Power Cords for Power Tools

Power Cords for Power Tools

Power Cords for Power Tools
Even a car, which could be considered to be a power tool of sorts, sometimes needs a power cord. [Image shared by Marko Dugonjic via Flickr.]
Honey, do you know where I put those power cords?” is probably something that many wives, partners, and girlfriends are used to hearing. We all know that power is important, but we also know that we cannot keep them all plugged in at once.

As one of the Great Indoorsmen, it is very rare that you’ll see a power tool in my hand, or at least the do-it-yourself type of gadget. However, it is not as rare to see power cords in my hand. I do believe that an iPhone (or other tech device) is just as much of a power tool as a drill, and I have the connectors for those kinds of devices in my hands regularly. However, what kinds of power cords are there? There are only two types of power cords that you can use to run your tools. What kind(s) do you use?

Power Cords — Multiple Outlets

I recently visited the UK, and these power strips (as we call them in the USA) come in multiples of four, six, eight, and 10 plugins. They are known as either a bar or a gang, superseded by the number of outlets. They are a great way to give many power cords their juice at once. I don’t suppose that you’d want to be giving power to multiple power tools at once, though. I’m sure there is some code against having a lathe and a table saw being powered by the same power cord.

Power Cords — Extension Cables

Power strips with long cords are a great way to extend your reach — especially when working outside. These power cords vary in length and allow you to get the go-go juice where it is needed outside. They are also a great help indoors when they allow you to use your computer wherever it is needed — even if no outlet is nearby. The humble extension cable is one of these power cords that everyone has had to use at least once in their lifetime.

Don’t get me wrong: there are hundreds of thousands of different power cords that all do different jobs, but I tend to think that the extension cable and the multiple outlet are the two main types of power cords when it comes to power tools that aren’t smart devices.

Do you think I’m wrong? Have I missed a type of power cord that you think is more important? Let me know below!

Use the Internet or Smartphone to Control Your Home Thermostat

Use the Internet or Smartphone to Control Your Home ThermostatSome of you who read this can’t wait to have an application monitor and control your home environment, while others among you have no intention of giving up the ability to control your home thermostat. However, for those of you who are interested in saving a few dollars, controlling your thermostat remotely could meet your needs while allowing you to keep a few more of those hard-earned dollars in your pocket. Apparently, these applications are offered by many of the major electric suppliers in the US that are willing to exchange profit for control. They believe that, if you are willing to let them control your home thermostat, it will help them avoid the necessity of forcing brownouts and potential blackouts due to supply shortages. This is seen a win-win — especially during the height of seasons where you need to run the furnace or air conditioning unit.

While I have not been faced with this situation in a while, about 12 years ago I lived in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Northern California. This area was noted for its rolling blackouts and the fact that high energy prices were kicking everyone’s butt. However, like many of you who are reading this, I was just going through life minding my own business when up cropped a contrived electrical crisis in which the people were raked over the coals. I won’t go into the mechanics and shenanigans that created this artificial shortage, but one lesson we all learned is that energy use needs to be conserved and controlled.

Perhaps due to what occurred 12 years ago, we now have electrical suppliers, like New York’s Con Ed, that will give you a free, Internet-controlled thermostat. The thermostat can be controlled from any computer, tablet, or smartphone that has Internet access and a user can control the temperature in their home or small business via their device. However, there is one small catch: In order to get the free thermostat, you must agree to give Con Ed access to your thermostat during peak energy usage so that it can control your home’s temperature, thus giving it the ability to conserve energy that it can then transfer elsewhere.

According to Con Ed, the other advantages of the program are:

  • You will be able to program your thermostat from the Internet or from a smartphone application
  • The unit will manage your energy use to match your lifestyle
  • This access will help all users reduce air pollution
  • This means of control will ensure everyone receives reliable power
  • It will keep you or your small business from having to make upgrades to your current system

For all of us who depend on electricity to cool or heat our homes or small businesses, we can understand a system designed to manage our energy use if it is also matched to our lifestyles. Think about it: For those of us who work during the day, we may not need the temperature to be set as low or as high during our working hours as we would like it to be set when we are at home. I know there have been many times that I’ve left home and forgotten to turn up the temperature a few degrees to save energy and not waste it. I could have saved both money and energy if I had a system that would control the thermostat when I was away from the house.

