July 19, 2010

What I Learned Today: Camels in North America

I call this: random — Posted by KP @ 8:17 pm

I was just doing preproduction for Hairspray wasting time reading Fark, when I came across this article about some fossils discovered in California, including ancient camels.

I had no idea that camels were known to have lived in North America, but apparently this isn’t the first time remains have been discovered.

Upon further research, Wikipedia states:

Fossil evidence indicates that the ancestors of modern camels evolved in North America during the Palaeogene period (see also Camelops), and later spread to most parts of Asia.

So that made me curious about what exactly the Palaeogene period was, and how the camels might have traveled from North America to Asia. Here’s a picture I found of where the continents are believed to have been located at that time (65.5 – 23.03 million years ago):

Looks like that move would be kind of hard. Did they swim? Did they build boats or airplanes? Blimps? Did the aliens that built the pyramids bring them from North America to Egypt to use as work animals? Because that would be weird if a species capable of interstellar travel needed camels to pull stones. As you can see, this new piece of information that somehow escaped me for 31 years has raised more questions than it has answered.

May 29, 2010

What I Learned Today: Apple Power Adapter Tricks

I call this: mac,tech — Posted by KP @ 1:24 am

My favorite part about my life at the moment is that pretty much every day, I learn something interesting. I’ve decided to share them in a new recurring feature. Interestingly, my first few attempts at this had to be aborted when, in doing additional research for my post, I learned that the exciting new information I had received was not actually correct!

The connector in the power brick of an Apple magsafe AC adaptor is the same as a standard appliance cord

As a stage manager, the situation in which you’d be most likely to encounter this piece of hardware would be plugged in to the back of a boom box you’re using in the rehearsal room, or one that keeps the crew entertained in the shop. It’s also pretty common as a component of most other computer and printer power cords (a lot of PCs have the power brick somewhere in the middle of the process, and then one of these cords that goes from the brick to the outlet). Apple is essentially doing the same thing, they’ve just disguised it as something attractive, but without ruining its compatibility with standard cables. Feel free to use this knowledge the next time somebody tries to get your goat by saying, “I don’t understand why Apple feels the need to make these proprietary accessories.”

I read about this in a Lifehacker tip, which I hope will get published. The tipster suggests that if you find yourself stuck somewhere (he was thinking of it as a way to save money on international power adapters), you go out and buy a cheap kettle or other appliance, and take the cord from that. But I’m thinking of it more in the situation of finding yourself in rehearsal and either not having your extension cord for the Mac and needing to stretch the cord farther, or you’ve lost or damaged the fold-up two-prong adapter that plugs into the power brick. In that case, there’s probably a device somewhere in the theatre or studio that you can borrow the cable from temporarily.

I’m usually pretty thorough in my preparations, and have the longer cord and the two-prong adapter with me all the time, but I pretty frequently end up needing to lend one or the other to a coworker. I can’t wait for the day I need to use this trick, either for me or someone else.