Ric on Twitter

  • 10 September, 2012 - 10:55
    Any watch freaks out there? Time for some early Xmas shopping! http://t.co/kM5C8cyx
  • 25 July, 2012 - 10:14
    Have you kicked the tires on the Joomla 3 Alpha? If so, I'd love to know what you think.
  • 17 July, 2012 - 17:25
  • 17 July, 2012 - 16:18
    The Alpha release of the new Joomla! 3.0 is out now. The release is primarily intended for extension developers... http://t.co/eX31fk0o
  • 9 July, 2012 - 23:45
    My latest book is out: Joomla! Search Engine Optimization http://t.co/3lToGUhh #joomla #seo

Feed Roundup - The Essentials

New Facebook phone app allows you to stalk your mates

The Register - 18 April, 2014 - 03:13
Nearby Friends feature goes live in a few weeks

Facebook is adding a new application that alerts smartphone users when their chums are nearby, but thankfully the feature is optional.…

Categories: The Essentials

'The Complete Modern Blacksmith' by Alexander Weygers

Boing Boing - 18 April, 2014 - 03:13

Longtime Boing Boing reader Charles Statman recently recommended I take a look at The Complete Modern Blacksmith by Alexander Weygers. This fantastic HOWTO book is detailed and fun, even for someone who can never hope to actually use it.

Weygers explains techniques and methods for making tools, and the tools to make tools. His diagrams are clear and concise, and the text is simple. I can absolutely picture how I'd undertake many of the projects he documents, I just don't think I ever will. This book, however, provides incredible opportunities to learn about how things are made without ever having to get your hands dirty! Be it making your own anvil or designing a water pump system, from making new tools to fixing a broken one, this tome is ridiculously complete. It is actually 3 out-of-print books combined into one.

The Complete Modern Blacksmith got my brain working. Weygers likes to improvise and find cheap ways to do things without spending a lot of money to solve a problem, and that is fun.

The Complete Modern Blacksmith by Alexander Weygers

(Thanks, Charles!)






Categories: The Essentials

Samsung, GlobalFoundries ink exclusive, multi-year 14nm FinFET deal

The Register - 18 April, 2014 - 03:02
Customers can 'save literally hundreds of millions of dollars in design costs,' they claim

Samsung and GlobalFoundries have announced a collaborative agreement that will enable 14-nanometer FinFET chippery to be manufactured at Samsung's fabs in Hwaseong, South Korea and Austin, Texas, as well as at GlobalFoundries' fab in Saratoga, New York.…

Categories: The Essentials

Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance

The Register - 18 April, 2014 - 03:01
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says

Vladimir Putin has said that Russia has no mass telephone and internet surveillance programs to compare with those in the United States.…

Categories: The Essentials

Kepler-186f: Most 'Earth-Like' Alien World Discovered

Slashdot - 18 April, 2014 - 02:27
astroengine (1577233) writes "About 500 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus lives a star, which, though smaller and redder than the sun, has a planet that may look awfully familiar. With a diameter just 10 percent bigger than Earth's, the newly found world is the first of its size found basking in the benign temperature region around a parent star where water, if it exists, could pool in liquid form (abstract). Scientists on the hunt for Earth's twin are focused on worlds that could support liquid surface water, which may be necessary to brew the chemistry of life. "Kepler-186f is significant because it is the first exoplanet that is the same temperature and the same size (well, ALMOST!) as the Earth," David Charbonneau, with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, wrote in an email to Discovery News. "Previously, the exoplanet most like Earth was Kepler-62f, but Kepler-186f is significantly smaller. Now we can point to a star and say, 'There lies an Earth-like planet.'""

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

Hand crank extension cord winder

Boing Boing - 18 April, 2014 - 02:16

I use several corded power tools around the yard and garden such as a chain saw, leaf vacuum, hedge trimmer, etc. Many’s the time I would put off a chore using them because I would have to uncoil the 100′ of power cord and probably have to untangle/unkink it before using it. After the job was done, it would take another few minutes to coil up the power cord and try not to tangle it in the process.

