Short Subjects

All articles (c) Copyright 1997, Allan W. Jayne, Jr. unles otherwise noted or other origin stated.

More topics.

Loved One In Hospital Suddenly Died?  (Nov. '98)

Get an independent autopsy. In mid-October 1998 CBS' 60 Minutes ran an article on suspicious hospital deaths. Their figures indicate that an irregularity occurred in the hospital about 25% of the time when someone "doing well" took a turn for the worse and died.

There is a somewhat nationally known firm who does independent autopsies for relatives facing this situation. Call 1-800-AUTOPSY.

Choose Any Two!  (Nov. 97)

1.  Protect the seller or employee

2.  Protect the buyer or employer

3.  Keep it simple

Example of 1 and 3:  "All sales are final."

Example of 2 and 3:  "Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back."

Example of 1 and 2:  (fine print) "Refunds will be given under the following conditions: 1 dada dada so and so... 2 dada dada if this then that ... 98 dada dada such and such ... 99 dada dada and so on"

When doing business with the federal government you will almost always run into thick documents containing detailed specifications and complicated contract terms.  All of these documents take time and effort to produce. The end result is a very expensive transaction. Now you know why the government pays hundreds of dollars apiece for hammers and toilet seats while you and I can buy them for a fraction of the price at alocal store.

Colors -- Discolored pictures on your computer screen  (Oct. 97)

If your computer is set up to only show 16 colors, pictures are not going to look good. Even if you have 256 colors or more, funny things can happen. The computer does "paint by number" using a palette of all the colors it is going to use. If color #1 on the current palette is red, every picture will have red where color #1 should be even if on that picture color #1 should be a different color. Even if the computer can show thousands of colors, two pictures with the colors numbered in different orders may still be discolored when shown at the same time.

Colors -- Discolored small objects in your home videos?  (Nov. 97)

Example: You are televising a wall map on which you placed some colored paper circles. When you played back the video, the circles came out black.

Example: You are televising a street scene. Traffic lights and car taillights came out pink or yellow where they should have been red.

You may have exceeded the horizontal resolution capabilities of your camcorder and/or the TV. The typical 240 line resolution of a camcorder or 400 line resolution of a good TV apply only to black on white. Small objects and tall narrow objects are hard to reproduce in the correct color. The best theoretical horizontal resolution for colored objects is about 1/50 (2%) of the screen width but in cost cutting manufacturing reality, you may be lucky to have an object as narrow as 1/25 of the screen width colored correctly. If you look closely, you will find that almost all colored objects are discolored a bit at the side edges; if the TV has a comb filter, objects are usually discolored on all edges.

DVD and some of the newer digital video equipment has much better color resolution. To view this quality you must use a high grade TV set with S-video or component video connections, or a computer monitor with appropriate video card or adapter.

More video hints

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Protect Pipes From Freezing

For pipes in an outside wall, put insulation between the pipe and the outside, nothing between the pipe and the inside plasterboard. The ability of the pipe to stay unfrozen depends on heat from the room soaking through the wall from the inside room faster than cold soaking through from the outside.

If the wall has already been finished, you won't have the chance to follow the above rule. But if you are building the house, or you have had the misfortune of having to break open the wall and replace the pipe after it froze and burst, you can install the insulation correctly on the outside only.

Pipes outside the house must be drained for winter. No matter how much insulation is wrapped around it, a long cold spell will eventually freeze the pipe.

When going on vacation in winter, it is a good idea to drain the house plumbing and water heater, and put antifreeze in the toilets. Also, keep the heat on at 50 to 55 degrees.

Camp water systems and other systems with large amounts of exposed pipe should have a detachable section of pipe or hose connecting them to the winter protected part of the water supply.  This way the detachable section can be removed for winter and leakage or vandals cannot let water into the system and cause freezing damage.

Be careful opening antique hinges! (March '98)

This emphasizes the rule of never touching antiques in someone else's home or in an antiques shop. Let the owner handle the item and show it to you.

It is always interesting to open that cabinet door to look inside, or to lift the lid of that coffee pot. But hinges do rust away or get damaged by rough handling over the years and you might be the one to break the item even though you thought you were careful. You must support the weight of the door or lid, hold the pivot in its socket or bearing, and watch as the hinge opens or closes correctly.

We had an old streetlight lying on its back on the floor. When we lifted the glass cover to look inside, a hinge pin slipped out of its holder and the sides of the hinge jammed. Because the glass was heavy we were not able to feel the resistance of the hinge jamming. In this case the hinge pin was supposed to slip out to allow detaching the glass. Only because the streetlight was upside down did the hinge come apart and jam before it was opened far enough.

Fortunately we caught the problem before we broke anything, this time.

