Category Archives: Application

Why I Hate Automotive Tech

There comes a time when the development of cars, computers, and so-called electronic convenience, become anything but that.

Fixing my own cars, and occasionally for others, I’ve witnessed this march to built-in catastrophic entrapment for several decades… and it ain’t pretty.

There was a time when an engine could be removed, valves replaced, seats ground, pistons pulled, cylinders rehoned, rings replaced, transmissions removed and rebuilt, and you could continue to use the same car for many years. If you want to keep them now, it’s going to be an expensive proposition.

Then came the need for pollution control systems. Not satisfied with pumping in more air to burn waste gases, nor using expensive palladium catalytic converters on the exhaust. That wasn’t enough. Let’s put in some sensors, and computerize the whole process of bringing in air, swirling it about with computer timed fuel injection and variable valve timing. Then fart it out the back with sensors that constantly sniff for emissions, only to feedback through the computer, hey – you’re giving me gas!

As if that wasn’t enough, they installed infotainment systems into these supposed smarter cars. Only one problem with that, no make it two. First the drivers need updates, and that wasn’t happening. Knob fiddling was one thing, but glaring at a screen which not only controls the interior temp, your favorite radio stations, the last 500 songs you cleverly downloaded, and also gives you reroute instructions past the 15 car pile up you need to avoid to get to work.

What Are The Usual Causes For Computer Failure in Vehicles

car-computer-insideNot only are computers failing with ever-increasing frequency, due to downsizing all those millions of tiny micro junctures, which makes them more susceptible to cycles of heat and cold. They now control your 9-speed automatic transmission which is arguing with your engine management systems on what the right fuel-air combination, meshing with the right gears for your on and off the acceleration because you couldn’t make up your mind on which of the 6 lanes of traffic to travel.

Mercedes, among several later manufacturers, has built-in systems to detect when you’ve listened to way too many conference calls and are now too drowsy to stay in your lane. They’ve also added another computer to check that your eyes are scrutinizing that fancy whiz-bang infotainment system instead of driving, and are about to plow into the little old person crossing the road in their 4 wheel drive, electronically controlled wheel chair. It has now applied the computer management system for your brakes, and detected the G-force to be sufficient to maim you, has launched 3 out of 7 possible air bags to cushion your low earth orbit.

One last system has been called upon to maintain your ride stability system which manages ride height on all 4 wheels, keeping you level, while bearing down on previously mentioned senior citizen, having a cardiac event in front of your just in time stopped car.

Never mind, the smart 4 wheel drive scooter has called 911 to get her or him the assistance they need.

Meanwhile, you will have gone through a pile of cash or credit to replace the inflated airbags and clean up the interior of your car, contaminated by all the internal special powder they put in those airbags, combined with your sudden urge that has stained the leather in your seat. After you receive the hospital bill for the face and neck burns from the airbags, you will visit your doctor for a prescription of Nitrazepam.

infotainment_cntrThe advance of technology has repealed radio / cassette knobs, in favor of a computerized lit entertainment screen which beckon you to gaze at it, instead of attentive driving.

BTW, you’ll need a new infotainment system after you have smashed your knuckles into it when your computer determined you had to stop extra fast because of the kitty running across the road in front of your collision avoidance equipped, modern car. evil_mask_sml

Operating Systems – Quick Update

brilliance controlIt’s time to get past the discussions on politics, religion, or anything else that you might find disagreeable. It’s time to put back on my favorite hat, Computer Tech. (click here for musical fanfare in background)

I have without hesitancy, been a big fan of Linux instead of Microsoft Windows. If you’re satisfied with Windows and don’t care to explore the other options available for mostly FREE, then please go back to watching cat videos… Make a cake then… if you don’t like cat videos.

I’m using a well-known and popular LINUX version, UBUNTU. All of the tools and programs I require are readily available using this operating system.

desktop_image_ubuntu

An image from my desktop using UBUNTU

If you have an older PC (more than 3 years old), you may find it a bit sluggish or you missed the free upgrade path from Windows XP, Vista, Win8, to Windows 10. If that’s the situation for you, I would like to suggest some alternatives.

