We learned some interesting things about websites. For example, the minimum length for a website ending, which refers to the site’s “domain,” is two letters. There are more than one billion web sites and every possible letter combination has been taken.

We went to to verify this and searched on Sure enough, it’s taken, though apparently it isn’t being used. (If you go to, it just hangs there. It’s sort of a no-show show.) The domain name “tv” is for the Pacific island country of Tuvalu.

Domain name sales are big business. bought for $35 million back in 2009.  You can buy the website name “” for $3,250. “” is $4000. We know a few people who profited from this kind of sale back in the day. It’s harder now to buy a site name that isn’t already owned by someone. If it isn’t taken, it costs $12 to register. LOL: lots of luck.

You might want a website ending in “TM.” That’s the country extension for Turkmenistan, but it also stands for “trademark.” Some companies use a website ending in “.co,” the country code for Columbia, because it sounds corporate. Instant messaging programs like to use “.im,” which is from the Isle of Man. “Ly” used to be popular; it’s from Libya, but there have been problems.

Fun With Electronics

Robotic Artist

What does a woman really want for her birthday? An Arduino, that’s what. Bob got Joy an electronics kit for her birthday, complete with soldering iron and extra parts. Its core is a microcontroller called the “Arduino Uno,” which is about the size of a business card. Then “The Arduino Inventor’s Book” came in for review. This is an actual micro-controller, as they say, a kind miniature computer, and should you want one it will set you back $20-$30 by itself.

The Arduino controller uses computer programs to make things happen in the so-called real world. Joy’s first project was to make the Uno’s little LED light pulse like a heartbeat. From there, she created a blinking message in Morse Code. The next project involved blinking red eyes on a toy spider. Next, she hopes to weave lights into fabric to make a Halloween costume, or perhaps a mobile advertising board.

Bob bought her a kit: the “Ultimate Microcontroller Pack,” $84 on Amazon, which includes its own instruction book. But there’s a much better one available from No Starch Press: “The Arduino Inventor’s Book.” If you work with that one you’ll want to get the “SparkFun Inventor’s Kit, version 3.3,” which is $100 from The book itself is $30 from

You can make an electronic turtle that draws pictures on paper, or a simulated greenhouse, a tiny electric piano, an animation machine and more. Remember, you have to put this thing together yourself, so these paragraphs should only be read by kids who are less than twelve years old, or people who are still that old in their hearts.

Fun Buying a New TV

Our elderly neighbor asked us to go TV shopping with her. We did and were surprised at how far behind the curve we were, TV-wise, that is.

We remember when so-called “4K TVs” came out just four years ago. A 55-inch set, which is admittedly pretty big, sold for around $20,000; the very largest still do. Three months later, they cost $7,000. Our neighbor just bought a 43-incher from LG for $427. She was tempted to buy a four-year warranty, but we told her we never buy the extended warranty; they’re  usually not worth it — except for the store that sells it — and anyway: she would be 102 by the time it expired.

Of course it’s worth noting that just as the TV manufacturers measure their screens diagonally, instead of vertically — apparently under the belief that many of us watch television at a 45-degree angle — so they think packing a lot of dots on the screen provides a sharper picture. For most people, the viewing difference is slight, and for some it’s non-existent. But hey, that’s marketing.

What amazed us the most was the “4K TV” so highly touted as the most advanced just a couple years ago, is now standard. If you want to see a plain-old high definition (HD) TV, the salesperson leads you into a closet, scornfully chuckling all the way, and leaves you there to grope around in the dark.

A “4K Ultra HD” has four times the picture quality of ordinary HD TV. That’s about eight million pixels, compared to around two million for regular HD. A pixel is a dot. How can they fit in all those pixels? Make em smaller.

It’s so close to the experience of an actual movie theater you might as well stay home, which an increasing number of people are doing. In an obvious effort to reverse this trend,  is now offering a movie theater ticket a day if you pay $10 a month. You get the tickets on your smart phone. Are there that many good movies? Not a chance.

The big question is, what’s the point of having a 4K TV if there isn’t any 4K content? A 4K TV comes with access to Netflix, Amazon, UltraFlix, Fandango Now, and Vudu, and they all have some 4K content, but not a lot. Netflix’s original series are all in 4K, but you have to pay $12 a month instead of $8 a month to get it; there are 122 of them.  YouTube has about a hundred 4K titles but they are for sale, not rent, and start at $25 each.

Bottom line? No rush. Our Sony TV from 2012 still looks great. There’s not enough 4K content to justify getting a new one. We now expect the usual hate mail from TV makers.

Fun In the Woods

Our nephew just got married and his bride loves camping. So we got them an “Adventure Ultra” for powering up gadgets in the deep, dark forest. It will help find the way to grandma’s house.

The Ultra, $130 from, can power phones, laptops, fans, lamps, Bluetooth speakers and small LED TVs (32 inches). Plug a TV into its regular outlet and keep it going for three hours. There are four ports for USB devices. How much power do you get? You can charge a smart phone eight times or a laptop twice; weighs a pound and a half.


  • 20 Years Ago, Steve Jobs Demonstrated the Perfect Way to Respond to an Insult.” Or so the title says. Google those words (or click the link) to get some advice. First, use silence to collect your thoughts. Acknowledge your adversary’s point. Note that when many decisions are made, mistakes can be made. Say things are much better than they were and your team is working hard. Bob prefers other responses to insults.
  • 23 Awesome Things You Didn’t Learn In School.” Search on that phrase to see short animations of the Pythagorean Theorem, a baby’s face forming, and a cheetah’s tail balancing the animal’s angular momentum as it turns at top speed.




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