A Bright New Light Bulb Idea

March 16, 2015

Innovation in light bulb design continues apace. The leading example is variable color, smart phone controlled LED lights. Yes, seriously1. Even incandescents, the dinosaur of light bulbs, are evolving.

Traditional incandescents work by suspending a little piece of tungsten inside a vacuum.

A new technique recently hit the scene. Instead of a filament, a smaller halogen bulb is wired inside the main bulb.

Illumination, Russian Doll Style.

There is also a hole in the screw cap. This would prevent a traditional incandescent from working, but the halogens don't need an external vacuum. My guess is that this acts as a pressure valve or ventilation. Whatever the case, it certainly looks intentional.

This whole hybrid-halogen concept looks like someone ended up with a ton of surplus halogen bulbs and said, "Hey, what if we jury-rigged these inside of a standard bulb?" and everyone laughed. Until they did it and it worked.

Definite points for creativity.


  1. Philips Hue - Personal Wireless Lighting - "The bulbs, the bridge and the app will change the way you use light. Forever. Experiment with shades of white, from invigorating blue/white to cozy yellow/white. Or play with all the colors in the spectrum."

Rsync --exclude List for Mac OS X

Posted: January 24, 2015 - Updated: March 04, 2015

Updated March 4, 2015 with more cruft identifiers including several from Windows machines

This is my reference for patterns to exclude when moving files around with rsync. It ignores system cruft that doesn't need to be copied and throws me off when it shows up on my FreeNAS server. I'm posting it to have access to it from anywhere and for anyone else who might find it useful.

--exclude='$RECYCLE.BIN' --exclude='$Recycle.Bin' --exclude='.AppleDB' --exclude='.AppleDesktop' --exclude='.AppleDouble' --exclude='.com.apple.timemachine.supported' --exclude='.dbfseventsd' --exclude='.DocumentRevisions-V100*' --exclude='.DS_Store' --exclude='.fseventsd' --exclude='.PKInstallSandboxManager' --exclude='.Spotlight*' --exclude='.SymAV*' --exclude='.symSchedScanLockxz' --exclude='.TemporaryItems' --exclude='.Trash*' --exclude='.vol' --exclude='.VolumeIcon.icns' --exclude='Desktop DB' --exclude='Desktop DF' --exclude='hiberfil.sys' --exclude='lost+found' --exclude='Network Trash Folder' --exclude='pagefile.sys' --exclude='Recycled' --exclude='RECYCLER' --exclude='System Volume Information' --exclude='Temporary Items' --exclude='Thumbs.db'

A Kind of Redesign

February 16, 2015

Welcome to the new and improved redesign of alanwsmith.com!

Don't be surprised if you can't tell the difference.

This redesign is almost entirely behind-the-scenes. Instead of my hand-build code, the page templates now use a framework called Bootstrap1. The biggest change is that the site is now "responsive" (i.e. it'll resize itself nicely for laptops, tablets and phones).

Making the site phone friendly has been on the back-burner for some time. It moved up the priority list dramatically when Google sent me an email titled "Fix mobile usability issues". It said, in part:

Google systems have tested 66 pages from your site and found that 97% of them have critical mobile usability errors. The errors on these 64 pages severely affect how mobile users are able to experience your website. These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.

Or, put another way, "Your site is about to disappear from the internet."

There's still plenty of rough edges, but the foundation is in place. According to the testing tool2, I still have work to do to appease the robots. In the mean time, it does look way better on phones.


  1. Bootstrap was started by Twitter. In the old days, making your own site framework was a right of passage. With all the little gotchas of making sites look good across different sites of displays, it doesn't make sense. Bootstrap or another framework like Foundation are the way to go.

  2. The Mobile-Friendly Test lets you see what Google things about your page. It's one of many they provide to help build better sites. Something they excel at.

Remote Control Storage Solution Mod

January 29, 2015

Remote controls are amazingly good at being in the wrong place. Either in the way, or nowhere to be found. After decades of research, I've determined the problem isn't the remotes. It's the furniture. Designed before the invention of electronics, it hasn't evolved to accommodate them.