Don't jump to conclusions!  It's a bad thing to do.  If you are wrong you will antagonize people and you will feel that you put your foot in your mouth.

If jumping to conclusions is the way of the world, maybe it is time to fix it one person at a time. Jump on him for jumping, not for the conclusion he jumped to. 

If someone seems to be against you by jumping to a conclusion, curtly call out "Wrong!". Then quickly begin talking about some other topic. If he wants to explain, then you join in with plenty of questions to ferret out every detail of his train of thought leading to his conclusion, as a choreographer might analyze a dancer's movements. Make him prove his point. You did it right if the other person breaks down and says in an apologetic tone, "I jumped to a conclusion".

Only exception allowing jumping to conclusions:  If you are a contestant on a TV game show.

Some less than savory things you shouldn't say::

"Jump up for Jinkies (R)"  (audience participation line in a show at Walt Disney World's Adventurer's Club
    (Sadly, the Adventurers' Club has closed down as of early 2009)

"Next time you jump, do it from a bridge."

"How does <this thought> lead to <that thought>?"

Kell factor  (Revised Feb. '98)

Click here for new article on Kell factor.

Roughly speaking, the Kell factor is the ratio between the perceived lines of resolution and the number of pixels or scan lines being used.

Antique Records - Please Don't  Play 'Em With Steel (Dec. 97)

Not all 78 RPM records are made of shellac. Some, including rare ones, are made of plastic like LP records, and will be damaged severely if played on any acoustic player. I have seen some rare colored plastic children's records that are almost transparent. These have patterns printed on their labels which produce animated figures when viewed through a mirrored cylinder that is placed atop the record when it is played. For example one of "Old McDonald Has a Farm" displays dancing animals.

These records should only be played with a reasonably lightweight electronic tone arm, preferably ten grams or less recommended tracking force. Use close to the maximum tracking force recommended by the pickup manufacturer. Don't go too light either because the needle tip then bounces within the groove causing more damage than a too-heavy tracking force.

Yes, steel needled acoustic children's phonographs, when sold even as late as the mid 1960's, often included plastic records and the 45 RPM speed. (Almost all 45 RPM records are plastic but have grooves coarse enough for a steel needle.) Then, the usual rough treatment the records got resulted in skipping long before the grooves wore out from repeated playing. And the store made its money mostly on additional record sales.

Careful Buying Secondhand Computer Equipment

Rule #1:  See it in operation before you buy. Better yet, try it out yourself doing the kind and complexity of tasks you will actually use it for.

Otherwise the following can go wrong:

o   The item might be totally obsolete.

o   The item might be broken, inoperative.

o   The item may have been partly stripped of parts.

Actual case:  An acquaintance gave me an older Microtek (well known brand name) scanner. It was missing the software that normally goes with it and also was missing a small but necessary card that plugs into the PC.

Going to Microtek's web page I found out that this scanner would not work with the current version of Microsoft Windows (Windows 95). In other words it was obsolete.

A good thing I didn't pay money for this scanner.

Secondhand home grade (consumer grade) printers with no ink are worthless.

If you see computers or accessories at a yard sale, most likely they are not plugged in and ready to use. Be careful.

Don't Stock Up

   on Toothpaste

Fluoride in toothpaste loses its potency after a year or so. In other words the toothpaste expires. You should have no more then one unopened family size tube per family member around the house.

   on Halogen High Beams (or any high beam headlight units)

You drive with high beams so little that they almost never need replacement. You don't need more than one of any given style around the house. If two or more cars use the same headlight style, only one spare high beam is needed for all of them combined. For somemodels of cars you can use a burned out low beam unit as a high beam unit, so you don't need to keep any high beam units as spares.

   on Printer Ink Jet Cartridges

These expire after about six months. Keep no more than one spare around the house or office unless you know you exhaust a cartridge every two months or sooner in which case keep two spares. If you use cartridges that are too old, the ink may get gummy and clog up the printer ink jets.

Why mostly text only few pictures?  (Sept. -Nov. 97)

We're still under construction. We haven't yet decided on what color scheme we want to use. We would rather put useful information on line as quickly as we can rather than delay this to put in attractive pictures.

Even small pictures contain a lot more data than several pages of text. So text downloads and appears much faster than pictures, especially if you are still using a dial up connection to the Internet.

We rent space on someone elses' computer ( to operate our web site. There is a limit to how much material can be stored with them and how much data can be downloaded each month. So many more users can download our pages before our limit is reached and our web host tells users to come back next month.

Bruce Williams

Well known radio talk show host, presently heard on over 300 stations throughout North America. Gives financial advice on his shows, which originate in Florida from 7 to 10 weekday evenings, broadcast may be delayed particularly in western states. For Bostonians, no relation to Jerry Williams. See, also, web site

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