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Dec 22, 2008
Star Fish
I added a stereoscopic gallery of starfish. Several different types of starfish are featured including bat starfish , brown starfish , Crown of thorns , jungle starfish , knobby starfish , sugar starfish , sun starfish and tan starfish. I hope to be adding others in the near future.


December 13, 2008
Tom Hanks is dead!
I was trying to think of a title that would grab people's attention and that seemed like the best one. No, Tom Hanks isn't really dead (as far as I know!) but some of the talking heads in the media seem to think he is!

As you may know, Abraham Lincoln's last living descendant died in 1985. He did have descendants, of course, but they are all dead now. Yet many of the talking heads in the media claim that Tom Hanks is a descendant of Abraham Lincoln. Assuming that they are talking about the 16th president of the United states and not some other Abraham Lincoln (such as his grandfather!), then the only way that Tom Hanks could be a descendant of Abraham Lincoln is if Tom Hanks is dead.

It might help here if we define our terms. The word "descendant" refers to sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaugheter, great grandsons, etc. All such relations to Abraham Lincoln are dead, and Tom Hanks is not one of them.

People who descend from a sibling (brother or sister) are sometimes called "collateral descendants". These would be nieces, nephews, grand nieces, grand nephews, great grand neices, etc. Note that if you just say "descendant" and not "collateral descendant" then you are referring to "direct" (true) descendants, not collateral descendants. While Lincoln may have collateral descendants who are still alive, Tom Hanks is not among them either.

So is Tom Hanks related to Linclon at all? Well, technically everyone is related, and the "experts" say that no two people on earth are more distant than 50th cousins. Tom Hanks is distantly related to Abraham Lincoln, but not that distant. He is our 16h president's fourth cousin four times removed.
Just how distant is that?

Well, your grandparents other grandchildren (aside from you and your siblings) are your cousins, also known as first cousins. Someone whith whom your closest ancestor (living or otherwise) is more distant than a grandparent would be a distant cousin. If they share a pair of great grandparents they would be your second cousin, great great grandparent would be third and if the closest ancestors are great great great grandparents then they would be your fourth cousin.

The Child of your cousin is your first cousin once removed. The Child of your fourth cousin would be your fourth cousin once removed. The great great grandchild of your fourth cousin would be your fourth cousin four times removed. To put this in perspective, such a person would be 1024 times as distantly related as a first cousin or 4096 times as distantly related as a brother or sister.

Now imagine that the great great grandchild of someone with whom you had a pair of great great great grandparents in common claimed to be your descendant. "Poppy cock!" you'd say, or more likely your actual descendants would, since you would probably not live to see such a person born.

So the next time you hear some talking head grunting that Tom Hanks is a descendant of Abraham Lincoln you are free to say "Poppy Cock!" [or perhaps a more "colorful" expression!] The same holds true when you hear someone grunting that the baseball player, Paul O’Neill, is a direct descendant of of Mark Twain aka Samuel Clemens whose last living descendant died in 1966 . He is actually his first cousin 3 times removed, and thus only distantly related.

The Same goes for the idiot book reviewer who claims that Carol Bronte is a direct descendant of Patrick Bronte (who had no grandchildren) but then contradicts himself by admitting she is actually his "great great niece". Likewise when someone grunts that another Ms. Bronte, the author of a book on the relationship of genetics to longevity, is a direct descendant of the 3 short lived Bronte sisters you can point out that none of them ever had any children.

Besides, how could someone be the DIRECT DESCENDANT of 3 sisters anyway? (and have the last name Bronte!) It seems that quite a bit of interwining of the branches in the family tree would be needed to accomplish that!

Does she touch type with six fingers? :)

Decmber 11,2008
Back to the future...
There are some phrases that are frequently misused in the English language, and Back to the future is one of them. Usually the first thing that comes to the mind when you hear that phrase is the 1985 movie of that title.

In that movie Marty McFly went from 1985, the prsent (at the time), back to the past, 1955. He then tried to get back to 1985 which, from a 1955 perspective was the future. Thus the title phrase "back to the future"

In the fictional universe of the movie this all made perfect sense, but in the real world it is absolute nonsense! Aside from the impossibility of time travel, there is the logical issue of returning, going back, to a future that you have never actually been to! That little inconsistency would be bad enough, but the common usage of this phrase today is much worse than that!

