Electronic cigarettes come in various different types.


These are the ones from the newsagent. They are slim and white with a light on the end. The cartridge is often brown to match a tobacco cigarette. The cartridges are invariably pre-filled with a tobacco flavoured liquid. They may come with a choice of nicotine strengths and a choice of a few flavours, for example standard and menthol. In addition to the newsagent versions, there are other more up-market cig-a-likes. One hopes these have a higher quality.

Elusion e-cigarettes are among the e-cigarette market leaders in Australasia; … We commissioned analyses of these e-cigarettes: … nicotine cartridges (labelled 16 mg) contained 10—16 mg nicotine per mL … Vapour analyses done midway through the trial (using Goniewicz and colleagues' methodology) showed that 300 puffs from one nicotine e-cigarette cartridge delivered 3—6 mg nicotine, equivalent to smoking between one and five tobacco cigarettes.
Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation: a randomised controlled trial — Dr Christopher Bullen MBChB et al.

A tobacco cigarette is smoked in approximately ten puffs. These market-leading e-cigarettes are only delivering between a sixth and a thirtieth of the nicotine delivered by a tobacco cigarette. That is pitiful.


Now we get into the area of the separate battery. A cartomiser (a contraction of cartridge and atomiser) is identical to the cartridge of a cig-a-like, but it is sold to be refilled and it is generally sold empty. Vapers now have a choice of eliquids from whichever vendor they choose. Most eliquid still comes from China, where the e-cigarette was invented, but some companies are sourcing their ingredients locally.


The wadding inside a cartridge must remain wet if it is not to burn and spoil the flavour, maybe permanently. A tank system wraps the cartridge in a glass tank full of liquid. The cartridge has holes punched in it to allow the liquid to penetrate. It has the advantage of a greater capacity with more constant vapour production. But it is fiddly to fill and rather expensive.


This horrible term refers to a system that places the atomiser directly in the tank, removing the cartridge with its wadding. Since atomisers have a finite life, the cheap clearomisers are disposable items. At around £5 each, that is not too much expense. The more expensive ones have replaceable atomisers, with replacements costing around £2. The disadvantage is in the control of the liquid flow through the wick and onto the coil. If not enough liquid flows the coil runs dry and the flavour tastes burnt. If too much flows the coil floods, hampering vapour production and leaking liquid onto the battery below.

Clearomisers come with an atomiser either at the top or at the bottom. Both alternatives have pros and cons. A top atomiser tastes better and delivers warmer vapour, but it can run dry when the liquid level is low. A bottom atomiser is more consistent, but can flood more easily.


At the top end of the market are rebuildables, where the user has to make their own atomiser by winding the coil around a silica-based wick. They generally work like clearomisers.


This is a high-end alternative to the rebuildable. In this design, the wick is a roll of stainless steal gauze and the atomiser is built above the tank. It gives a consistent vapour with good flavour and warmth. However setting it up is even more bother than a standard rebuildable with a silica wick, and I suspect it may leak badly if left lying down.

Battery Types

Batteries too come in various guises. They can more or less be used with any of the various types of e-cigarette above. There are only a few standards for the design of the battery to atomiser connection and adapters are commonly available and dirt cheap.


This is a lithium battery designed for zero maintenance. You charge it with the supplied charger, you use it. Eventually, (after a year or two,) you throw it away. Generally, rechargable batteries are larger than those supplied with cig-a-likes. They are around 15mm in diameter.


A passthrough battery is a rechargable battery that allows you to use it for vaping while it is charging.

Variable Voltage

There is at least one1 rechargable battery with variable voltage. Varying the voltage allows the user to control the heat of the atomiser coil, which affects the flavour, the vapour production and its warmth.


These are battery holders. The batteries are commercially available Lithium batteries, which are charged in an external charger. MODs come in two varieties — mechanical and electronic. A mechanical MOD is simply a tube with a button. The battery is connected directly to the atomiser coil when the button is pressed. Electronic MODs have electronic circuitry between the battery and the atomiser. They deliver a constant voltage to the atomiser, which results in a more consistent vape. Some have the ability to alter the voltage and to measure the resistance of the atomiser coil. Because MODs have to hold batteries, they are larger than rechargables. MODs are generally 22mm in diameter.

rurwinrurwin 30 Dec 2013 22:4431 Dec 2013 00:14

The Components

An electronic cigarette consists of the following parts:

  • A battery with a switch
  • A tank containing liquid (eLiquid)
  • An atomiser
  • A mouthpiece

rurwinrurwin 30 Dec 2013 16:2107 Jan 2014 15:58

Over the last year the use of electronic cigarettes has grown exponentially. More and more people are using them either to help reduce smoking or to get around smoking restrictions. If you look into the topic in any detail you will find two camps. One group condemns them as unsafe and unregulated, the other praises them as a safe alternative to tobacco. Both of them point to scientific research to prove their point of view. So who do you trust?

rurwinrurwin 30 Dec 2013 15:3903 Jan 2014 13:22

Digital Rights Management, or Copy Protection, to give it its old name, is all around us. It makes sure that we have bought the books on our Kindle, and that we have bought our copy of Windows 8. It ensures that the hard-working writers, artists and programmers get paid. Without it pirates would steal all their creations and give them away for free. DRM is a good thing, right?

Wrong. DRM is the best way there is to alienate your customers, and it doesn't stop piracy. It is the worst of both worlds. And this is why.

rurwinrurwin 11 Sep 2013 21:1412 Sep 2013 10:15

As soon as we started programming, we found to our surprise that it wasn't as easy to get programs right as we had thought. Debugging had to be discovered. I can remember the exact instant when I realized that a large part of my life from then on was going to be spent in finding mistakes in my own programs.
— Maurice Wilkes

Not many people understand programming these days. The Internet and the XBox have created a generation for whom computers are consumer boxes. Back in the 1980's it wasn't like that. To get a computer game running you had to type it in, or if you were rich enough to afford commercial games, at least know the right commands to load it from cassette tape. All the kids knew enough to be able to wander into a Tandy store, type a two line program:
20 GOTO 10

They would set it going and then run away laughing.

The glamorous art of programming, the art schools used to teach, and may soon teach again, is the art of putting a program together. First you design how it is going to work. You decide what its initial conditions will be, and what its output will be, and how it will get from one to the other. That's very boring and everyone tries to skip that bit. Then you write loads and loads of cryptic instructions to tell the computer to do what you want. That's the fun bit. That's the bit you see in the Hollywood movies. The sort of program that you write in school might be a dozen lines of code. The first time you try to run that program it will probably fail, so you find the silly mistake, and you correct it, and the program works.

And then you get a job as a programmer in the real world.

rurwinrurwin 18 Aug 2013 12:4918 Aug 2013 14:13

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