Monday, January 30, 2006

- To continue the discussion I started in my last update, truly random numbers are almost impossible to achieve. Did you know that if you analyze large sets of data from many human-created resources, the number 1 will tend to appear as the first digit in the number, roughly 30% of the time? For example, if you measured the area of each river basin for every river on our planet, 30% of the time the first number appearing in the measurement of each river basin would be a 1. At any given time, if you look at all the prices of stocks for the Dow Jones industrial average over a given day, then nearly 1/3rd of the time the first digit in the price of that stock will be a 1. Look at the populations for the world's 1000 largest cities, and the number 1 will appear roughly 30% of the time for a given digit in the population. This phenomenon is known as Benford's Law, named after the physicist Frank Benford, who in 1938 discovered that human beings tend to favor the number 1 in their statistical record-keeping, even when a human-being is consciously trying to be as honest as possible with recording numbers. The IRS and enforcement officials use Benford's Law to expose tax-cheats and accounting frauds. Read the following article for a much better explanation:

- More number "1" goodness...before the advent of cable television, your typical television carried channels 2 to 13, and occassionally a few more channels between 14 to 60, depending on where you lived. How come no one ever used Channel 1? It seems to me that Channel 1 would have been the most coveted channel to broadcasters. Well, here's why broadcasters never used Channel 1:

- How to detect a two-way mirror. When I walk through a department store, I notice the many mirrors littered throughout the store. Obviously a department store has lots of mirrors so customers can look at the merchandise from a different point of view, but I have always wondered how many of those mirrors have a security camera behind them. Now I will know:

- Do you peruse internet messageboards? Most people with internet access read some sort of online forum to discuss common interests or hobbies. Here is a huge list of the busiest messageboards on the internet. I noticed messageboards are in the top 20. When the prequel movies were released last year, I was a constant contributor to forums.

- Businesses, schools, and of course the government employ webcams to monitor activity within their areas. Many of these webcams, whether the owner knows it or not, are exposed to the internet, for everyone to see. The following link provides live access to webcams all over the world, for your viewing pleasure. These arent voyeur webcams for spying on the private lives of people in their homes, or for even more risque endeavours. These are simply webcams situated on top of buildings, on street-lamps, or inside of public places. Its kind of fun to watch the typical hussle and bussle on a city street, or a university campus:

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

- The last ice age ended roughly 10,000 years ago, and humanity barely survived it. Since then, human beings have lived in a temperate climate which has allowed us to thrive, but there have been slight changes to the climate during those 10,000 years. From the years 1300 AD to 1850 AD the earth suffered through what scientists have termed a "Little Ice Age." The average global temperature dropped four degrees during this time-span. This may not sound like much, but even a few degrees change in temperature had a profound effect on a civilization which had yet to discover practical applications of electricity, heating or locomotion. Don't believe me? Don't believe the earth suffered a miniature ice age a few hundred years ago? Let me offer this as proof...remember the famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware river? If you recall, the river is full of ice, and it's one of the reasons why the crossing was so dangerous. Well, the Delaware river hasn't had ice in it for over 200 years! It never freezes over. The following article gives further details about the Little Ice Age. Oh, and here's a link to the famous Washington painting:

- Random numbers are a staple of any video game. You swing a sword at a dragon, and the computer generates a randon number to determine if you hit. A baseball pitcher throws a ball over home-plate, but the ball doesnt go straight down the middle. During a game of Tetris, blocks fall down the screen with seemingly no predictability. How does a purely logical machine, like a computer, which works on the principles of 1's and 0's, generate random numbers? There is nothing random inside a computer. Computers don't actually generate random numbers, they generate pseudo-random numbers. These numbers appear random to you and I, but in fact, there is a pattern to them, if you know the key. The whole process is much easier than you would think. Follow this link to learn more:

- The top ten most popular myths in science. You might want to think twice about letting your cat or dog lick your face, and Elaine really should have avoided muffins with poppy seeds:

- Are you getting less spam in your Inbox? Bill Gates promised two years ago to find ways of thwarting spammers. According to the following article, spamming has finally died down:,13270,1684044,00.html

