Things That Go Bump in Your Car

Surely you have experienced it. Surely you have found it irritating. But likely you haven’t figured out what “IT” is.

“IT” is that strange thumping noise that sounds like a tire with one part flat that thumps as you drive down the road.

The cause is simple. When you have a single window open in the car, especially a rear window, an aerodynamic phenomena causes the sound. Open a second window and it stops.

Call it wind throb. The phenomenon that produces this noise is the Helmholtz Resonance, the same principle that makes a bottle hum when you blow over its open top. It’s the interaction of the gas in a container with a single opening and the other gases that are passing over the opening. In this case, the container is the car. The interaction between the two masses of air produces vortexes that compress and decompress the air, producing the throbbing effect.

German physician and physicist Hermann von Helmholtz, who died in 1894, described the interaction.

aerodynamicsHow loud and intrusive the sound is depends on your car’s shape, the size of its windows and the speed of the vehicle. Modern cars and trucks are more subject to wind throb because they’re so aerodynamically efficient and well sealed against wind intrusion. Jim Zunich, GM’s global vehicle performance chief engineer for wind noise, explains: “We want nice, smooth attached air for aerodynamics, but that’s worse for buffeting.”

The size and shape of the side mirror on your car affects air movement around your car and makes the bumping sound much worse when just a rear window is down. That’s because the side mirrors are placed and shaped to minimize buffeting at the front windows.

Before aerodynamic design became the norm, the mass of air swirling around your vehicle only allowed the Helmholtz Resonance occasionally. And even then the windows and doors of older cars were not airtight, so the air leakage around them relieved any pressure differences. But modern cars are well-sealed with only minimal air pressure leaks.

Partake in the Magic!

FamilyHearthIt’s that magical time of year, from the Thanksgiving feast to the New Year’s toast at the stroke of midnight to welcome in the New Year.

It’s a time for family and friends. It’s a time to cherish every morsel, every moment, every memory.

Wishing you and yours the most magical season ever.


No, Your Sight Isn’t Failing

Having trouble reading things on the web? Wonder if it’s your eyesight? It’s not. The tech world is failing you.

The internet is becoming unreadable because of a trend towards lighter, thinner fonts – fonts that don’t meet the basic standards of readability for a good share of the populace.

readabilityThe Telegraph of London reports that a web expert has found these lighter, thinner fonts are making it difficult for the elderly or visually-impaired to see words clearly. Where text used to be bold and dark, which contrasted well with predominantly white backgrounds, now many websites are switching to light greys or blues for their type.

Award winning blogger Kevin Marks, founder of Microformats and former vice president of web services at BT, decided to look into the trend after becoming concerned that his eyesight was failing because he was increasingly struggling to read on screen text. He found a ‘widespread movement’ to reduce the contrast between the words and the background, with tech giants Apple, Google and Twitter all altering their typography.

True black on white text has a contrast ratio of 21:1 – the maximum which can be achieved. Most technology companies agree that it is good practice for type to be a minimum of 7:1 so that the visually-impaired can still see text. Yet Marks found that even Apple’s own typography guidelines, which recommended 7:1 are written in a contrast ratio of 5.5:1. Google’s guidelines also suggest a 7:1 contrast ratio, but 54 per cent opacity of display, which brings the ratio down to 4.6:1.

Marks, who has been named one of the Telegraph’s 50 must influential Britons in technology, said the changes risk undermining the universal reach of the internet. “The typography choices of companies like Apple and Google set the default design of the web, and these two drivers of design are already dancing on the boundaries of legibility,” he warned on the technology site Backchannel. “If the web is relayed through text that’s difficult to read, it curtails the open access by excluding large swaths of people such as the elderly, the visually impaired or those retrieving websites through low quality screens.”

The changes in typography have come about because, as web design evolved, the numbers of fonts, colors and background began to diverge from the original set of ‘web safe’ fonts which were deemed legible online.
The rise in LCD technology and high definition screens has also allowed designers to use increasingly thinner fonts. While these fonts work on desktops, they can be virtually impossible to read on smartphones or tablets.

In recent years, reference guides have steered designers away from too much contrast, claiming that traditional black on white typography strains the eyes, and made it difficult for people with dyslexia.  Many computers are now set to grow dimmer during the evening to avoid too much blue light after dark, which can keep people awake.

But the US based Web Accessibility Initiative, which came up with the original ratio formula in 2008 to help web designers said too little contrast made web pages “confusing and frustrating”. “Choosing colors with poor contrast makes navigating, reading and interacting a real pain,” said a spokesman. Sufficient contrast between foreground and background colors is essential for people with low contrast sensitivity which becomes more common as we age.

Marks said reducing the contrast risked alienating some users. “To arbitrarily throw away contrast based on a fashion that looks good on my perfect screen in my perfectly lit office is abdicating designer’s responsibilities to the very people for whom they are designing,” he said. “My plea to designers and software engineers: Ignore the fads and go back to the typographic principles of print. “You’ll be making things better for people who read on smaller, dimmer screens, even if their eyes aren’t aging like mine. It may not be trendy, but it’s time to consider who is being left out by the web’s aesthetic.”

Success Is Not Age Related

A new study, rejecting decades of contrary thinking, finds that your age should never hinder you from being successful.

For decades, scientists who study achievement have found that people tend to achieve their most promising work earlier in life rather than later. But a new big-data analysis appearing in the journal Science finds that long-term success doesn’t hinge on age or on early stardom in your career field.