Another advantage that Con Ed claims is that the fan in your home’s central air conditioning unit can be set to remain on, even when the cooling portion of the unit is off. This will supposedly help to keep your home comfortable, even when the unit is off. Con Ed further states that this feature could be bypassed if need be.

One additional feature that I find amazing — besides the free thermostat — is that Con Ed will install the unit in your home or small business for free. For me, that made the offer one that would be difficult to turn down. Con Ed has even gone so far as to extend its offer not only to homeowners, but also to apartment dwellers. This should be a real blessing since many rentals and apartments are not built with saving energy in mind and the cost to tenants can be extremely high. So, if you wish to control your home’s environment via the Internet or smartphone application, it is available to everyone regardless of which kind of residence they maintain.

In other words, there is an option out there for apartment dwellers, homeowners, those on a fixed income, or just those who are energy conscious.

Comments welcome.

Source: Scientific American

Give Yourself a Charge with the New Silicon Power Cell

Anyone who has traveled through our nation’s airports is well aware of how problematic it may be to find a charging station for your smartphone or other device, and if you do manage to find one, there is often a fee attached. This problem is compounded for those of us who fly coach where there are even fewer options available to charge the failing batteries in our smartphone or other devices on the plane itself. In fact, we often find that the device we were counting on to help pass the time became DOA as soon as we boarded the plane. However, I know that the serious road warrior (or sky warrior), would come prepared by carrying extra batteries with them, but this can be impractical for those of us who carry more than one device.

Knowing how frustrating this is to travelers as well as others who are dependent on their device for business or entertainment, the folks at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and MTL (Microsystems Technology Laboratory) have taken steps to produce a new product, called Silicon Power Cell. This product, approximately the size of a thick cell phone, is really a little portable fuel cell that produces a whopping amount of juice. Using butane as its fuel, this device is actually the size of a cigarette lighter and has the advantage of allowing the fuel to be replaced by the user.

One of the features that make this fuel cell so attractive is that it will charge any device that uses a USB port. That means that this tiny fuel cell will charge any and all of your portable toys no matter where you are. An added bonus is that the company claims that it has already received approval from the FAA to use the device on commercial flights.

While in the development stage, Lilliputian concentrated on the development, testing, and other aspects of its technology; the company has since built a manufacturing facility and this little lifesaver is already being beta tested by select customers. For those of you looking for an investment, you should know that the company has already signed agreements to market its fuel cell under the name USB Mobile Power.

Lilliputian’s portable fuel cell can deliver between 10 to 14 full charges for an iPhone. (Credit: Lilliputian Systems)

In fact, a recent news release announces that the company has formed a partnership with Brookstone to market, promote, distribute, and sell the new devices once they become available. The future goal is to eventually make these fuel cell devices available at airports and malls around the country as well as introduce a power unit that will fuel the cells that charge the units.

So how will this new power cell change the way we live and communicate with one another?

  • It will eliminate the need to spend time looking and/or searching for a free electrical outlet.
  • It will eliminate the frustration of running out of power mid-day.
  • It will eliminate the need to carry multiple chargers to accommodate all of your smartphones, tablets, and more.
  • It’s compact.

What we don’t know:

  • How much this unit is going to cost.
  • How much the refill cartridges are going to cost.
  • When the units will be released for purchase.

When these new power cells hit the street, one can’t help but see how beneficial they will be as they free us from our need to find electrical outlets in order to stay in contact with one another. The power cells will also allow us to stay connected for longer periods of time and provide a means to keep all of our electronic devices fully charged.

CC licensed Flickr photo at the top of the page shared by flyzor

How to Buy the Right Computer Power Supply

Over the years I have replaced many failed computer power supplies and have learned how to diagnosis, whether a bad power supply is the cause of computers failing to boot. When reader John M. contacted me about the problem he was having with a computer that would not start, I thought I would share his comments and my recommendations with you.

Reader John M. asked the following:
‘I awoke on Monday morning to find my trusty desktop computer failing to start. I smelled a strong electronic smell and noticed the fan on the power supply not turning. Is there a way to tell if the power supply is bad or if it could be something else wrong? If it is the power supply which one would you recommend that I buy?’

From the description that John provided, I would be about 99% sure that it was the power supply that is the culprit because of statement ‘strong electronic smell’. Another clue was ‘the fan on the power supply not turning’. In my experience these two facts would indicate a bad power supply as the culprit.