Another reason(s) to run LINUX is for security, and finer control of user access to the computer system. If you run a business, this is especially important. I’m going to start with this recommendation of LINUX. RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) has been around for decades. They offer some of the best, secure, server solutions. There is also a free version of this, CENTOS. Obviously, free is good, but the better support and latest releases will be found in the paid versions.

CENTOS 7 desktop

Click on image for details

Let’s start on the ground floor.

If you’re someone not as familiar with trying a new operating system or concerned on negatively impacting your existing computer, I might suggest any of the following options.

  1. Go to this page and find out more.
  2. Check out the links I’ve provided (they’re underlined) to find out more.
  3. Contact me through this post. If you leave a contact email addy, I can respond.

There are a few beginning steps to take whenever you try something new, but believe me, trying LINUX is going to be a very easy step. I find ordering a disk online or buying a magazine from a book store which includes a disk, are easy ways to try a new flavor without having to install it. If you have a CD drive in your laptop or desktop, it’s a very simple process of inserting and trying the new operating system.

One of the latest installations I’ve done, are for my grandchildren. I installed Voyager. It started out as a derivative of XFCE but is now based on a simpler interface to UBUNTU. I had an older PC with a relatively small amount of memory and a slower processor.  It’s noticeably faster on Voyager than the original installed Microsoft Windows, and it automatically found and installed the wireless network connection.

voyager_linux_desktop

Voyager desktop image – click for more details

One of my favorites, which I use on my laptop PC is LINUX Mint. The user interface is much like a Windows PC with less opportunities to viruses and hacking. Even still, be sure to enable the firewall and an anti-virus program.

linux-mint-desktop

Linux Mint – Click on image for more information

Here’s a recap. I would recommend the following but this shouldn’t be considered the final word.

  • CENTOS – server distribution for small to medium sized business.
  • RHEL – get everything CENTOS offers plus the latest changes and support.
  • Voyager – If you’re just starting out and want to become familiar. It looks a lot like a MAC OS.
  • UBUNTU – my favorite to use and get all of the tools as well as good third party support.
  • Mint – Based on UBUNTU with an easy to learn user presentation. Some people prefer straight on UBUNTU while others like the friendlier interface of Mint. Either choice is great.

Check out the video below for another opinion.

Enjoy!

It’s Pi Day . . So what?

Happy Pi Day!

Einstein in 1921 by F. SchmutzerToday is 3·14·15, corresponding to the first five digits of pi (3.1415) … a once-in-a-century coincidence! Albert Einstein would have celebrated his 136th birthday on March 14, too. It’s a great day to eat pie! Let’s all celebrate in appreciation of how important the number π is to math and science.

Pi is a non-repeating irrational, decimal number which has been calculated to 1.241 trillion positions, with no end in sight.

Pi became useful early on in designing spherical or conical shapes. The number is determined by dividing a circumference of a circle by the diameter, which gives us a constant value for all circles.

Pi is a very old number. We know that the Egyptians and the Babylonians knew about the existence of the constant ratio pi, although they didn’t know its value nearly as well as we do today. They had figured out that it was a little bigger than 3; the Babylonians had an approximation of 3 1/8 (3.125), and the Egyptians had a somewhat worse approximation of 4*(8/9)^2 (about 3.160484), which is slightly less accurate and much harder to work with. For more, see A History of Pi by Petr Beckman (Dorset Press).

The modern symbol for pi [π] was first contemporaneously used in 1706 by William Jones, who wrote:

There are various other ways of finding the Lengths or Areas of particular Curve Lines, or Planes, which may very much facilitate the Practice; as for instance, in the Circle, the Diameter is to the Circumference as 1 to (16/5 – 4/239) – 1/3(16/5^3 – 4/239^3) + … = 3.14159… = (see A History of Mathematical Notation by Florian Cajori).

Pi (rather than some other Greek letter like Alpha or Omega) was chosen as the letter to represent the number 3.141592… because the letter [π] in Greek, pronounced like our letter ‘p’, stands for ‘perimeter’.

Since it’s infinitely long, eventually, every piece of literature that’s ever been written and every sentence that can possibly be constructed in every language that has an alphabet (if we associate some binary sequences with that alphabet) can be read from decoding the digits of Pi.

 

pi-usefulness