Let's consider two examples:
#1 In a 1987 newspaper a sports colunmnist wrote how if he could go "Back to the future" he would prevent all the bonehead sports trades that have been made, some as far back as 1923!

#2 In a preview of an animated primetime series it was said that the main character was going "Back to the Future" and then showed him in the middle of the disco era.

In these two instances, and many more, it is obvious that the people grunting the phrase "Back to the future" actually meant "back to the past". Actually going back to the past would, of course be impossible, but at least it makes logical sense.

Has our society degenerated to the point that people are so intellectually lazy they cannot distinguish bewteen the past and the future? Only time will tell. If people don't misuse the phrase "Back to the future" 20 years from now then there will be hope.

If they do then nothing will matter becuase we'll be condemned to an endlessly repeating cycle as people keep taking the past and making it the future!

The 1969 movie The Illustrated Man featured a character who used the phrase "back into the future" with a similar meaning

December 10, 2008
Recently solved mystery
It's funny how puzzles not immediately solved, that you think will always remain a mystery, are suddenly solved many years later, usually when you are looking for something else. Such a mystery, an unimportant, yet intriguing one, was recently solved.

I'm sure most of you have seen or at least heard about the original series BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, I've been a big fan of that series since it first came on, and I had seen every episode several times. I was puzzled, however, by a listing in the TV Guide that contained this description of an episode:

An earthbound astronaut discovers Galactica's logbook floating in space.

The episode shown was EXPERIMENT IN TERRA which involves a nuclear holocaust on a "sister world" which was very similar to earth in many ways, but clearly not earth. The description in TV guide clearly had nothing to do with that episode so I always wondered where it came from.

Having missed GALACTICA 1980 in it's orginal run, and having never seen it in reruns, I thought it might have been an episode of that short lived spinoff, since they did find Earth, but people who had seen GALACTICA 1980 assured me that no episode of that series matched that description either, nor did they have any idea where that description came from. [I have since seen the entire series when it was recently released on DVD and have verified that they were right!]

So, for over 25 years it remained a mystery, were it not for the internet it would probably still be a mystery!

When surfing the web for Galactica related stuff I came across a page describing several Galactica teleplays. I had once seen one of these on a VHS tape at a local mom-and-pop video store and wondered what it was all about.

The teleplays were re-edited versions of episodes in the form of feature length presentations. Similar to the TV movies made from edited versions of episodes from the PLANET OF THE APES TV series. Often two or more episodes were combined that originally had seperate story lines.

One of these took footage from the GALACTICA 1980 episode RETURN OF STARBUCK and combined it with footage from EXPERIMENT IN TERRA. This one was different from the others in that in addition to the re-edited footage it contained some original material!

What do you suppose that material was? You guessed it! It was an "Earth" (Terran?) astronaut literally thumbing through pages of the Galactica logbook, reading text which obviously didn't come from any orginal episode. I only saw a brief, low quality excerpt of this segment so I'm not sure how it ties these two divergent story lines together but apparently the person who wrote this description for TV GUIDE had seen the teleplay and just assumed that this opening segment was a good summary of the plot of the original episode.

So a long standing mystery is solved, but another remains: Why is TV Guide's description of the premise of the series so inaccurate? In their description they say that it takes place 3000 years in the future, yet any true fan of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA or GALACTICA 1980 knows that it was actually in the recent past!

Mineral gallery

November 30, 2008
Stereocopic Galleries
I made an index of my growing collection of stereoscopic galleries. I recently added Walnuts, which is more interesting than it sounds :) and Minerals.

Mineral gallery  Mineral gallery
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old slide with yellowed label

November 25, 2008
I drafted a page on stereoscopic scanning. I probably should have done this 10 years ago, but back then I was more interested in posting to . But, as they say, "better late than never!"

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front of disk

back of disk

November 20, 2008
It is said that the ancient polynesians had a legend that over every horizon was a new land. So, setting out in groups of primitive canoes, they colonized much of the pacific. Eventually they ran out of new lands to colonize and many subgroups lost contact with each other. On Easter island they cut down all the trees and had no wood to build canoes. So they were trapped.