How many watts should the new power supply be? Over at Newegg they have a simple to use power supply calculator. You enter in the type of CPU you have, how much memory is on board, the type of motherboard on the system, video display adapter, hard drive and type of ROM device. If you have more than one hard drive, video display adapter or more than one ROM device, you can add additional devices before completing a final power calculation.

Most standard OEM systems, from companies like HP, Dell, and the rest, need at least 300 watts to function properly. If you believe that you may be adding more memory, another hard drive and a higher quality display adapter some day in the future, you may wish to get a power supply with more wattage. The next decision you will need to make is how much you want to spend. You can buy inexpensive power supplies for $20 or less.

I recommend you spend a little more money and get yourself a good, reliable unit that will provide you with the best performance. I have been using and recommend the Thermaltake 430 watt computer power supply. The units can be purchased from Amazon for about $41. Newegg carries this make and model as well.

What I like about this Thermaltake unit is that it comes standard with two built in fans for added cooling. The unit also comes with a black cable sleeve which is attractive and also provides better airflow inside the case. The computer power supply unit from Thermaltake is quiet, performs well and is an exceptional value when compared to other power supply units.

How to Reduce Your Electric Bill With a Power Strip

Not all power strips are created equal. Most of them do a decent job of surge protection, some act as an extra backup battery in the event of a power outage, and another type is made especially to help you save money on your electric bill.

Modern televisions, surround sound equipment, computers, monitors, and even toasters can pull watts even when they appear off. Typically, the most taxing area of your home electronically is your entertainment center even when you’re not using your TV, amplifier, speakers, gaming console, and disc player. There is a way to reduce this unnecessary expense with the help of a power strip that helps you manage power consumption when these devices aren’t actively being used.

Belkin has a couple power strips available. One is the BG108000-04 energy saving surge strip which features surge protection coupled with a remote control allowing you to cut power to a set of devices while keeping others on.

Another is the Conserve Smart AV F7C007q which automatically shuts off other electronics in the chain if it detects that the primary device has been turned off. Typically, the television would be used as the control device shutting off the disc player and surround sound system along with any other connected electronics.

Addition: The Smart Strip LGP3 is also a great automatically managed power strip designed to save you money in much the same way as the F7C007q.

Whether you’re cutting excessive energy costs by shutting down electronics individually or cutting their power entirely, it never hurts to have the aid of convenience to make it easier to save a buck.

Do you use a power management system to keep energy usage in check in your home? If so, what do you use and how much has it impacted your bill? Comments are welcome and encouraged.


Power Grid Of The Future Saves Energy

Cars and trucks race down the highway, turn off into town, wait at traffic lights and move slowly through side streets. Electricity flows in a similar way — from the power plant via high voltage lines to transformer substations. The flow is controlled as if by traffic lights. Cables then take the electricity into the city centre. Numerous switching points reduce the voltage, so that equipment can tap into the electricity at low voltage. Thanks to this highly complex infrastructure, the electricity customer can use all kinds of electrical devices just by switching them on. “A reliable power supply is the key to all this, and major changes will take place in the coming years to safeguard this reliability. The transport and power networks will grow together more strongly as a result of electromobility, because electric vehicles will not only tank up on electricity but will also make their batteries available to the power grid as storage devices. Renewable energy sources will become available on a wider scale, with individual households also contributing electricity they have generated,” says Professor Lothar Frey, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB in Erlangen. In major projects such as Desertec, solar thermal power plants in sun-rich regions of North Africa and the Middle East will in the future produce electricity for Europe. The energy will then flow to the consumer via long high-voltage power lines or undersea cables. The existing cables, systems and components need to be adapted to the future energy mix now, so that the electricity will get to the consumer as reliably and with as few losses as possible. The power electronics experts at the IISB are working on technological solutions, and are developing components for the efficient conversion of electrical energy.

For energy transmission over distances of more than 500 kilometers or for undersea cables direct current is being increasingly used. This possesses a constant voltage and only loses up to seven percent of its energy over long distances. By comparison, the loss rate for alternating current can reach 40 percent. Additional converter stations are, however, required to convert the high voltage of the direct current into the alternating current needed by the consumer.

