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Gwen Patton
Works at Revolution Earth Press
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Gwen Patton

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Well, I got my new +Avegant Glyph Wearable Display Device today. These guys really came through for me! I pre-ordered it back in December, and they said "Preorders will be before the end of May". Sure enough, I got the shipping notice yesterday -- NEXT DAY SHIPPING. And this morning, the UPS guy knocks for his signature and here it is. A nice set of unboxing pics!

The Glyph is a bit different from other VR headsets. There isn't a glorified phone display in the thing. They designed a really tiny set of RGB emitters and bounce the light off a set of micro-mirrors in the headstrap. The light is beamed out of the eyepieces directly onto your retinas, sort of like in Snow Crash, but you can also use it as a pair of really nice headphones when you aren't watching videos on them.

It works decently well plugged into the HDMI port on the PC, but where it really shines is in mobile use. Because I have a Nexus 5, I got a SlimPort adapter (cuz that's what the Nexus 5 needs) and plugged this bad boy in. The phone display just pops up in the eyepieces as pretty as can be.

Now, I know what you're thinking. That's a pair of freaking headphones. How can it be a display? Well, these brains at Avegant made this thing so you can wear it with the band on the TOP of your head and run a passive cable to your phone or computer or stereo or iPod or whatever, and use the things as very nice headphones. But pop on a magnetic nosepiece, push the button that releases the spring-loaded eyepieces from the top strap, and plug in an HDMI cable instead of the audio cable. Then rotate the whole thing so the strap is in front of your face like the 21st Century version of Geordi LaForge. Sit back, and watch video or play games from your phone, tablet, or computer.

It's not a full VR like the Vive or Rift...at least, not yet. There's supposed to be a sekrit handshake to activate the headtracking in the gadget, but it's not active right now. I'm not quite sure why...but for much of what I'll use it for, I don't need it.

Where this thing really shines is side-by-side 3d videos. Hold a button on the side, and it switches to SBS mode, and the 3d is AMAZING!

Now, I'm sort of using it a tad outside its perfect use-case. I tried to focus the eyepieces to use it without my glasses, but there just wasn't enough oomph in the lenses to handle it. So I have to wear my glasses with them. But they do work that way, if you adjust them right. And so far, nothing I've watched has given me any simulator sickness, nor have I seen any screendoor effect at all. The image is sharp, clear, and devoid of obvious pixelation or screendooring.

I did run into a minor hiccup when trying to play videos I purchased from Google Play on them through YouTube. You can do that on a PC, but for some reason the purchased videos don't like the Youtube app. You HAVE to go through the Google Play Movies app to make it work right...but it DOES work. I just watched some Deadpool, and wow, what a rush!

+Margaret Leber twitted me in another G+ post that she hopes to see me someday...well, I HAVE been sort of immersed in the thing tonight...but come on, I just GOT it today. It's still got that new-toy smell!
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I don't usually fall for "One Weird Trick" style clickbait, but when I saw this one, I simply had to. I mean, really...if cops are telling Americans to carry freakin' lightsabers all the time, then sign me up! I'll carry a lightsaber everywhere! Hell, I'll freakin' SLEEP with the thing!

But no, it was just clickbait for a really bright flashlight. I guess you could call a lightsaber a really bright flashlight, but it'd be damning with faint praise.

(That isn't a link to the page, I don't want to give them more clicks. But still, a freakin' lightsaber! I ask you!)
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I used to carry a Surefire E2D Executive Defender, partly for the same reason, and partly because the strike bezels on it make it a FANTASTIC kubaton. I do still carry a flashlight that can be used for that, but it's a different one, a Nebo Redline Select Titanium. But then, I also walk with a cane when I'm not in my wheelchair, and the cane is one I got from Canemasters as a defensive tool. Solid oak, with an extra-large crook-top with a wedge tip. Combined with my sword skills, it's a feersum endjin of defense. (Sorry, I've been reading Iain Banks lately.)

But I still want a lightsaber, dammit. I've got a Wicked Lasers Arctic Spyder with a laserblade, but it's not the same.


http://www.amazon.com/Nebo-5620-Redline-Select-Flashlight/dp/B00916HJBW
http://canemasters.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feersum_Endjinn
https://goo.gl/photos/VovyK2ZjsnH81AYv9

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I bought a lighter on Amazon. I don't smoke, but I got one anyway. (Actually, I got two, but I like the second one better. I'll explain presently.)

