Monday, November 5, 2012

Technology As an Extension of Our Humanity

We who live in (relatively) civilized and developed countries would not be able to survive without the basics of running water and electricity. Devices, gadgets, and machines of all sorts surround us, enabling us to accomplish the basic tasks that comprise our daily existence. The mere fact that you are reading this means you are partaking of one of the many electronic tools that we depend so heavily on.
Man's capability to invent and use tools has enabled him to rise above the rest of the biosphere. When we are shown the word "technology," we are often thinking of electricity-powered computing devices and the like, but in truth, even humble stick of wood, in the hands of a creature utilizing it for something that augments its natural capabilities, is technology. Even our less-intelligent animal cousins are capable of utilizing tools, but the heights we have taken the tool-using paradigm exceed all of their breakthroughs put together. We are the ultimate tool users of this planet.
Let's get back to more modern times. There have always been those who decried the use of advanced technologies (advanced compared to their level of tech use, anyway), like the Amish who deem the use of electricity as a distraction from their focus on living a life immersed in their faith, or those who follow the tenets of Christian Science that refuse to partake of modern medicine. They are still using more rudimentary forms of technology that centuries back, were considered technological breakthroughs (and they were probably considered heretical back then).
These detractors of technology often see these new ways of doing things as a departure from tradition, and an unnecessary reliance on something that's not associated with nature or their chosen supreme being/presence/spirit/etc. At the risk of being branded by my readers as a Luddite, I actually agree with the anti-technology camp to a certain extent.
We are often guilty of abusing modern conveniences to the point of doing a half-baked or haphazard job. Most technologies aren't without its toll, either. Every time you drive your car to go somewhere instead of just walking (I've known some people opting to drive to a destination a mere twenty meters away from their home), you are burning non-renewable fossil fuels and are making the air we breathe just a little dirtier.
The ideal view of technology is that it is supposed to enable us to do more, and do it better. We come up with these breakthroughs to solve existing problems, and hopefully not create new ones. Technology should benefit more people and harm less, and that's not what we see in our world today.
This is a twofold message that I want to pass onto the rest of humanity. I'm certain many before me have had these sentiments, but we're a stubborn species, so I'm doing my part by reiterating it once more. We, as the most technologically advanced species on this planet, must strive to create technologies that will augment the positive aspects of our humanity, and when these products of science are within our grasp, we should do our best to use them responsibly. In that, I disagree with those who shun technology. These are tools, and are only as detrimental or as beneficial as those who wield them. Let us use these implements for the good of man and the planet, and not as devices of our self-destruction.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Important Computer Files - What If You Lost All Of Them?

Statistics show that 42 percent of computer users lose irreplaceable files every year. Some very simple things that the average user can do to protect themselves from becoming a statistic are:
Simple, Built-in Backup Method...
In Windows 7 and Vista:
  • Go to -> Start -> Control Panel -> Backup and Restore -> Back up files -> and then follow-on on-screen prompts. It is recommended that you choose to back up to an external hard drive. If you don't have an external hard drive then use a DVD and store it in a safe place when done.
In Windows XP:
  • Go to -> Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Backup -> and then follow the on-screen prompts and same guidelines as Windows 7 and Vista.
When doing these steps there is also an option to set up a recurring schedule. This is a good option to set up to run at least weekly so that any new information will get protected as well.
If you follow these steps you have taken a big step towards protecting your priceless computer files.
--Warning-- The whole reason you are backing up your computer files is because the hard drive might crash or the operating system you are using might become corrupt. If you backup to an external hard drive you are at the same risk of that hard drive crashing as well. DVDs are the safest option because statistics show that they will last about 20 to 25 years depending on use.
Simple Hard Drive Precautions That Will Help...
One of the reasons a hard drive will fail is because of a voltage spike from your electric wall outlet. In order to help prevent this from not only frying your hard drive, but also your power supply, motherboard and other expensive computer parts, you definitely want to plug all your electronic devices into a surge protector. Surge protectors range in price from around 10 to 200 dollars. Just remember that you get what you pay for. The more expensive ones can withstand a lot larger voltage spike than the less expensive ones. But the cheapest one is still better than nothing at all.
Need Something More?
If you are looking for a more robust solution than you are most likely going to be interested in the online data backup solution. There are various competitors out there that range in different prices. I would recommend not spending more than 20 dollars a month. Be sure to read the fine print on what the company is advertising as well. They may be advertising 15 dollars a month but the fine print says that after 2 months it will go up to 30 dollars a month.

