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Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Calculating the timezone offset from the Longitude

Here is an example of the kind of math I had to deal with today. Thought R & K might be amused. Or not. OK, so maybe my job is a little oddball.

Calculating the timezone offset from the Longitude that we get from the GPS.

(GPS - Global Positioning System). We have a GPS module we use in our radio to get the current time. But the current time is GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), which doesn't mean much to someone in Timbuktu. We also can get our longitude from the GPS. So from the Longitude and the GMT, we can calculate what timezone we are in, and with that we can figure out what the local time is.

Longitude is given in milli-arc-seconds (mas).
There are 3,600,000 mas in one degree (60 minutes * 60 seconds * 1000)
There are 15 degrees per time zone (360 degrees divided by 24 hours per day).

Divide Longitude by 3,600,000 gives longitude in degrees.
Divide result by 15 gives timezone, which is the same as the hourly difference.
Multiply result by 3600 to get timezone in seconds
Multiply result by -1 to get the direction to agree with Microsoft's timezone variable.

Combined, we have:

Longitude * 3,600 * -1
15 * 3,600,000

Reduced we get:

Timezone = Longitude / -15,000

Monday, October 20, 2003



We are looking for:

  • Chairs for the kitchen
  • Chair for Kathryn's room
  • Computer desk/table for new computer.

We looked at a bunch of furniture stores:

  • Dania, the big new store facing Highway 26
  • Dinettes & Office Furniture unlimited next to the Laz-E-Boy store
  • B.J.'s coffee
  • Dinettes & Office Furniture unlimited on TV highway. Same outfit as above?
  • Banner's furniture of TV highway
  • Furniture Mart (?) on TV highway just West of Sunset Esplanade shopping center.

We found a computer desk at Dania just like the one we have for our old computer.

  • $220.
  • Particle board construction
  • Cherry veneer
  • 2 drawer file cabinet: $190 extra.
  • Pencil drawer: $90 extra.
  • Total for all three pieces: $490.

The good points:

  • It looks nice. It's cherry. It is exactly the same as the old one. It has solid end panels so you can't see the mess of cables from the kitchen.
  • The table by itself is only $220.

The not so good points:

  • It's heavy (it's made of particle board), which means it is hard to move.
  • It's made of particle board, which means you have to be careful when you move it that you don't snag a piece of veneer on the vertical end panels and break off a piece. On the other hard, in the five or so years we have had this table, it has survived fairly well. None of the veneer has come loose and none of the veneer has cracked. Of course we haven't moved it much since it is heavy.
  • The table top has numerous dents which makes me think cherry isn't the hardest of woods.
  • The two tables will always be slightly different colors. Cherry wood gets darker when it is exposed to light. So the new table will be lighter in color, and it will probably always be lighter in color.
  • There are a mess of cables behind the computer and they are visible from the open side of the desk.

The table by itself would not be too expensive, but the lack of drawers and the color mismatch would not be good. It would be a quick and easy solution.

I would like to talk to a custom furniture maker and have a desk custom made from furniture grade plywood. Things I would do differently:

  • Mount it on casters so it is easy to pull out from the wall for changing the computer cables.
  • Include a shelf to support the computer so it is off the floor, which would reduce the exposure to dust. Make the shelf adjustable, in one inch increments. That way it can be moved higher so access to the removable media (disks) was easier.
  • On the back side would be a shelf with a fold down panel to hold all the cords. All the cords from the equipment on the desktop would go over the back edge and into a slot above the folding panel. All the cords from the computer would go up into a large hole in the bottom of the shelf. If we want to get fancy we could add a "modesty panel" to cover the back of the computer. With all the cables stored in the tray, the only ones on the floor would be the power cord and modem cable. The only thing lacking is access to the master power switch. I suppose this will have to be bolted to the underside of the tabletop.

Kitchen chairs

B.J.'s Coffee at the corner of Cornelius Pass Road and Baseline has some nice chairs. There are a simple round back design made of oak. You see them everywhere chairs are sold. Fred Meyers has them, all the furniture stores have them. They are solid wood and reasonably comfortable (they don't have upholstered seats). Out kitchen cabinets are oak, so oak chairs would be a pretty good choice. Unfortunately not all of these oak chairs are created equal. At first glance they are all the same, but if you look closer, you see minor differences in the shape of the seats, legs, braces and spindles. None of that matters. What matters is how comfortable they are, and most of them aren't. The backs on most don't so much support you as force you to sit up straight. Not very comfortable. We found a couple that allowed you to lean back a bit and so have the chair support you, but there were other problems.

Color. There are two shades of oak available. One is very light, the other is slightly darker. We would prefer the darker shade, it would more closely match our kitchen. None of the ones that were the right color had supporting backs. None of the ones with supporting backs were the right color.

Weight. Most of these chairs are fairly light, which is nice for easy handling, but we found one model that was comfortable and the right color, but it was made from thicker pieces of wood and was substantially heavier. Also slightly more costly at $90. The cheapest chair we found was $45. My dad and mom bought a table and four similar chairs, on sale no doubt, for $100.

We would buy six chairs, five for our family and one extra that we could squeeze in at the kitchen table.
- 6 * 45 = $270
- 6 * 90 = $540

Chair for Kathryn's room.

We have had the chair Kathryn is using at her desk since before we were married. It may be Dania, it is teak. The frame is still solid, but the upholstery has given out. The easiest solution is to buy a new chair. You would think getting the seat reupholstered would be cheaper, but with the cost of goods made in China these days, maybe not. If you do want to get it reupholstered, you have to find a shop, pick out a fabric, go there when they are open, which means taking time off of work. Or just go to Office Depot and buy a chair for $50 and be done with it. But then Kathryn got on this purple kick, and we got the idea that maybe she would like a purple chair. We found one for like $90, but we don't know if it's the right shade of purple. I don't know what we will do about this.

I could probably reupholster the chair if we could get the fabric. It shouldn't be too difficult.