When it comes to EDC and even some sort of prepping frame of mind, I never want to be without three things: A good tool-quality knife, some sort of defensive tool, and a way to make fire. If I have a good knife, I can make all sorts of stuff like cut a tin can into a cookpot, or notch sticks for all sorts of things. If I have a weapon, I can protect myself from animals or people who want to hurt me. And if I have a way to make fire, I can warm myself when I'm cold, scare away a lot of those animals, especially at night, I can see at night without a flashlight, and I can cook food and sterilize water.

I'm a bit of an obsessive when it comes to the different ways to make fire. Everyone should have at least two methods on hand, some sort of lighter or matches and another method that can get wet, is durable, and can be replenished or lasts a long time. I have several ferrocerium starters, stormproof matches, and different sorts of lighters. (I want either a bow drill or a fire piston someday, too.) Lighters, though, are a difficulty. Most of the ones available use either a liquified gas petroleum-based fuel or a liquid petroleum-based fuel. Either way, it's a fuel that can get scarce in a crisis. I don't want a Zippo that'll be useless if I can't find naptha to put in it or those tiny ferrocerium "flints" -- and butane lighters are worse. They last a fairly long time but the refillable kinds are getting harder to find.

So I looked at electric lighters. They were remarkably easy to find and very common and inexpensive! There's models with one arc or with two arcs, which give a larger effective area. I got a single-arc model...and couldn't resist the Star Wars reference in this one. Just don't expect the arc to actually look like a tiny lightsaber. It's usually thin and curved, though the color is about right. I call it my Mace Windu lighter.

The first one I got is an Ignite lighter, which also charges via USB, but heats a small metal (probably nichrome) wire coil to provide heat. It works fine, and you CAN light a candle or some other object with it, but the little round coil is clearly designed with the end of a cigarette in mind. It's a lot like a tiny version of an automobile cigarette lighter. (For the younger people who have never seen an actual auto cigarette lighter, it's what used to go in the 12V accessory jack before car companies stopped supporting smokers.) It's a good lighter and I like Ignite's designs, but...

When I want to light something, I want flame and I want flame NOW. A lighter should cause things to actually ignite with a flame, not a hot coal. You can light a candle with an Ignite lighter, but you sometimes have to blow on the hot coal at the end of the wick to get it to catch. With the SaberLight you don't have to. An arc lighter makes the thing you're lighting burst into flame, practically instantly.

I tested them both with a piece of paper, a candle wick, and a wooden toothpick. Both of them lit these things, but the wick and toothpick took a little coaxing with a gentle puff of breath to give it a little more oxygen to get a flame. The arc lighter made all of these things flash into flame instantly.

Both charge via USB very easily. The Ignite lighters come in two models. With the cheaper model, you pop a cap off the cold end and there's a USB-A plug inside. Plug that into the USB port on your computer or an AC adapter, and it charges. Their other model looks like a Zippo, and has an extendable USB plug, one of the flat blade types, that you plug into an AC adapter, battery bank, or computer USB port. The SaberLight is just as simple...a micro-USB socket on the bottom. Plug any micro-USB cable into it then into a power bank or other USB power supply. Both types have a little LED light that goes out when the device is charge. They each take about an hour to charge. The Ignite lighter gives about 60 lights on a charge, and the SaberLight says it'll give 100 lights on a charge.

So how can I make this a "sustainable" source of fire in a crisis? I either need one of those solar panel USB battery bank chargers or some other kind of USB charger. I've got three of them. I don't have a solar panel yet, but I'm considering it. One source is a real emergency source, a little LED lantern with a hand-crank dynamo that charges the internal battery -- or, with a small cable, can charge other things like power banks or phones. It takes a LOT of cranking, though.

