also about five times as fast as it needs to be to render any normal Web site at decent speed. If one or more sites are irritatingly slow, then it's a software problem of one kind or another. A new video card will be a complete waste of money.
If it's just one site that's slow, then that site may be badly written. There are lots of ways to screw up a Web site so that no browser can render it properly, and HTML authoring tools will also choke on awful code. A vast page full of images will indeed bog down a browser, and even crash some browsers; the solution is not to upgrade your computer, but to stop making unfeasibly enormous pages. People often can't even load vast pages properly; it can take so long to get all of the data, even on a fast connection, that either the server or the client times out.
If you find that lots of sites are slow, then there could be something wrong with your PC. Spyware, viruses or other malware could be using up a lot of CPU time. Use a spyware killer and virus checker (I like Trend Micro's free online Housecall) to see if this is the case.
Also, try another browser - though this won't, of course, make any difference if you're experiencing slowness in a site editor rather than just when browsing. If you're using Internet Explorer, try installing Firefox and/or Opera; they're both free and, often, faster.
Windows can also be screwed up in 1001 other ways, but I wouldn't worry about that until I've tried the above steps. Do not buy a new video card, though. Unless your problem has something to do with your current video card drivers (in which case just reinstalling or updating them should fix it), a new card will help not at all.
I just bought a Nikon D50 and want to do infrared photography. Any tips on how? I'm not willing to disassemble anything or void the warranty.
No, I don't want to see through swimsuits. I actually want to take photos of heat loss through windows, and stuff like that.
That's not gonna happen, I'm afraid.
Heat is longwave, "far" infrared, which is invisible to digital camera sensors, no matter what you do.
Digital camera sensors can see shorter-wavelength "near" infrared light very well indeed, which is why the cameras have filters inside to block near-IR and prevent it hazing up your normal pictures. But near-IR is the un-feelable stuff you get from IR remote controls; it isn't heat.
You can take near-infrared photos with an unmodified digital camera by putting a filter over the lens that blocks all visible light - you can buy those filters over the counter or make your own (Bill Beaty's page gives a couple of recipes, which I've used successfully). Not much light makes it through the visible-light-block filter and the camera's own IR-block filter, but enough does that you should be able to take daylight IR photos with an exposure of several seconds.
Visible-light-blocking filters should also let through far-IR just fine, but your camera can't see that. Real thermal imaging cameras are different, and quite a lot more expensive.
Real men use knife switches
Read your review of the Sony DSC-P1. I have a quick question for you. Someone (I suspect my wife) has pressed the shutter button so damn hard that it will now not take any pictures.
Do you know where I can get spare parts from, or get it fixed?
Sorry, no. You'll probably find that a Sony repairer will charge you considerably more for the repair than the camera is worth these days (five-year-old cameras in the P1's class are worth around $US75).
All is not, however, necessarily lost. Your standard modern camera shutter button is a double-stage switch. When you press it a bit for autofocus you cause two contacts to be connected, and when you press it further you connect a third terminal (or possibly a second pair).
That's all there is to it, though, so you can replace pretty much any shutter switch with pretty much any other shutter switch, provided you can get it to fit in some vaguely acceptable way. Two bare toggle switches hanging out of the camera on wires would work just fine; they'd just be unmanageably inconvenient.
So it actually is feasible to fix the camera, if you know a half-decent electronics tinkerer. If nothing else, it could end up with a permanent "cable release", and live out the rest of its life as a tripod camera.
If some more complex component had died, like the autofocus motor or LCD screen, then I'd tell you to just throw the camera away. But a dead shutter button is not nearly that bad.
1: Take Dan's electrical advice. 2: Die.
Here's an odd question tangentially related to your blog post about phases and dangerous cables.
220 residential has a neutral, a ground, and two hot leads... only if you look in the breaker box, you'll find that neutral and ground are attached to the SAME ROD.
So is there any inherent danger in running a home-made extension cord that just has the two live lines and a single neutral/ground? Everything appears okay, but I can't say as I've touched the lathe (three phase 220V) and the mill (110V) at the same time...
What you've got there is actually a "split phase" supply. That Wikipedia page explains the grounding arrangement used in split phase, in which neutral and ground are, as you say, the same thing.
I can't, therefore, see how it could be a problem to wire a cord as you suggest. Just make sure the ground conductor of the cord is actually connected to the neutral/ground terminal, and you should be fine.
Of course, I am not even an Australian electrician, let alone a US one, so for God's sake don't go taking your life in your hands on my advice.
