How Does an Altimeter Watch Work

It's amazing to see the number of features packed into the watches of today. You will find watches with a built-in perpetual calendar, tachometer (to measure the speed of a moving object), asthometer (to measure rate of respiration), pulsometer (to measure the heart rate), and much more. You can even find watches that tell you the lunar time, i.e. the time of high tide and low tide in your region! An altimeter watch displays the altitude of a place i.e. the height of the place above sea level. The purpose of such a watch is to show an approximate value of the altitude of a place. Say you are out on a hiking trip, and wish to know how far you have climbed above the sea level. In such a scenario, an altimeter watch is exactly what you would need. Just one look at your altimeter watch, and you'd be aware of the altitude of the point where you are standing!

If you go looking for an altimeter watch, you'd see that not all of them are the same. They vary in their strengths and to some extent, in their accuracy. Also, most altimeter watches do more than just displaying the altitude of a place. These devices come with a built-in compass to help you find the directions correctly, and sometimes are designed to measure temperature and your heart rate, or even to keep a track of the changing weather pattern in your region. Mostly water-resistant, some altimeter watches can even measure underwater depth. A standard altimeter watch weighs between 1.5 to 2.5 ounces.

Working of an Altimeter Watch
Knowing what factors go into calculating altitude and how environmental conditions affect that output, is important when you need to quickly determine if the altitude given is accurate or not. There is a relationship between atmospheric pressure and altitude. The higher you go above the sea level, the lower is the atmospheric pressure. In other words, there is a decrease in the atmospheric pressure with increase in altitude. Atmospheric pressure is nothing but the force exerted by the weight of air above a surface, per unit area of the surface. So, we can safely conclude that lesser the volume of air above a surface, lesser the atmospheric pressure. Now, we know that the thickness of the Earth's atmosphere is constant (close to 400 km). So, as you move away from the sea level, the volume of air above you goes on decreasing, which is the reason for the decrease in atmospheric pressure.

Amazing as it may sound, the principle behind an altimeter watch is quite simple. All that an altimeter does is convert the barometric pressure reading to an altitude reading. It uses the changes in atmospheric pressure to determine the changes in altitude. An altimeter watch has a barometer built within, which measures the atmospheric pressure. The first thing the watch does is finding the value of the atmospheric pressure in bars. Once the value of atmospheric pressure has been determined, it is used to calculate the altitude, which is then displayed in meters or feet. However, it is necessary to note that the value displayed by the altimeter is not always accurate. Most of the time, the altitude reading shown by the altimeter varies from the real altitude, by about 3 feet or so. In spite of the fact that altimeter watches do not always show the correct readings, they are popular just because they are portable and easy to use.

Effect of the Weather on an Altimeter Watch

Even at a particular altitude, the reading of an altimeter is not always constant. This is because the atmospheric pressure is affected by changes in temperature, and changes in the atmospheric pressure, in turn, affect the reading on an altimeter. When the temperature is high, the air above the region rises, as a result of which there is a drop in the atmospheric pressure.
Similarly, when the temperature drops, there is an increase in atmospheric pressure. A change in atmospheric pressure equal to 1 millibar can result in a difference of 7-8 meters in the reading of an altimeter. Greater the difference in pressure, greater the variation of the altimeter reading. So, sitting at the same spot, you will find the altimeter showing different readings at different times!

Altimeter watches are sensitive to the slightest change in atmospheric pressure. So, in spite of all the ways in which an altimeter can be of help to you, it remains a fact that no such watch can give you accurate results all the time. Does this mean that you stop using one? Well, not exactly. An effective way to tackle the problem of inaccurate or fluctuating readings is to calibrate the altimeter at regular intervals, and this is simple: just set your altimeter watch to a known altitude.
One look at a topographical chart, and you'll find locations with the respective altitudes mentioned. Just walk to any of these locations and set your altimeter watch accordingly. While calibrating your watch frequently can seem irksome, doing so will ensure your watch displays the correct readings. The instructions for calibrating your watch can be found in the manual that comes with the watch itself. So, it is essential that you calibrate it at least once a day, or even as frequently as every few hours when the weather changes.

Uses of an Altimeter Watch

Not only does an altimeter watch display the altitude, but also a plethora of other parameters such as the temperature, direction and speed of ascent, distance of elevation, and so on. The primary and the most popular use of altimeter watches is in adventure sports, which includes rock-climbing, hiking, mountaineering, skiing, skydiving, ballooning, surfing, snowboarding, and aviation, among others. Some altimeter watches come with auto-calibration, which means that the watch calibrates itself with reference to a built-in GPS map. Choosing such a watch will save you from calibrating it manually. However, even GPS elevations are not always accurate, and so even with an auto-calibrated watch you will end up with an error in the 30-60 feet range. Thus, calibrating the device at regular intervals is the key, which can either be done using a known altitude or a known atmospheric pressure value. This way, you can ensure that the reading on your altimeter doesn't vary widely from the real altitude of the place in question.

