Category: Hardware


Passive solar design is something that some people close to me are looking at for a new home.

Homes constructed as passive solar design use the natural movement of heat and air to maintain comfortable temperatures, operating with little or no mechanical assistance.

via Home Construction – Passive Solar Design.

Basically, passive solar uses the sun to heat a home, using things like “thermal mass” (large amounts of brick, or water, or some such) to catch heat which can then radiate, convect or conduct out) and then heat the surrounding interior.

The article here does a great job of outline this, and other essential components of passive solar design.

There’s a lot more to be said about this, but it’s definitely a greener, more off-grid solution for the future: a great thing if there’s a solar storm!

A Control key (marked "Ctrl") on a m...

Image via Wikipedia

Exponents and typing have always had an interesting relationship.  In this short guest post, computer-savvy minstrel Jera Wolfe (not his legal name) writes a quick explanation on how to type those out on a PC.


To use standard keyboard characters to express an exponential, you use the character “^” between the base and the exponent.

For example (The Hardy Weinburg Equation):

p² + 2pq + q² = 1

could be easier written:

p^2 + 2pq + q^2 = 1

Also, by holding down the ALT key, and typing out 0178 and then releasing the alt key after you finish hitting the keys it will produce a “²”. Use 0179 to create a ³. Any other values it’s best to use the method described above.

Note: You can only use the numkey pad to generate ascii numbers using ALT codes.
Special Note: Remember, depress the ALT key and keep it held, then type out each key individually, don’t try to hold them all down like ctrl+alt+delete. It’s hold ALT, and type 0 then 1 then 7 then 8 then release the alt key.


Jera Wolfe is a hardcore techie user who remembers BBS-like systems such as FIDOnet that predate the declassification of ArpaNet. His first introduction to the computers was the old TI-99/4A, a system which his grandfather taught him how to hook up and play.
The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard

Image by Dave Makes via Flickr

Learning to type in the Dvorak keyboard layout, as powerful and exciting as it is, took a backseat during Nanowrimo (whose challenge was to meet an in-one-month word-count of 50,000 words).  However, something lingered on:

That was the settings I’d introduced to my computer—and as such, I’d find myself occasionally typing things in the wrong layout—sometimes in Dvorak when I meant to be in Qwerty—all this being interesting because of the fact that I’d set up a quick shortcut to switch between formats on my Mac.

One time I had a run-in with this cross-over problem, and I found myself groping about for a solution.

The problem?  I’d typed a paragraph of my novel (or some other significant writing) and had done it in Dvorak, when I’d been thinking in Qwerty. Now what was I to do?  My text might have looked something like this:

Yd. lprxn.mZ  C-e yfl.e a lapaipald ru mf brk.n (rp orm. ryd.p ocibcucjaby ,pcycbi) abe dae erb. cy cb Ekrpatw ,d.b C-e x..b ydcbtcbi cb “,.pyfv Br, ,day ,ao C yr erZ  Mf y.qy mcidy dak. nrrt.e orm.ydcbi nct. ydcoS

Here’s something that solved the problem—I had to translate it.  Let’s thank Will for providing a solution:

Will’s Qwerty to Dvorak Converter.
So, if you’re ever stuck with malfunctional text—here’s where to go!

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