“In cooperation with Siemens Energy we are developing high-power switches. These are necessary for transmitting the direct voltage in the power grid and are crucial for projects like Desertec. The switches have to be more reliable, more scaleable and more versatile than previous solutions in order to meet the requirements of future energy supply networks,” says Dipl.-Ing. Markus Billmann from the IISB. To this end, the research scientists are using low-cost semiconductor cells which with previous switching techniques could not be used for high-voltage direct-current transmission (HVDCT). “At each end of a HVDCT system there is a converter station,” explains the research scientist. “For the converters we use interruptible devices which can be operated at higher switching frequencies, resulting in smaller systems that are easier to control.” A major challenge is to protect the cells from damage. Each converter station will contain about 5,000 modules, connected in series, and if more than a few of them failed at the same time and affected their neighboring modules a chain reaction could be triggered which would destroy the entire station. “We have now solved this problem. With our cooperation partners we are working on tailor-made materials and components so that in future the equipment will need less energy,” says Billmann.

Markus Billmann @ Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

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Researchers Find A Stable Way To Store The Sun's Heat

There should be an image here!Researchers at MIT have revealed exactly how a molecule called fulvalene diruthenium, which was discovered in 1996, works to store and release heat on demand. This understanding, reported in a paper published on Oct. 20 in the journal Angewandte Chemie, should make it possible to find similar chemicals based on more abundant, less expensive materials than ruthenium, and this could form the basis of a rechargeable battery to store heat rather than electricity.

The molecule undergoes a structural transformation when it absorbs sunlight, putting it into a higher-energy state where it can remain stable indefinitely. Then, triggered by a small addition of heat or a catalyst, it snaps back to its original shape, releasing heat in the process. But the team found that the process is a bit more complicated than that.

“It turns out there’s an intermediate step that plays a major role,” said Jeffrey Grossman, the Carl Richard Soderberg Associate Professor of Power Engineering in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. In this intermediate step, the molecule forms a semi-stable configuration partway between the two previously known states. “That was unexpected,” he said. The two-step process helps explain why the molecule is so stable, why the process is easily reversible and also why substituting other elements for ruthenium has not worked so far.

In effect, explained Grossman, this process makes it possible to produce a “rechargeable heat battery” that can repeatedly store and release heat gathered from sunlight or other sources. In principle, Grossman said, a fuel made from fulvalene diruthenium, when its stored heat is released, “can get as hot as 200 degrees C, plenty hot enough to heat your home, or even to run an engine to produce electricity.”

Compared to other approaches to solar energy, he said, “it takes many of the advantages of solar-thermal energy, but stores the heat in the form of a fuel. It’s reversible, and it’s stable over a long term. You can use it where you want, on demand. You could put the fuel in the sun, charge it up, then use the heat, and place the same fuel back in the sun to recharge.”

In addition to Grossman, the work was carried out by Yosuke Kanai of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Varadharajan Srinivasan of MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Steven Meier and Peter Vollhardt of the University of California, Berkeley.

The problem of ruthenium’s rarity and cost still remains as “a dealbreaker,” Grossman said, but now that the fundamental mechanism of how the molecule works is understood, it should be easier to find other materials that exhibit the same behavior. This molecule “is the wrong material, but it shows it can be done,” he said.

The next step, he said, is to use a combination of simulation, chemical intuition, and databases of tens of millions of known molecules to look for other candidates that have structural similarities and might exhibit the same behavior. “It’s my firm belief that as we understand what makes this material tick, we’ll find that there will be other materials” that will work the same way, Grossman said.

Grossman plans to collaborate with Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy and Professor of Chemistry, to tackle such questions, applying the principles learned from this analysis in order to design new, inexpensive materials that exhibit this same reversible process. The tight coupling between computational materials design and experimental synthesis and validation, he said, should further accelerate the discovery of promising new candidate solar thermal fuels.

Source: “Mechanism of Thermal Reversal of the (Fulvalene) tetracarbonyldiruthenium Photoisomerization: Toward Molecular Solar-Thermal Energy Storage,” by Yosuke Kanai, Varadharajan Srinivasan, Steven K. Meier, K. Peter C. Vollhardt, Jeffrey C. Grossman. Angewandte Chemie, 20 October, 2010.

[Photo above by Mike Baird / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Jen Hirsch @ Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Traveling By Car Increases Global Temperatures More Than By Plane, But Only In Long Term

There should be an image here!Driving a car increases global temperatures in the long run more than making the same long-distance journey by air according to a new study. However, in the short run travelling by air has a larger adverse climate impact because airplanes strongly affect short-lived warming processes at high altitudes. The study appears in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-weekly journal.