- A bit of advice to democratic members of the Senate Judiciary committee...if you want to succeed with the public, DON'T MAKE THE NOMINEE'S WIFE CRY! Good lord, is there a more disgusting group of politicians than the democrats on the judiciary committee? Biden and Kennedy actually make it easier for Georgie to get his nominees to the senate floor:

- Canadians will have national elections next week, and the Conservative party is on the verge of taking back the government. They haven't been in power since 1993. This is very good news for us. Perhaps the Canucks will give us more support for the war on terror, and allow us to monitor their airspace for inter-ballistic missiles, which they denied us a few years ago. One caveat though; the Tories had a lead in the polls a few days before the last national elections, and still lost, but this time they appear to have a larger lead, and more momentum at the end:
Canadian elections

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

- During conversations regarding religion, science or technology, you may have heard me glibly say the following, "E=MC2 is my religion, Bill Gates is my god." I truly love Microsoft and most of their products. I am not one of the raving anti-Microsoft computer nerds who takes every opportunity they can find to bash Mr. Gates and his wonderful company.

In 1998, Microsoft released Internet Explorer, and quickly over-took Netscape as the most popular web-browser. I used Internet Explorer religiously for the past 7 years, but now I have made a switch. Starting last month, I began using Mozilla's web-browser, Firefox 1.5. It is, without a doubt, the best web-browser on the market. It's completely free, and highly customizable (even more so than Internet Explorer.) Since it is an open-source product, this means that any programmer can write code to expand the functionality of the web-browser. Here is a list of other reasons to use Firefox 1.5:

1. It runs faster than Internet Explorer.
2. It allows tabbed-browsing, so you can have multiple webpages open at one time, but only have one instance of Firefox open, thus saving you space on your Windows taskbar.
3. It is much more secure than Internet Explorer. It is almost impossible to put spyware, malware, or viruses onto your machine via Firefox 1.5.
4. Thousands of developers are making new programs that can run inside of Firefox, and expand its capabilities.

A year ago, about 1% of the internet community used Firefox. Now, roughly 10% of internet-cruising is done via Firefox. Among IT professionals, over 50% use Firefox. Large companies, like Google and Dell, have started to throw their weight behind Firefox. I highly recommend you give it a try. Download it at the following location:

If you dont care for Firefox, you can always give Opera 9.0 a try. Opera is also a free open-source web-browser. I think its interface is slicker than both Firefox and Internet Explorer. Opera offers tabbed-browsing, just like Firefox. However, I dont user Opera very often because it isnt completely compatible with all web-pages, and it runs a touch slower than Firefox. Overall, I still think Opera is a better web-browser than Internet Explorer:

- Now to go along with your new web-browser, try one of the following internet start pages, based on the concept of "Web 2.0" technology. Web 2.0 is a new way of writing webpages. Most webpages use "push technology" meaning they push content onto your web-browser, whether you want the content or not. Web 2.0 based webpages use the concept of "pull technology." These webpages allow you to decide what actually appears on the webpage, where it appears on the webpage, and how much of it appears on the webpage. For example, I use Google's Start Page as the home page for my web-browser. Within that page, I see all headlines for the newest articles from Fox News, The National Review, (a fantastic technology blogsite), Stock quotes, Phoenix weather updates, ESPN headlines, and new e-mail messages to my Gmail account. All of these options were picked by me, placed anywhere on the webpage by me, and I decided how much content would appear in each section. Give the following free start pages a try:

- A few weeks ago I mentioned the bookmark sharing website, I promised to put all my bookmarks on this site, so my friends can share them. I have completed the task. Here is a link to all my bookmarks. I use most of these bookmarks everyday, and some I use several times a day:

- This guy is closer to being Tony Stark than I am! (Then again, who isnt.) He has functioning boot jets!

- A review of the market-share for personal computers from the past 30 years. By my count, I have owned five of these computers:

- The baby-boomer generation (your parents, not parents were born in the 30's) starts turning 60 this year. The government already takes 1/3 of my paycheck, and thanks to the democrats sabotaging George Bush's social security plan, the theft of my hard-earned money will likely increase, rather than decrease.,0,2366060.story?coll=orl-news-headlines