In the computer world we often think that there are endless horizons as well, but are there?

Sure, computers keep getting faster with more memory and more hard drive space and instead of paying 75 cents for a 1.44 MB floppy we pay 25 cents for a 4.3GB DVDR, but there are some things that haven't changed in over 30 years and where great progress has been made, we are approaching the point where we are limited by the laws of physics.

8.4GB harddrive

#1 Hard drive access times are measured in milliseconds
Back in the mid 80s, a typical hard drive might have had a capacity of 20MB with an access time of 68 milliseconds. Now a typical hard drive is 500GB, a 25,000 time increase in capacity. If the increase in speed had kept up with the increase in capacity, today's hard drives would have a an access time of 2.72 micro seconds. Instead we are looking at access times in the 5-7 milisecond range. So while capacity has increased 25,000 times there has been only about a 10 times increase in speed.

This surprises some people who have long assumed that we are already in the microsecond range, but we aren't and it is doubtful that hard drives as we know them will ever have access times in the microscond range. Why? It comes down to the basics of how hard drives work.

Data on a hard drive is written on a "platter", a round disk, that spins at 7200 RPM, that's 7200 times a minute or 120 times a second. If the data you want to read is right underneath the head then your access time would be zero. If you just passed the data you need, you'll have to wait 1/120 of a second (8.3ms) for the disk to come back around. So your minimum access time is 0 and the maximum is 8.3ms, that means the average access time would be 4.17ms.

Of course, this doesn't consider the time it takes for the head to move or latency built into the circuitry, so it isn't likely that any 7200RPM hard drive will ever atually achieve an average access time of 4.17 ms, but that is the best average access time possible on a 7200RPM hard drive. to achieve an average access time of 2.27 microseconds and thus obtain an increase in speed comensurate with the increase in capacity the platter would have to spin at 183,824 times a second or 11,029,412RPM!

It is pretty obvious, then, that access times in the low microsecond range would require a completely different technology, such as nonvolatile memory, which brings us to our next topic.

Memory module  SDRAM

#2 The access time of system memory is measured in nanoseconds
In the 1980s a typical CP/M machine (remember those?) might have had 32K of RAM and that RAM would have an access time of 500ns. Today a typical desktop might have 4 gigabytes of RAM, with an access time of 1.9ns. That's about 3 million times as fast as a hard drive, and about 264 times as fast as the 1980s RAM, but it pales in comparison to the 131,072 times increase in capacity!

If speed had increased comensurate with the increase of capacity, the main system RAM in your computer would have an access time of 0.0038 nano seconds, or 3.8 picoseconds. Just how long is a picosecond?

Light travels about 186,00 miles a second or about 300,000KM, that's 300 million meters, so in 1 microsecond light travels 300 meters. In one nanosecond light travels .3 meters or just under 1 foot. In a picosecond light travels .003 meters or .3mm, thats 300 microns or about 1/85 of an inch. So in 3.8 picoseconds light would travel about 1/22 of an inch!

Since electricity cannot travel faster than light, the path travelled by electricity while the processor makes 1 memory access would have to be no more than 1/22 of an inch, which gives new meaning to the term "short circuit"! That would be difficult even for RAM built into the microprocessor itself, and obviously impossible for RAM outside the processor!

But What *is* possible? Well, at 1.9 ns light travels 57 cm or about 22.5 inches if the trip electricity takes during access of the RAM could be reduced to 4 inches, then it might be possible to reduce access time to as little as .34ns or 340 ps. Note that this doesn't take the switching latency of the RAM into account, only the speed of electricity itself.

What this all boils down to is that in theory main system RAM could be as much as 5.6 times as fast as it is now, but no faster!

video card

#3 Display 16.8 million colors simultaneously! (not!!!!)
Back when video cards with 24 bit color first came out, their makers claimed they could display 16.8 million colors simultaneously, note that they said "display simultaneously, not "available simultaneously"! They even compared them to cards that really could display 4, 16, 256 or 32,768 colors simultaneously, leaving no doubt as to what they meant. This is blatantly false advertising and is almost as bad as the lightbulbs which falsely claim to put out 100 watts of light while using only 87 watts.