In the study, Jens Borken-Kleefeld and colleagues compare the impacts on global warming of different means of transport. The researchers use, for the first time, a suite of climate chemistry models to consider the climate effects of all long- and short-lived gases, aerosols and cloud effects, not just carbon dioxide, resulting from transport worldwide. They concluded that in the long run the global temperature increase from a car trip will be on average higher than from a plane journey of the same distance. However, in the first years after the journey, air travel increases global temperatures four times more than car travel. Passenger trains and buses cause four to five times less impact than automobile travel for every mile a passenger travels. The findings prove robust despite the scientific uncertainties in understanding the earth’s climate system.

“As planes fly at high altitudes, their impact on ozone and clouds is disproportionately high, though short lived. Although the exact magnitude is uncertain, the net effect is a strong, short-term, temperature increase,” explains Dr. Jens Borken-Kleefeld, lead author of the study. “Car travel emits more carbon dioxide than air travel per passenger mile. As carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere longer than the other gases, cars have a more harmful impact on climate change in the long term.”

[Photo above by Giorgio Minguzzi / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Michael Bernstein @ American Chemical Society

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How Batteries Grow Old

There should be an image here!In a laboratory at Ohio State University, an ongoing experiment is studying why batteries lose their ability to hold a charge as they age — specifically lithium-ion batteries, which have generated a lot of buzz for their potential to power the electric cars of the future.

Preliminary results presented today at the AVS 57th International Symposium & Exhibition, taking place this week at the Albuquerque Convention Center in New Mexico, suggest that the irreversible changes inside a dead battery start at the nanoscale.

Yann Guezennec and Giorgio Rizzoni of OSU developed new experimental facilities and procedures to charge and discharge commercially available Li-ion batteries thousands of times over many months in a variety of conditions designed to mimic how these batteries are actually used by hybrid and all-electric vehicles. Some of the batteries were run in hot temperatures like those in Arizona; others in colder conditions similar to those in Alaska.

To understand the results of this testing, Bharat Bhushan, Suresh Babu, and Lei Raymond Cao studied the materials inside of the batteries to help determine how this aging manifests itself in the structure of the electrode materials.

When the batteries died, the scientists dissected them and used a technique called infrared thermal imaging to search for problem areas in each electrode, a 1.5-meter-long strip of metal tape coated with oxide and rolled up like a jelly roll. They then took a closer look at these problem areas using a variety of techniques with different length scale resolutions (e.g. scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscope, scanning spreading resistance microscopy, Kelvin probe microscopy, transmission electron microscopy) and discovered that the finely-structured nanomaterials on these electrodes that allow the battery rapidly charge and discharge had coarsened in size.

Additional studies of the aged batteries, using neutron depth profiling, revealed that a fraction of the lithium that is responsible, in ion form, for shuttling electric charge between electrodes during charging and discharging, was no longer available for charge transfer, but was irreversibly lost from the cathode to the anode.

“We can clearly see that an aged sample versus and unaged sample has much lower lithium concentration in the cathode,” said Rizzoni, director of the Center for Automotive Research at OSU. “It has essentially combined with anode material in an irreversible way.”

This research is being performed by Center for Automotive Research at OSU in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Institute of Standards Technology.

The researchers suspect, but cannot yet prove, that the coarsening of the cathode may be behind this loss of lithium. If this theory turns out to be correct, it could point battery manufacturers in the right direction for making durable batteries with longer lifetimes.

[Photo above by Dean Johnson / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Jason Socrates Bardi @ American Institute of Physics

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Consumer Sentiment Shaped By Differing Cultural Attitudes Toward Power

There should be an image here!Cultures nurture different views of what is desirable and meaningful to do with power, according to new research by University of Illinois marketing expert Sharon Shavitt.

In the battle of egos, Donald Trump vs. Hugo Chavez might be a draw. But as symbols of power, each resonates differently with different cultures, as cultures nurture different views of what is desirable and meaningful to do with power, according to new research by a University of Illinois marketing expert.

Sharon Shavitt says the relation between culture and one’s concepts of power emerge from one’s cultural orientation, and how that culture shapes one’s beliefs, attitudes and goals.

“People’s views of powerful people and what powerful people are supposed to do, as well as what legitimizes power, differs by society and by cultural values,” said Shavitt, a professor of business administration.

