Office gear

Buy a slide rule…. really. we’re not crazy


One like this went to the moon. That’s how useful they are.

Slide rules were IT for decades. No engineer could be without one.

Okay, this may sound odd to some, but in case you didn’t know, without the slide rule calculating device the engineers would not have been able to make the atom bomb, or go into space.  And guess what, if our power grid ever comes under stress from solar storms or just plain overuse, one of these could come in REALLY handy for engineers.  No batteries required.  These things last a really long time, too, because they were carefully crafted, precision made.    Many were made from bamboo, then later aluminum or other metal.   Some were over a foot long.

Slide rules come in a wide variety, from short and simple to big and complicated.   Some are geared toward trigonometry, with an easy way to read sine/cosine   tan/cotangent, logarithms.    There are scales for square root and square, cube and cube root, division/multiplication.  When you see the result on a slide rule, you can slide the viewer up and down the scale and immediately see proportions and ratios.

So, look around on ebay and pick up a classic by Pickett, Koeffell, Faber, Hemmi, or others.   Keep it around, in a drawer or on display.   Power out  and your iPhone calculator on the fritz ?   no problem.    The really good ones hold their value well as a small investment.. condition, condition, condition is the rule.  The more scales, and the older, the more valuable.



And, don’t ignore the extremely useful circular slide rules, calculators.   They come in a large variety, usually plastic or thin metal, with several concentric rings of scales and a sliding pointer.    For example, see Concise Circular rules.  still being made.  For many professionals in engineering, drafting, electronics, or even business math, these devices are still extremely useful, partly because of their speed.  no need to punch buttons.

Ode to Slide Rules

SLIDE RULES.. are very cool. Okay, so we have computers and iPhones.. BUT, we all must pay some honor to the fine precision devices that allowed engineers to invent the a-bomb, early electronic gadgets, and so much more that we totally depend on today.   So, if you get the urge to insult them, or laugh at them, hold it in.     They are built extremely well so they last a very long time. plus, if the power ever goes out… … and it does… you can grab a slide rule. OR a solar powered calculator, to crunch the numbers.    Oh, well, I still like slide rules.  they’re cool I have a few, maybe more than a few.     They’re like tube radios…  yeah, they’re old, but way cool.    retro.

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 But REALLY, there are some really good reasons to own a slide rule !

        Easy to use, and FAST.   Slide rules may look complicated at first glance, but they are quite easy to use.   Once you learn a few basic principles, you apply them to all the various scales on the rule.   Slide rules have been made customized to various industries, or types of calculations done, such as pipe flow, electronics, etc, to enable fast calculations.

           SO, why a slide rule, when one can use a modern scientific calculator ?    Well, for one thing, it’s very interesting to learn about how we all got our fantastic electronics gadgets.   There are people living today who remember having almost no access to a calculator.   At that time cash registers and adding machines had hundreds of moving parts, very heavy, and were used only in industry and government.    Indeed, some types of calculators were kept hidden.  It was a military or business secret advantage.    Back then you had to learn your numbers in school and know how to do mental calculations, and paper and pencil, to do math.   Once slide rules were invented, it enabled a tremendous boost in math productivity over many decades, because more people could make precise calculations.  That’s extremely important in engineering and business.  A slide rule was like Lotus 1,2,3, the first spreadsheets, in the effect it had.    So, slide rules enabled us to have all the modern gizmos that need tons of math.   They enabled engineers to design electronic circuits much faster, leading to our modern computers.

        To most people, using a slide rule seems weird.    It’s just a different way of looking at calculating.    Remember, the abacus was used for a very long time, because it worked, plain and simple.   Slide rules are like that.    A simple system, used repetitively.   Once you learn it, it’s easy.   A lot of people need to use basic math during daily activities.   Perhaps you need to calculate square feet, or know how many inches in 50 centimeters.   Or maybe calculate gas mileage.   Beyond that, many professionals need to determine rations quickly, such as artists, engineers, draftsman, and so on.   For specific tasks, a slide rule is very effective and fast.   Plus, they are cool.  Never need batteries.

       Advantages of a slide rule.    All math is just a combination of four basic relationships.   add / multiply   and subtract / divide    Multiplying is just a lot of adding at once,     and  dividing is a bunch of subtracting.     When calculating moving systems, like speed, motion, direction and for 3 dimensions such as volume, one often needs to determine roots…squares, cubes.  This can be done easily on a slide rule.    

        Using the ‘slip-stick’ to great advantage.  The slide in a slide rule can position numbers in relation to another number, and you get the result on the vertical line.    One advantage of this system is in determining factors and ratios, since you can slide the vertical indicator back and forth and look for common factors and ratios.     With an electronic calculator, you may have to reenter a bunch of numbers, trying to get close to the result you are looking for.   On a slide rule you can move the slide back and forth to come to a quick conclusion, such as for estimating square feet, or cubic meters, etc.

