Friday, January 29, 2010

Inventions, bullet trains, Villains, WoW populations and space exploration

- Apple announced the iPad a few days ago.  The best description I have read so far is that it's a giant iPhone Touch.  I think it's the ultimate ebook reader, but not much more.  It's certainly not a game-changer like the iPhone or iPod.  In the spirit of technology innovation, here are 15 devices that were WAY ahead of their time:

- Population reports for World of Warcraft.  Absolutely fascinating stuff if you happen to play WoW:

- Are bullet-trains coming to America?  If we can find ways to privately fund their construction, then I hope so.  Lengthy article about the potential of high-speed railways in the U.S.

- Speaking of funding, I loathe taxes.  To me, taxes = freedom.  The more money you have, the more freedom you have.  There aren't many things I am willing to spend taxes on.  I am more than willing to throw my hard-earned money into space exploration.  Lord knows I am no greenie, conservationist or progressive, but some day in the future we are going to run out of resources or real-estate.  It may happen 300 years from now or 10,000 years from now, but it will happen.  The sooner we start working towards permanently getting off this crazy blue rock, the better.  Unfortunately, Obama is planning to kill the latest manned moon missions.

- My top five movie villains.  The first three were easy to pick and should draw a fair amount of agreement.  The last two were very difficult to pick.  I could fill the last two spots with fifty different villains.  Oh, and unlike my previous lists, they are in order, with the greatest movie villain in the first spot:

1. Vader
2. Wicked Witch of the West
3. Hannibal Lecter
4. Amon Goeth (Schindler's List)
5. Hal 9000

There are many ways to define a movie villain, here is how I define mine...while watching the movie if I was rooting against the character, they are a villain.  Using this rule, characters like Michael Corleone, Tyler Durden, etc. cannot be on my favorite movie villains list.  In other words, anti-heroes are not villains.  Who are your top five villains?  Post your top five in the comments section.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Desktop demise, the senate and quick-draw

- Do you own a desktop computer? Do me a favor, please do not upgrade it.  Do not buy a new desktop when your old one goes dead.  Please do not spend a dime on your desktop ever again!  "He's dead, Jim."  Nowadays laptops can do everything a desktop can do.  Laptops are roughly the same price as desktops and since they are obviously more portable than a desktop, they are much more convenient.  I cannot imagine I will ever buy a desktop computer again.

If you believe my initial hypothesis, then you must be thinking "If desktops are dead, then what kind of laptop do I buy?" Ah ha!  That's the 21st century rub.  There are several categories of laptops and the most popular way to categorize them is by diagonal screen size:

15 inch to 17 inch: These laptops are typically just as fast a desktop computer.  They can be a bit bulky and heavy.  If you are seriously into gaming on the go, are far-sighted, or love watching movies on your laptop then a larger laptop may be for you.  I shy away from larger laptops because I find them inconvenient to carry.

13 or 14 inch: A few of these laptops are just as powerful as their bigger brothers, but the souped-up 13 or 14 inch laptops often have problems dissipating heat. I can't tell you the amount of time I have spent trying to find the perfect 13 inch gaming laptop.

10 to 12 inch: These laptops are frequently referred to as "netbooks."  They are the hottest-selling kind of laptop on the market right now.  You can't play games on these (at least, not the newest games), you can't run 30 programs at once and obviously the screen sizes are tiny, but boy are they convenient.  I currently own the Lenovo S12 ION netbook.  It's a hybrid between a regular laptop and a netbook.  It has a gaming video card inside of it, thus giving it cross-over appeal.

So we have mentioned desktops, laptops and notebooks, but let's add another category to the list...smartbooks!  What is a smartbook?  It's a brand-new computer term.  A smartbook is a combination of a netbook and a smartphone.  It's as small or smaller than a netbook, and it has constant 3G internet connectivity, just like a smartphone.  Could smartbooks be the next wave of PC technology?  Smartbooks do not (and likely will never) run a version of windows.  Smartbooks don't even have "intel-inside."  You can read more about smartbooks and the categories I describe above at the following link:

- A map showing the state of each senate race for the 2010 elections.  Thanks Mr. Rove!

Owly Images

- Want to know if a plant is edible?  Try the universal edibility test:

- I was watching Blazing Saddles last night.  Gene Wilder is my favorite part of that movie and it got me thinking...who are the fastest quick-draw movie characters?  Here's my top five, once again in no particular order:

1. The Waco Kid (Blazing Saddles)
2. Doc Holliday (Tombstone)
3. Sundance Kid (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)
4. Joe (A Fistful of Dollars. Clint Eastwood)
5. ....

