Friday, September 14, 2007

oh the bourocracy

So last week I pulled a comdial phone out of a box.... all such phones have to be inventoried by mr. collins because there being sold as a lot. so i took it to his office. he wasnt there, so i wrote down the seirial number and a note and left it there, took it to the other side of campus and put it into storage. the next day he showed up at my office and asked about the phone, i showed him were it was found and explained to the best of my knowledge how it got there (since this was before i started working in IT) he had enough information so he left. so today i get a memo in my box saying "mr. collins needs more information about the phone, please see him." so i figure, i dont know anything more about the phone so i go dig it out of the storage areas and bring it to his office; where he is very confused to see me again, i show him the memo and he starts laughing..... this is because the memo is a result of him asking his secretary to write me a memo in the 18 hours between when i left the note and he came to ask about it. the memo just happened to take 5 days to get to me.... moral of the story, im never responding to anything quickly again ;)

on the upside David six and i are thinking of making some custom electronics for fun. more on that later.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


to those of you who have been checking this. Sorry for the lapse. I had been able to post very easily for a while since I had a laptop. The hard drive in the laptop broke (partialy my fault, partialy the hard drive manufacturers, none the laptops) so it has been much harder for me to post. The hard drive was under warranty and is going to be replaced. Untill then there will be less posts.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Helium Article: Laptop Buying Tips

self explanatory.

A decent Laptop usually costs upwards of a thousand dollars. However, with the smallest amount of extra effort, a screwdriver and the ability to plug two plugs together,you can get a great laptop at less than half that price. Here is how: *

The brief:
Buy a laptop in which the LCD panel has been damaged but the laptop is intact, and then replace the screen. Doing this I recently purchased a laptop that costs $1440 in stores for less than $500.

The details:
1.) Go to an online Retailer like Ebay and do a search for something like "Laptop Broken LCD" or "Laptop broken screen". Shop around at a few different sites to find the cheapest you can get the specification you want. Some buying tips. Make sure your laptop is listed as working other than the broken screen. Look to see if the power adapter and battery is included. Remember that the cost of the LCD and shipping will add between $150 and $300 so spend accordingly.

2.) Once you have successfully finished purchasing the laptop go too or any other online retailer of LCD panels and look for your model number. Don't buy the screen from that site though, you will pay double whats its worth.

3.) Take down the model number of the LCD screen you need from the site and go back to ebay or any other online super retailer. Look for that model number until you find the best deal you think you can.

4.) Once you get your screen you need to install it. Remove the battery and power cord from the laptop and make sure you are grounded by touching a piece of something large and metal. Now, carefully remove the plastic from around the broken panel. (this usually involves four or more screws, often located under plastic caps which can be easily removed.) Once you have removed the plastic frame gently pull the broken LCD away from the backing, it might be fastened slightly by some adhesive but pull slowly and steadily and it will come away. There should be two cords attached. One larger at the top and one smaller at the bottom. The larger one supplies the picture while the smaller supplies the voltage needed to run the backlight. Both cord should pull out fairly easily. observe the orientation of the ends. Now the old screen should be completely removed. To put in the new screen you simply do the same thing in reverse. Take any plastic wrap off the new LCD. Place it in the same location as the old. Insert the two cords in the same orientation they were in in the old panel. Replace the plastic Paneling and screw everything back together securely.

5.) Thats it, you have a working laptop for much less than it would normally cost. Good luck!

* If your replacing an old laptop because the screen is broken your in luck. Simply skip the first step and your laptop should be back in working order for around $200. Thats about $300 less than a repair shop would charge.

Learn more about this author, Patrick Shechet

Helium Article: Facing Death

Ok, I wrote this all in one sitting just now and its very rough, I'll probably rewrite the whole thing differently with just the same main idea. Tell me what you think on this one.

"Maybe here"
Stile tumbled through the clouds. He had won. Well, he had mostly won, the other men had died first, atop the fortress in the sky he had done what needed to be done, like he always had.
"What a beautiful world" he thought as he looked out over the clouds to the mountain peaks above them.
He let his magic reach out, he didn't know how to break his two mile fall from the orbiting station, it was all he could do to keep his limbs from freezing while he was still high up, and to keep them from burning in the friction as he fell down. Still, Stile was not a man to panic, he had been what he was for ten years. Not many people knew what what he was was, but that didn't matter to him, he made a difference, he was good at it, he liked it, and he wasn't sure he was ready for it to end.
There was still something missing, even connected to all this. Even though he had never lost till now. He didn't feel like his accomplishments made him more ready to leave this life, they made him want to stay. A tear came to his eye as he plummeted, maybe 15 seconds to go.
But his magic moved on its own, as it always did before he even knew he was going to use it. And as always, as soon as he felt it he knew that it was his own. It was doing what he wanted to do. So he reached with all his will, pulled the air around him down, push himself up. It was too slow, so he pushed harder, he lost some control, began spinning like a leaf in the wind, but one thought stuck in his mind, kept him guessing which way was down and sending his magic there, "not here".