The study, co-written by Carlos J. Torelli, of the University of Minnesota, was published this month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. It examined the role of culture in the meaning and purpose of power by examining the way people perceived, evaluated and responded to power-related stimuli.

The researchers categorized the reactions according to a four-category typology: horizontal versus vertical, and collective versus individual. Their findings highlight the value of advancing existing models of power relations by identifying a key role for cultural variables.

According to the research, the two most contrasting power relations were vertical individualism and horizontal collectivism.

A vertical-individualistic cultural orientation was linked to conceptualizing power as something to be used for advancing one’s personal agenda, thereby maintaining and promoting one’s powerful status, Shavitt says. By contrast, a horizontal-collectivistic cultural orientation was linked to conceptualizing power as something to be used for benefiting others.

“Cultures predicts distinct power concepts, and those were the two groups that most strikingly contrasted with each other, the self-interested use of power versus benevolence,” Shavitt said.

In American culture, for example, it’s legitimate for someone who has power to use it for personal, status-oriented gains. Donald Trump, for example, could be seen as a symbol of such culturally nurtured power, because he’s “out for himself, and makes no bones about it,” Shavitt said.

But in other regions in the U.S., that attitude may not be looked upon quite so charitably. Trump may be popular in Manhattan, but he wouldn’t be nearly as popular in, say, North Dakota, Shavitt said.

“We’ve found that there are distinctions and gradations,” she said. “People of different ethnic backgrounds and different cultural orientations — that is, those who espouse different values — respond differently to these ideas of power.”

Nor would the Donald be quite so popular in other countries, where the native culture may promote the use of power for the benefit of others — for example, having higher taxes to subsidize health care and higher education — rather than for achieving status and prestige.

“In Latin America, for example, the power paradigm swings away from self-interested zeal for status in favor of more benevolent and less brazenly self-interested ways of conceptualizing power,” Shavitt said. “Powerful political leaders such as Hugo Chavez drape themselves in collectivism and are frequently idealized as benefactors whose primary goal is to protect helpless individuals.”

While other countries’ notion of equality is an equality of outcomes, in the U.S., “our notion of equality is equal opportunity — each one of us each has an equal opportunity to have a good outcome or a bad outcome depending, supposedly, on how hard we work,” Shavitt said.

Businesses can use this knowledge of cultural attitudes toward power to their advantage.

“A vertical-individualist orientation predicted liking for brands that symbolize personalized power values of status and prestige, whereas a horizontal-collectivist orientation predicted liking for brands that embody concerns for the welfare of others,” she said.

The study included groups commonly used in cross-cultural research (European Americans and East Asians, for example) as well as under-researched groups (Hispanic immigrants, students in Brazil and Norway), thereby increasing the potential coverage of vertical and horizontal cultures and allowing for findings across a broader range of cultures.

Out of the groups surveyed, Brazilians exhibited the highest horizontal-collectivist scores, liking brands that symbolized pro-social values better, while Norwegians scored among the lowest in vertical-individualism orientation, liking brands that symbolized personalized power values less than all the other groups.

Shavitt noted that Scandinavian cultures are much more horizontal and focus more on personal modesty as well as obligations to others.

“If you look at their social policies, they show a strong emphasis on equality of outcomes and provision of help to the least fortunate,” she said. “But they’re not collectivistic; they’re still very individualistic.”

In the U.S., with the demographic trend lines pointing to a more multi-cultural society, businesses can adjust their marketing and advertising accordingly by identifying a key role for cultural variables.

“What we’re doing is adding another element to the way that marketers can segment their markets — by emphasizing how ethnicity, geography and cultural values come into play in consumers’ power motivations,” Shavitt said.

Portions of the research were part of Torelli’s doctoral dissertation, written at Illinois. The researchers were supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Sheth Foundation, the University of Illinois and the University of Minnesota.

[Photo above by James Vaughan / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Phil Ciciora @ University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Have You Got The Power?

The worst-named product in gadget history also happens to be the most awesome ever. You use devices all day long that run on battery power. What happens when you run out of batteries? Why not use a 5000mAh Battery Charger? It will quickly and easily charge just about anything you can think of. If you have a cell phone, iPad, iPod, digital camera, or virtually any device that charges via USB, the 5000mAh Battery Charger will extend the life of your gadgets while you’re away from traditional power outlets. This might mean you get a few more hours on the airplane, or it might mean the difference between receiving or missing an important phone call.

