They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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The End Of Life As We Know It

I Warned You...

... back on May 3rd, but you didn't listen. Gas prices "eased" a wee bit in the last week, as everyone realized that there were few good justifications to the last price surge. Other than the value of Shock and Fatigue, to get us used to paying more than three bucks a gallon again. Still, the first big holiday weekend of the summer looms accompanied by the traditional gas price spikes for the end of the week. Oh hell, let's just start jacking up the prices and gouging the public now -- it's only Tuesday. While the Allendale Mobil was still $3.27.9/$3.36.9/$3.45.9 a gallon across the three grades this morning, reports in to WOOD-AM by 10am had numerous Grand Rapids MI gas stations jumping up to $3.65.9/gallon for regular today. This on a morning where the news was also reporting that June reformulated gas and crude oil were down slightly.

Nearly 40¢ A Gallon In One Day?!?

Just a few weeks ago the pundits were suggesting $3.50/gallon gas for Memorial Day. Well, by jumping the gun they gave someone the bright idea to jack early. Now we have the real possibility that some grades of gasoline in some areas of Michigan will have fours following the dollar signs. There's just no correlation between market forces, news events and price jumps -- price declines come irrationally, too, but usually not in such large increments. But really, even at these prices, for the increase to be greater than ten percent surely must represent some sort of crisis. Did we all miss a memo around here someplace?

The Machines Are Taking Over

slushgod John Joseph Adams reports that his new air conditioner comes with a remote control, which apparently turns off from the SELECT key on the TiVo remote. Ga-ack! The devices -- they're all interacting with each other. Blue Screen Of Death. We're DOOMED!

Upon Reflection

How hard is it to test or check the encoding of an infrared remote control to make sure it doesn't interfere/get interfered with other remotes? TiVo isn't exactly an obscure product anymore. I mean, in the early days, remotes just blinked and you were likely to have only one unit. Since those late Jurassic times, however, we're likely to have a whole fleet of different remotes for our comfort and entertainment.

I am reminded of something from late 70s photography. The Contax RTS system, a very fine pro camera with gorgeous Carl Zeiss lenses, came out with an infrared-based remote control for the motor drive. The idea was you didn't have to use one of the long corded or pneumatic shutter releases, which often jammed up, got kinked or accidentally tripped over causing the tripod mounted camera to crash to the floor. Set up, carry the remote, press the button and the shutter fires. Simple, cool.

And probably developed and tested in the laboratory/studio. On one camera. Because the initial design proved to be problematic when used "in the wild". Imagine two pro photographers at the same event, both planning to plant remote controlled Contax RTS cameras. Um, either remote would fire both cameras. That's not good. In fact, it turned out that at the camera store I worked/spent money at, Carolina Camera Center in Greensboro NC, we could set off the trigger just using some electronic flash units. Which means that anybody with a camera flash might be setting off the remote controlled cameras...

When Nikon came out with their IR remote unit, they had a slide switch with two positions: Channel A and Channel B. Their system used a double flash from the IR source with a timing difference between A and B. I'm pretty sure Channel A also tended to fire the original Contax RTS controller. Now that the Nikon receiver and transmitter could be set to one of two channels, allowing two photogs to work one event, or one photographer to separately control two cameras with one remote. Canon's unit came with three channels -- A and B were the same as Nikon's A and B, plus a Channel C. I always thought that this was annoying, because there is always a competitive spirit between photographers and quite a rivalry between Nikon and Canon owners, and I did know of some cases where the Canon guys would use the A and B channels to exhaust the film of a rival's Nikon by shooting pictures of nothing... Canon should've had 3 channels of their own if they actually wanted to serve their clients, instead of just messing with other photographers. Later IR and radio RC units have gotten much more sophisticated.

If I was designing such a system today, I'd have a learning mode on the receivers and encode the serial numbers of the transmitters in the data stream.

And hope it didn't turn on the dishwasher...

Dr. Phil

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