Saturday, November 21, 2015

Is Appleseed: Alpha's Deunan modelled after Divergent's Shailene Woodley?

What do you think?

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Installing a phone holder in my S2000

The Problem

Anyone with a Honda S2000 will tell you there's practically no logical place to mount a phone in it other than on the windshield with suction cups. Sure there are solutions that allow you to mount a phone down by the gear shift, but if I have look down that far to see my screen, I might as well leave my phone in the cupholder. I also don't like having the phone obscuring part of the windshield nor the possibility that suction cups might fail as I'm making a high G turn. What I really want is a way to mount the phone on the vast emptiness of the dash. Turns out there's a company that's figured out how to do just that with only minor modifications in hidden areas to my S (all of which can be visually returned back to stock).

The Goods

Modifry is a company that makes cool custom stuff just for the S2000. They have a custom bracket, that attaches between the bezel of my console and the dash. The other end of the bracket has hole patterns for various mounting solutions. I opted for the ProClip holder which, although a bit pricey, had the most convenient way of inserting and removing my phone (the phone just slides in like a holster for a gun).
ProClip iPhone5 holder (left) and Modify S2000 Dash Bracket (right)


Blue painter's tape protects the dash while I
remove the hidden inner lip of plastic
There's a very detailed sheet of instructions that come with the bracket. I was able to follow them pretty easily, however someone on youtube posted a howto which helped immensely with the process. I was able to put several layers of tape over a '"5 in 1 painter's tool" and use that instead of a professional pry bar they recommended. Cutting the hidden plastic wasn't nearly as scary as others had mentioned on forums. I pretty much cut away all I needed on my first try. I did take several scoring passes with my utility knife until it finally went completely through the plastic. I did cover the areas I was protecting w/ blue painter's tape, but I'm not sure how much protection that really provided since my knife could have easily pierced through both it and the vinyl dash. I also had to scrounge around my nuts & bolts organizer for something that would fasten the ProClip holder to the bracket. I'm just using some nuts and bolts w/o any thread locking compound so we'll have to see if any of them get loose over time.

Final thoughts

The whole setup looks like the picture below. As you can see, the bracket puts the phone in just the right position without obstructing any view of the windshield. The ProClip seems like a good fit for my phone, but the level of effort they put into telling you that you can't return it once you use it, is a bit off putting, especially for such a relatively expensive product. I could understand that being the case for cheap low margin knockoffs, but ProClip seems to be marketing itself as a premium solution. As such, I would expect a much more liberal return policy. Just my 2 cents.
ProClip mounted to the Modifry Dash Br

Saturday, September 05, 2015

BaconFest 2015 in San Jose

I love bacon, but I don't think I'll go to the BaconFest again. The food was overpriced, the quantities were too small, and the lines were way too long. There were very few creative uses of bacon available from the food truck vendors. Most offered your standard fair food truck foods with just the addition of some bacon on top. We picked up some bacon peanut brittle, a bacon bouquet (a few strips of bacon wrapped in paper), porky fries, Vietnamese bacon bah mi sandwich, and the stuff you see below. I would have tried some bacon icecream or bacon maple cupcakes, but the kids opted for fruit popsicles instead and I didn't want to wait in yet another long line.

They also showed some pro wrestling which I got some good photos of below.
California Roll with bacon on top

Takoyaki with bacon on top

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Real World Tony Stark needs his Real World Arc Reactor

If you had to pick a modern equivalent to Iron Man's Tony Stark, I don't think you could do better than Tesla founder Elon Musk. Musk used his success in PayPal to create his own electric car company Tesla Motors, a space company SpaceX, and is involved in a new revolutionary new highspeed train project. Essentially if there's something technological that should be done but nobody dares to do it, you can can bet that Musk is up to the challenge.
Elon Musk
Musk has stated that one of his goals is to make human life multi-planetary. This has led to him start SpaceX and create revolutionary rocket systems cheaper and better than anyone else. People said electric cars couldn't be done so he started Tesla. Others said solar would never be economical, so he helped start SolarCity. If anything could be profitable, then Musk was going to find a way to do it.

Despite all these great achievements, Musk will never realize human life on another planet, nor  a completely fossil fuel free economy unless he can find his own version of an arc reactor. It will take an extremely long time until solar becomes economically viable on a country scale (let along global scale) to complete with coal & natural gas prices. You would need fairly high carbon taxes or other subsidies to make fossil fuel based power competitive with renewables. This is why I believe, we can't have a bright future without a significant increase in nuclear power.