How so? The video card in question came equipped with only 1 megabyte of vido RAM. That means that, since 3 bytes are needed for each pixel, the highest mode supporting 24 bit color was 640x480, which has only 307,200 pixels. Since each pixel can be only 1 color at a time, that video card was limited to displaying no more than 307,200 colors at a time. That was actually quite impressive for its day, but it is a far cry from 16.8 million!

Even if it had been expanded to 4 megabytes, like my first 24 bit video card, the 24 bit color mode would still max out out 1280x1024 and it would be limited to 1.3 million colors, still far short of what was advertised!

To actually display 16.8 million colors simultaenously, it would need at least 48 megabytes of RAM and a mode with at least 16.8 million pixels. While we do now have video cards with 48 megabytes of RAM, you would still need a resolution containing 16.8 million pixels. If it is a 4:3 aspect ratio, that would be 5462x3072, not inconceivable, but do you know anyone whose video card and monitor can do that?

(to maintain a refresh rate of 75Hz the horizontal frequency would have to be at least 241.3 Khz!)

I don't forsee any limitation to how dense the pixels on monitors can become, but it is interesting to note that video card and monitor makers still haven't delivered on what they advertised last century!

540 Mb harddisk

back of hard drive

memory module

Back of Video Card

November 11, 2008
The cube root of negative 27 equals ...
One day when I was taking an electronics class at American River College the teacher introduced the idea of logarithms and stated that this is how calculators do powers. I then piped in that that's why a calculator cannot do the cube root of negative 27... "

Before I could finish my thought the teacher interrupted and said "that's undefined!" When I objected that it wasn't he said "it was yesterday!" at which the whole class erupted into laughter. He then said "Besides, show me the cube root key on your calculator... "

Of course, the teacher and most of my classmates were wrong, and the teacher was wrong about two things!

If you think about it, -3*-3=9 and 9*-3=-27 therefor -3 cubed = -27 So the cube root of -27 is -3! Since any negative number sqaured is positive you can't have a square root of a negative number, and the same would go for any even root of a negative number. However, since a positive times a negative is negative, you can take the cube root or any other odd root of a negative number.

The other issue here is that the TI30, the scientific calculator then used by 75% of his students, can do any root through INV Yx, thus to take the cube root of 27 you would type "27 INV yx 3 =" and you would get the answer "3". If you typed "-27 INV yx 3 =" you would get an error even though the answer is "-3" because it tries to take the logarithm of -27. Try this on your windows scientific calculator (view scientific) and see what it says!

You'd think that several of my 48 classmates would have realized this but many of them mocked me and not one came to my defense.

That wasn't the last time that I was right while that teacher and the entire class were wrong, but that's a story for another day.

standard windows calculator scientific configuration

walnut half bottom

November 10, 2008
8oz 1 cup
This may seem obvious to those familiar with weights and measures, but making such a statement has drawn looks that questioned my sanity!

The problem arises when people say "fluid ounce" and leave off "fluid"

Once my sister started dumping chopped walnuts from an 8 ounce bag into a measuring cup and found that she had almost half left. She said it should be enough since the recipe called for a cup.

I looked at the recipe and pointed out that it actually said "8 ounces", she then said that it was the same thing. I asked her why she thought walnuts weighed the same as water and she looked at me like I was nuts!

Of course, a "fluid ounce" is the volume of water that weighs 1 ounce. "Fluid ounce" is a meausrement of volume equivalent to 1/8 (.125) of a cup. So if you're speaking of actual (net) weight, the rule of "8oz = 1 cup" works only with things that have the same density as water.

You wouldn't expect a cup of marshmallows to weigh the same as a cup of BBs, and you shouldn't expect either to weigh 8 ounces! If you needed 8 ounces of marshmallows and you got one cup, you wouldn't have nearly enough. On the other hand, if you needed 8 ounces of BBs and you got a cup, you'd have way too much!

Walnut half top (not the same one)

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Dinosaur bone fragment

November 2, 2008
3D Fossil Gallery
I finished adding the rest of the recently scanned fossils, including Blastoid, Brachiopod, Crinoid, Dinosaur Bone Fragment, Gastropod, Horn Coral, Orthoceras, and, of course, Shark tooth. The 3D fossil gallery, which was so scanty for so long is now fairly well fleshed out.

