Saturday, July 30, 2005

Gadget of the Week: The Get Off The Phone Excuse Machine

Real Tech News's - Gadget of the Week: "We’ve all been there. Miles from home, trapped in an endless cell phone conversation with no way out. Luckily there’s a handy little gadget called the “Get Off the Phone Excuse Machine” that with the press of a button will send an array of interruptions to your call. Six sample sounds include: doorbell chime, crying baby, static interference, dinner call, siren, and crashing car. Price: About $18."

This is a new use for a really old technology as far as gadgets go, but its a pretty funny device. It includes some useful sounds (like a doorbell, baby crying, and some others) and useless sounds (like: 'Can’t let the chop suey go cold can you?'). I don't know how real the device sounds on the other end of the phone, but I can imagine it might work.

Whistleblower Faces FBI Probe (Article)

Wired News reports: "The FBI is investigating a computer security researcher for criminal conduct after he revealed that critical routers supporting the Internet and many networks have a serious software flaw that could allow someone to crash or take control of them."

This is a real interesting article. It doesn't reveal any technical exploits about Cisco router, but it discusses how Cisco and ISS tried to stop Mike Lynn from speaking at DefCon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Track the Space Shuttle and International Space Station

Want to know where the Space Shuttle or International Space Station is in orbit. Check out the following site, it allows you to do live tracking of these crafts in orbit with Google Maps. The map is updated every minute with new data from NASA.

When you go to the site, you will see two markers on the map. The white marker and line represent Shuttle Discovery, and the red marker and line represent the International Space Station.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Yahoo! Buys Konfabulator, and Gives It Away for Free...

Yahoo! recently bought a great little company called Pixoria. They make a wonderful utility called the Konfabulator. This application allows you to add special little applets called Widgets to your desktop. Widgets are cool little desktop programs that can perform a specialized function, such as displaying the weather, allowing you to search the internet, and there are literally hundreds more.

This program use to cost about $20-$30 to buy. Anyone who owned this software would probably tell you it is well worth the price. Apple was so impressed with this technology that they included the functionality in their newest version of the Mac OS. This program has been available on the Macintosh for years, and only recently made it to the Windows world.

Well here is the good news, Yahoo recently bought this company and is giving away the software for free. So for that I want to say, "Thank you, Yahoo..." My hope is that Yahoo will continue to enhance the application so that we can all enjoy it.

So, if you have not already downloaded it, the question is what are you waiting for...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Firefox 1.1 Scrapped, 1.5 Due in Sept

BetaNews reports that the Mozilla Foundation will scrap the Firefox 1.1 label, and release Firefox v1.5 sometime in September. They felt the feature set of the v1.1 title didn't do the new browser justice, so they decided to hold off and release the v1.5 browser later in the year.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Going Totally Retro Today

I was surfing the web today, and I noticed a came across a lot of sites that had to deal with the past. So today I decided to theme today's post with links to sites that having something to do with the past:

Friday, July 22, 2005

Congress to add 2 months to Daylight Savings Time

Did you know Congress is proposing to extent the U.S daylight savings time (DST) by two months (from March to November). The Chicago Sun-Times reports the PROs and CONs of this proposal, and why different groups are for and against it.

One thing that isn't mention in the article impact this change could have on modern and older computers, OSs and their applications. There still are lots of older computers running older OSs, and applications that just won't be updated.

No computer is immune to this change. It could be another Y2K scare all over again. It is hard to predict all the problems a change like this can cause for different software applications. So we will have to just wait and see what happens...

Riot control ray gun worries scientists (Article)

CNET reports: "Scientists are questioning the safety of a Star Wars-style riot control ray gun due to be deployed in Iraq next year.

The Active Denial System weapon, classified as 'less lethal' by the Pentagon, fires a 95GHz microwave beam at rioters to cause heating and intolerable pain in less than five seconds."

I always find it interesting to see what people will think of next when it comes to developing energy based weapons. Make sure to check out the slideshow its pretty interesting, because it shows some of the different devices and vehicles that are equipped with this technology.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Google Moon (New)

In honor of the first manned Moon landing (on July 20, 1969), Google has released Google Moon. Its a new web application that uses NASA imagery, and the Google Maps interface.