After I put this page up, I received the following advice from someone else who claims he lives in Montana and knows how to do stuff like this, but is obviously actually just some guy from New Zealand who wants to see Mike dead:
You can most certainly run a three conductor cable to the VFD, assuming the following is true:
1. The cable is beefy enough to carry the current that VFD is going to require to drive that lathe. I'm betting #4 wire or bigger if it's a big lathe. Heck, I'd go for arc welding cable if I was going to make it. #0, just for the added durability.
2. The VFD will have grounding lugs on both sides. They need to be tied to neutral/ground on the input side, and to chassis ground on the lathe.
Safety can be checked by voltmeter between the mill and the lathe with everything powered up. Wouldn't hurt to check them both to earth ground while you're at it. Oh, and unfinished garages require GFCI protection by code. Some cheap VFDs drop power back on the ground that will cause GFCI protectors to trip. Computers do this as well.
Maybe you could give me some advice about monitors. My own monitor died recently, which caused me to think about this problem. My partner's 15 inch CRT monitor is old and eventually she's going to need a new one. But she has bad eyesight. She finds 70 dpi to be readable. 80 dpi might be OK, but 90 or 100 dpi will definitely make things like Web graphics, or icons in programs where the icons aren't resizable, far too small for her.
Her desk doesn't have the front-to-back room for a big CRT. And flat panel LCD monitors appear to all be being made by people who eat too many carrots: I did the math and a 1280x1024 17 inch LCD has a DPI of 96, which is just crazy (that's uncomfortably tiny for me, and I have decent vision).
Bigger monitors, assuming I could afford one, seem to have even higher DPI because the resolution goes up faster than the size. I've looked at LCD TVs -- you can get a slightly lower DPI with the larger ones, but then you've got something too big to really fit on a desk.
So how hard is it to find flat panel displays that look good at less than their native resolution? Alternatively, how hard is it to find flat panel displays that have a native resolution suitable for normal people, rather than eagles or Bugs Bunny?
You've got three options.
1: Get a good-sized CRT monitor, like a 19 or 21 incher, and run it at a suitably low resolution. 1024 by 768 on a "21 inch" screen with a 20 inch real viewable diagonal gives about 64 pixels per inch.
2: Get a big LCD monitor and run it at less than its rated resolution. That'll give you a fuzzy picture as the monitor spreads displayed pixels around its physical pixels, but you should get sharp results if you can run at exactly half (or even a quarter) of the rated resolution.
The advantage of this strategy is that if someone with 20:20 vision wants to use the computer, they can crank the resolution back up. And some large LCD monitors actually cost about the same as similar-sized LCD TVs with much lower resolution. Dell's popular 2407WFP is the best example; it currently lists for $US720 or something, has a rated resolution of 1920 by 1200, and should be easy to run and good-looking at 960 by 600. That'd give about 47 pixels per inch.
3: Use an LCD TV that does fit on the desk. There are plenty of mid-sized options, and a lot of them have "RGB" inputs suitable for computers - many have a plain old "VGA socket" on the back, and that usually means they can sync to normal computer output scan rates (you can't bet on a TV with a DVI socket on the back being able to take input at various resolutions or refresh rates).
LCD TVs around this size don't seem to be very good value compared with computer displays, though. Bigger LCDs are quite an attractive option, however - a 32-inch LCD actually will fit on a lot of desks just fine (though it'll look kind of crazy), that size isn't stupidly expensive, and all of the cheaper models still only have about a million pixels (Example. That one's 48 pixels per inch).
Note that you can count on flat-panel monitors to also have bolt holes for a standard mounting bracket on the back, so they're quite easy to hang on a wall or even attach to an articulated arm. That can make mounting easier, and also allow you to swing the screen up and around so you can move to the couch and watch a movie on it.
[UPDATE: David and I are aware that you can increase the size of fonts in Windows. But you can't increase font
sizes very much before the layout of many applications and Web sites breaks in horrible ways. Many applications
also simply refuse to scale important interface elements, both text and graphics, giving rise to brilliant
things like configuration windows that don't let you see half of the settings. Yes, I have occasionally regretted
my decision to buy my sister a 1920-by-1200 17-inch laptop.]
Look - magnetic motors designed in Australia!
Well, sure. Never let it be said that Australians can't talk absolute crap and sell worthless shares in fraudulent companies just as well as residents of any other nation!
(UPDATE: It took a few years, but the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Queensland Supreme Court now officially have a thing or two to say about the "Cycclone Magnetic Engine". As, presumably, do the people who invested in this perpetual-motion company, only to see almost none of their money go into researching and making the magical magnetic motors, while a lot more of it than had been promised went straight into the pockets of the company's operators.)