Monday, October 15, 2012

How Ultrasound Technology Benefits Humanity

We use many different types of medical technologies to help to keep our health at optimum levels. This type of technology is something that is evolving on a regular basis and there are certainly methods that are available today that were not available just a few short years ago. An example of this is ultrasound, something that has been used successfully in medicine for just a few decades. It has assisted doctors in being able to diagnose and treat their patients in many cases, without ever doing any type of surgery. What is an ultrasound and how has this type of medical technology benefited humanity?
Ultrasound, when used medically is for the purpose of being able to view what is inside of the body without having to open the body to see it. All of your muscles, tendons and a wide variety of your internal workings can easily be seen using this type of technology. They can also help to see other things that may be in the body, some of which do not belong there. The type of technology that is being used is known as sonography. It bounces waves off of what is inside of your body and then gives a visual of what is inside by measuring the amount of time that it takes for those waves to return to the ultrasound medical equipment.
Most of us that are familiar with ultrasound are likely familiar with it because of how it is used with prenatal care. Using either new or preowned ultrasound machines, the doctor can look into the mother and view the child from a very young age. This can have many different benefits, including being able to see if there are any problems with the developing fetus. Many parents also appreciate the fact that they are able to see the child before it is born and if they agree, can even learn the sex of the child in advance. Of course, that is only one of the many uses of ultrasound in medicine.
This type of technology can also be used to detect any problems that are taking place within the heart. An ultrasound that is done in this way can allow the doctor to see the valves as they operate and can also allow them to check for any deposits that may be on the inside of the blood vessels. In addition, they can check the body for any blood clots that may be forming or that may exist in the blood vessels. They can then do what is necessary to break the blood clots or to filter them, depending upon the condition of the patient.
As ultrasound technology continues to improve, there is no doubt that there are going to be additional ways that it can be used to the benefit of those needing medical attention. It is something that is available in every hospital and many doctors offices are also able to get easy access to preowned ultrasound equipment that is affordable and use it for diagnostic purposes.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Different Types Of 3D TV's

There has been a great deal of interest in 3D TVs recently and the technology is really moving quickly. All the major manufacturers are developing their systems. They are available in a number of designs and sizes so there is bound to be one for you. However, this makes for a bewildering choice for the uninitiated and where to begin could seem quite confusing. There is a way of helping to simplify the types of 3D television and the first is the technology, do you want active or passive?
In order to understand the 2 types, you must first understand the technology. Active 3D requires that the viewer wears special 3D glasses. These special active shutter glasses work in conjunction with the television by alternatively allowing images to either the left or the right by blanking the opposite side. The passive type allows viewers to watch in 3D with less technical glasses. This technology works by combining the images presented to each eye to create a 3D picture by use of polarised lenses.
There are of course pros and cons to all things and this is no different. The active 3D glasses require batteries in order to work. They have shutters which have been built in so that they can alternate the frames to each eye at very high speeds without the viewer noticing. It is the speed of the shutters that create the 3D effect and these glasses are able to interact with the TV by transmitter. The best thing about this system, is that the viewer watches in full HD as well as 3D. The downside is that the glasses can be uncomfortable and they are expensive to buy. They can also occasionally, cause the wearer to feel nauseous or headachy but as the technology develops, this will hopefully become less of a problem.
The passive 3D glasses are much lighter, simpler and cheaper to buy. This system is known to reduce flicker and works by having 2 different lenses which have different polarization. There is also a polarized layer on the television. The downside is that there can be a loss of picture quality.
The next thing you need to look at is the display type of the TV. There are LED, plasma and LCD screens to choose from. You need to look at each display type as a 3D television and the one main difference between them is the refresh rate. Plasma screens have performed well here but LED and LCD screens have caught up as their technology has advanced. For most people the difference in picture quality is not apparent until the sets are seen side by side. There may not be much difference even then until you watch something like a fast moving sport.
Lastly, you should consider the display size. Where 3D TV is concerned, bigger is usually better. However, take into account the size of the room and your budget. An over large screen will not be nice to watch in a small room, so try and choose one that befits the room it will be situated in. As a general rule, the ideal distance to be seated from the screen is approximately three or four times the height of the television.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

