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October 21, 2003

Electricity from water. In a way you'd never guess . . .

University of Alberta scientistsUniversity of Alberta scientists announced yesterday that water produces electricity when pumped at pressure through tiny microchannels. The water does not spin a turbine or in any way use mechanical or chemical energy to produce power. Electricity is drawn instead from "the work done to push the liquid through the channel." Fascinating reading but I am not a scientist and I am still baffled by how this process works. I'll keep reading and then I'll let you know if I come up with a simple explanation. Here's something from the press release and two links:

"A new way of generating electricity from flowing water could mean that in the future you will never have to charge up your mobile phone again. Instead of a normal battery, mobile phones could be fitted with a battery that uses water -- you just need to pressurise it regularly."

"Research published today by the Institute of Physics journal, Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, reveals a new method of generating electric power by harnessing the natural electrokinetic properties of a liquid such as ordinary tap water when it is pumped through tiny microchannels. The research team from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, have created a new source of clean non-polluting electric power with a variety of possible uses, ranging from powering small electronic devices to contributing to a national power grid."

"The research was led by Professor Daniel Kwok and Professor Larry Kostiuk from the University of Alberta. The project started as a simple conversation between Kostiuk, a thermodynamicist, and Kwok, a nanofabrication researcher. With the assistance of two graduate students, who benefited first-hand from the teachings of their supervisors as well as contributed to the work, the team was able to illuminate a real light bulb by exploiting the coupling between electrokinetic phenomena and the hydrodynamics of liquid flow." (external link) (external link)

October 20, 2003


While telecom races forward I am stuck in the past, tending to the 340+ existing pages on this site. I've been fixing dead links, updating information, and placing small ads here and there. It would be nice to do more original writing but I'm unable to put much time into that when everything I've done so far needs another look. Updating one page can take from five to fifteen minutes. Sometimes more. A good day means I might finish 16 pages. But, depending on what I discover in the next few days, new information or ideas, I might be back to those recently finished pages to polish them up even more. Feels like I'm drowning. If I got a corporate sponsor like Lucent I could pull off the ads and work on the site full time. Right now, though, it is strictly a hobby and I am spending as much time as I can on it, not the time I want.

October 19, 2003

Site updates

Added to the Land Mobile page and I am also wasting too much time with ad placements.

October 18, 2003

Long day of hiking

What a day. The group I was hiking with got lost. Both the two leaders and the group could not find the right direction. All of us hiking up and down the mountain, looking for a lake we had come from but could not find again. Cross country stuff. No one hurt. Have been adding and revising pages this evening.

October 17, 2003

Off today to prune

Some site work today but mostly pruning. I still do some specialty gardening from time to time. My old profession.

October 16, 2003

Improving cellular reception far out of town (moved to my cellular reception page)

October 15, 2003

Good cellular zoning and contract links

(This information relates to my cellular site leasing information page.)

Where can you put a communications tower? It depends on many things, from public agencies to people. Mark says, "Local zoning laws do apply. There are some things that local zoning can't do, like ban towers altogether from a particular jurisdiction, but they can regulate where the towers go, and they can place restrictions on the manner of construction, setbacks, aesthetic issues, and a host of other things. In the case of a subdivision which my have CC&Rs [codes, covenants and restrictions, ed.] or deed restrictions, these will likely be enforceable. Don't sign anything that is not subject to local zoning approval. As always, consult a lawyer for legal advice. Also, don't forget the neighbors. You could find anything from support to indifference to vicious attacks."

Here's a good local planning article: (external link)

And here's an excellent page on negotiating contracts with wireless carriers: (external link)

October 14, 2003

Commercial AMPS service turns 20 years old

Sam Omastsye reports in October 13th's RCR Wireless News (external link, now dead) that the ceremonial first American AMPS cellular call was made on Oct. 13, 1983 at Soldier's Field in Chicago. AMPS had been working since 1978 but not in full commercial service. The October date marks when the general public could start using cellular. Omastsye quotes Scott Erickson, who attended the event, as saying Bob Barnett, Ameritech Mobile's president, placed the first ceremonial call. It went to Alexander Graham Bell's grandson in Berlin, Germany. I'm trying to find out if this was Edwin Grosvenor, an excellent Bell biographer. Chicago Cubs announcer, Jack Brickhouse, announced that first call to the crowd on a cold, bright day in a ceremony including balloons and a band.