A couple of types of cord reels I tried didn’t work particularly well. So I bought this weird looking cord winder a few years ago. After installing the wall mount near the power outlet in my garage and winding my cord into the basket, I was quite surprised to discover I could pull out the 100′ of power cord, tangle/kink free in about a minute to the end of my driveway. I would do my chore (usually the leaf vacuum for lawn clippings and leaves) and, in another minute or two I could wind up the cord, detach the cord winder from the wall mount and put it on the shelf. Those chores now get done when needed instead of being put off since the cord unwinding/re-winding takes so little time. -- Jim Service

Wonder Winder Hand Crank Extension Cord Winder: $20






Categories: The Essentials

Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr Released

Slashdot - 18 April, 2014 - 01:42
An anonymous reader writes with this announcement: "Ubuntu Linux version 14.04 LTS (code named "Trusty Tahr") has been released and available for download. This updated version includes the Linux kernel v3.13.0-24.46, Python 3.4, Xen 4.4, Libreoffice 4.2.3, MySQL 5.6/MariaDB 5.5, Apache 2.4, PHP 5.5, improvements to AppArmor allow more fine-grained control over application, and more. The latest release of Ubuntu Server is heavily focused on supporting cloud and scale-out computing platforms such as OpenStack, Docker, and more. As part of the wider Ubuntu 14.04 release efforts the Ubuntu Touch team is proud to make the latest and greatest touch experience available to our enthusiast users and developers. You can install Ubuntu on Nexus 4 Phone (mako), Nexus 7 (2013) Tablet (flo), and Nexus 10 Tablet (manta) by following these instructions. On a hardware front, ARM multiplatform support has been added, enabling you to build a single ARM kernel image that can boot across multiple hardware platforms. Additionally, the ARM64 and Power architectures are now fully supported. See detailed release notes for more information. A quick upgrade to a newer version of Ubuntu is possible over the network."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

Why are diamonds clear, but coal black?

Boing Boing - 18 April, 2014 - 01:29

When Superman wants to super impress Lois Lane, he takes a lump of coal and squeezes it in his super fist until it becomes a diamond. Which is super.

Unfortunately, it’s not a scientifically accurate analogy for the creation of diamonds in nature. So when journalist Stephen Ornes’ 6-year-old son, Sam, asks how coal, which is black, can turn into diamonds, which are clear, there are actually a couple of issues we have to address. First, we need to know where diamonds actually come from. Then, even though diamonds aren’t coal, you’re still left with the basic question Sam is trying to get at—why can pure carbon be black under some circumstances and clear under others? Turns out, the answer has a lot to do with why life, itself, is based on carbon.

Coal is the compressed remains of ancient plants, dinosaur swamps sitting in the palm of your hand. But there are diamonds that are older than terrestrial plants. That fact alone should tell you that diamonds are not actually made from compressed coal. Instead, diamonds are probably formed deep in the Earth—much further down than the levels at which we find coal—where heat and pressure fuse atoms of carbon together into crystalline structures. Later, those crystals get vomited up from the depths with the help of volcanic vents. (You can read more about where diamonds really come from in a post I wrote back in 2012.)

It’s important to make the distinction between diamonds and coal because, if you don’t, then Sam’s question earns a misleadingly simple answer. Diamonds and coal are different colors because coal isn’t pure carbon. The stuff is loaded with impurities: Hydrogen, sulfur, mercury, and more. There’s a reason you don’t want to live next door to a coal-fired power plant and that reason is all the nasty stuff that gets released when the carbon in coal burns.

But that doesn’t mean pure carbon always looks like diamonds. As an example, George Bodner, professor of chemical education at Purdue University, points to carbon black—the black stuff you see when you burn something in the flame of a candle. Another good example, this one from David McMillin, a Purdue professor of inorganic chemistry, is graphite. Like diamond, graphite is carbon. Unlike diamond, it’s a shimmery, silvery black. So what gives?