Instead, success hinges on a combination of personality, persistence, intelligence and some luck at any age, the researchers find. The research took into account all levels, from the student and young professional to mid-career striver and beyond.

“The bottom line is: Brother, never give up. When you give up, that’s when your creativity ends,” says Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, who conducted the analysis with a team of researchers.

Researchers at first just studied the career of physicists before broadening the study’s scope. Initially, the research team found that that physicists tended to produce their most notable work earlier rather than later in life, but it had nothing to do with their age. Instead, it was based on their productivity. Young scientists tried more experiments, which increased the likelihood they would find something that worked. As such, keeping your productivity equal at age 50 to a 25-year-old could score you just as much success, researchers found.

QThe study also found the “Q factor” to be of great significance. The “Q factor” remains constant over time, researchers noted. Q compares with skill and includes factors like I.Q., drive, motivation, openness to new ideas and the ability to work well with others, researchers said. Q may be more important than how much experience a person has in a profession. Experience does not significantly raise a person’s ability to make the most impact in a project, researchers said.

“It’s shocking to think about,” Barabasi told The New York Times. “We found that these three factors — Q, productivity and luck — are independent of each other.”

Mozart, Marie Curie and Einstein all were successful before age 30 and researchers found that many career scientists were more likely to produce “impact” papers earlier rather than later. However, that this had nothing to do with their age. Instead, the new research, finds a host of factors that have nothing to do with age or early stardom. They suggest a combination of personality, persistence, pure luck and intelligence, leads to high-impact success at any age.

Too Old for Blue Jeans?

A great pair of jeans never goes out of style. But according to a new study by British company CollectPlus, we need to find a new way to be stylish at age 53.

Admit it, there’s probably is a best-by date for crop tops and miniskirts. However, we reserve the right to figure that date out for ourselves. But jeans? C’mon, do we really grow out of wearing jeans?

JeansCollectPlus doesn’t rule out wearing jeans after 53 altogether. The thesis is that shopping for new pairs past this age isn’t worth the trouble. One in 10 half-centurions try on six pairs and spend five days looking just to find one pair that fits. The process is so traumatic that 6 percent reportedly burst into tears. So, if you can still fit into your old jeans, you’re good!

But the firm says forget about shopping for new ones. Since the options for clothing the lower halves of our bodies in adulthood seem to be rapidly dwindling, here are a few options that haven’t yet been outlawed by the peanut gallery:

Overalls – They’re not just for toddlers anymore!
Pantsuits – Always a great way to make a presidential statement.
Caftans – It is an inalienable right to enter old age in a fabulous caftan. Apparently, that starts at 54.
Astronaut suit – You’ll be ready for anything!
No pants – Technically that wouldn’t break any fashion rules.

All kidding aside, you should wear what you want and leave the fashion rules by the wayside.

These Are Among Our Favorite Maxims

Out of habit or custom, we tend to pepper our conversations with a wide variety of adages or maxims, making simple points with widely-known expressions. Sometimes the expressions bear no apparent relationship to the point we are making, but we know the meaning and the use of the adage makes the point.

Here are some of those we most commonly use:

A stitch in time saves nine – Repair something before the damage gets worse.

A pig in a poke – Literally buying a pig in a bag without looking in the bag. Meaning is buying an unknown.

All hands make light work – People working together can better solve a problem or perform a task.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – You need a life beyond your work.

All is fair in love and warAll’s fair in love and war – No rules apply. The saying usually is used in a light hearted way to describe some action that is a little unusual for the circumstances in which it took place.

All’s well that ends well – Things may not have gone as planned, but the end result worked out.

Big fish, little sea – If you are a clerk in a multi-national company with thousands of employees you are a little fish in a big sea. If you are the accountant for a small local company you are then a big fish in a little sea.

By hook or by crook – A hook was a bent rod with a sharp point used to assist the user to hold and move a bag or bundle. A crook was the long (two metre) walking stick with a hook on the end traditionally used by shepherds. By hook or by crook meant that by the use of these two tools the job would be completed.

Don’t change horses in midstream – Stick with what or who you know.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – Spread your risks. Don’t invest all of your money with one bank.

Don’t beat a dead horse – A project obviously will not succeed, so it is connsidered dead and not worth further work.

Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread – When considering an action be sure to consider all angles before making the final decision.

Good things come to those who wait – Don’t rush into anything, think it through and wait until the time is right before you act.

Great minds think alike – Thoughtful people tend to come up with similar answers.

He who hesitates is lost – If you are sure of something, go for it.

Lay low – Say little and hope others will forget the error of your ways.

Never look a gift horse in the mouth – Don’t accept,without question, something given to you.

Out of sight, out of mind – If someone leaves our immediate vicinity to live elsewhere they maybe forgotten.

Penney wise pound foolish – Refers to a person who worries about saving every small amount of money that they can, but may go and spend many pounds without thinking about the real cost.

Practice makes perfect – Applies in all training and learning.

Shake the hand before you plough the field – Arrange the payment conditions before doing the work.

There’s no use in flogging (beating)a dead horse.

Too many cooks spoil the broth – Stay out of the expert’s way.

Two heads are better than one – Two people can more easily find a solution to a problem than one person.

Variety is the spice of life – Life would be dull without a wide range of activities.