This was a brief description about altimeter watches and their function. What you need to remember is that your altimeter watch should in no way be the only thing you rely on for determining the altitude. It can, at best, be used as a supplement with topographical charts and other more precise instruments.
By Mukulika Mukherjee

Samsung Galaxy S III is World's Best-selling Smartphone

   Samsung Galaxy S III

The sales figures for the quarter July to September 2012 are out, and according to them, Samsung has toppled Apple as the number one smartphone seller in the world. For months, or even years, people have been wondering if any company could ever manage to make the so-called 'iPhone Killer'! Looks like Samsung has done it after all, with its Galaxy S III model.

18 million units of the Galaxy S III were shipped in the mentioned quarter, which beats the 16.2 million iPhones that were shipped out to customers in the same period. The S III boasts of a superior battery, bigger touchscreen, and a better camera, as compared to the iPhone. Although this is the first time the iPhone has slipped into second position in sales, its dethroning might be short-lived. Reason being, the iPhone 5 was released on September 21, which meant that most probably the sales of Apple's iPhone 4S dropped in the quarter as people wanted to wait a while to get their hands on the iPhone 5 instead. Also, in the first weekend of its release, the iPhone 5 managed to sell 5 million units, and its sales are expected to soar even further during the holiday season.

It is certain that Samsung will not lay back and bask in the glory it has achieved in the previous quarter, and will definitely have its own marketing strategies in place for the current quarter. But can they repeat the unimaginable for the second quarter in a row? We'll just have to wait and see!

Fujitsu Lifebook 2013

Ok so you’re the guy who leaves home with a digital camera strung around his neck, a backpack to carry his laptop, a tablet in his briefcase, and a phone in his pocket? Well, you’re just weird. That said, Fujitsu has the answer for you…weird folk.
The Fujitsu Lifebook, coming in 2013, combines all of these fancy pieces of technology into one. Ditch everything else, keep the laptop backpack. Need a camera? Detach the laptop’s camera to be used as a handheld digital camera. Tablet? Open it up and pull that out as well. Put it back in and the tablet immediately displays itself as a touch-screen keyboard for the laptop. There is even a spot where you can attach and remove a special cell phone, which I imagine acts as the cellular modem for the laptop when attached. (Don’t be surprised if this allows you to make video phone calls from the laptop as well.)
The price is undetermined, but as with all new technology, don’t expect it to be cheap.
Lifebook Concept Design
Lifebook Concept Design
Source: Yanko Design

Technology - The innovations that marked 2012

The year was long for those waiting BB10 operating system from RIM.  The device, which should be launched on 31 January 2013, represents the last hope for the company led by Thorsten Heins to take its place in the world of mobile telephony.

Photo: Agence France-Presse Justin Sullivanhas been a long year for those waiting BB10 operating system from RIM. The device, which should be launched on 31 January 2013, represents the last hope for the company led by Thorsten Heins to take its place in the world of mobile telephony.
A new year, a new smart phone. In 2012, fans of Apple were not tempted by an iPad, or even two, but three, including the most recent in reduced size.

Research in Motion (RIM) has launched its new phones failed to finish the year in style, but missed the boat.

Small steps have also been taken to encourage Canadian consumers to use e-commerce via mobile phone while watching digital video equipment has become commonplace.

The Canadian Press has identified the major tech innovations of the year continue to develop upstream, and those who have failed.

Apple will be great challenges. Manufacturers have been slow to develop a digital tablet which is akin to the Apple iPad, but the gap has narrowed significantly this year with the Asus and Samsung devices.

As was expected, Google has given a blow against the iPad mini fixing the suggested retail price of its small tablet Nexus 7 $ 209. When the iPad was launched mini months later, it seemed expensive at $ 329. Apple will need hardware and software that changes the game for the next iPad, or risk losing a substantial portion of the tablet market to the benefit of the competition, with its products as effective, but cheaper.

Apple faces a similar threat with smart phones. Google Android phones, cheaper, stormed the market for low-end phones, while its luxury models compete with the iPhone. Windows phones have not yet become popular, but have shown promise, and it remains to be seen whether RIM will take its place among the leaders in the mobile industry with its new BB10 operating system.

Apple will also address the controversial Google Maps, which forced the American company to admit that she had made a mistake by abandoning the popular application without having something to offer as well.

Growth of online video . According to a survey published earlier this year, one in four Canadians spent more time watching videos online than on television, 16% of respondents reported spending as much time view content online than watching TV.Canadians have learned that there was a lot of activity on the Internet, whether social networks like Facebook, YouTube videos, and TV episodes or movies offered on websites or on Netflix .

And according to a recent survey commissioned by the federal government, one in three Canadians downloading or viewing videos continuous play (streaming), and 12% reported doing so every day or once a week.

The same survey indicated that 48% of respondents owned a smartphone, and 24% had a tablet on which they could see a movie. But cost remains a barrier to online viewing on cell phones. In return, cafes, fast food chains and airports have begun to offer wireless Internet to capture a TV or YouTube clips to kill time.

The advent of virtual wallet. Regulars have probably noticed Starbucks customers paying for their coffee or drink with their smartphone. It is a popular examples of virtual portfolio, where the purchasing power is housed on the phone. The payment application Starbucks is actually a link to prepaid credits like those on a gift card.