On a related note, I have prepared an rar file which has all my JPS (JPeg Stereo) files from this website as of Nov 2, 2008.

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large split ammonite

Measurements of split ammonite

September 30, 2008
3D Fossil Gallery
I did some more scanning and I have new 3d pictures of 11 more fossils. I've already added three of these to the the stereoscopic fossil gallery. I will be adding the others in the next week or so. The new fossiles incude a trilobite in nodule (both halves), a small whole ammonite and a larger split ammonite.


Trilobite in nodule

July 20, 2008
Telnet list
I cleaned up the BBS list by noting several apparently dead BBSs and also added Data Stream.

Jan 6, 2008
Predictions for 2008
No, I'm not prentending to to be Psychic! What I am doing is engaging in "intelligent speculation" based on experience of the past and knowlege of current trends. The first is the boldest, the others are much "safer bets".

#1 Blu-ray writers will be selling for under $300 and Blu-ray discs for under $3
The first part of this predicton seems more likely than the second, but stranger things have happened. It may be that Blu-ray will soon be economically comparable to other storage media in terms of cost per Gigabyte. For reference, at $12 a Blu-ray disc costs 48¢/GB while a 500GB hard drive sells for 21¢/GB and DVDR for 6.4¢/GB. If the price for Blu-ray drops to $3, it will cost 12¢/GB it would have to sell for $1.60 to be as economical as DVDR or $5.25 to comparable to a hard drive. Whether Blu-ray becomes a dominant storage medium or remains a niche product used mainly by video enthusiasts depends on more than just cost per gigabtye, but it will definitely play a role.

#2 750GB hard drives will dominate
Though there are other considerations, cost per gigabyte has always been the biggest factor in determining which size and type of HD dominates the consumer market. For example, a typical SCSI HD today runs at 15000RPM vs 7200RPM for IDE (PATA or SATA). That means the best possible average access time for a typical HD would be 2ms for SCSI and 4.17ms for IDE. The faster SCSI interface can take better advantage of a faster drive but cannot compensate for a slow drive. The SCSI interface is also more versatile and offers greater control, whereas IDE is simpler and easier to use. Versatility may make up for complexity, but cost is always the bottom line for most users! At $560 a 300GB SCSI HD costs $1.87/GB and at $180 a 73GB SCSI HD costs $2.47/GB. Compare this to 21.3¢/GB for a 750GB IDE HD selling at $160 and it is easy why IDE is chosen by most computer users. It is no wonder that SCSI has been and will likely remain a niche product, used only in limited applicatons where the need for speed trumps economical storage.

Getting back to the subject at hand, a 750GB HD currently sells at 21.3¢/GB whereas a 500GB HD sells for 21¢/GB. The larger storage per drive of the 750 makes up for the slightly lower cost per GB of the 500. The 1 "Terabyte" drives sell for $280, which is 28¢/GB. It is likely that by the end of the year the 750 will drop to 14.7¢/GB compared to 16¢/GB for the 500 and 20¢/GB for the 1TB models.

#3 Hillary Clinton will lose
It is possible that she will get the nomination and lose in November, but it is far more likely she will not get the nomination. Though many may believe that we are ready for a woman in the whitehouse, a broader perspective will prevail and the voters will say "not this woman!"

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Banana Twinkies!

October 8, 2007
Banana Twinkies®
I can't believe it's been this long since I updated my blog! I'm kind of messing up the chronology here because I should be talking about my long awaited motherboard upgrade, but that's a long story and will have to wait.

About 20 years ago I heard that when Twinkies® first came out they were made with bananas to overcome the seasonal nature of strawberries and thus the seasonal nature of shortcake sales. I've always thought that sounded good and wondered what they were like. Beginning about 17 years ago I heard rumors occasionally that "banana cream" Twinkies® were being sold somewhere but I never saw any. Then a few months ago I read somewhere that the previous appearances were promotional and that they would soon be coming back, this time for good. "Great!", I thought, but still saw none in the store.

