Education Archives

Logic Gates And Powered Rails

One of the things that I like about Minecraft is something in the game called “Redstone”.  In game it’s an ore that you can obtain by mining.  When you mine a block of it, you get Redstone dust.  The special thing about this stuff is that it can be used to make an in game equivalent of electrical circuits.  These circuits are based on the use of basic logic gates such as the logical AND, OR, NOT, NAND, XOR and so on.

It’s used for everything from a simple circuit to switch the direction of a curve in a minecart railway to creating incredibly complex devices and computer circuits.  I saw one video in which somebody built a 16 bit Arithmetic Logic Unit in game that actually works.  Because it’s in-game it’s slow but the super cool part about it is that it works.

I’ve always had an interest in electronics in general and computer logic circuits in particular.  Back in the 1970’s I used to read everything I could find on the subject.  The unfortunate part is that I didn’t have money to actually buy parts and build circuits to test and play with.  This budgetary problem still exists today.

Minecraft and Redstone has changed that.  I recently started a test world, one where I’m playing with the difficulty level set to “peaceful” (which means no monsters will spawn) specifically so that I could experiment with Redstone and learn how to use it to build working logic circuits that would accomplish some in game task.

Partly I did this because I figure I’ll want to use it in my “real” game that I play on the hardest difficulty level and partly just because it’s absolutely fascinating to work with low level basic logic like this in a way that I wish I could have done 40 years ago.

Of course, it’s no easy task learning how to think out the logic of a task in a sufficiently basic, step by step elemental way that is required to be able to make even the simplest circuit work.  There’s been more than one time that I thought I was going to need a hair loss product or two because I was tearing my hair out (well, figuratively speaking that is).

You would think that it would be fairly simple to make something like an arrangement where three tracks come together and wanting the ability to not only select your destination before leaving, but have the system not only detect your arrival on returning and switch the track to send you to the right place.  In fact is NOT that simple at all.

Earlier this week I spent a full three days trying to figure out that exact problem.  Thankfully I finally did it and now when the time comes I will be able to use that circuit in my “real” game.

Then in a recent game update, Powered Rails were introduced.  They are intended to take the place of minecart boosters used for a long time that take advantage of some bugs in the program.  Since It’s been stated that eventually those bugs will be fixed I figured it only made sense to start working out how to do things with the new powered rails instead of using the boosters that rely on program bugs.

That has been every bit as challenging as what I’ve been doing with Redstone circuits.  Even more so because the rails are powered by Redstone and therefore they affect and are affected by nearby Redstone circuits.  It’s been quite a challenge to get things arranged so that both items work the way they’re supposed to.

This challenge has been complicated by a series of program crashes that started the very day I started trying to use the powered rails which tells me that on top of everything else they have bugs in them as well and it’s playing hell with my efforts to do anything with them.

I’m hoping now that the 1.6 update will come out soon and that those bugs will have been part of what it addresses.

Technorati Tags: redstone, electronics, electronic logic, binary logic, rails, minecraft, minecart rails, powered rails, computer logic, logic circuits, update, program update, bugs, program bugs

Moron Proclaims: “I Hate Fat People”

This video is a response to a moron that said he hates fat people.  Long story short, there’s a LOT more to weight gain and obesity than simply eating too much.  There is also a LOT more to losing that excess weight than simply cutting back on the food.

Mind you, this kind of crap doesn’t bother me but it can be devastating to a lot of people who aren’t as confident in themselves as I am.  As it’s said in the video, there is no excuse for that kind of crap.

Technorati Tags: social issue, allfunnytv, exercise, support, insensitive idiot, tinfoilchefdotcom, fat, hate, weight loss, weight, lacigreen, hate fat people, losing weight, medical issues, fat people, overeating

Amega AmWand Scam Warning

The Amega Amwand is one of those classic snake oil remedies that is being sold to people who are desperate to relieve chronic pain.  There are all kinds of amazing claims being made about this thing.  That it can do everything from relieve pain to increase your energy level and even tighten and lift your face.

Unfortunately, it’s a scam.  This thing does not and in fact can not do the things people are claiming it can do.  The biggest claim this thing makes is that it uses “Zero Point Energy” to achieve all of these miraculous results.

The problem is that Zero Point Energy simply doesn’t work that way.  It has also NOT been harnessed by anyone, ever.  It is real, there has been theoretical work in quantum physics going back 100 years or more but that’s all it is, theory.