Apple devices are equipped with the latest tool "Passbook", which allows users to store electronic copies of boarding passes for flights, movie tickets and sporting events, travel rewards and coupons.

Buying online mobile via smartphones or tablets, is also expected to grow next year, but the sector is growing rather slowly in Canada. A survey commissioned by Google and released in May suggests that only 20% of Canadians have already made a purchase on a mobile device, and only 16% believed that increasing the number of purchases by phone next year.

A year to forget for RIM. The year 2012 was long for those waiting BB10 operating system manufacturer Research in Motion is expected to be launched on 31 January 2013 and represents the last hope for the Canadian company to resume its place in the world of mobile telephony.

Those who have seen the phone preview indicated that RIM had finally developed a phone that can compete with the iPhone and Android. But some applications fun and easy to use will not convince users to abandon Apple. It is expected that RIM focuses again on the corporate market. In addition, investors have had a roller coaster year with losses early in the year before the stock bouncing in the fall.

How Is Electricity Generated?

By Harvey McEwan

In the 21st century, electricity is a feature of life that much of the world takes for granted. However, electricity is still a relatively new invention, having only come into widespread use around a century ago.

Today, interest in different ways to generate electricity is growing, as some experts predict that traditional non-renewable sources will be depleted within the next 100 years. Here's a quick guide to the different ways in which electricity is generated in 2012.

Generating power with fossil fuels

The main method of power generation today is the burning of fossil fuels, like coal, gas and oil. These materials need to be dug out, drilled or extracted from the earth and they are called 'fossil fuels' because they contain the remains of ancient plants and animals. While oil and gas can be burned directly, coal needs to be crushed and then burned to be effective.

The electricity generation process starts by burning one of these fuels (the popularity of each varies from country to country). As the fossil fuels burn, they heat water, which creates steam. This steam then moves generator turbines within the power plant. As the turbines turn, they send an electric current through a piece of wire, which is in turn connected to a series of transformers. As the current travels through transformers, its voltage is slowly lowered and finally enters homes and commercial buildings through a service box.

Power generation from renewable sources

Although fossil fuels remain the primary source of power generation, renewable sources like tidal, nuclear and geothermal power are slowly gaining ground. One popular source of renewable power generation is wind energy. To harness the power of wind, wind turbines have to be built. Like windmills, wind turbines feature three or four blades and may take the form of huge structures dotting the countryside ('wind farms') or small models that sit on top of domestic buildings. When warm air rises, more air rushes in to fill the gaps left behind. This creates the gusts we call wind. When these gusts catch the blade of a wind turbine propeller, it starts to move round. This movement turns a generator, which produces electricity.

Solar energy is another form of renewable power generation. Harnessing solar power requires the installation of photovoltaic ('PV') cells, which convert light directly into electricity. PV panels may be expensive and the unreliability of solar energy in all but the sunniest climates means that they are still unable to provide a complete replacement to power created by the burning of fossil fuels. However, they are useful for heating certain aspects of a household - for instance, a boiler or furnace

How transformers work

Transformers play an important role in how electricity reaches our homes. However, many people remain unaware of how they work and how vital they are in power distribution. Not sure what transformers have to do with how we get our electricity? Read on to find out how transformers work and how to spot them.

How transformers work

A basic transformer transmits electrical energy from one circuit to another. It generally acts to reduce the voltage of electricity as it travels from power plants into homes. Electricity is generated in a conventional power plant as the burning of fossil fuels heats up water, causing steam to rise and push generator turbines round. This mechanical energy is converted into electrical energy as it travels through wires and reaches transformers. At this point, electricity has a very high voltage, which is necessary if it is to pass through electrical wires from the power plant and into buildings. Along the way, this electrical energy meets a series of transformers that steadily lower its voltage until it reaches a level that's safe for homes and offices. These transformers are known as "step-down transformers".

Most transformers consist of an iron core surrounded by two coils of insulated wire. One coil, which is attached to an alternating current, is known as the primary coil. The alternating current produces a constantly varying magnetic field around the primary coil. This varying magnetic field then produces an alternating current in the other coil, known as the secondary coil, which is connected to a different electric circuit. In step down transformers, the primary coil is more tightly wound than the secondary coil, which contributes to reducing the voltage of electricity as it is distributed.

However, some transformers are used to increase the voltage of the electricity that travels through it. These are known as "step-up" transformers. In this type of transformer, the secondary coil has a greater number of turns than the primary coil.

Identifying transformers

Transformers are most commonly seen mounted to electricity poles, as electrical energy is distributed from power plants to homes across a country. However, they have domestic uses too. The AC adapter on a laptop, for instance, acts as a transformer. That's because the voltage of electricity coming from a plug point may be too high for the low-voltage parts inside a laptop, making a step-down transformer a necessary component.

In business, however, transformers are much larger. Buying transformers can be very expensive for power plants and businesses, and some may opt for transformer rental when they need extra capacity.

Harvey McEwan writes to offer information on a variety of areas, from transformer rental to gift ideas. View Harvey's other articles to find out more.