I will let you decide who #5 should be.  Please use the comments section to give us your opinion.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What's next, Poe's secret admirer and the real Jack Bauer

- "What's next Ridley?" The Right stuff.

What will Obama do next, now that Scott Brown has won the senate seat in Massachusetts?  Brown's victory last night can only be interpreted one a repudiation of Obama's policies over the past year.  If a democrat cannot win in one of the most blue states in the union, imagine how the rest of the electorate feels?  Oh sure, Coakley was a lazy campaigner and Brown ran a clever, semi-populist campaign, but Brown pounded Obama and his agenda.  Brown didn't necessarily run as a Republican, but he certainly ran as a Tea party conservative, which is close enough.

As I stated on my facebook page, tonight's election results are unimpeachable, empirical evidence that in 2008 people voted against George W. Bush and voted for the personality of Barak Obama.  They did not vote for Obama's policies.  The average American voter cannot stand Obama's policies.  The blue-dog democrats in red and purple states must be quaking in their boots after the Brown win.  Steam-boat Teddy is spinning in his grave!

So, I ask again, what will Obama do now?  Bill Clinton faced basically the same decision in 1994, although he was in a much more dire situation.  Clinton had just lost the house of representatives and the senate to the republicans during the mid-term elections.  Clinton very wisely moved towards the center, made the republicans into the bad-guys and won re-election.  Will Obama do the same?  Will Obama lurch towards the middle?  Will we see Obama the politician or Obama the liberal?  My best guess is we will see Obama the politician.  I think Obama is truly a liberal at heart, but the only thing better than getting elected president of the United States is being president of the United States.  I think he will do almost anything to keep the job, and that includes becoming a moderate for a little while.  For the next few weeks Obama will stick to his message, but casually he will let the healthcare bill die a quiet death.  I wouldn't be surprised if sometime in March or April Obama pushes for some middle-class tax cuts and maybe asks for even more money to fight the war in Afghanistan.

Late tonight I stumbled upon this youtube video.  Hitler's reaction to Scott Brown winning the Massachusetts senate race.  Please watch it.  I guarantee you will get a kick out of it:

- I have started a list of the political twitter feeds I follow.  Good stuff.  This list was on fire Tuesday night!

- Every year, for the past sixty years, a mysterious stranger has left a bottle of cognac and roses on the gravesite of Edgar Allen Poe.  The clandestine Poe fan didn't show up this year.  Let's hope the tradition has not ended:,2933,583347,00.html

- For the last three years I have tried to watch the TV show 24.  I know it has a loyal following and many people much smarter than me love this show, but I just cannot get into it.  I have honestly, more than once, given it a fair try.  The show is too silly, too unrealistic for me.  Characters talk at each other instead of to each other.  Here is an article about the real Jack Bauers in our world and how different they are from the TV character:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pass the biscuits, probabilities and Nexus One fun

- Let's do some politicing.  As Pappy O'Daniels would say, "This ain't no one-timin'.  We are mass-communicatin'!"

Neither Senator Dorgan (D) from North Dakota nor Senator Dodd from Connecticut (D) will run for re-election in 2010.  North Dakota is one of the most conservative states in the union, so chalk that seat up to Republicans.  Dodd's poll numbers are at rock-bottom.  Republicans would actually prefer Dodd ran for re-election.  The attorney general of Connecticut, a popular democrat, will run instead of Dodd for the Connecticut seat.  Expect the democrats to keep the seat after the 2010 election.  With the North Dakota seat likely going red, the democratic super-majority is virtually guaranteed to disappear after the 2010 election.  Republicans will likely pick up from 3 to 6 seats in the Senate after the 2010 elections.  Not enough to win back the majority, but certainly enough to block or change some of Obama's agenda (including judicial appointments.)

Ted Kennedy's seat is up for special election this Tuesday and the most recent polls have the Republican Scott Brown with a small lead. Hmmm...I think my toes feel a little numb because HELL MUST BE FREEZING OVER!  A republican may take car-barge Teddy's seat in Massachusetts!  Obama is traveling to Boston Sunday to campaign for the democrat.  You think getting rejected in Copenhagen during the Olympic selection committee meetings was a slap in the face to Obama, watch what happens if Brown wins that senate seat.

