Collecting Whale Snot. Not The Dirty Job You Think It Is

Helo collecting snot

Until recently, most of what scientists know about whales comes from dissecting the ones that have washed ashore or through examining captive specimens.

Now scientists are using small, remotely controlled helos to maneuver above a whale’s blowhole and sample the mist it blows into the air. Their blowhole could be thought of as somewhat similar to our nostrils in the sense that during exhale there’s an accumulation of mucus and other interesting matter. These samples can reveal bacteria lurking in these beasts.

Christmas Gift Idea #1 – Kota The Triceratops Dinosaur

Make friends with your new pet: a baby dinosaur! Never mind that it’s for kids, it’s animatronic!

KOTA The Triceratops Dinosaur from Playskool is a 35 lb, 3 foot long animatronic that’s going to be all the rage this year for Christmas….well, was going to be the rage before the recession finally settled in for a long winter’s nap recently.

This monstrosity costs US$300 (on sale at Amazon for US$239.99, get yours today!), it roars a dino greeting, waggles its tale, rears its head and chomps on whatever you stick in it’s mouth.

And since Playskool is encouraging kids to hop on his back, you better have your insurance details handy for the medic or your attorney’s mobile number on file because I’m assuming little junior will be falling off (this dire warning is based on the numerous reminders to parents in the toy description that kids should be supervised while ‘riding’ Kota due to possible injuries).

Wall-E Bot Save yourself a few hundred bucks and get yourself a U Command Wall-E bot instead (w/ 1000 action combos!), it’s only US$71. Oh, wait a minute, that makes Christmas Gift Idea #2!

Pixar’s UP Trailer

Curmudgeons like me love movies about other curmudgeons. Take for instance WC Fields, or Felix from The Odd Couple, and then there’s Grumpy Old Men, and who could forget about Al Bundy from Married with Children or Ebenezer Scrooge? Or even better, how about Gregory House from the Fox show….House?

Who are some of your favorite curmudgeons?

Now I have this to look forward to:

What Kinds Of Poker Software Should I Use?

Editor’s Note: Today we have a special guest post from Jennifer Curtis. The topic is Poker software, I have to admit that I’m a horrible poker player and stand to learn something here. In fact, I’m one of the worst gamblers out there and when I’m in Vegas I stick to nothing more than quarter slots and set a limit of around $50 per day. Otherwise I’d be walking out without my shirt on and trust me, you don’t want to see that. 😉

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It’s a commonly accepted fact of life in the 21st Century that there’s almost nothing that can be accomplished these days without the help of a software program. This general trend certainly applies if you choose to play online poker as much as any of life’s most important pursuits. With Internet poker becoming an increasingly popular diversion for gaming fans all over the world, a lot of people is realizing that they can use their computer for more than having fun at online casinos. In fact, there are a number of excellent software programs out there that can be used to have a tremendously positive impact on your own personal poker skills. Furthermore, many of these programs are designed in a way to make the use of them as much fun as it is educational. So without any further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best poker software available to the discerning consumer.

MNA Texas Hold’em Assistant – this program is noteworthy in that it is entirely web-based, so there’s no need to download anything. Designed to make the mastery of Hold’em attainable for all players, this killer program calculates the probabilities for all of the hands that can be produced from a combination of 2 hole cards and a flop, with additional options for the turn and river.

Pokenum: Poker Hand Analyzer – this is an invaluable aide for determining hand strength applying to Texas Hold’em, Stud and even Lowball. The software simulates many hands so you can figure out the winning percentage of your hand against others. You can even add more cards to the board and see how your strength changes as the board progresses.

Frugal Gambler Video Poker Teacher – this is a downloadable software program that easily teaches you to play video poker. It charts your winnings and loses so you can keep close track of the progress you are making. A review of these programs (representing only a small portion of all on the market) should give you a good idea of how much great poker software is out there. Stay updated to the latest poker news to find a program that delivers exactly the combination of features you are looking for.

Mobile & Gadget News – 11/10/08

Pocket PC

Silverlight on Windows Mobile Devices [Channel 9] – This PDC 2008 session recording is for you if you’ve been developing Silverlight apps and wondering when/if you can port them to mobile devices.

Microsoft Tries to Snatch Verizon Deal from Google [Wall Street Journal] – Microsoft is working to lure from Google a mobile deal with Verizon Wireless by offering a sweeter bid to put its search service and related advertising on Verizon phones, sources say.

Sprint Struggles to Keep Pace with Rivals [InternetNews] With a big payoff from its WiMAX efforts still a good distance away, the No. 3 U.S. carrier has a long road ahead of it.

Tethering App Coming To iPhone [InformationWeek] An approved way to use the iPhone 3G as a wireless modem for computers is expected soon, but there’s no definite timetable and it will most likely cost more per month.

Should Apple Free the iPhone? [InternetNews] – Harvard law professor takes aim at device makers’ restrictive app policies.

J.D. Power: iPhone Tops in Customer Satisfaction [Fortune]  – Apple’s iPhone ranked highest in customer satisfaction in a smartphone survey by J.D. Power and Associates, surpassing handsets by Research In Motion and Samsung.

Huawei to Launch Android and Symbian Smartphones – [InfoWorld] – Chinese network company Huawei Technologies is planning to launch smartphones based on the Android and Symbian operating systems in the first half of 2009.
Services

AT&T to Buy Wi-Fi Firm Wayport [CNET] AT&T will acquire Wayport for $275 million, extending its Wi-Fi reach amid growing demand from customers for wireless Internet access.

Honda’s Assisted Walking Unit, But Can It Help You In the Toilet Stall?