The ground crew was outside of the observation van, looking towards the heavens. "I think he really is falling" the first technician observed. The dot in the sky grew larger. soon it was clearly a man, in a trench coat, plummeting through the air. The shoulders were slumped, the arms outstretched, a pose of resignation and acceptance.
"What a way to go" the first technician said when he spoke again.
"yeah, but its gonna leave us a hard time finding a headman that good." the second added. The third just nodded, starring at the figure. Then Only a few hundred feet before the fall the figure straitened, the arms waved, the body twirled. Then so near certain death, the descent slowed. The man smashed into the earth with considerable force, collapsing onto one knee, both hands on the ground in front of him, coat splaying to the sides. But he lived.
"Do you realize you are the only person to ever survive a fall from orbit like that?" one of the technicians said, all of them wanted to ask it.
"I wasn't ready to die yet." Stile replied.

That day seemed like a dream, a hundred years old. Really it was longer. Stile as he was had passed, there was no longer two great powers fighting. No skilled agents and there support teams worked to bring peace to a world so torn apart that the fabric of space had changed. Now each house was a nation, each man able to produce and maintain his own ecosystem. Men live on the moon, flew between mars and the earth. They projected there existence into machines as far as any form of radiation could travel. As one of the old, Stile's consciousness is vast. His body live in a tiny metal shell at the edge of the milky way. He lives without effort, no longer striving for the amazing accomplishments of old. Now he simply wills, his magic is amplified by machine. Then the hole comes, a black dot against the universe, it tried to eat his metal shell, eat his being. This thing with no soul, it was going to end it all.
Just like before, he reached out. So far now. Then he had been the hight of a single man, the epitome of what it was to be legend, he could have left it and it would have been known for eternity. But he hadn't. Now he was larger. Greater. If he stopped here his eddies would outlive the last man, the stars would die with whispers of his greatness still on them. So he looked. The him said "I lose too much." And because he was so vast he thought he reasoned with the rip in space. He showed it how it could be something else. He controlled the second to the last and greatest force of nature in the world. Maybe he could conquer death, but now now.


He moved, remembered, the thing he had forgotten. Old. So old. He felt like every part of him was tired. It wasn't different though, everything was just as it was when he was twenty, when he fell from that station on first earth, right after the advent of magic, he was just he same as he was when he couldn't die. Except old. Everything seemed so useless. Now nothing could kill him. And now he missed death. His old companion, that last thing he could obtain. Now he had everything else, so he searched. And in his search he talked, and something answered.
"Why didn't I die?" he asked
"You weren't ready" it said.
"I'm still not dead" he said.
"Your still not ready" it answered.
"I don't have anything else to do" he thought
"You still have the one thing to do" It thought back.
"If it was just one thing, why couldn't I do it then."
"because you thought there was more"
"none of it was important"
"but one thing is"
"and its not here"
"anywhere here"
"then what do i have to do to get to it"
"want it"
"how can i want something i don't know what it is?"
"you know him"
"its a him"
"you fought for him"
"i did"
"just a minute ago, before you were caught by all the things"
"the him, i was fighting for the him, but he asked me to die."
"he invited you to die"
"i wish i had said yes"
"you said no"
"i wanted all the things"
"you got them"
"they don't mean anything"
"he does, i was ready, then, when i made the leap for him. but i looked away and wanted to stay."
"are you ready now"
"oh yes"
"then fall"

suddenly he was back on the platform. things happened the same, there was no way to save them and himself, he flung his target back onto the platform, accelerating off the edge himself. He chose to die for them. And then he was falling again, facing death again, wondering again. He looked around, saw the beauty again. But he thought, "its so small really, what must it be like on the other side, with him." and he knew he couldn't have stopped his fall, it was all one choice, he had made the choice when he push the others onto the ledge, and so he fell. Peace. He would see him. Now.

