New Flashlight Wiki

I have been learning a lot about flashlights over the last couple of years. As a way of keeping all of the information straight, I wrote a lot of articles for CandlePowerForum’s Wiki. Their Wiki was pretty sad, but it became a really good resource that I could refer to. I don’t know if that many people were using it, but it was helpful to me at least.

But the problem with the CPF Wiki was that it was under constant spam attacks. The administrator there took some steps to stop the spam but last week almost all of their pages were vandalized. I reported this to the admin and the user that had damaged the pages was blocked, but the vandalism was not undone. I certainly didn’t want to fix all of those pages. I have offered to help administer the wiki in the past, but the administrator does not want any help. Also some pages are locked and the ability to upload images, which could be really helpful, has been turned off.

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Favicon

A lot of web pages include a very small icon that will show up in the URL when you are visiting the site and in your bookmarks when you bookmark that page. This feature was first introduced by Microsoft for Internet Explorer but other browsers picked it up. The icon file itself is usually called favicon.ico (“favicon” being short for favorites icon, since it shows up in your favorites). The one for this website is this:

mac5ico.png

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Microcontroller Programming

A driver for a flashlight is a circuit board with electronic components on it. The purpose is to take power from the battery, then modify that power level using the electronics, and send the output to the LED of the flashlight. For instance, to get a strobe the driver will turn the power to the LED on and off. A Low mode can be created by turning the light on and off faster than the human eye can detect. By decreasing the amount of time the LED pulses on, the light appears to get dimmer and dimmer. This is done using a microcontroller, which is just a chip that is soldered to the driver. One chip that seems to be used pretty often is the Atmel Tiny13. Some drivers have 5 modes (Low, Med, High, Strobe, SOS) and some have only 3. The only difference is in how the microcontroller works.

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Find My iPhone

In a comment to my review of my iPod, I said the iOS 4.2.1 update only offered two incredibly minor improvements to the iPod software. However, another thing they introduced was “Find my iPhone” as a free service. If you lose your iPod, you can log onto an Apple website and it will show you on a map where your iPod is (though it looked like it was at the house on the corner across the street) and also have the iPod make noise and display a message. You can also lock the iPod or erase it completely if it has fallen into enemy hands. But if someone steals it, all they have to do is reset it to factory settings and they have a functioning iPod even though at least they can’t get your personal information. It seems like Apple could set it to completely disable the iPod if it was reported stolen. Though that would mean there would be some overhead in keeping up with when you sell it or if Apple replaces it.

Anyway, the feature doesn’t work as well with an iPod as an iPhone because the iPod isn’t always connected to the internet like an iPhone, but I did a test in my house yesterday and it worked fine, with the iPod making a fairly loud sonar pinging noise and displaying the message “I’m over here, under the sofa!” (which I had told it to display; it wasn’t actually under the sofa).

However it wasn’t easy setting it up. First I had to set up a Mobile Me account and my existing iTunes account password wasn’t good enough for Mobile Me and showed my e-mail address as unverified, but wouldn’t send a verification message. But I changed the password under iTunes and got it working. You also have to set up a screen lock where every time you turn on the iPod you have to enter a 4-digit pin number. One option was to have it ask for the pin after 1 minute which I figured would be better since it would let me at least skip a song without having to log in. That lasted a few times before I decided I didn’t want to have to enter a pin every time and I have disabled that. I don’t know if that disables the Find My iPhone feature as well.

New Lower Gas Price

Today I filled up at Kroger. I was hoping to get through the whole month of November without filling up, but it wasn’t going to happen. Anyway, I was entering the mileage in my spreadsheet and I noticed on the receipt that they charged. $2.590/gallon. I think this may be the first time ever in the US that I haven’t been charged an extra 9/10ths of a cent for a gallon of gas. Last time I filled up with gas at the same Kroger, it was $2.479/gallon.

John Adams

A few years ago, HBO produced a miniseries about John Adams based on David McCullough’s biography. I remember Andrew watching a little of this when we were staying in Williamsburg. I asked him why he was watching it and he said it was interesting. Go figure. It turns out it was a perfect movie to watch in Williamsburg (though really he didn’t watch more than 30 minutes of it, I don’t think; we stayed pretty busy) not least of all because they filmed some of the movie there. It also won 13 Emmy awards, though this is a little misleading since the miniseries category isn’t nearly as competitive as, say, comedy or drama series. It stars Paul Giamatti who has played a lot of different kinds of roles, but most famously starred in Sideways where he was a whiny loser (or maybe “winey” loser, hee hee). The miniseries is on 3 disks, spanning 8 hours. It covers Adams from the Boston Massacre up until his death which took place on the country’s 50th birthday, the same day that Thomas Jefferson died.

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Win 7 Antispyware

Tonight Mom called and said she thought she had gotten some kind of virus disguising itself as anti-virus software. She kept getting a window popping up telling her to download some software. She knew that she wasn’t supposed to do this and that McAfee was supposed to protect her from viruses. But McAfee had let this one through. [In fairness to McAfee, it turns out her subscription had expired several months earlier.]

This isn’t a virus so much as it is a trojan and like so many of them, once it gets on your computer it is very hard to get rid of. By manipulating the Windows registry it prevents executables from running so that you can’t install anything or run programs, and it stops you from getting to websites where you might find help or download fixes. Even if you can find the virus’ executable files, they will reinstall themselves the next time you open your web browser or any other executable. Awful.

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Review: Mr.Lite BLF AA-4YE

Mr.Lite BLF AA-Y4E

Summary:

Battery: AA/14500
Switch: Reverse clicky
Modes: 4
LED Type: Cree XR-E Q5
Lens: Collimator (plastic)
Tailstands: Yes
Price Paid: $16.99
From: Manafont
Date Ordered: 25 Oct 2010

Pros:

  • Well made
  • Smooth threads
  • Very good throw
  • No flashy modes
  • Nice holster and lanyard

Cons:

  • Needed some repairs to work
  • No mode memory
  • Two low modes are too close together
  • Without lanyard it will roll

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