October 13, 2003

This and that

Site cleanup work continues today. Only 26 dead links left to correct. I started out with over 90 dead links a week ago so I am making good progress. But it's more than just fixing bad links, I'm re-writing some material and removing graphics and links from each page to and to This link removal will make each page look cleaner. Even with some new ad placements.

I've used for my site stats but was never really happy with them. They say they'll start charging in a few months so I won't stay with them. They want over $60 a month for what they provide. That's more than my DSL and web hosting services cost combined. In the case of ITToolbox it's much sadder.

When they got started three years ago I placed free links and ads on each of my pages. Had some nice e-mails with them from time to time, they seemed quite happy with me. But when I recently asked about getting a little sponsorship money, since they are now on all 342 pages at my site, well, they won't even return my e-mails.

October 12, 2003

A better explanation (Maybe.)

I've written that the telephone is an electrical instrument. Electricity powers the phone and it carries or conveys your voice from the telephone to the local switch. Not exactly. Electricity on two wires flows or is conveyed to work the phone itself: to operate the keypad, to make it ring. But electricity does not carry the voice.

Electric current doesn't convey the voice, sound simply varies that current. It's these electrical variations, analogs of the acoustic pressure originally spoken into the microphone, that represent voice. We have two different points here: about the current itself, and, about how that current is altered.

To sum up, electricity is indeed conveyed to the phone, whereupon 1) the current operates the telephone and 2) the current is varied by the voice to communicate. The diagram linked below makes this far more simple than a word description.

The telephone is an electrical instrument. Speaking into the handset's transmitter or microphone makes its diaphragm vibrate. This varies the electric current, causing the receiver's diaphragm to vibrate. This duplicates the original sound. Take a look at this image to make this point much clear.

 The telephone is an electrical instrument


October 11, 2003

A good man gone

Our neighborhood school crossing guard, "Bud" Brown, was killed two days ago. A car ran him over in the street he had helped kids cross for twenty years. 85 year old Brown survived World War II but not a careless mom racing from dropping off a child at daycare. Said to be a gentle man, whom children loved as a grandfather figure, Bud always brought his dog Boots to work. The dog, a Chihuahua-Pekingese mix, stayed in Bud's car nearby while Brown helped the children. I never met the man but saw him often as the crossing is only a half mile from my house. I noticed he moved slowly, and I did not know he was so old. He would have had little chance to avoid a fast moving car. 20 years of service. 20 years of helping kids. No one was ever hurt while he was on the job. Except for now. Except for himself. Goodbye, Mr. Brown. Thank you.

Mr. Brown

October 10, 2003

What am I reading this week?

That I can tell you about? Hee, hee. Two books, one small, one large. The small one is a little gem, a tiny paperback called A Guide to Indian Jewelry of the Southwest by Georgiana Kennedy Simpson. It's published by the National Park Association (external link), with all monies going to that non-profit, this 46 page manual explains and illustrates early and current Zuni, Hopi, and Santo Domingo Indian made jewelry. Only $5.00. Click here if you are interested. No, I don't get a cut. Just a nice book.

The large book is a Barnes and Noble (external link) bargain bin find. It's Tasmin Pickeral's The Encyclopedia of Horses and Ponies. 384 pages, with 1000 pictures featuring facts, comments, and trivia on 200 breeds. Only ten dollars! An overused phrase, lavishly illustrated, best describes this work. If I had a horse website I would design it like this book. Explains feed, tack, health, riding styles, breeding, and so on. Tells how to braid a horse tail. Very British, Pickeral's writing takes just a little effort to follow. Did you know that Mr. Ed was a golden Palomino? And that a Palomino is really what's called a horse color, not a breed? You'll spend hours browsing this book. Really good gift idea for young kids interested in horses. I've no association with B&N, just Amazon, so I'm not trying to sell copies. It's just a really nice work.

Picture of book cover

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