This is where things get complicated, because the differences between diamonds and carbon black, or diamonds and graphite, happen at the molecular level.

Think about the illustration of an atom—the big ball of a nucleus surrounded by a cloud of electrons whirling through shells designated by energy level. An atom of carbon has six electrons. Two in the lowest shell, closest to the nucleus, and four in the second shell. The lowest shell can only hold two electrons, so, for carbon, that shell is full and stable—an old married couple with a minivan and a cat. But the second shell can hold eight electrons, and carbon only has half that number. That means the electrons in carbon’s outer shell are on the market. They can attract electrons from other atoms, swap and share, binding the atoms together and forming new molecules.

Once that happens, an idea called molecular orbital theory comes into play, because becoming part of a molecule seems to change how electrons go about their business. You can’t think of a molecule of two atoms as a couple of nuclei planets, each with its proprietary electron satellites still distinctly circling. Instead, the electrons of both atoms merge to the point that, when we talk about orbits, we’re talking about molecular orbits now, not atomic ones.

There are two types of molecular orbits, pi bonds and sigma bonds, and each of those has a bond and an antibond. (You can imagine them as twins, one of whom has an inherently evil moustache.) It’s the difference in bonding that makes diamonds clear and other forms of pure carbon black.

Diamonds are entirely constructed from sigma bonds. When two carbon atoms come together to form diamond, the electrons are snugly held, right in between the nuclei. The sigma bond is a tight bond. In molecular chemistry, the tightest bonds happen at the lowest orbitals … the lowest energy levels. So if your bond is very low energy, then its evil twin—the antibond—must be the opposite. Very, very high energy.

Why does this make the diamond clear? The secret is in that big difference between the bond and the antibond. When a photon of light energy slams into a stable material, it can pass through it, be absorbed, or be scattered back in the direction it came from. The net energy (or wavelength) of that photon is a critical factor. When a bunch of atoms are as tightly joined as the ones in a diamond, the photon has to have a lot of energy to be absorbed and excite an electron into an antibonding level; it’s like throwing a bowling ball at a brick wall. A molecule of diamond is like the wall. And by the time you get out the heavy construction equipment and hit that wall with enough force to take a piece out of it … well, that little piece is also going to contain a lot more energy. In this case of the photon is outside the relatively low-energy spectrum of visible light.

So it’s not really that diamonds are clear—that they don’t absorb any of the light that hits them. It’s that our eyes can’t see the colors of really high energy photons. “If you looked at it with UV eyes, you’d see something different,” McMillin said.

In graphite, on the other hand, one quarter of the bonds are pi bonds. In a pi bond, the electrons have a little bit more leeway, like toddlers on a tether. They’re still tightly held, but the nuclei don’t confine them so much and they roam more through the material. And the difference between the bond and the antibond is less extreme. If a sigma bond is a brick wall, the pi electrons are more like bowling pins. Relatively low energy photons can energize them. In fact, graphite virtually absorbs every colored photon in the visible spectrum. None come through or scatter back toward us and we therefore see black. (It’s worth noting that this absorption isn’t like a black hole, where energy has almost no chance of escaping. Instead, in graphite, the energy is absorbed, but then exits again in a changed state—as much smaller bundles of heat energy.)

The difference between sigma-bonded diamonds—which throw off photons outside the spectrum of visible light—and pi-bonded graphite—which absorbs all colors of visible light is extreme. The fact that both are carbon is pretty important, because it means that carbon is extremely versatile. And that, George Bodner said, is what makes carbon such a great element to build life around. “You need strong bonds because you want this thing held together. But there are also times when you want it to, under right conditions, to open up or react. Carbon is so good at that, better than anybody else. And life on this planet evolved around that.”