Until furniture design catches up, a few power-tools and some surplus wood flooring can provide a nice modification/solution. Introducing: Custom Remote Storage Nooks.

Besides tools and materials, the only ingredient necessary is willingness to make sawdust from your furniture.

It's clear looking at the underside that the nooks are post-purchase mods. Few people will ever see that. Those that do will be admiring your handiwork.

From start to finish, the mod took half a day. A fun little weekend project that neatly solves one of life's little annoyances.

Echo Bar Studios - Live Session Teaser

January 14, 2015

One of my oldest friends went crazy and built a recording studio in L.A. It's called The Echo Bar. He's starting a video series of live performances from the studio. Based on the teaser, it's gonna be awesome.

Self Portrait at 40

January 09, 2015

On this, the occasion of my 40th birthday, a self-portrait seems appropriate.

What's the difference between a self-portrait and a selfie, you ask? It's the lighting.

Trick question: How many seconds in a year?

January 07, 2015

Time is weird. Or, if you prefer, wibbly-wobbly1.

Take someone who lives on a border between time zones and has a five minute commute. Separate clocks at home and the office show they make it in before waking up and that it takes two hours longer to trek home than it did to come in.


A more subtle strangeness is the Leap Second2. Like the days we add for Leap Years, these seconds keep our clocks and calendars from drifting away from their proper seasons. The expected math class answer for determining how many seconds there are in a year looks like this:

365 days * 24 hr * 60 min * 60 sec = 31,536,000 seconds

A year with a positive Leap Second is just slighly longer3.

365 days * 24 hr * 60 min * 60 sec + 1 Leap Sec = 31,536,001 seconds

Notice the explicit use of "positive" above. That's required since Lead Seconds can, in theory, be negative.

365 days * 24 hr * 60 min * 60 sec - 1 Leap Sec = 31,535,999 seconds

Of course, Leap Seconds can happen on Leap Years too. So, based on our current system of time4, a year can have one of six possible total seconds.

Leap Year Leap Second Number of Seconds
no negative 31,535,999
no –none– 31,536,000
no positive 31,536,001
yes negative 31,622,399
yes –none– 31,622,400
yes positive 31,622,401

Our global time keepers came up with the Leap Second in 1972. Since then, 25 have been added. All of the "positive" variety. And, we're ready for another one5. This June will be one second longer than last.

Wibbly-wobbly indeed.


  1. Season three, episode ten of the modern Doctor Who is titled "Blink". It's a masterpiece. It's also where this wonderful 14 second description of time comes from. (If you've not yet tuned into Doctor Who, do yourself a favor and start from the first episode of the modern reboot.)
  2. To quote the Wikipedia entry for Leap Second: A leap second is a one-second adjustment that is occasionally applied to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in order to keep its time of day close to the mean solar time. Without such a correction, time reckoned by Earth's rotation drifts away from atomic time because of irregularities in the Earth's rate of rotation.
  3. I trust some clever, smart-ass student will get the "How many seconds in a year" question and use a Leap Second in the calculation to see if they can argue the point.
  4. Anyone else remember when, in 1998, Swatch tried to redefine time with their '.beats' Internet Time? Saying: Internet Time exists so that we do not have to think about timezones. For example, if a New York web-supporter makes a date for a chat with a cyber friend in Rome, they can simply agree to meet at an "@ time" - because internet time is the same all over the world. I was a little surprised that Beats is still around, though, I haven't heard it mentioned since the '98.
  5. Here's the leap second announcement from the International Earth Rotation And Reference Systems Service. It contains the line, "To authorities responsible for the measurement and distribution of time." That's just begging to be the opening of a sci-fi novel.

Full Length Software Licenses

November 22, 2014

Even lawyers don't read software agreements. It's no wonder. Here's the three different agreements that must be accepted before installing an iPad software update. The first image in each set shows what fits on the screen. The next one assembles the entire scrolling text and shows how long it actually is.

Most amusing is the dozen or so paragraphs that are written in all caps to show how important they are.

Go To Index Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107

© Alan W. Smith
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