3D Printing For The Average Joe

3D printing has the power to change the way that we look at manufacturing products for the masses. There are so many applications within this broad technology known as 3D printing, that I simply cannot list them all. But I do want to cover some of the general applications of this technology.
3D printing is here to change the way that the "average Joe" can manufacture parts. Virtually anyone has access to this technology if he or she is knowledgeable about where to go for the services. There are quite a few local facilities around the globe. If you live in a large city, there is probably a place to use this kind of manufacturing, just as there would also be places for machining methods. There are multiple international 3D printing facilities that can manufacture custom parts and have it sent to virtually wherever you need. For example, Kraftwurx, Shapeways, Ponoko, Redeye, or whoever have access to printers in different places in the world. If you live in a large country, you can probably gain access to one of these services. Places like the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Australia, and Russia have access to these companies.
Some people are even buying their own entry level printers to make things in their garages. Companies such as 3D Systems, Makerbot, and others are making it easy for people to gain access to the technology for a reasonable price. Some of these entry level 3D printers cost around $3,000. Others cost as low as $800. It depends on what you're looking for, really. Cubify is a reasonable printer to look into. If you want to get a higher end FDM printer that has great qualities for a reasonable price, you might want to look at the Mojo printer. I could continue to ramble on about some of the other entry level printers out there, but if you're interested - the information is all over the web. The point is: you can gain access to an entry level printer for a couple thousand dollars.
Being in the 3D printing industry, I've found that most people look to use an international 3D printing facility to make parts and orders. Most people using this service have a background in 3D modeling before creating parts. This means, they have the ability to produce 3D images on the computer. The "makers" creating their own parts typically are very talented on the computer with imaging software. If they have the talent to produce a scaled down 3D model of whatever they want to produce, they can likely manufacture it through 3D printing.
Due to the availability of this technology known as 3D printing, the "average Joes" across the world are starting to produce real parts. The garage engineers are creating some cool stuff! Some of the do it yourself "makers" out there already have extensive backgrounds in engineering, but simply want to continue making things as a hobby. Regardless, 3D printing is definitely gaining momentum, and people all over are using it to manufacture some cool stuff!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Why People Love 3D Printing

3D printing has the power to change the world, and in fact - it has been doing so for the past 20 years. When it comes down to getting certain parts custom manufactured, 3D printing is usually there to pick up the slack.
Some people enjoy designing characters and various parts on the computer in their spare time, and don't have thousands to spend in seeing their creations come to life. These artists are using 3D printing to create full color prints of these characters for their personal use. If you've ever seen a talented 3D artist go to work on a part, product, or character, you'll know that it takes time. Of course every model is different, but these designs can truly be pieces of art. To bring a project that took over 20 hours of skilled labor into the physical world is impressive. 3D printing is here to bridge the gap for these artists that can't afford to send out an order overseas. Some full colored models can be made for under thirty dollars. Of course you can spend as much as you'd like on certain parts, but 3D printing is available for a pretty inexpensive rate at some places if you are an artist looking to create something.
Perhaps you don't really have a desire to produce parts "just to do it", but you want to actually make a functional part. Maybe you're interested in eventually mass producing a part, but you need to prototype. 3D printing is definitely there to pick up the slack in this instance as well. 3D printing has a large variety of materials to choose from when actually producing parts. Some are better than others for certain models and designs, but there is a material for practically everything. If you need a metal that can withstand the heat inside of a jet engine, you can use 3D printing. If you need a product that can be flexible or rubber like, this technology is for you. If you need a full color model, it is for you. If you need a part that offers chemical and heat resistance, this technology is for you. I'm not going to say that 3D printing is going to be there for absolutely everything, but at the same time I can't think of anything right now that couldn't be prototyped through this technology. 3D printing can be pretty expensive in some cases, and not all machines can produce large pieces, but aside from that - there aren't very many downsides to this technology.
Within the past few years, this technology has been blowing up at an exponential rate. There are 3D printers being placed by hobbyists to have in their own homes. There are quite a few international companies that offer this technology as a service. There are tons of local facilities across the world doing it as well. Within the next 10 years, this technology is going to be significantly changing the way that we look at manufacturing goods and parts.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Learn About Proper E-Waste Disposal