Yes, the name is horrible. But this is an awesome product. I use it. I was shocked a few days ago. I needed to use my iPhone and ran out of battery. I plugged this in and used it for more than twenty-four hours while connected to this device.

I don’t think you’ll find another external battery that connects via USB. 5000MaH is a LOT. It can charge any number of devices, making sure you are connected all the time.

Shut Down Your Windows 7 Laptop When Unplugged

There should be an image here!Here’s a nifty tip for those laptop users running Windows 7.

You can configure the power options in Windows 7 such that your laptop automatically shuts down when it becomes unplugged. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Click Start and type Power Options in the search box. Press Enter.
  2. Click Change plan settings.
  3. Click the Change advanced power settings link.
  4. From the list, locate and expand the Battery option.
  5. Expand Low battery level. Change the On battery value to whatever you want.
  6. Expand Low battery action and change the On battery option to Shutdown.
  7. Click OK.

[Photo above by Ian Muttoo / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Tiny Generators Turn Waste Heat Into Power

There should be an image here!The second law of thermodynamics is a big hit with the beret-wearing college crowd because of its implicit existential crunch. The tendency of a closed systems to become increasingly disordered if no energy is added or removed is a popular, if not depressing, “things fall apart” sort-of-law that would seem to confirm the adolescent experience.

Now a joint team of Ukrainian and American scientists has demanded more work and less poetry from the second law of thermodynamics, proposing a novel “pyroelectric” method to power tiny devices using waste heat.

Using tiny structures called ferroelectric nanowires, they can rapidly generate an electrical current in response to any change in the ambient temperature, harvesting otherwise wasted energy from thermal fluctuations. Their report appears in the Journal of Applied Physics, which is published by the American Institute of Physics.

Explains lead researcher Anna Morozovska of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, “The second law of thermodynamics rules modern life: Through all kinds of industry, humans consistently produce an enormous amount of waste heat. However, the laws of thermodynamics do not exclude rescuing some of this energy by harvesting the thermal fluctuations to produce electricity.”

Pyroelectrictricity can play key role in consumer electronics, says Morozovska, and recovering this heat in the form of pyroelectric energy may bring about a new era of “tiny energy.” Pyroelectric nanogenerators could be extremely useful for powering specific tasks in biological applications, medicine and nanotechnology, particularly in space because they perform well in low temperatures.

In an investigation of the pyroelectric properties of ferroelectric nanowires, the team analyzed how the pyroelectric coefficient corresponds to the radius of the wire and its coupling. They found that the smaller the wire radius, the more the pyroelectric coefficient diverges until a critical radius at which the response changes to paraelectric (above the Curie temperature). This so-called “size effect” could be used to tune the phase transition temperatures in ferroelectric nanostructures, thus enabling a system with a large, tunable, pyroelectric response.

In theory, the use of rectifying contacts could enable the polarized ferroelectric nanowire to generate a giant, pyroelectric, direct current and voltage in response to temperature fluctuations that could be harvested and detected using a bolometric detector. Such a nanoscale device would not contain any moving parts and could be suitable for long-term operation in ambient applications such as in-vitro biological systems and outer space. The researchers calculate that these little nanogenerators would have very high efficiency at low temperatures, decreasing at warmer temperatures.

The article, “Pyroelectric response of ferroelectric nanowires: Size effect and electric energy harvesting” by Anna N. Morozovska, Eugene A. Eliseev, George S. Svechnikov, and Sergei V. Kalinin appears in the Journal of Applied Physics.

[Photo above by benmckune / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Jason Bardi @ American Institute of Physics

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Generate A Power Efficiency Report In Windows 7

There should be an image here!Windows 7 includes a hidden power efficiency diagnostic utility that you can use to generate a power efficiency report for your computer. When you run the utility, it monitors your computer for 60 seconds to identify areas where power is wasted. After 60 seconds, a report is generated that shows errors, warnings, and other information related to your computer’s power efficiency.

To generate a power efficiency report:

  1. Click Start, type cmd. Hold down CTRL + SHIFT and press Enter.
  2. Type powercgf /energy and press Enter.

The power efficiency report is saved to c:windowssystem32.

[Photo above by Pete Reed / CC BY-ND 2.0]

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