Then one day when looking for some fruit pies I decided to check the Twinkies® and viola! Banana Twinkies®! They only had one 2 pack, but I bought it and when I brought it home I eagerly tore into it. It wasn't quite what I had expected, I thought the filling would be a pale yellow color and that the banana flavor would be stronger. The cake itself seemed a little drier than regular Twinkies®. This package looked like it had been on the shelf for while so I thought it might be slightly stale.

A couple of weeks later I found a bunch of whole boxes at a local supermarket. I thought these were a little fresher but they still seemed slightly drier than the regular Twinkies®. Following a suggestion I read on another webpage I put them in the freezer. That was wonderful!

Overall, though I was somewhat disappointed, I do like the banana Twinkies® better than the regular ones, but I was never that big of a Twinkie® fan anyway! I am wondering about something though. Though they contain (2% or less) banana puree, they are artificially flavored. This is necessary because even in greater amounts banana puree doesn't have that strong of a flavor. Try making a banana shake with real bananas and you'll discover what I mean. I can't help but wonder how today's version compares to the original Twinkies® made before World War II, which made bananas scarce. If this is what they were like then I'm not surprised they stayed with just plain vanilla filling after the war ended. I don't plan to make Twinkies® of any variety a regular part of my diet, but that's probably a good thing! :)

I know many of you probably think it is pretty pathetic to spend so much time and blog space on such a trivial matter. To you all I can say is "how many blogs have you read?" Seriously, much ado has been made on blogs about topics more trivial than this. Besides, I thought it would be a welcome change of pace from my next topic!

Telnet list
My telnet list was really beginning to fill out and it was clear that it needed to be expanded to accomodate more entries. The new format was designed to be optimized for 1024x768 so that the most entries can be included without scrolling. If this proves to be inadequate then I will optimize it for 1280x1024 (which is what I use) and those with lower resolutions will have to put up with the scrolling.

It was also obvious that even with the current number of entries, the arbritary order of the BBSs was starting to become a problem, so I put the list in alphabetical order, leaving gaps in the sequence to accomadate future entries.

In addition to the format change, I added seventeen new BBSs to the L.O.R.D. Telnet list:   Archaic Binary  Ariana Interface  AT2K Design BBS   Bandit BBS  BBSMates  Beck's BBS  Broken Bubble  Capricorns  Darkness  Eric's BBS  Forgotten Realms  Gargo's BBS  Glorb BBS  Killed In Action  Land of mysticism  Maniac Mansion  Moon Base Alpha                         

Ingrediants and nutrional information   [yeah right!]

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July 7, 2007
Telnet list
I added eight new BBSs to the L.O.R.D. Telnet list:   Warped Mind  Vortex 2  Vortex  VTDL  Synchronet home  Underground  Tuneman  and Tribute BBS .

July 4, 2007
Telnet list
I added three new BBSs to the Telnet list: WWCBBS, Wastelands and Warrior BBS .

Windows 2000

The page flipping video card

July 1, 2007
Windows 2000
I finally got around to installing Windows 2000 in my "other" computer. The desire to use the Page Flipping video card in that computer is what prompted me to consider upgrading to XP in the first place. Over the last year or so this gradually evolved to upgrading the main computer to XP and upgrading the other computer to W2K. The other issue was that 1394 xfers from one of my camcorders wasn't working with the main comptuer and XP is supposed to have its own built in driver. I bought a 1394 adaptor for the other computer just in case I still had a problem with the main computer. Testing that theory will be my next project.

The installation of W2K was pretty smooth despite the warnings it generated about drivers for the IDE port, the ethernet card (NIC) and the ATI video card. The computer had no trouble connecting to the internet and the network using the NIC, and there have been no problems accessing the hard drives either. There were, however, two nasty surprises when I opened up the case!

The first surprise involved fans. The main case exhaust fan had failed and the slot fan put in a while back had also failed. I was further alarmed to discover that there was no CPU heatsink fan, so the only working fan was in the Power Supply! This computer has an odd design where the processor is on a daughter card positioned directly below the PS so that the PS fan blows over the very large, very spiky heatsink. This air, heated by the PS and then heated further by the CPU is then exhausted out the back of the case by the case fan.