Try these guys
I am working with a client of mine called HeartMath. Our product and services are geared toward staying healthy and stress free. We are interested in purchasing some advertising with DansData.com. Could you get in contact with me with ad rates and availability. Please send me your contact information as well. Thanks
Usually, people who e-mail me on spec wanting to advertise some odd product or other are sufficiently cagey about the their client's identity that I can't figure out who they are.
You, however, came right out and named them.
So I was interested to read that "The emWave Personal Stress Reliever analyzes your heart rhythms for 'coherence', a term used by scientists to describe a highly efficient physiological state in which the nervous system, cardiovascular, hormonal and immune systems are working efficiently and harmoniously."
Wouldn't you know it, but most of the "scientists" listed in the references on the "The Science Behind emWave and Heart Rhythms" page - and they keep naming the same ones over and over - work for the "Institute of HeartMath".
As is traditional for these sorts of enterprises, "McCraty et al" are not clearly labelled as "the people who get richer if you buy this $US200 device".
There's a Stanford study in the list as well, but it's talking about boring old heart rate variability, not this "coherence" concept that HeartMath appear to have invented. And it found that stress management training did not in fact change heart rate variability in any way, but did seem to help people cope with heart disease.
And then there's one study which was "not intended to be ... controlled" (I mean, guys, seriously - the Summary doesn't even list how many subjects there were!), and which therefore does not actually indicate anything much. And which only even claims, in any case, that the HeartMath program makes people with AIDS happier. That's an uncontroversial result of various kinds of counselling, or indeed a trip to the beach or a large martini.
And then there's another study which is also "uncontrolled" and which therefore does not actually have any firm conclusions, but which does not appear to be a study of a HeartMath product anyway.
Searching for the name of the fellow who came up with the "Smetankin Method" mentioned in that last study, plus "HeartMath", found this, talking about how HeartMath's PR people get very grumpy when someone points out that HeartMath's claims of real scientific support are false.
I'm guessing that you e-mailed me because you were trolling through Google hits for "biofeedback" and found this page, but didn't read it very carefully.
But don't worry. Like other masterful examples of public relations at its best, the one to which you guided me has convinced that my readers need to be told all about your clients' product.
I won't even ask you to pay me!
In reply, Josh said to me:
That sounds great. Since you have been so kind to take a look at our product, we are willing to pay you 15% on anysale that is referred. Please sign up through this link [redacted] so we can track sales referred.
If you really don't want to be payed for the ad then please let me send you our link so we can track the campaign. Here is one of our advertorials. Were you planning on writing a contextual ad.
Stress creates incoherence in our heart rhythms. However, when we are in a state of high heart rhythm coherence the nervous system, heart, hormonal and immune systems are working efficiently and we feel good emotionally. emWave Personal Stress Reliever helps you reduce your emotional stress by displaying your level of heart rhythm coherence in real time. But emWave does more than just display coherence levels. It guides you toward stress relief by training you to shift into a coherent, high performance state.
Based on this, I think that Josh may be far too busy and important to read more than the first and last line of his correspondence. Or, alternatively, he's totally bereft of any ethics whatsoever, and assumes that everyone's perfectly happy to make money by doing anything, even if that thing is scamming sick people.
I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, to see such an attitude presented by a worker in the upstanding and respectable advertising industry. My fingers are shaking so badly that I can barely even type Josh's e-mail address.
(I'd ask you to keep your messages polite and to the point, but it seems that you'll only need to apply those standards to the first and last lines.)
Those of you with an interest in psychoceramic infighting may also enjoy picking apart this site, which used to belong to someone engaged in a similar but different enterprise to the Institute of Heartmath, or something, and is now a treasure trove of legal and philosophical complaints about said person from yet a third, no more comprehensible, institution.
just a note to let you know that we have updated our site and blog.
please could you let us know if the advertising offer is still open.
I swear to God, these people do not live on the same planet as (most of) the rest of us.
For those of you just joining us, I linked to Life Technology's cornucopia of hilarious and, so far as I can see, completely fraudulent products at the end of this page. Based on the traffic they saw coming to their site from that page, they tried to buy ads on Dan's Data, and I was rude to them in reply, as you can see at the end of this page. Then someone pointed out that I was actually running a Google ad for one of their products anyway, thanks to the keyword matching we all know and love. In response to that page, one of them who has a very unlikely name got angry with me, for a little while at least.
And now we're back to square two again.
Here is a small but big question for you. What's your take on global warming? What I really mean is: Is it happening? Is it bad? Is it caused by people? I have done quite a bit of reading on the subject but a fair part of me seems to want to be a sceptic.
What do you think about this page at junkscience.com?
Yes, it's happening, yes, it's bad, and yes, it is very probably, to a large extent, down to us.
On days when I'm feeling glum, I think we're screwed.