Archive for the ‘Engineering and Tech’ Category

Apple’s iPad or Amazon’s Kindle? How About Both.

April 5th, 2010

Amazon's Kindle 2

This past Saturday, Apple started selling their WiFi version of the iPad, describe by others as being akin to a large iPhone minus the phone. Along with it came an astounding degree of vitriol, messages pronouncing an upcoming period of doom and gloom, all intermixed with declarations promoting Steve Jobs to sainthood. Then came the inevitable comparisons between it and Amazon’s Kindle, the pros, the cons, why you should buy one and not the other, and  why you’re foolish if you don’t follow what they say.

Let me be blunt. Don’t listen to any of them.

But, come on, you want to know. Is the iPad going to change the world? The simple answer? Nobody knows, and don’t believe those who say they do. Because the only certainty involved with predicting the future is this: Eventually, you’re going to be wrong.

So which, if any, should you buy? If you have money to burn, the answer is easy: Both!

While there is overlap in functionality, such as the ability to read e-books from, each has strengths that simply aren’t met by the other.  For example, the Kindle excels when it comes to reading in broad daylight, at the park, or outdoor seating at a coffee shop. There’s absolutely no glare from any angle, and unlike the iPad, reading improves with more ambient light. Not to mention, the Kindle also works well in dim lighting, but because it does not emit any light of it’s own, it will not operate in the dark.

The Kindle also comes with free 3G wireless access.  Get that? FREE. Granted the browser it comes with is severely limited, but in a crunch, it can call up information from nearly anywhere on the planet, for free.  To get wireless access in the iPad, you’ll either need a WiFi connection, or a paid 3G subscription.

And when it comes to reading, the Kindle does this job very well. It’s very light, as opposed to the 1.5 pound iPad, and it can be easily held with one hand for extended periods of time. Which makes it great for reading on the beach, lying down, you know, relaxing.  And, it helps that the Kindle has access to more premium ebooks than any other ebook store on the planet. Which is important if you want to maximize your chances of getting the latest book from your favorite author.

Apple's iPad

For those who are traveling, these days it helps to pack light. The Kindle wins in this department – with the ability keep it’s charge for two weeks or longer with 3G turned off, one could read several novels over a vacation without worrying about bringing along the USB charging cable.  Yes, the iPad’s 10 hour battery life is impressive, but most good reads take substantially longer!

Having said all that, the iPad is an extraordinary and beautiful machine. To deny that is to deny the obvious. It’s speedy and responsive, well featured, it has an excellent battery, there are many applications and games ready for it, and it’s a cinch to use. So much so it makes one wonder why computers in general aren’t as simple to utilize.  The screen is gorgeous and the interface is very intuitive, it plays HD movies with a breeze, it makes full-page web browsing portable, and you can watch streaming Netflix movies from just about anywhere.  Seriously – what’s not to like?

Oh, and have you checked out the games on the iPad? One word: WOW (and by that, I don’ t mean, World of Warcraft). Just do a search for “iPad games” on YouTube if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Yes, the iPad does also work as an ebook reader, but that’s not it’s strength.  Instead, it’s strength is in practically everything else.  While it can double as an ebook reader, I wouldn’t use it as a primary one, just as I wouldn’t use my laptop or desktop computer as one. It’s simply not as light and easy to read in daylight. But that’s where the Kindle shines. It’s an awesome ebook reader, perhaps the best around today. But it doesn’t do much else.

Does this mean you should get one vs. the other? Well, I hope it’s obvious from this article that a comparison between the two is like comparing mangos to kiwis – the attempt makes no sense. You’ll have to figure how what your priorities are, how much extra money you have lying around, and spend appropriately. What I wouldn’t do is listen to those who openly mock one device or the other with arguments that don’t relate at all to what these devices can do for you, as only you know that answer to that.

After all, that’s what’s important, right?

Engineering and Tech

Turtles Shell Helmets Courtesy of Sinking Ships

February 23rd, 2009
USS Mullinnix as it's getting sunk as part of naval tests in August 1992.  Photo courtesy of

USS Mullinnix as it's getting sunk as part of naval tests in August 1992. Photo by

The path to science discovery and application does not always follow a straight line.  This is one such example.