To follow politics, I recommend reading The Corner at National Review everyday and read the new website the Daily Caller:

Speaking of the Daily Caller, here is an article about how your local news is really just an annoying nanny:

- As we slowly approach the 2012 elections, I will try to mention potential Republican presidential candidates who catch my eye.  I think I mentioned Tim Pawlenty in a previous post (ed. If I didnt, I will in the future.)  John Thune is another Republican to watch.  Thune is a senator from South Dakota, specifically he is the politician who knocked-off then Senator majority leader Tom Daschle.  The pros and cons for Thune:

  • Tall (dont underestimate this.  This is important.)
  • Handsome
  • Popular at home and with Republicans
  • No major scandals attached to him
  • Known as a giant-killer
  • Solid conservative, but not a crazy right-wing nut
  • Fairly young (age 48)
  • From a very red state
  • From a very small state
  • Another middle-aged white guy
  • Has no clear agenda or issues he is passionate about
Also keep an eye on Paul Ryan from Wisconsin and Eric Cantor from Ohio, both young Republicans and both in the house of representatives.  Here is an article about John Thune:

- Top ten most remote places on earth:

- If you roll a six-sided die, what are the chances it comes up a 6? The chances are 1 in 6.  If you roll the same die 199 more times and it doesn't turn up a 6 on any of those rolls, on the 200th roll what are the chances it comes up a 6?  The chances are exactly the same, 1 in 6.  Before you roll the die, if you think to yourself, what are the chances that the die will turn up a 6 at least once, if I roll it 200 times in a row?  Now, that's very different than the first two examples.  The following website explains these simple laws of probability.  Although the website applies to the likelihood of magical items dropping in World of Warcraft, it applies to all games of chance.  Next time you go to Vegas, understand these simple probability laws, and you will lose less money:

- How to unlock and root your Google Nexus One phone:

- It seems like every website on the net devoted to the Android OS has a twitter page, so I have accumulated all of the Android-based twitter pages I follow and put them into one twitter list.  Feel free to share this list, steal, and even claim it as your own:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Winter Olympics, Emails, Red Eye, Android OS, Foul-mouthed movie characters

- The Vancouver winter Olympics start February 12th.  Us lucky kids who live in the western U.S. get to watch the events live.   Should be good fun.  Here is an article predicting the U.S. medal count.  My prediction?  U.S. finishes with a total of 20 medals, putting us in third place for the medal count, behind Germany and Canada:

- Have you noticed that when you send or receive emails using a web email client, like gmail, hotmail, yahoo, aol, etc., advertisements often will appear to the left or right of your email, or even contained in your email?  The email programs crawl your email just before you receive it, and generate ads for your viewing pleasure based upon the content of the email.  Besides the obvious privacy issues with letting a company crawl your emails, many web-based email users find the ads annoying and obtrusive.  I don't mind the ads; it's the price of using free web-based email clients.

In this age of political correctness, the email programs will try to avoid placing ads into an email which create an obvious offensive or awkward advertisement.  For example, if you write an email to a friend about how you are heartbroken your aunt died of melanoma, then you probably wont have an advertisement about sunscreen placed into your email.  Knowing this, some web-based email users have devised ways of excluding the ads from their emails.  By ending your email with an incredibly controversial sentence, you can avoid almost all advertisements in your web-based emails.  The following sentence is the kind of phrase that will do the trick: "The 9/11 nazi terrorist raped and murdered my HIV-stricken child."  This sentence sets off all kinds of warnings to the ad generating crawling programs.  They wont go anywhere near an email with such a politically incorrect sentence.  Obviously, it would be madness to include this sentence in every email you write.  People will think you are nuts!  So, clever writers have created sentences that are far less offensive to include in your emails.  Check out the following link to read more about how you can create sentences that will remove ads from your emails:

- Top 20 best applications for your Nexus One (or Android OS) smartphone:

- My top five foul-mouthed movie characters, in no particular order:
  • Buford T. Justice from Smokey and the Bandit
  • Jimmy Serrano, Midnight Run
  • Grandpa Gustafson, Grumpy Old Men
  • Roman Troy Moronie, Johnny Dangerously
  • Tie: Tommy DeVito, Goodfellas and Sergeant Thomas Highway, Heartbreak Ridge.
The are many, many more who deserve to be on this list.  Use the comments section to add your favorite foul-mouthed movie characters to the list, but please dont give examples of how foul-mouthed these characters actually are!  Let's keep this website PG-rated.

