Thursday, February 20, 2014

Motor needs push? Replace Start Capacitor

"Blog helps people find solutions. Problems: Google Search based on statistical pattern-matching. Machines don't understand human sentences. Solution: Multiple simple descriptions of problem. Headline writing style freed from articles and helper verbs. Facilitates computer's pattern-matching."

Ack. I can only mangle my natural language for a paragraph at a time. But here's the actual post topic:

"AC Induction Motor runs well. But Motor needs push start. What's wrong? Start Capacitor normally pushes motor. Capacitors degrade often. Capacitors cheap. AC Motor fixed for under $10. Blog post saves Motors from landfill. World saved."

Quite sadly, it takes real research and experiment to discover this basic fact about motors. A running motor, but one that needs a push-start to actually spin, is almost certainly missing its designated pusher -- the "start capacitor". These things are cheap, and easy to replace. There's no reason to throw out a perfectly good motor or, worse, the entire product it's attached to. Split-phase AC Induction Motors (start phase, run phase) are used in everything -- from pumps to furnaces. The fact that they're tossed on the scrapheap, often with the appliance, is nearly criminal.

The major problem is that symptoms are described differently by different people. Sentences are infinitely variable, though highly constrained (actually, any infinite set is highly constrained). So the meaning of "motor runs if I push it" (and the more vague symptoms that precede this discovery) can be expressed in an infinite number of ways. If Google Search was designed with the rather specific internal circuitry of the human brain, it could 'get' what we 'mean' and search the web on our behalf. Unfortunately, that circuitry is unknown to the natural sciences, although a tiny bit of progress is made every year. This is too slow for Google: they've abandoned the idea of understanding how the brain actually works, and instead hang out with people who wrongly think they can divine internal structure from statistical analysis of surface behavior.

Until someone competes with Google on this front (they seem committed to the wrong direction), or until the science of cognition matures, here's the best we can do, to empower people, and to save the planet: encourage everyone to discover the most commonly used words and phrases that could express their problem.

Don't give up! Save the machine!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Google Sites URL mapping

I manage a number of sites with Google Sites. It's clearly not a tool that Google feels heavily invested in. There are occasional fixes, typically years in coming, but there are still significant problems with the HTML generated by the WYSIWYG interface, and many UI fragilities with the editor and manager. I use it anyway.

I found one site unexpectedly redirecting/forwarding to a sub-directory page, in this case a "/home". I wondered what was causing this problem, which I certainly didn't want.

I eliminated the possibility of a problem at the registrar -- the thought was that maybe I'd accidentally added this subdirectory to a field in a zone forwarding directive, or maybe I'd put a redirect in an html page, or in the header of a server response on another host server … although this seemed unlikely.

But, no, those possibilities were not realities.

So, I was back into the mysteries of Google Sites. What was prompting this strange behavior?

The only difference I could find between this and other Google Sites, was that in the "web mapping" section I wasn't using the lower-case name of the sites subdirectory.

But instead of generating an error, Google Sites mistakenly interprets this as a redirect directly to the default directory, visible to the user as a "" directory, which was not desired.

It would be nice if they would fix this. And, in general, the mapping console could provide precise information about the nature of the mapping.

So, I deleted the old entry, added a new "web mapping" with a lower-case name, and all was fine.