Honda walking unit

Honda recently showed off it’s assisted walking unit. You simply straddle it as you would a bicycle, but it has ‘shoes’ for you to place your feet. Then the unit senses your leg movements and assists the person’s leg movements. Think of it as a poor man’s version of the Iron Man suit. This is great for the elderly or those with weak knees or back that need help walking up stairs or squatting for long periods of time.

Note, this thing is not competing with military-grade exoskeletons like this bad boy.

For its first honest test in the real world, Honda is planning to role this out to the Honda automotive workers on the factory floor that need to kneel, bend and stress their knees and back a little too much throughout the day.

Now here’s my recommendations to take this device to the next level:

  • Let the device provide assistance with bathroom breaks. I’m not going into details here, use your imagination
  • Let NFL running backs use this to extend their careers a few extra years. Even better, start negotiating with the Olympic Committee to allow track and field events to leverage these legs
  • Develop a lightweight swimmer’s version
  • Make a mini-version that we can outfit our elderly pets with. It’s just not the same once they can no longer leap onto your bed, Rover and Kitty deserve something like this

As a great usage scenario to show its durability, Honda should task someone with climbing Mt. Everest with one of these. How cool would that be?

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

Identity

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?

Will Beyoncé Lasso the Role of Wonder Woman?

Beyonce - Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman the movie has been an on again, off again affair for Warner Bros since around 2001. It’s currently on again with a pair of writers assigned to the script but don’t anticipate seeing this flik on the big screen until 2011 at the earliest. You can keep abreast of WW movie news at IMDB’s news page dedicated to the superhero, but the latest and greatest news comes to us from the LA Times:

Beyoncé is ready for an Amazon-sized challenge — the pop superstar wants to be the first actress to wear Wonder Woman’s famed red, white and blue bathing suit on the silver screen.

“I want to do a superhero movie and what would be better than Wonder Woman? It would be great. And it would be a very bold choice. A black Wonder Woman would be a powerful thing. It’s time for that, right?”

I’m not a fan of the singer, not because I don’t care for her music but because I only know her by name and that’s it. But based on the comments from readers of the LAT article, I have to say that we may be better off considering someone else. Are those comments off base? Should I actually look forward to seeing her in that skimpy outfit and toting the lasso of truth?

Dreamhost – How Tolerant Should I Be?

Hindenburg

12 months ago I moved Geeknews over to Dreamhost services from Supernova.net. The reason for the move was Supernova’s flakiness in uptime. The last straw in my patience was when their servers went offline for over a week. Not just Geeknews was affected by the outage but so was my family site that was responsible for hosting the family’s e-mail.

Since the move to Dreamhost though it seems as if I’m plagued with bad luck. Numerous times in the last year their file servers have gone offline for over 12 hours at a time, meaning Geeknews along with hundreds or thousands of other sites hosted on that server, or its disk array, have been inaccessible. It also seems that most Friday’s the site goes offline for an hour, probably for maintenance?

A few weeks ago the outage lasted a couple of days, again this Friday evening we were offline until Sunday morning. Each time we’re offline we either get moved to a new server or the existing server is reconstructed and each time the disks are refreshed with a backup image that is 7 days old meaning i’ve lost all files (mostly images) uploaded in that time and need to go back and clean it up…again. So for the 2nd time in two weeks I’m reconstructing the site.

I can’t imagine if I had customers dependent on my site being available like some of the poor people affected by the outage, thank god I just do Geeknews as a labor of love or else I’d be apoplectic right now instead of just very annoyed.

I have a lot of sympathy for the support folks, it’s not their fault HW goes offline, but it would appear the management needs to invest more in fault tolerance, backups, alternative HW in hot standby to switch us over to with just hours of downtime as opposed to days, so they can work on the failed machine at their leisure.

Moving to a new host provider is such a fraking hassle, though I guess I should at least start looking now and staging the content to flip the switch the next time DH is offline.

So where do I go? While lamenting the latest DH outage with other folks suffering, I hear that Bluehost and Media Temple are good options. Do you have recommendations?

The 50 Skills Every Geek Should Have

Beauty and the Geek

Andrea from Gizmodo clued me into a new post on their site this morning while I was at work. I set it aside figuring I’ll check it out in the evening and blog it. By the time I get to it at the end of the day digg has already done its thing and made it quite popular, so once again I’m late to the party 🙂

Gizmodo posted a list of 50 life skills every geek must have. Examples:

5. Wire your house for Ethernet and Coax cable

18. Fix your parents’ computer over the phone without looking at a computer

48. Calibrate a 7.1 surround-sound system

Go read and rate yourself, report back here on how you fared. What’s missing from the list? I propose we add the following :

1. Roll up a pen and paper RPG character in under 3 minutes

2. Coded at least one program as a teenager

3. Teach black hole theory to your science challenged spouse

Brazil Markets GPS ‘Find Me If You Can’ Lingerie

Brazillian GPS Lingerie

What a great geeky device to get  your wife/GF for Christmas, it’s a gadget and it’s also sexy. Retailing from US$800-1100, it’s lingerie with a GPS stitched into it.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Lingerie maker Lucia Iorio says her new design targets the modern, techno-savvy woman, but the GPS-equipped “Find Me If You Can” line has raised the hackles of feminists who call it a 21st-century chastity belt.

 

[via The Raw Feed]

Japanese Man Petitions to Marry Manga Character

 Manga Girl

A Japanese man has enlisted hundreds of people in a campaign to allow marriages between humans and cartoon characters, saying he feels more at ease in the “two-dimensional world.”

Sigh. What the heck, let him have his fun, what’s it going to hurt? But society should get to determine who he marries. Let’s see, it won’t be a hot chick in a bathing suit or short skirt or one that that wields a sword. How about a manga cat or snake?

Yahoo News has the details.

 

[via digg]