Geeky Christmas Ornaments


Geeky Christmas Ornaments

These are some new, cool and geeky Christmas ornaments to adorn your tree. I’m kind of partial to the Santa Popeye ornament, though i can imagine he’s dropping off cans of spinach in the stocking and that would *not* be cool :)

The artist is Mike Gaiss. He’s a sculptor of geeky stuff and a stop motion animator. He worked for Jim Henson and Will Vinton (the PJ’s), Opie and Anthony show and more. This year he’s been showing at Bottleneck NYC and Hero Complex Gallery LA.

Check out the Zeitgaiss etsy shop for more.

Croak it, Sharing Audio


Now this is a very handy web app that I have started using and just had to share this with you. It’s called It allows you to record 30 seconds of audio from your PC (or some mobile phones) then share that recording via a private url hosting that audio file.

I am learning Chinese and quite often I meet online through Skype or messenger apps like QQ or MSN Messenger to speak English and Chinese. It’s a nice, sharing, relationship with my language partners in China.

However, because of the time difference it’s sometimes challenging to get together during the week. This is where a web app like can come be very useful so you can record your question, or practice the language, then share the url with your partner. They can now listen and respond with corrections for you.

I learned about from the  Chinese learning site Study More Chinese.

The only downside is the length of the recording is just 30 seconds. But I still give it a big thumbs-up.

The Crow Vending Machine

American Crow

I’m a big fan of crows, they’re all around me in the Pacific Northwest, they’re intelligent and I love seeing them solve puzzles. Most geeks are probably already aware that crows are pretty unique in the animal kingdom known to create tools and use them (if you’re not aware of this, you can see a short snippet of this tool creation in the following video).

Hacker and writer Joshua Klein is fascinated by crows. (Notice the gleam of intelligence in their little black eyes?) After a long amateur study of corvid behavior, he’s come up with an elegant machine that may form a new bond between animal and human.

After watching the video, check out these links if you want more on this vending machine:
Gizmodo did a review of the device
A paper written about the concept
Josh is also seeking support to make this device more readily available, he needs electrical and mechanical engineers to join him and needs a little funding to support it.

Naughty or Nice

Just in time for Christmas, a couple of enterprising folks created a simple website to determine whether people have been naughty or nice this year. Simply log in via your Facebook or Twitter account and the website’s server parses all the tweets or posts for the year and determines whether you’ve been naughty or nice.

That’s an objective way of determining whether your stocking will see gifts or coal this year. 

Check out the site to see the results of parsing some famous people.

Galaxiki: A Sci-Fi Galaxy You’re Invited to Help Shape & Edit


At, each star, each planet and each moon in this online fictional galaxy is represented by a wiki page that can be edited by its site members. Users can make changes to solar systems, add creatures and write stories. One of the main goals is to invent and write collaborative stories, which requires users to make sure their solar system histories remain compatible.

You can also edit most of the solar system physics, add or edit planetary rings as well. There are also social networking features including solar system ratings and comments, bookmarks, user awards and user status updates.

Galaxiki membership and editing community stars is free. Though some users want to own a personal solar system that cannot be edited by other members, you can get your own personal system by making a donation.

Super Bowl Ad Stories: How a 12-Year-Old Rescued This Coke Ad

“That ending is terrible. This is a Coke ad. We can’t do that,” they told him.

Curtis walked out the meeting, somewhat dejected. He had no ideas for alternative endings.  … Curtis went home and sat down to dinner with his wife and his two high-school-aged children. His wife asked how the day’s presentation went. He told them about his predicament. Then his son, Will, who was about 12 at the time, piped up with a suggestion.

That was it. Curtis went back to Coke with the idea, and they loved it.

via Fastcompany

Yet Another Online Dictionary


I stumbled across a site that describes itself as an “incredibly fast dictionary”. It’s known as definr (

The first question I asked myself is whether we need yet another online dictionary. Some folks use Wiktionary, much like Wikipedia it’s only as accurate as the folks making the entries want it to be, so most folks probably leverage something they trust: Compact Oxford, American Heritage, Merriam-Webster’s to name a few.

Yes definr is fast, blazingly so partly because it caches the top 10,000 definitions in memory. It also tries to guess what you’re typing as you’re typing a word to search, by the time you click Enter it’s got a definition at the ready.

The quality of the answers is ok, nothing to write home about when I compared some sample words to three dictionaries I trust listed above, but it’s better than some. While it’s not the best, it is worth taking a look at in my opinion. The value of seeing it propose possible words as you’re typing is interesting because it offers me an opportunity to discover new words previously unknown to me and that gets me excited because I’m a word geek. For instance, when I tried testing it’s ability to handle Gen Y lexicon such as “Fark”, by the time I got to the ‘k’ it offered the word farkleberry. Where the heck else would I have been offered an opportunity to learn about the farkleberry and sparkleberry bushes from eastern United States? :-)

BTW, ‘Fark’ was not in the definr dictionary, this is a good thing. The database is based on Princeton’s open WordNet 2.0, believe it or not you can download this lexical database yourself.

The verdict? I’m going to stick with OneLook as my first stop for dictionary searches, but I’m adding definr to my browser’s search plugins as a quick/available alternative because I think it has promise and it offers me a learning opportunity.

UPDATE Jan 2015:

Samuel Chong from Pasadena City College has assembled an amazing collection of wordnets for many languages. Check it out.

Wix Website Builder


Here’s an interesting website I came across a few days ago, called Wix.  It’s one of the many flavors of free website builders you can find out there in the interweb.  I found this one to be simpler and more intuitive to use in many ways, than the other builders I have attempted to use in the past.  After signing up for a free account, you can have a functioning website setup in less than ten minutes.  After spending some time on it, I managed to create a website using one of Wix’s premade templates that looked nearly professional enough to use mainstream!

Check it out and have fun.  If you make a website, tell us about it here, and maybe we’ll give you some exposure :)  Cheers!

Playmobil Security Check Point Toy? WTF?

How in the world a toy company thought this would make for an interesting plaything I’ll probably never know. But here it is, available on Amazon for US $55 in all it’s Homeland Security glory. The only thing missing is the ATF, the cavity searches, the torn locks on the luggage and the latex gloves.

The review comments are simply hilarious! Here’s just one great sample where some serious flaws were uncovered:

I was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger’s shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger’s scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said "that’s the worst security ever!". But it turned out to be okay, because when the passenger got on the Playmobil B757 and tried to hijack it, she was mobbed by a couple of other heroic passengers, who only sustained minor injuries in the scuffle, which were treated at the Playmobil Hospital.

You like this, eh? That’s nothing, how about the Playmobil Safe-Cracker?!

Plymobil Security checkpoint

How Long Would it Take to Brute Force Crack Your Password?


Hackosis is hosting a project on their site that will analyze the strength of your password (without entering  your PW). Not only that, but the best part is that they’ll clue in to just how easy or difficult it will be to use a brute force crack to solve your PW just using a run of the mill PC.

Password Strength

Your password is 10 characters long and has 18,429,771,776,000 combinations.
It takes 67.05 hours or 2.79 days to crack your password on computer that tries 137,438,953,472 passwords per hour. This is based on a typical PC processor in 2008 and that the processor is under 10% load.

OK folks. How strong is your password?