I know nuclear scares a lot of people, but bear in mind that we've been using primarily first generation 1960's nuclear reactor designs up until now, and those were the ones that have caused all the problems we've seen in nuclear. Now, all these 1st gen plants are reaching their end of life, and it really would be a lost opportunity if we replaced it with the same thing with the same sets of problems. What we really need is a nuclear renaissance in the development of next generation nuclear reactors.

It wasn't until recently when I discovered a forgotten type of nuclear reactor that was radically different from the light water reactors (LWR) we see today. It's known as the liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR, pronounced like "lifter") and it's design may be the key to safe, cheap, low waste, proliferation resistant power. In this design, the nuclear fuel is an element known as thorium instead of uranium, and it is formed into a fluoride salt and melted into a liquid in the reactor. In typical solid fueled reactors, the nuclear decay and fission products build up inside the fuel pellets. This contamination, prevents all the energy in the pellet from being released. In fact, at most about 3% of the energy in the fuel pellet gets used before it is replaced. In LFTR, the liquid fuel can be chemically separated, allowing the thorium to be burned up completely as energy. This drastically reduces the waste generated and managing waste is a significant portion of the cost of nuclear. Additionally, since the fuel is designed to be in the melted state, there is no worries about nuclear meltdown (its already, and should be melted).

Thorium, itself is pretty interesting. Apparently, mining companies and countries around the world are desperate for a source of rare earth elements (REE) used in high tech equipment. A large subset of these REE's (the more expensive heavy ones) exist predominately in a type of rock known as monazite which we get as a byproduct of mining for other elements like iron, titanium, etc, and this monazite often has thorium in it. Unfortunately, in the 50's, thorium was classified as a nuclear source material which made handling, storing, transporting, and disposal of it so much of a burden that thorium rich byproducts were being dumped back into the ground from which they were mined. That meant that the production of REE's was drastically reduced as only very low thorium bearing byproducts would be processed for REE extraction. 

China, on the other hand, did not fear the thorium content and eventually became the sole supplier of the heaviest REE's for the world, purely by refining their byproducts of iron mining. Today, companies that depend on a stable supply of certain REE's must relocate their manufacturing to China. China has even stated that they do not wish to be the sole provider of the world's REE and may begin severely limiting or even eliminating its exports.

A thorium fueled, reactor would create not only a demand for thorium, but an escape from the environmental and legal burdens that come with processing thorium and REE rich byproducts. A nice win-win solution.

What Musk needs, is a cheap, clean energy solution. And wouldn't it be great bonus if you could load it on a spaceship and use it on another planet? Amazingly, the LFTR design, with its passive safety, would weigh much less than a typical reactor. Thorium too can be found on the moon and Mars and satellites can easily scan the surface for rich deposits. So Elon, what are you waiting for?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Fixing my Fridge for Free

My fridge started acting up recently. The fridge compartment was warm but the freezer compartment was working fine. Searching online, it seems that most common reason for this is a faulty defrost system that causes the evaporator coils in the freezer to frost up with ice until no more air can be diverted to the fridge section. This wasn't the case for me since the evaporator coils looked fine to me. Placing my hand next to the vent that lets the cold air from the freezer into the fridge, I didn't notice any cold air, even though the fan in the freezer was still blowing air around. This led me to believe that there might be something wrong with the venting that controls how much cold air to let into the fridge.

Luckily, you can lookup you fridge model and get the parts list. The part I needed was this:
Also known as a "diffuser". Too bad its almost $90. You might be able to find other places a little bit cheaper, but no much.

If you search on youtube with the part number, you can sometimes get lucky and get a video of some guy replacing the exact same module. This time, I got super lucky, and found a guy who figured out why these diffusers fail, and sold an improved metal replacement part to fix it for far less money.

Removing and opening up my own diffuser revealed that it has suffered the same fate:

Too bad, this guy's in the UK and my food in the fridge wasn't gonna last that long so I needed an alternative. What I ended up doing, was epoxying a bent paperclip around the loop at the bottom and breaking off and filing down the little nubs that were now in the way of the paperclip. I then taped it up (apparently masking tape works well for this) and reinstalled it into the fridge. Time will tell if this hack works.