At the rapid rate that electronics are becoming obsolete, businesses and households are amassing a huge amount of unwanted or outmoded electronic products. The most common of which are mobile phones, PDAs, television sets, computers and other appliances. Disposing of these items is becoming a major concern for all. There are several eco-friendly solutions to this growing problem which allow owners of these products to make money out of their junk.
Improper disposal of outdated and broken electronics is both hazardous to the environment and to the health of the community. These items contain dangerous chemicals that are toxic and very harmful to the Earth and the public's health. Chemicals such as lead, mercury, arsenic are common in these gadgets.
As a responsible citizen, everyone should properly dispose of their unwanted gadgets. Each one should think green. Several states in America have enacted legislation toward the proper disposal of e-waste which encourages zero landfill and export of such materials to third world countries.
There are several manufacturers of electronics that have instituted a take back program. Here they will accept returns of unwanted gadgets that they had manufactured. These companies then recycle almost all components of these returned products.
In several cities there are a growing number of eco-friendly companies that offdr their services to take these outdated and non-functioning gadgets out of anyone's hands. These outfits advocate environmentally safe solutions in helping one get rid of unwanted electronic products. They even pay to get these items off the hands of anyone. This is responsibly making money from junk.
There are corporations that will professionally assess the usability of these items. The outcome of these assessments may either be refurbish or recycle. Most items that can be refurbished are computers, printer toner cartridges and PDAs. The rest, such as mobile phones, are headed for recycling. These companies usually offer to buy these unwanted gadgets from owners who want to use their services.
There are a growing number of outfits in some cities in the United States of America that offer responsible electronics disposal services. Austin is one of those cities. In this city there are a few companies that practice zero landfill disposal.
Agencies that are into electronics disposal in Austin strive to prolong the use of unwanted gadgets by refurbishing them and selling them back to consumers. Items that cannot be refurbished will have every component recycled. Others offer both itdm buyouts and revenue sharing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Intricacy Of 3D Printing

3D printing is a pretty interesting form of manufacturing technology in my opinion. It gives designers, artists, engineers, computer graphic artists, or whatever - a chance to design and create products. These "products" can do pretty much whatever you need them to in a sense. 3D printing is a form of manufacturing that involves the use of over 100 materials, thus giving designers a chance to produce a product out of almost any material. Think about that: with 3D printing, a designer can create a product out of almost any material necessary. Let me go into further details.
Imagine you're working for NASA or Red-bull and you are trying to work on a highly classified and custom engine to a certain jet. Well, you can't simply go to Home-Depot to pick up the part you are looking for in many cases, you have to build it yourself! These facilities often use CNC machining methods to produce parts, but 3D printing can take an edge in some situations. 3D printing allows for the creation of practically anything out of a very wide variety of materials. This technology, also referred to as additive manufacturing, can do some very interesting stuff that other forms of manufacturing simply cannot. Let me elaborate.
3D printing works with a layer by layer process which uses a CAM system, or a computer aided manufacturing system. Only one layer of material is made at a time, allowing for the creation of some seriously intricate things. What does this mean? Imagine a very intricate city, in the form of a 3D model. There are lots of sky scrapers, buildings, water parks, landmarks, statues, etc. Remember, this city is captured in a 3D model, which we want to manufacture. Imagine placing this intricate city inside of a ball. Keep in mind, the ball must be able to fit in the palm of your hand, so the resolution and detail tolerance must be high. If you try to take the 3D model of a city within a ball to a machine shop, you will be let down - it simply cannot be done! However, with 3D printing, this is very possible. Let's go back to the layer by layer process I mentioned earlier.
Through 3D printing, a machine will lay down very small layers of material down in accordance to the design. Sometimes the detail level is a fraction of a millimeter. Think about this city being constructed from 3D printing. Small buildings, stop signs, cars, and various landmarks are being made.25 millimeters at a time, all while laying down material for the ball which encompasses the city. The end product will result in a ball with a miniature city inside of it. This is very possible through 3D printing, other forms of manufacturing simply cannot do this.
This manufacturing technology is very good for creating very intricate models like the one I mentioned earlier, among other things. There are so many possibilities with this technology that I can't even count them! 3D printing is, and will continue to change the world.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Water Modeling Systems - Groundwater Modeling