Aladdin Renaissance Technology

“Don’t have a revolution, have a renaissance.”  paul smyres  

stuff happens, be ready
tools for recreation and renewal


 New Age Aircraft

Getting the most from Ebay


find great stuff on eBay

Shopping on Ebay can save you a LOT of money,

and it can also help many individuals and small businesses survive

Let’s face it, the economy is not getting much better anytime soon.   You need to shop carefully and save money whenever possible.    If you know what you are looking for and can be patient, you will maximize your savings.

How to take great product photos

A lot of people don’t  take advantage of eBay.  Some people worry they will get burned.  Well, folks, if that’s you, start rethinking.    You could save thousands of dollars annually if you get smart with Ebay, and the stuff will come right to your door.

Here are some tips.

Start with a good search.   use filters, like price, condition, even location.   Know the products you like and try searching for them on Ebay.   Narrow it down.

Look for good photos.   If you can clearly see what you are buying you can bid confidently.  On the other hand, if you know exactly what you are looking for, you may find a listing with a terrible photo that isn’t getting any bids.  That’s when you can really get a good deal.

Be careful of shipping costs.   Make sure to check it in the listing.   It’s okay to buy from international sellers, just know what it’s going to cost you.

Think before you bid.   If you really want an item, and it’s unique, rare, vintage, collectible, etc.. go all out and put in your top price.  don’t be shy.  On the other hand, if there are many of the item on Ebay, go for the lowest price.  Shop at odd hours… for example when most people are asleep, or on a holiday.   You’ll be surprised what you can get.

see also our article about Ebay on

Ebay article

And use Ebay also to SELL stuff you don’t need.   Trade your unwanted stuff for quick cash, and use that to buy what you need.   Make sure you have good photos and description.   Research prices on Ebay by using the “completed listings” feature.   That way you don’t waste your time and spend on listing fees.

stuff happens, be ready


Bloggie Touch and Flip Video

It’s so nice to have a small, easy to use video camera with you whenever….. great for travel especially.

These two little cameras fit the bill. Sony Bloggie Touch and the Pure Digital Flip Video

The Sony Bloggie touch is lighter and smaller, and can take snapshots.  It’s easier to use with the wider screen, and do horizontal shots.   However, don’t let the battery go down to zero or you’ll lose the photos and videos.  It holds over 2 hours of video.

The Flip Video is more durable, and won’t lose the photos when battery gets low.   It holds 2 hours of video, 16 GB version.   Video quality is excellent.


Best Stuff for pilots, 1 of a series, video


Best Pilot Guide

     Pilot resource site

Hi Everyone,

Pilots need really good stuff that works like it should.    I’m reviewing a bunch of products at one time and putting them into 10 minute videos.


“Aladdin Survival Kits” ( tm )

WATCH A VIDEO… light knife fire

Ingenious selection of tools, supplies, and resources in ready-to-go packs. Basic, medium, and large. Watch the videos….

You’ll be amazed at what you can do with the stuff packed into our bags. See our YouTube section

Light, knife, fire   the basics for survival, video

Be Prepared

Otterbox Defender case for iPad… excellent

If you haven’t heard of Otterbox you need to check them out.

Their cases withstand hard use, travel, and occasional abuse.

The Defender series is their best case, and frankly, it’s indispensable.    It does add weight, but if you use your iPad the way most people do, you want to take it wherever, and be able to use it without worrying too much.

It’s a good idea to have more than one case for your iPad and iPhone, and other devices.

iPad – YES ! but get great apps

The value of an iPad is beyond description.

Skip the hemming and hawing, just go get one.  You won’t regret it.  BUT, to make it truly indispensable get the APPS that are perfect for you.  No matter who you are or what you do, there is a perfect APP for you.

Go to the APP store, and look around.  The iPad has so much utility, time saving, and entertaining merits, no review can do it justice.

Panasonic SDR-H200 vid cam

There are a lot of great video cameras out there, but this is the one I use, and I like it.

I had a number of criteria to meet, including a built in hard drive, and an external memory storage as well.   I wanted the “flip screen”, and small size for portability.    This camera is very easy to use.   You can take still shots, or switch to video easily.   This allows me to take it with me almost anywhere and do a lot of stuff.  I can make advertising videos for customers and my own business, and I can take photos of products.

Some have found difficulty using the videos in various video editing programs, especially iMovie on the Mac.  I get around that easily by downloading a file conversion program that quickly converts the files to MPEG-4 ones that are readable by Quicktime, Real Player, Windows Media player,  iMovie, and other popular programs.

Penagain Ergosleek pen – say what?

Okay, so it looks weird, like a little jet. So what. It’s really comfortable and writes well. Some people have arthritis in their hands, or they just want more comfort. I love these pens. They come with 2 extra refills, and you can get more. They also make a smaller, plastic version that costs less. Both are good.

This pen is a real conversation piece. ErgoSleek used to make the larger metal ones in 5 colors, but now only silver / chrome. If you look around online, you can get blue, red, green, black, and purple. Black is really rare though. They look really sharp, and have a little stand. The plastic ones are available in multiple colors; red, black, grey, blue, and purple.

They make great gifts.