Please, if you’re thinking about spending hard earned money on this or ANYTHING that claims to use “Zero Point Energy”, watch this video FIRST and save yourself a lot of expense and disappointment!

There is also a review of the Amega Amwand that you should look at.  It was written by someone who tried it for two full months, using it as directed, that gives a report of the complete failure of it to live up to the claims made about it.

Technorati Tags: crystal healing, desperate people, chronic pain, boobs exposed, pseudoscience, amega amwand, zero point scam, commentary, healing, healing with energy, healing energy, iamnotahamster, energy healing, health care, energy therapy, amega global energy, bogus claims, current events, chi energy, pain relief, quantum energy, healing spiritual energy, crystal energy, healing reiki, boob, exposing boobs, pain, amega, amega amwand scam, energy spiritual, amega global scam, fail, opinion, healing energy, points of view, holistic energy, amega global products, healing healing energies, perpetual motion, science fiction, boobs, healing techniques, healing crystals, zero point energy, healing therapy, amega wand, energy healing therapy

I’m Losing Weight!

I’m sure that some people will see the title of this post and go “big hairy deal” but for me the fact that I’m actually losing weight is actually quite significant.  Especially since over the last six or seven years I’ve done almost nothing but GAIN weight.

Roughly six months ago I tipped the scales at a whopping 348 pounds.  About two months later I had dropped to 328, which was at least a start moving in the right direction.  Last week I stepped on a scale for the first time in four months or so and was greeted with my first sub-300 weight in nearly four years or more at 288!

Obviously this is good news but I’ve also been wondering what I should be aiming for as a target weight before I run out and load up on a supply of ephedrine or Acai berry.  Then just tonight I hit on the solution.

Just as a guide I decided to check out a Body Mass Index calculator.  I started by plugging the numbers in for when I was at 348lbs which told me that at that point my BMI was a whopping 43.5 which classed me as “morbidly obese”.  A term that always translated itself in my head as “dead fat”.

Then I ran the calculation for 328lbs and the BMI was 41.  Better but still needs a lot of improvement.  The next one was for my current weight of 288lbs.  That came out at an encouraging 36.

Next I entered several lower weights to find out what weight I should aim for to get a BMI in the middle of the “healthy” range.  After a few minutes I found that a weight of 165lbs would give me a BMI of 20.6 and 180lbs would give me a 22.5

I realize that these numbers aren’t carved in stone but they do give me something of a goal to shoot for.

Technorati Tags: body mass indicator, weight loss, obese, bmi, morbid obese, loseing weight

Something I’ve talked about in the past is the fact that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the writing on the wall.  Microsoft & co. have made it clear that they’re moving on, first with Vista and now with Seven.  As much as I don’t like the fact, sooner or later the XP Pro that I prefer to stick with instead of those increasingly nasty new versions of windows is going to end up far enough out of date that it not only won’t run anything new but probably will reach a point where, like windows 95, it’s no longer even a good idea to allow it on the net.

A Practical Guide to Ubuntu LinuxI originally had planned to set up my laptop with a vista / ubuntu dual boot and use that as a learning ground to become familiar enough with ubuntu so that when the time came I could just make the switch to linux on my desktop machines.  However the laptop’s hard drive failed and after spending time browsing sale pages I find that replacing it just isn’t going to happen as soon as I’d like.

So, In the meantime, I’ve decided to take something of an old fashioned approach to learning the ins and outs of linux in general and Ubuntu in particular, a paperback book titled “A Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux“.  It’s a method that isn’t used so much anymore these days what with e-books and video tutorials and such but it’s still one that honestly works pretty good for me.  As for having an e-book version, that might work ok for some but I prefer having a physical bound book… it’s easier to put bookmarks in and use sticky notes and highlighters to make notes in it.

The main thing is that because I can see the end of windows operating systems coming (and trust me, Microsoft’s days as the “Big dog” are all but over.), I’m planning to be ready and make the switch to linux as far ahead of time as I can.  For once in my life I’m going to be in the leading pack on something like this instead of playing the “scramble to catch-up” game.

Technorati Tags: laptop, Reading A Book, Microsoft, Spending Time, laptop hard drive, Book, Dual Boot, Paperback Book, Video Tutorials, Linux, Desktop Machines, E Books, Sticky Notes, Practical Guide, Windows Operating Systems

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