The simplest water modeling systems treat water molecules as rigid and depend only on non-bonded interactions. Climate changes and altering human pressures on our environment call for us to have foresights about the future sustainability of water resources and thus necessitating the use of water modeling.
Groundwater models are used by hydrogeologists and can be defined as computer models of groundwater flow systems. Groundwater models are utilized to simulate and foretell aquifer conditions. Groundwater modeling research focuses on the development and application of groundwater models to enhance the understanding of hydrological and groundwater processes. Groundwater modeling research also allows future predictions to be made.
Groundwater simulation research is undertaken in collaboration with those research institutes and other universities, industries, environmental regulators, government and non-government organizations who address a broad range of environmental issues including:
- Effects of climate change on groundwater resources 
- Impact of CO2 injection and underground storage on water resources 
- Changes in groundwater flood and drought occurrence 
- Effect of agricultural pollution on water quality 
- Quantification of national water resources 
- Impacts of groundwater abstraction on rivers 
- Development of new public groundwater supplies 
- Effectiveness of flood alleviation schemes 
- Effectiveness of ground source heating and cooling schemes 
- Movement of contaminants through groundwater systems

In addition to several research activities, the geological survey institutes undertake water modeling projects for several commercial clients. Groundwater modeling specialists need to be skilled in both applying existing modeling tools as well as in developing personalized software in order to provide healthy answers to the clients' questions.
Geological survey institutes develop different kinds of groundwater modeling software tools to simulate groundwater systems at a range of scales. To answer various questions related to environmental change, today's research is becoming more interdisciplinary. This entails the integration of models of various compartments of the water cycle. To facilitate this, different software tools are implemented to enable different models to interact with each other. New technologies are being used to link various separate models to those of other environmental software developers. This has been used in the past to simulate the processes that have taken place in Oxford during the fluvial-driven groundwater floods during July 2007.
Various other surveys using groundwater models are also used to predict the effects of various hydrological changes such as irrigation developments on the behavior of the aquifer or groundwater abstraction and are often termed as groundwater simulation models. Nowadays, various groundwater models are also used in different water management plans for urban areas.
A ground-water model's applicability to a real situation depends on the accurateness of the input data and the parameters. As different parameters are reasonably variable in space, expert judgment is required to arrive at representative values. Groundwater models are known to be found in various dimensions - one-dimensional, two-dimensional, three-dimensional and also semi-three-dimensional.
A water simulation's computational cost increases with the number of interaction sites in a water model. When rigid water modeling systems are used in molecular dynamics, an additional cost crops up - related to keeping the structure constrained by using constraint algorithms.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Reducing Costs Through Managed Network Services

Cost reduction is always a major area of concern for small to medium-sized businesses. The growing uncertainty in the economy is forcing business owners to be even more creative to sustain growth and maintain profit margins.
One area of focus is the IT department or use of technology as part of daily business operations. Networks, servers, PCs, laptops, software and related equipment must all be maintained and enhanced to not only ensure business continuity but also enable customer interaction to occur at the highest level.
However, most small to mid-sized firms lack the resources to fully staff an IT department. Often they wait for an emergency to occur before addressing a technology need or incur large project fees for equipment changes and upgrades. They may also be unaware of newer cost-saving programs and hardware, and/or lack the knowledge base of how to implement them.
To deal with these issues many professional technology firms now offer an affordable alternative for smaller businesses. It is a program called Managed Network Services. This service is provided on an outsourced basis. It provides a smaller company with top-of-the-line professional IT services without the costs of employment and related benefits.
For a relatively small monthly fee a business owner is able to receive full professional support including strategic IT planning, 24 x 7 network/server monitoring, help desk, automatic upgrades, backup, consulting, problem solving, and on-site repair as necessary. The infrastructure is constantly monitored to remedy potential problems before they occur.
The firm's engineers can create a plan that addresses a business' technology needs for both now and in the future. They can make recommendations for implementing new software and/or hardware which can help streamline business operations. They can discuss integration of wireless networks and voice, data and video integration on the same shared infrastructure. The team can address mobile devices and how to deal with security issues across multiple wireless platforms.
Cloud services are generating much publicity and businesses are studying their impact. The technology team can determine if adding some of these services is advisable with a company's current IT infrastructure. Utilizing virtualization may not be an alternative for most businesses and many would still need the expertise of professional engineers to ensure their implementation and optimal performance.
Contracting with an IT firm helps companies cope with the desire to purchase the "latest and greatest" hardware or software. It puts a strategic plan in place and eliminates the urge to buy certain programs and waste funds on unnecessary expenditures.
As the need to maintain and increase profit levels becomes more challenging, implementing a Managed Network Services program provides a sound alternative to beefing up staff and fixed expenses. It enables business owners to utilize highly skilled technology professionals in a way that is efficient and extremely cost-effective.