Scale vs gauge: Not quite interchangeable

Scale vs gauge: Not quite interchangeable

Wondering about scale vs gauge? You’re not alone. It’s a common question, and I’ll try to provide a simple answer. The two terms may appear interchangeable, but they aren’t quite.

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Where to buy vintage computers

Where to buy vintage computers

Collecting vintage computers can be fun. I also personally think it’s great that people are interested in preserving that history. Where to buy vintage computers hasn’t changed much over the years. It just may take a bit more work than it used to.

Some people think old computers are priceless. Others think they’re worthless. I don’t recommend wasting your time with people who think a Dell Pentium III laptop is worth $300. Think of the times you found a jewel for five bucks and keep moving.

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Wiring a Lionel KW transformer

Wiring a Lionel KW transformer

When it comes to wiring a Lionel KW transformer, there’s more to consider than just which posts to use. The size of the wires also matters. If you derail a train 8 amps of power can run through the wire for 10-15 seconds before the circuit breaker kicks in. You don’t want the insulation to melt and catch fire.

Proper wiring for the KW transformer is a bit of a safety issue.

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Cheap Babe Ruth baseball cards

Cheap Babe Ruth baseball cards

Everyone who collects baseball cards wants a Babe Ruth card. Unfortunately, cheap Babe Ruth baseball cards are pretty hard to come by. His most famous cards, 1930s Goudeys, cost as much as a nice car. Even though I’m not much of a car guy, the car is more practical. Even unattractive 1910s and 1920s strip cards of Ruth run four figures, especially cards from his early days with the Boston Red Sox. But there are several vintage cards of Ruth’s that don’t always break the bank, including cards from his playing days. You just have to look off the beaten path.

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Tin buildings for train layouts

Tin buildings for train layouts

When it comes to trains, I prefer older ones made of tin, rather than plastic. And I like tin buildings too. Any time I open a magazine featuring someone’s train layouts, the buildings all look the same. I want something a little different, so I look for tin buildings to go with my tin trains.

Many companies through the years made food containers with printing on them that look like buildings. The tins tend to be about six inches wide, around 8 inches tall, and two inches deep. They tend to resemble the two-story commercial buildings you used to see in downtowns, with a storefront on the first story and offices or apartments on the second floor.

You can use these tins to put together a very timeless commercial district for your train layout. If you know what to look for, you can find coffee shops, bakeries, candy stores, florists, and plenty of other stores to make your town a nice place to live and work. And the buildings usually aren’t terribly expensive, either.

In this post, I’ll cover buildings made after 1970. For pre-1970 buildings, see Vintage Tin Litho Buildings.

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Anthem, HIPAA, and encryption

Late last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Anthem wasn’t encrypting the database containing tens of millions of health records that were stolen by sophisticated hackers.

There are numerous problems with that story, the first being that we don’t know yet whether the data was encrypted. There are other unconfirmed reports that say the attackers used a stolen username and password to get at the data, which, if that’s true, likely would have allowed them to decrypt the data anyway.

Still, I’m seeing calls now for the government to revise HIPAA to require encryption, rather than merely encourage it. And of course there are good and bad things about that as well.

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You need a Yubikey.

I mentioned the Yubikey as the ultimate solution stolen passwords on the excellent Yahoo Marx Train forum, and another member asked me to elaborate on it. Rather than take up a lot of space with some off-topic discussion, I decided it would be better to write about it here.

The Yubikey is the best solution I’ve seen yet for the problem of remembering passwords. I am a computer security professional by trade, but I will try to avoid as much techno-jargon as I can, and explain what I do use.

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What I learned about air travel by globetrotting back and forth to Baltimore and D.C.

In 2011-2012, I flew to Baltimore or Washington D.C. a lot–probably eight times, if not more. Internet pal Rob O’Hara wrote about his recent flight to Seattle this weekend; predictably, they lost his bags.

Here’s what I learned by getting to know the Baltimore area by plane.

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I may have found a few-compromises 7-inch tablet

So I was tempted when I saw a refurbished Acer Iconia 7-inch tablet for $151. Its specs are outmoded but respectable–dual core 1 GHz, 1 GB RAM, 8 GB of storage, and a microSD slot. And Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is available for it.

But there’s something better around the corner. I say few-compromises, because I haven’t seen a no-compromises 7-inch tablet yet. The 7-inch sector is all about value.

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