- The Fox News show Red Eye has added a new segment to it's already must-watch TV show.  It's called Robot Theater.  Check out their lampooning of Media Matters, a left-wing organization devoted to calling out right-wing media bias:

Friday, January 08, 2010

Warcraft, Iron Man, Nexus One, and ten places you cannot go

- I wrote about this a few years ago.  The feds may have finally caught the Tylenol murderer:,2933,582534,00.html

- Ten places you absolutely cannot go:

- Blizzard (the company that owns World of Warcraft) is seriously considering making physical authenticators mandatory for World of Warcaft.  I have no problem with this.  I received an authenticator a few weeks ago, and it gives me peace of mind.  Over two years ago my account got hacked.  It turned me paranoid (and rightfully so.)  There are thousands of nasty people all over the world who's sole job in life is to steal the accounts of Warcraft players, use the accounts to generate in-game gold, then sell the in-game gold online.  I know it sounds incredibly bizarre, but trust me, it's a huge problem for the online gaming industry:

- Marvel comics has once again created new armor for Iron Man

I am in favor of the new armor, but I am not floored by it.  I like it slightly better than his previous armor.  I was hoping his new armor would mimic the movie armor, which I adore.  No character in the history of comic books has received more costume changes than Iron Man.  Iron Man was created in 1963.  From 1969 till about 1990, Iron Man had the same red and gold armor.  Then, Marvel started giving him new armors on a frequent basis.  I dont care for the small white lights on the armor, and I wonder why this new armor has the small lights?  Perhaps they are landing lights?  /sarcasm off.

- My first hack for the Google Nexus One phone.   This hack actually works for any android OS phone.  Cell-phones are notorious for quickly data switching from 3G to Edge and back again, when all you really want is to stay on 3G.  If you are using an android phone, open your dialer, type the following into the dialer as if you were placing a call "*#*#4636#*#*" select Phone Information, then select WCDMA only. This will force your android-based phone to only accept 3G connections.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Nexus One - Google Smartphone

- My Nexus One phone arrived today.

Several people have asked me about this phone and want to know more about it.  I plan on using this website to write extensively about my experiences with the Nexus One phone.  Here are some links to websites devoted to the Nexus One:

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Website renovations

-  Now that I am updating the website more often, the site will probably undergo periodic renovations for the next few weeks as I try to find a layout and color scheme that suits my needs.  A few weeks ago I switched to a blue/grey/white color scheme with rounded borders, but that particular scheme makes it very difficult to add or manipulate items on the website.  The rounded corners that look so nice on your screen are in fact gif images placed behind the text of the website.  Anytime I want to widen, shorten, move, or in any way modify the dimensions of the website, I must make all new border images to match the new layout.  Needless to say, this is a serious pain in the buttocks, so I am trying to find a simpler layout that still has a sophisticated look to it.

Sunday, January 03, 2010


- How to remove super glue from almost anything.  If I had a nickel for every time super glue got stuck to my fingers, I would have a lot of nickels stuck to my fingers:

- In conversation, when you mention what year it is, how will you phrase the year?  Will you say it is "two thousand and ten", or "two thousand ten" or "twenty ten"?  The following website is pushing the public to phrase the new year as "twenty ten" which sounds best to me.  Think of it this the year 1910, no one said "One thousand nine-hundred and ten."  In the end, I suspect most people will use the phrase "two thousand and ten."

- Which could you live without, the internet or cable TV?  Five years ago this would have been a difficult choice for me.  Now it's easy.  I would ditch cable TV.  Anything I can watch on cable TV I can find on the internet instead.  How about this question: which could you live without, the internet, or your cell-phone?  That's a tougher decision.  Post your choice and why to the comments section.  As of this writing, I cannot honestly decide which I would give up.  I can make arguments for both.

- In 1975 Bill Gates and his partner Paul Allen wrote the BASIC programming language for the Altair 8080 personal computer.  From that point in time and until roughly three years ago, any software with the Microsoft label was generally assumed to be the best money can buy.  Those days have disappeared.  Windows 7 is the new and best OS, Microsoft Office is still the most popular office suite application and Internet Explorer continues to dominate the web browser market.  All three computer programs, along with virtually all other Microsoft products, are dwindling in market share, and for good reason: they may no longer be the best.  Companies like Google (especially Google) stole or recruited the cracker-jack programmers from Microsoft.  I mention all this because I want you to try OpenOffice or Google Apps.  OpenOffice is an application suite, like Microsoft Office, developed by Sun Microsystems, the company that created the Java programming language.  OpenOffice does just about everything Microsoft Office does, but it has a simpler design and most importantly, it is completely free.  Google Apps is an online office suite.  It doesn't have as many bells and whistles as Microsoft Office or OpenOffice, but it's applications (word processor, spreadsheet, etc.) are all online.  This means as long as you have internet access, you have a word processor or spreadsheet.  All of your files are saved online.  Like OpenOffice, Google apps is completely free.  You probably wont switch from Microsoft Office, but since both are free, why not give them a try?