A Peek Into the Near Future of Electronics TechnologyWritten by Terry Mitchell
How long do you think DVDs have around? 20 years? 10 years? Actually, they have only been around for about seven years, but it seems like they have been around much longer. Many of us can hardly remember life before DVDs. That can be attributed to how rapidly we can become acclimated to some innovations in electronics technology. I believe there are other electronics technologies, either just getting ready to take off, not widely available yet, or just around corner, that are going to become adopted just as quickly in near future. Once such item is Voice over Internet Protocol, also known as VoIP. This innovation renders whole concept of long distance virtually obsolete. It bypasses traditional telephone company infrastructure and delivers phone service over a broadband internet connection to a regular phone. Similar to cell phones, this service is purchased based on a fixed and/or unlimited number of minutes. However, geographical divisions are generally made by country or continent, rather than by local calling areas or area codes. For example, a typical VoIP contract in U.S. would stipulate unlimited calling to North America and 300 monthly minutes for calls to everywhere else. Unlike cell phone service, you are not charged for incoming calls. With VoIP service, area codes are not much of an issue, although you still must have one. However, some providers offer plans in which you can select any area code in your country or continent! The area code you choose mainly comes into play for those with traditional phone service who make calls to you. If you pick a California area code, for example, someone calling you from a traditional phone line would be billed as if they called California, even if they lived next door to you in New York. One of major advantages of VoIP is that it is less expensive than traditional phone service. Since it bypasses most of phone companies' infrastructure, it also bypasses many of taxes associated with it. So far, Congress has maintained a hands-off approach when it comes to taxing VoIP services. Most of major phone companies are either now offering VoIP or plan to start by mid-2005. However, there are some smaller companies that are offering it at a much lower cost. Vonage (www.vonage.com) is a small company that was one of pioneers of VoIP. Lingo (www.lingo.com) and Packet8 (www.packet8.com) are two other small companies offering VoIP at a cut-rate price. Another such technology is Broadband over Power Line, or BPL. Already in wide use in many other countries and currently being tested in U.S., BPL is delivery of broadband internet service over traditional power lines. A computer is connected to a special modem which is simply plugged into an electrical outlet. This kind of service could prove useful for those who cannot get traditional broadband services like cable modem or Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), as almost everyone has access to electricity now. Once refined, BPL could eventually prove to be cheaper and faster than these more established services and attract away some of their customers. By way, be careful when you’re discussing BPL and make sure people don’t think you’re saying, "VPL." Otherwise, you might encounter quite a bit of snickering! While we're on subject of broadband internet services, several technologies just around corner are going to make them much faster than they are today. The typical download speeds for broadband ranges from 1.5 to 10 megabits per second (mbps) today. Within next year, speeds of 15-20 mbps will be available to average consumer. Then, shortly thereafter, speeds of up to 25, 50, 75, and even 100 mbps will be available in some places. In not-so-distant future, speeds of 25-100 mbps is will be quite common. "Fast TCP", which is currently being tested, has potential to turbo-charge all forms of currently available broadband internet connections without requiring any infrastructure upgrades. It will better utilize way in which data is broken down and put back together within traditional internet protocols. All major phone companies are currently in process of replacing their copper wires with high capacity fiber optic lines. One example is Verizon's Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) initiative. Fiber optic lines will greatly increase amount of bandwidth that can be delivered. Fiber optics will allow phone companies to deliver video, either via a cable TV-type platform or a TV over Internet Protocol (TVIP) platform (see my October 7 column), and faster DSL speeds. At same time, phone companies are working with Texas Instruments to develop a new, more technically efficient form of DSL, called Uni-DSL. Eventually, current internet as we know it will be scrapped and completely replaced with a whole new internet called "Internet 2." This new internet is expected to provide speeds of up to 6000 times faster than current broadband connections! Another technology item that you've probably heard a lot about recently is digital television. Digital TV uses a different wavelength than traditional analog TV and has a much wider bandwidth. It also has a picture that never gets "snowy" or "fuzzy." If signal is not strong enough, you get no picture at all, rather than fuzzy picture you sometimes get with analog. In order to receive digital signals over airwaves, you must have a digital TV set (one with a digital tuner inside) or an analog TV with a set-top converter. Cable and satellite TV also use digital formats, but unlike broadcaster signals, their non-High Definition digital signals are automatically converted to a format an analog TV can process, so a digital TV or converter is not needed. High Definition Television formats, even on cable to satellite, require a digital TV or a converter (more on High Definition later). All broadcasters are now doing some broadcasts on their digital channels in addition to their normal broadcasts on their analog channels, but they were originally supposed to completely convert over from analog signals to digital signals by end of 2006. However, there is an exception that allows them to wait until 85% of television sets in their market are digital. This could take 10 years or more to happen. Congress and FCC are now looking at imposing a hard deadline on all broadcasters to convert to digital signals by 2009. Once they all convert to digital signals, their analog channels will taken back by FCC and used for other purposes like emergency signals. High Definition Television (HDTV) is one possible use of digital signals. HDTV uses entire digital bandwidth and is crystal clear format you've probably seen on TVs in electronics stores. It has no visible lines on screen. Someone once described it as being like "watching a movie in theater." Keep in mind that all HDTV is digital, but not all digital is HDTV. Along those same lines, not all digital TVs are HDTVs. Since digital TVs are very expensive and those with HDTV capability are even more expensive, consumers really need to keep this in mind.
Burning Smells - Indication of TroubleWritten by Thomas Yoon
What's that Burning Smell?
If you are running machinery, you will be asked this sooner or later. Machines produce heat. And heat produces burning smells. It's as simple as that! I am sure many of us can sense that something is not right when we smell burning. After all burning means overheating. Machines are not meant to overheat. But sometimes they do.
How to tackle this?
Is it from electrical source, or mechanical source? Is there an overload in electrical circuits? Is there a loose electrical connection somewhere? How about mechanical? Are moving parts lubricated well? Does lubrication oil take heat away?