Make: Vol 1I finally finished Make: Technology on Your Time, Volume 1 and I must say I am more excited about the magazine than ever. Chock full of projects like “5-in-1 Network Cable” and “How to Make a Magnetic Card Reader” I can see that, though I’ve read every word between these covers, the fun is not nearly over.

Articles about heirloom technology and backyard monorails and other crazy stuff that I can’t believe I didn’t know about already round out the magazine.

There are three impressions I would like to share about this issue. One is am astounded at the consistent quality of the articles. As I delve into issue two and three I can only hope they can maintain the quality of content. I’ll let you know.

Second, I am pleased at the level of advertising. The magazine reads more like a scholarly journal than a trendy tech magazine. There are ads, but they are few and far between, and never did I feel I was distracted from an article by them.

Finally, I was surprised to see so much reference to Macintosh and Mac OS X. Without inciting a platform war the writers have included a lot of information pertaining to OS X. Being a long-time Mac user (now cruelly forced to work on a PC by the evil overlords of… oh wait a minute, getting off topic) I was glad to see the Mac being treated as an equal, if not preferred platform.

So I’m digging straight into Volume 2 and I’ll report back more as I get through. In the meantime I am starting to gather the parts for my home-built mag-stripe reader. For more about why I just had to have this magazine, check out my original article on Make. For anyone who is still just considering buying Make, just one word. Yes.

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It looks like the class-action suit for iPod owners got final approval last week. The suit forces Apple to replace batteries in iPods which failed early in their use. For the full details on the suit check out the Apple iPod Settlement Administration website.

iPod users have until September 30, 2005 (or two years from original purchase if it is a third generation iPod) to place a claim. It is still unclear how the claims will be processed; will Apple ask folks to send in their iPods, will they send out special shipping boxes, will owners be able to take their iPods to local service people?

The claims are expected to cost Apple around $15 million, but as an owner of one of these iPods, I have to say this claim is legitimate. The battery in my iPod has been flakey since the day I bought it and in the past year has been nothing short of terrible.

Hopefully the sting of $15 million will encourage Apple to consider a user-replaceable battery in their next iPod. I can only imagine a large portion of that $15 million is the “Authorized Service” necessary to replace these.

For more on the claim check out these links:

Apple iPod Settlement Administration website
Article on settlement from appleinsider.com
Article from macsimumnews.com

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Track LightsI have just finished installing track lighting in my basement. The project was fairly simple and I now have replaced what I believe is the last of the sketchy wiring that the previous owners put in.

I ordered all the track lights and track from direct-lighting.com and I am very pleased with their service and the quality of their product. The low-voltage halogen lights I picked up were only $9.95 and are of very good quality.

Before purchasing I had emailed their service asking if the lighting I was looking at needed a special dimmer. I received a prompt answer that I could use standard dimmers on any of their products.

I finally got around to placing an order on a Sunday afternoon and by end of business Monday I had an email with a UPS tracking number. It’s worth mention that I felt I was taking a risk with an unknown brand and vendor, but their prices are so good I wanted to give them a try.

It did take a week to get everything, UPS ground from California, but for less than $300 I got 40 feet of track, 10 fixtures, and all the connectors to put it together and attach it to my suspended ceiling.

Now, a week after I got the goods I have it all put together and I could not be happier. I now recommend direct-lighting.com to everyone who says they are doing a lighting project. Their product descriptions on their site could be a little more detailed, but their prices on fixtures, accessories and bulbs cannot be beat.

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Battery ExplodingDon’t try this at home!

These guys took a lithium ion battery (you know, like we all have in our cell phones) and forced it so far into over-charge that it exploded!

Obviously any properly functioning charger on an undamaged battery would not cause this type of reaction. In fact, all lithium batteries have a charge limiter (either on the charger or battery) to protect the battery. For this demonstration the charge limiting was bypassed. Even with all the precautions they took it seems like it was a bigger explosion than expected.

This was set up with a radio controlled model airplane battery. Check out the video and be thankful for those charge limiter.

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bridge_aug23Two days later and it’s almost gone. The bridge over the Pemi River is no longer connected to either shore.

At the rate they are going, there will be nothing except pilings left by the end of the week. Hopefully they are as quick at building the new bridge as they have been about tearing down the old one. Then again, the temporary bridge is already better than the old one. I guess we’ve already won.

Thanks Leasa for taking pictures so I could continue driving without getting in a fiery car wreck or driving off the temporary bridge.

For an earlier view of the bridge removal take a look at my post Plymouth Bridge Destruction

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