Unfortunately, I didn't have another 80mm fan to replace it with, but I did have 2 slot fans, so I replaced the defective slot fan with a new one and after putting the new video card in I discovered that I could, just barely, squeeze in a second slot fan above it. This way the second slot fan draws air from directly under the CPU heatsink, thus aiding the airflow accross it, and then exhausts the air out the back of the case. This will have to do until I get another 80mm fan to replace the defective one. I might also get one of those 5.25 inch hard drive coolers for the hard drive that is mounted in a 5.25 inch bay, thus cooling it and aiding the inflow of air.

The second nasty surprise was that the Power Supply is only 200 watts! I never would have put 3 Hard Drives in that comptuer if I had known it had only a 200W PS! I don't plan to remove any of the hard drives, but I won't add another one either. I will probably get a barebone system to replace this one in the next few months.

Stereoscopic (3D) functions
I wasn't surprised that the existing 98SE drivers for the ATI card didn't work with W2K, but since I planned to change the video card that didn't matter. The new video card worked right off the bat and the driver installed without a hitch. Soon I was back to my preferred mode (for that computer) of 1024x768 @100 Hz (with stereo "3D" viewing 120hz would be better but this older 21" monitor won't support it). Having done the basic checkup, I began working on the stereo function, which was the reason I bought the card in the first place!

I then tried my favorite JPS viewing program with the IR transmitter from my old LCD glasses adaptor plugged into the stereo port. Didn't work. Tried page flipping, no apparent signal. I checked the CD to see if there was some utility I hadn't installed, there wasn't. Then I checked deeper into the configuration and found an advanced submenu with a GL submenu. In that menu I found numerous "configurations" including GL Default and GL Default (without page flipping), when it was left on GL default (factory setting) there was an unchecked box that said "enable stereo viewing". I checked this box and reset the computer.

I went back into my JPS viewing program and went into "page flip setup" and tried NVIDIA (I have no idea why!), and some odd things happened. Then I tried the "open GL" and viola! It worked!

This works much better than the old system! For those not familiar with the universally compatible "interlaced" line blanking system used with LCD glasses, it basically works like this: The graphic program sets up the image so that the right image is on the odd numbered lines and then left image is on the even numbered lines. The complete frame is fed to the adaptor and then the odd and even lines are alternately "blanked out" before it is fed to the monitor. Hence "line blanking" [it can also be the other way around, depending on the orientation of the original material so a switch or keystroke is used to reverse right and left] This system works with almost any video card and CRT type monitor. The problem is that the vertical resolution is effectively cut in half, with each eye seeing a full screen image with every other line replaced with a blank line. While one eye sees this half resolution screen the other eye sees a blank screen and then they switch, so the refresh rate is cut in half as well. To avoid seeing a "liney" picture you have to set back several feet from the monitor.

The bigger the monitor, the further you have to get back so that you can't see the lines, thus partially defeating the purpose of having a big monitor in the first place! You can minimize the effect by increasing the resolution, and thus having finer lines but then you run up against the limitations of the monitor and then you have to use a lower refresh rate which causes annoying flicker.

Page flipping, on the other hand, shows a complete image to each eye, alternating between a full left and a full right image so that, while the refresh rate is still cut in half, the full vertical resolution is displayed. There are no annoying lines in the picture no matter how close you get to the monitor! If you get too close you'll see the dots that make up the image, just as you do when looking at non stereoscopic material.

The problem with page flipping is that it requires a quad buffered card and a utility that enables it. Most of the quad buffered cards have the facilities built in and often have a stereo connector for the IR transmitter and/or a jack for wired glasses. The newer cards usually cost several hundred dollars and require a multi Ghz processor, so only the most serious stereophiles are likely to buy them. I was fortunate to find an older card that was New Old Stock that could be purchased on EBAY for less than $100. Such items seem to show up on EBAY on a fairly regular basis both new and used.

Windows 2000 disk

New Stereo enabled, page flipping video card
What is sent from the video card with line blanking
What the card sends with line blanking

What the left eye sees with line blanking
What the left eye sees with line blanking

What the right eye sees with line blanking
What the right eye sees with line blanking

What the left eye sees with page flipping
What the left eye sees with page flipping

What the right eye sees with page flipping
What the right eye sees with page flipping

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