It allows you to pan and zoom over an image of the moon surface to view all the Apollo landing sites. If you really want to have a quick laugh, set the zoom magnification to its maximum setting.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A Dual Everything System

I generally don't talk about motherboards, but this system was just too cool not to talk about.

ExtremeTech: "Builds a system that multiplies everything by two. They take a dual-core CPU, dual graphics cards, dual two-drive RAID arrays, dual channel memory, and dual-layer DVD burning to the max."

System Administrator Appreciation Day

Have you hugged your system administrator today? Coming Friday, July 29th, 2005 is the 6th annual System Administrator Appreciation Day. I guess this day was created by some I.T. people who were feeling unappreciated.

I have worked in I.T. for more then a decade, and it really can be a thankless job a lot of times. Although, at the same time I don't care to have some day of the year set aside trying to point out that it is thankless. In my humble opinion, we are all just doing our jobs and generally being paid to do it, we don't need some day to remind us that we need to thank someone for doing what they're paid to do.

The only people I think that we need to be thanking is our troops in Iraq. I don't believe that most of them want to be there, but they're doing their job. So, all I can say is God Bless them and keep them safe... Amen

Monday, July 18, 2005

In the Beginning There Were Weblogs

Wired has published an interesting article about a man Jorn Barger, as they introduced him in the article as 'another homeless blogger'. Jorn has a semi-famous web site, which still exists called His site is an eclectic collection of interesting links.

For a real brief history of Jorn, he is currently homeless, and living on the streets in America somewhere. His claims to 'fame' are he was an avid Usenet poster who maintained the James Joyce FAQ. But the reason why I am mentioning him here, is that he was the person who coined the term and concept of the modern Weblog (aka Blog).

For more information read the Wired article.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Favorite Geek Quotes...

Below are some of my favorite geek related quotes, if you're not a geek you might not understand them. Although there is a chance that you might...

Binary People
There are 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, and those who don't...

Geek Love Poem
roses are #FF0000
violets are #0000FF
all my base
are belong to you

SQL query
SELECT * FROM users WHERE clue > 0.
There's no place like

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Odeo: Listen, Sync, Create Podcasts

Odeo allows you to listen, synchronize, or create Podcasts for your iPod or MP3 player. If you're into podcasting, you need to check out this site. It is a portal of popular Podcasts. One of the great features of the site, is that you can play the podcast you want to listen to without having to leaving your browser.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Military's Energy-Beam Weapons Delayed (Article)

Associated Press reports: "For years, the U.S. military has explored a new kind of firepower that is instantaneous, precise and virtually inexhaustible: beams of electromagnetic energy. 'Directed-energy' pulses can be throttled up or down depending on the situation, much like the phasers on 'Star Trek' could be set to kill or merely stun."

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Drive Me Insane! (Internet Classic Site)

'Drive Me Insane!' is a web site that has been around for a number of years, it should become an Internet classic. The basic story behind it is some guy setup this site to allow people over the Internet to turn lights on and off in his house for fun.

When you first go to the site, you will see a view from the web cam (you will even occassional see people walk by). There are also links off to the side of the page that say on and off. These links will allow you to turn the lights on and off in the view of the web cam.

The FAQ on site says that it is real, but if it is fake it is a pretty elaborate hoax. I hope you enjoy it...

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Happy Birthday Amazon, Your 10 Years Old... is now almost 10 years old. It started its humble beginning in Jeff Bezo's garage selling just books. Ten years later, it had $7 billion in sales last year, and sells just about everything you could ever want.

I have always respected as a company, and they're one of the few online retailers that have a pretty good reputation for being reputable and reliable. I know in my personal dealing with them we have been pretty happy with the service that we have recieved.

So to and its employee, may you have many happy years of retailing, and keep up the good work.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Europe rejects patent proposal (Article)

CNET reports: "The European Parliament has rejected a controversial measure that would have legalized software patents in the European Union.