Photo: Shutterstock






Categories: The Essentials

Battle of the Linux clouds! Linode DOUBLES RAM to take on Digital Ocean

The Register - 18 April, 2014 - 01:08
Also adds SSDs, Intel Ivy Bridge for 'largest single investment we've made in the company'

Linux server slinger Linode has doubled its RAM allocations per-server, and swapped out all its hard drives with SSDs allowing it to match upstart Digital Ocean on prices.…

Categories: The Essentials

<i>El Reg</i> drills into IBM: The storage biz's got that sinking feeling

The Register - 18 April, 2014 - 01:04
How long before Blue Big HQ pulls the plug on the whole thing?

Analysis With the tremendous noise of chickens coming home to roost, IBM's first quarter storage revenues carried on crashing down with depressed revenues.…

Categories: The Essentials

What happens to Peeps in a vacuum?

Boing Boing - 18 April, 2014 - 01:03
First, inflation. Then, collapse. You really don't want to be a Peep in space.






Categories: The Essentials

Snowden Queries Putin On Live TV Regarding Russian Internet Surveillance

Slashdot - 18 April, 2014 - 01:01
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Edward Snowden appeared on a Russian television call-in show to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin about policies of mass surveillance. The exchange has a canned quality which will likely lead to questions regarding the integrity of Snowden's actions, in the query of his host in asylum."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

Snowden Queries Putin On Live TV Regarding Russian Internet Surveillance

Slashdot - 18 April, 2014 - 01:01
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Edward Snowden appeared on a Russian television call-in show to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin about policies of mass surveillance. The exchange has a canned quality which will likely lead to questions regarding the integrity of Snowden's actions, in the query of his host in asylum."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

Snowden Queries Putin On Live TV Regarding Russian Internet Surveillance

Slashdot - 18 April, 2014 - 01:01
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Edward Snowden appeared on a Russian television call-in show to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin about policies of mass surveillance. The exchange has a canned quality which will likely lead to questions regarding the integrity of Snowden's actions, in the query of his host in asylum."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

Snowden Queries Putin On Live TV Regarding Russian Internet Surveillance

Slashdot - 18 April, 2014 - 01:01
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Edward Snowden appeared on a Russian television call-in show to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin about policies of mass surveillance. The exchange has a canned quality which will likely lead to questions regarding the integrity of Snowden's actions, in the query of his host in asylum."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

Snowden Queries Putin On Live TV Regarding Russian Internet Surveillance

Slashdot - 18 April, 2014 - 01:01
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Edward Snowden appeared on a Russian television call-in show to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin about policies of mass surveillance. The exchange has a canned quality which will likely lead to questions regarding the integrity of Snowden's actions, in the query of his host in asylum."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

Snowden Queries Putin On Live TV Regarding Russian Internet Surveillance

Slashdot - 18 April, 2014 - 01:01
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Edward Snowden appeared on a Russian television call-in show to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin about policies of mass surveillance. The exchange has a canned quality which will likely lead to questions regarding the integrity of Snowden's actions, in the query of his host in asylum."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

Snowden Queries Putin On Live TV Regarding Russian Internet Surveillance

Slashdot - 18 April, 2014 - 01:01
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Edward Snowden appeared on a Russian television call-in show to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin about policies of mass surveillance. The exchange has a canned quality which will likely lead to questions regarding the integrity of Snowden's actions, in the query of his host in asylum."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

Snowden Queries Putin On Live TV Regarding Russian Internet Surveillance

Slashdot - 18 April, 2014 - 01:01
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Edward Snowden appeared on a Russian television call-in show to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin about policies of mass surveillance. The exchange has a canned quality which will likely lead to questions regarding the integrity of Snowden's actions, in the query of his host in asylum."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

Snowden Queries Putin On Live TV Regarding Russian Internet Surveillance

Slashdot - 18 April, 2014 - 01:01
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Edward Snowden appeared on a Russian television call-in show to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin about policies of mass surveillance. The exchange has a canned quality which will likely lead to questions regarding the integrity of Snowden's actions, in the query of his host in asylum."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials
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