The second and third are both thermoelectric generators by Stower Energy. One is their original Flame Stower, and the other is their new Candle Charger. Both consist of a thermoelectric element with fire on one side and a little tank of cold water on the other, the temperature differential causing a current flow. The Flame Stower is a stand-alone unit with a metal blade you stick into a fire such as a campfire or stove flame, and an expanding silicone bellows-style cup you fill with cold water to provide the cold side of the circuit. A short cable ends in a USB socket. The other Stower device, the Candle Charger, is a more refined version. It has a little metal pot or saucepan with the thermoelectric generator in the base, and the cord is down the pot handle. It snaps into a stand very securely, with a flame source underneath. They supply a diethylene glycol-type liquid fuel wick candle when you buy it, and they're easy and relatively inexpensive to replace. You can get them in case lots from restaurant supply stores. They're basically chafing-dish fuel canisters. I prefer diethylene glycol chafers to alcohol chafers because diethylene glycol will only burn when wicked up. If you spill it, the puddle won't ignite even if you try to ignite it. If you spill alcohol fuel, the puddle most definitely will ignite!

Having used alcohol stoves in the past, even in a crisis situation, I learned a great respect (ok, blind terror) of knocking over the stove and sending a flood of boiling, blazing alcohol all over the place, perhaps on myself. But the diethylene glycol, while not as easily replaced as alcohol, is a bit safer. If you run out of chafing fuel, you CAN use a candle or alcohol lamp (even a can of Sterno) to power it.

The Stower product lets you light the wick candle with the arc lighter, then make a cup of coffee while replenishing the energy you used to light the candle from the USB port.

And that's what we call a virtuous circle!

https://ignitelighters.com/
http://stowerenergy.com/
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The ruling rekindles the fight over Second Amendment rights in the nation’s capital.
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I run the Pink Pistols, the co-plaintiff in the case.

TIL, and congratulations on your victory.

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I thought that silhouette was familiar! Hi, Evie!
Not actually Erin. Picture by KJ Photography & is used with permission. On behalf of all of us here at Blue Collar Prepping, I'd like to personally think Timothy Callahan for all his hard work in giving our little blog an ...
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I saw this and thought of +Margaret Leber carrying a Chromebook back and forth to the office because a $150 Chromebook is more expendable than the $3,000 high-end laptop she'd have to schlep otherwise.

It's silly and somewhat dangerous to carry a multi-grand piece of heavy-duty and, let's face it, just plain HEAVY machine downtown, where the crime level is at tabloid levels. I'd rather she had to ditch the $150 Chromebook than the $3,000 laptop if she has to, and she can do her work just fine on it. She uses Chrome Desktop to connect back to her high-powered laptop at home, and everything's copacetic.

Heck, she even got BOTH of our Chromebooks running a lightweight Linux distro IN A WINDOW out of the Chrome browser. Complete with an X desktop! WOOT!

I was already able to do my Arduino development on the Chromebook. Now I might actually be able to install the Linux version of some of my electronics tools, such as the o-scope package!
Chromebooks have surpassed sales of Mac laptops in the United States for the first time ever. And that doesn’t surprise me. Because roughly a year ago I made the same switch. Formerly a lifelong Mac user, I bought my first PC ever in the form of a Chromebook. And I’m never looking back.
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Yes I know. Teasing...

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BAHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

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Hey, +David Anders -- I just realized. Is your nickname related to AuAl2?

I was researching tin pest and Napoleon's buttons and wound up there.
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WOOT!

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A piece of early technological history I never knew. h/t +Paul Huber 
 
The Forgotten Era of Moonlight Towers ... "Back in the early 19th century, the invention of the dynamo brought promises of an exciting new world ahead, but the most urgent need of the day, or rather the night, was lighting. Edison's revolutionary incandescent light bulbs had not been invented yet, but Sir Humphry Davy, who can be considered the true founder of electric lighting, had demonstrated at the very beginning of the century a method to produce light by bringing two metal electrodes very close together to produce a sustained spark. Known as arc lamps, these became the first practical electric lights.

A carbon arc lamp consist of two carbon rod electrodes in free air, and connected to a source of electric current. The electric arc is struck by touching the rods together and then slowly drawing them apart to create an arc across the gap. The heat vaporizes the tips of the carbon rods and the highly luminous carbon vapor produces an intense bright light.