A government representative said that 648 out of 729 members of the European Parliament voted Wednesday to reject the proposal, called the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive, which would have widened the extent to which software could be patented ."

This is awesome news! This new patent law would have created a nightmare patent system in the E.U. The U.S. is already having a problem with its system because people are already patenting very general ideas, then suing people over them. I believe in patent law, but they have to stop giving patents for stupid stuff.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Thorium Fuels Safer Reactor Hopes (Article)

Wired News reports: "Fueling nuclear reactors with the element thorium instead of uranium could produce half as much radioactive waste and reduce the availability of weapons-grade plutonium by as much as 80 percent. But the nuclear power industry needs more incentives to make the switch, experts say."

I think the summary says it all, but now all we have to do is convince the people who pay for the reactors to switch to thorium instead of uranium. The retooling costs seems to be one of the big obstacles here in the US.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Regular Showers May be Health Risk (Article)

DailyMail in the UK reports: "Taking regular showers could pose a health risk and even result in permanent brain damage, it has been claimed."

Why post such a weird article, because it makes an excellent point about everything we do for ourselves because we think it is healthy. It seems that everyday science is telling us to do something someway because its suppose to be good for us (such as: drinking lots of water). Then a few years later they find out by doing what they originally told us could be really bad for us (for example: water intoxication from drinking too much water).

My point is not about drinking water, or taking showers being bad for us. My point is we have to be really careful about what we read and do. Just because one day we read that scientist have now discovered the dangers of something, or that this or that is more healthy. Don't fall into the trap of believing everything you read, you might find out one day that it was really wrong.

My only real point is we need to live our lifes with the philosphy of 'all things in moderation' (such as: eating, drinking, loving, etc...) So just enjoy your life, you will live longer and be happier. We are all going to die someday, so enjoy every moment of everyday that you have.

For more reading, see: 'We should never have survived!'

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself." (Matthew 6:34)

Monday, July 04, 2005

A lesson to be learned from typing the wrong e-mail address! (Humor)

For all my U.S. readers, I hope you have a happy and safe 4th of July...

I am going to try something new, every so often I will publish a clean, and humorous story or joke. I will use the following guidelines for publishing this content, it must be appropriate to be viewed or repeated in just about any office environment.

A couple from Minneapolis decided to go to Florida to thaw out during one particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the very same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier.

Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an e-mail to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, he sent the e-mail.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned Home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister of many years who Was called home to glory following a sudden heart attack. The widow decided to check her e-mail expecting messages of condolence from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she fainted. The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I've Arrived
Date: 16 January 2004

I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have
computers here now and you are allowed to send e-
mails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have
been checked in. I see that everything has been
prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward
to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as
uneventful as mine was.

P.S. Sure is hot down here.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Pig Manure Converted to Crude Oil

National Geographic reports: "Crude oil and gasoline prices are near an all-time high. But don't despair. One scientist has found an alternative source of energy: pig manure."

It seems that we can make alternative fuels from corn (Ethanol), vegetable oil (Biodiesel), and now pig manure. It is absolutely amazing what they're making fuels out of these day. One day we will be able to run our cars on just s (wait, that has already been invented too).

National Budget Simulation

This is an interesting site, it allows you to simulate what would happen if you were in control of the national budget. Try to see if you can do better then the elected officials.

To use the site: use the pop-up menus to increase or decrease as many of the budget items as you'd like. When you're finished, press the button at the end of the web page.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Space Elevator (12 minute video)

I have been a big fan of space elevators for years. I believe it will be one of the best ways of moving people and cargo into space economically.

The idea of space elevators has been around for a long time. Although it has only been within the last few years that the scientist believe that with advancements in material technologies like carbon nanotubes, the elevator concept is made possible.

If you don't understand the advantages of a space elevator over conventional rockets. Think of this way, right now it costs about US$10,000 a pound to move cargo into space via the space shuttle. With the space elevator the cost would be reduced to a few hundred dollars to a thousand dollars a pound.

The space elevator would also allow an economical platform for inhabiting other planets such as the moon, Mars, and beyond.

For more information on the space elevator, watch the following video.