For years the U.S. Navy has conducted tests of the explosive variety in an effort to make ships stronger and bombs more potent.  I can only assume they’re succeeding in doing a very good job at both.

But since these tests tend to take place over open water, there’s collateral damage of the marine variety.  In particular, dolphins and turtles.

Read more…

Biology, Business and Politics, Engineering and Tech

Product of the Day: The $100k Tesla

May 7th, 2008

Technically, this is strictly an engineering story. But since engineering is nothing other than the application of science, in this case, at least physics, aerodynamics, chemistry, and electrodynamics, we thought you wouldn’t complain.

I mean, take a look, it’s beautiful.

In case you haven’t heard, this is a Tesla, a 100% battery operated car. A fast one at that. And if you had the wherewithal to reserve a Tesla and set aside slightly over $100k to burn and eventually own one, at least you wouldn’t also have to worry about burning anything else, that is, in the name of global warming.

Word on the street is, the Tesla is ready for sale. Today. In Los Angeles.

Read more…


SnoreCraft: NASA’s MMO?!

April 21st, 2008

Oh, say it ain’t so.

At TinySci, we pride ourselves in our deep skepticism of practically everything. Some say this leads only to apathy while others wonder how we can then be passionate about anything. Well if you’ve had a chance to read a few of our posts, you’ll realize that neither is the case. Rather, the skepticism helps bring about a solid case of objectivity.

Which is what I’m thinking is lacking for those NASA administrators who believe they can create a viable, let alone interesting, massively multiplayer online (MMO) game targeted to the teens of tomorrow.

Read more…

Internet, Space

Two Reasons to Tune in to TV This Tuesday

April 21st, 2008

Despite its status as a high-end sports car, most of us wouldn’t give a thumbs up after taking in a few whiffs from a Corvette’s exhaust.  But, most of us aren’t the Car Guys from Car Talk.  And most of us don’t have access to what I assume is a fuel-cell powered vehicle.

If you listen to NPR, it’s likely you know of Tom and Ray, the automotive geniuses on Car Talk. They’re staring in a new episode of NOVA this Tuesday appropriately titled, “Car of the Future”.  If you don’t listen to Car Talk, you probably aren’t in TinySci’s demographic, so no worries.

They’re reason #1 to watch TV on Tuesday. Read more…

Cars, Space

Construction, Serendipity, and the Synchrotron

April 16th, 2008

If you haven’t noticed, we at TinySci have been quietly and discretely making a series of modifications and improvements to the website to make reading and finding what you’re looking for a whole lot easier. And enjoyable!

One of the major changes is a subtle one for you, but was a major undertaking for us. It involved reconstructing the “interesting pics” page to conform to the content management system in place, rather than be an ordinary static page. You’ll never notice the difference, but it’ll make updating and rotating those pictures a breeze for us.

Also, we’ve added links to the most popular and recent posts. You can dig and find these on your own, but hey, now it’s easier, right?

Finally, to mark the start of a revised look, I dug around for a construction picture in Google. What came up first is what you see. As serendipity would have it, it’s a picture taken during construction of one of the world’s largest synchrotrons.

Don’t worry, I didn’t know what a synchrotron was either.

Read more…

Internet, Physics

Hubble Searches for Black Holes, Just not Steven Hawking’s

April 9th, 2008

Hubble finds “black holes”

I can’t give you a picture of “Hubble” because this one’s a computer program. But I can give you one of the “black holes” it looks for, because these pertain to the dead spots you probably come across at times while trying to access another computer on the web, say, like Read more…


Cornellian Roboticists Celebrate, C3P0 Yawns

April 8th, 2008

Cornell’s Robot, Ranger Given this day in this corner of this galaxy, this certainly qualifies as a feat. Cornell’s little Ranger ambled a record-setting 5.6 miles in an indoor track, untethered, using only internal power sources (batteries). It didn’t utilize nav sensors to get around the track, rather, Ranger was remote controlled.

It’s previous record was set in 2006 where it walked just over 1/2 a mile, peanuts by comparison. In fact, extrapolated out, in less than a decade Ranger will be giving C3PO a run for his money.

Source: Cornell

Robotics ,

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