Learn more about this author, Patrick Shechet.

Helium Article: On the Evolution of Technology

Here is another of my articles. Currently Rated 1st of 4.

I grew up with computers. At the age of twenty I can think of 10 that I have owned. They get smaller, they get faster, but I think that the most significant change is how much more they are accepted.

When I was 4 years old my uncle bought himself a new computer. His old computer was a behemoth, its CRT monitor ran in Orange and black. When you turned it on you had to specify were the operating system was for the system to load. Really there was only one upside to this behemoth: It ended up sitting on my bedroom floor.

Since then I have watched computers move into the world of gray-scale, hundreds of colors, thousands of colors, millions of colors. I owned a desktop that seemed roaring fast at 66Mzh, watched as home built computers became commonplace while I was in high school students, watched the price of a desktop drop from over $2000 to under $400 as the speed, ram, and storage increased by orders of magnitude. In 2001 I saw my first palm pilot, now I carry a phone with more ram, processor speed, and storage than all the computers everybody I have ever met owned before the year 1990. Now computers are beginning to start a new path into multiple processors and the evolution of power will continue.

When all is said and done though, what has really changed. Computers still do the same functions, maybe thousands of times faster, but all we really use them for is still word processing, music, games, the internet. Maybe the occasional person has found some amazing new task to pit there number crunching digital companion against but the average user hasn't. Now, however, there is an average user.

One aspect of computers that has grown right along side all that power is social acceptance. When I owned that first leviathin of a tower even my little four year old friends, who would gladly play with a hard boiled egg for fun, were afraid of it. Now were not at all shocked to see a person walking down the street with there MP3 player wired to there head, cell phone in hand text messaging to somebody half way across the world. When walking into Starbucks we don't think twice to see little laptops whirring on every other table as college students and business men streamline there work into spreadsheets and Email correspondence.

It happened a little bit at a time, from the spread of the internet to the advent of DVD players. From Walkmen to Ipods and laptops to smart phones. But the social perception of electronics has evolved alongside them. Wearable displays, looking much like the Xmen Cyclop's Visor will be out later this year. I hazard that two years from now, I will walk through the mall, and somewhere in the corner of my eye I will see a man or woman sitting there using one, and nobody will care.

Learn more about this author, Patrick Shechet.

Helium Article: Should cell phone use while driving be banned?

Ok, heres the article I'm currently ranked as the 8th of 279 Authors to write on this (2%). 1500 people have read the articles in this group.

There is a dividing line between rights and privileges. The United States Drivers Handbook clearly states the intentions of our elected officials that driving is a privilege reserved for those who use it responsibly. It is a simple matter to see that the use of a cell phone while driving does not comply with this precept. Therefore, it would rightly result in the loss of driving privileges.

What is responsible in a driver?
Simply, they must reasonably minimize the risk to there passengers and the other drivers on the road. To do this they need to be able to steer the vehicle, and not have there reactions impeded in any significant way.
The existing laws give us some idea of what should be considered reasonable. It is illegal for a person with impaired vision to drive without glasses. It is illegal for a person under the influence of alcohol to drive. It is illegal for a driver to move out of the drivers seat or in any other way remove themselves from driving. Most importantly it is already stated as illegal for a driver to drive in a dangerous manner.

What constitutes cell phone use?
To clarify what I include in "cell phone use while driving". Dialing, reading the screen, or holding the cell phone to your head while driving are the activities which I address in this article. Talking into a headset removes some of your attention from the road. However, it is a much hazier area to regulate, much in the league of talking to your passengers while driving, therefore I will not address it here.

So what is the argument against cell phone use?
Dialing a cell phone removes your hands from the steering wheel of the vehicle even if you can dial without looking. Holding a cell phone to your head impairs your ability to control your vehicle. Reading the screen of your cell phone is equivalent of temporarily blinding yourself. All of these activities are already illegal on all of the roads in the United States.

Plain and simple, using a cell phone while driving is already illegal. No new laws need to be made. Courts should simply uphold tickets written for endangered driving based on cellphone use. Its willfully lessening your ability to drive, thats irresponsible, thats illegal, thats a misuse of a privilege.

Learn more about this author, Patrick Shechet.

Some articles I've written.

I have been writing articles for a site by the name "helium". The topics are in a large list and you chose one to write on. the articles are then ranked by people. I will be posting a few of my articles here, head over to to see what other people write on the topic if you like.