Although the invention of the arc lamp was a spectacular feat, it became obvious that their use would be limited. The light produced by the arc lamp was too intense to be endured at close range, making them unsuitable for indoor use. Even when installed outdoors at the height of typical street lights, these lamps required shielding to reduce the glare which meant that much of their light was wasted. The city of San Jose, California, tried to solve the problem in 1881 by putting arc lights atop a 237-foot tall tower. A total of 6 arc lights were installed boasting a total light output of 24,000 candlepower.

Inspired by San Jose, many American and European cities began putting up lighting towers. These came to be known as Moonlight Towers because the way it mimicked the shining moon. A single tower illuminated several blocks at once, and there was enough light to read one’s pocket watch a quarter of a mile away.

One of the main disadvantages of Moonlight Towers was they needed to be serviced throughout the night. Early arc lamps lasted just an hour or two because the carbon rods would be exhaust by then requiring them to be frequently replaced (later models could last through the night). The heights of the towers posed additional climbing challenge. Because of the cost and labor intensive operation, arc lamps didn’t completely phase out existing oil lamp and gas flame street lights. In most American cities, the lighting towers only complemented gas and oil lamps. Detroit was the only large city in the US lighted wholly and exclusively by the tower system.

Detroit erected a total of 122 towers, with a height of 100 to 180 feet, lighting 21 square miles of the city. It was the best-lighted city in the world. The lighting infrastructure in Detroit was regarded as the future of street lighting, and stood as an example for the rest of the US. By 1884 there were already more than 90,000 arc lamps lighting American cities, and that number rose to 235,000 in 1890. The numbers doubled in another ten years and tripled in five more years.
Arc lamps were in use until around 1920s. By then Edison had substantially improved incandescent lamps that used filaments.

These lamps had longer lives and could be produced in smaller powers allowing them to be used inside buildings and small rooms. Eventually, incandescent lamps and later halogen lamps replaced arc lamps.

Most lighting towers were demolished during the first two decades of the 20th century. Some collapsed during storms and tornados. The only ones that remain today are in Austin, Texas, and they are still working, albeit not by means of arc lights. The city originally purchased 31 moonlight towers from Detroit. 17 still survive.

While lighting towers became extinct, arc lights found use in new applications such as cinema projection, spotlights and searchlights. Even in these applications conventional carbon arc lamps are being pushed into obsolescence by xenon arc lamps, but were still being manufactured as spotlights at least as late as 1982. ..."

MORE: http://www.amusingplanet.com/2016/04/the-forgotten-era-of-moonlight-towers.html
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"We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold." -- Hunter S. Thompson, "Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas"

Not wanting another repeat of Thursday morning, waking up in massive pain from the neck down both arms and down my spine, I took some extra meds around midnight to head it off and relax me so I can sleep.

I'm somewhere around Barstow right now...I think it's time to rack out.

G'night, Plussers.
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Cartoonist with a Disability
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  • Revolution Earth Press
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Disabled webcartoonist on the East Coast
Introduction
I used to work at a company that did phone support for software, and did SF and fantasy writing on the side. Then I had a quiet argument with my trunk lid in a 40mph wind, and the trunk lid won.  I can't work anymore because I can't predict when I'm going to be in too much pain to do anything, and typing a lot is too painful.  So now I do a webcomic, Jenny Everywhere's Infinite: Quark Time, as my creative outlet.

I have also been an advocate for responsible self-defense and a firearms instructor.  My favorite martial art is Aikido, and I play Go.
Bragging rights
My webcomic is now a year old, and the first 28 weeks are out in print. Was International Media Spokesperson for the Pink Pistols for most of a decade.
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Female
Our old supplier was playing stupid games with billing and delivery, so we ran out of oil right after a big snowstorm. We had been researching local oil suppliers in the area and found that Walton had the best deal and looked very reliable from reading reviews. I called and talked to a salesman who was extremely friendly and helpful. When we suddenly ran out of oil just a couple of days later, I called him on a Saturday morning and by shortly after noon we had a technician in our driveway. He had about 10-15 gallons of oil in his truck which he put in our tank, then he primed and restarted our furnace. Monday morning bright and early we had a delivery from Walton to fill our tank. But we found that we weren't getting heat or hot water so I called them back. A tech came out only an hour later and he found that the oil had actually run out before that delivery, so he had to reprime and restart the furnace. I highly recommend Waltons for oil service. They're responsive, friendly, and very concerned about giving their customers the best service they possibly can.
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