City of Ember: How Not to Build an Underground City to Survive the Apocalypse

City of Ember

Bill Murray & Tim Robbins’ new movie, City of Ember, was released about 3 weeks ago. Based on the lukewarm reception it’s had, i take it you missed it?

Sci Fi channel’s editorial column Lab Notes has a breakdown on one facet of the new movie. What the author looks at is how *not* to build a city underground if your goal is to survive Armageddon…in a giant cavern.

See the trailer at the bottom of this post, if you like that then perhaps you’re better off reading the book The City of Ember (Books of Ember) (amazon).

Here’s a summary:

Ember is a city built to last 200 years. The Builders of this city left instructions to the mayors in a box that would open by itself, unfortunately, one of the mayors was corrupt, and tossed the box into a closet, to be forgotten about for centuries. The year is 241. Lina Mayfleet, and Doon Harrow are two children in Ember that find themselves on a mission to save their dying city. For the citys lights are beginning to flicker, and the food supplies are running out.

Doon lands a job in the Pipeworks, to see if he can fix the generator. Lina’s job is simple, she is a messenger, but she soon finds herself in over her head when she discovers the instructions left by the builders so long ago. Her and Doon find themselves on an adventure when they discover the way out of Ember, but corrupt officials, and a treacherous mayor stand against their wishes of saving the city. With courage and heart they brave the darkness, all to help their citizens escape the dying city, and lead them to another world.


5 Reasons Why Luke Skywalker Is A Complete Idiot


Only George Lucas can really tell us why Luke is so danged stupid.

#3 His Insanely Stupid Plan To Rescue Han Solo from Jabba The Hutt:

You: “Okay, if you can just use your Force powers to get in to the palace and all the way to Jabba, then let’s just have you go in right now and get Han out.”

Luke: “No, that’s stupid. I’m going to get myself captured. Because then you see, we’ll be taken to the sarlacc pit and then, when we’re on the skiff, I’ll get sent out first and then R2-D2 will manage to get to the top of Jabba’s sail barge and shoot out my lightsaber, and then with Lando’s help, we’ll just—rescue everyone and then everything will be fine!”

You: “That is the stupidest plan I’ve ever heard of.”

Luke:“I’ve thought of everything.”

India’s Moon Shot On The Way


There goes the neighborhood.

Chandrayaan-1, India’s first spacecraft to Moon, was successfully launched yesterday (October 22, 2008) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR. 

All systems onboard the spacecraft are functioning normally. Further orbit raising maneuvers are planned in the coming few days.

The objective for the craft if to be placed in orbit around the moon and conduct mineralogical and chemical mappings.

Bill Gates’ Mysterious New Company


The graphic above is the logo for Bill Gates’ new company: bgC3. Yes, that’s right, several months after departing Microsoft, BillG is heading up a new company and it’s not too forthcoming with details, though Techflash has talked to an insider to get a sneak peek. I wonder if he’s going to invest in some kind of open source idea or possibly find himself heading up another big money machine.

As you can tell from the bgC3 homepage, there’s not too much to be gleaned about this business.

Possessed Hoarders


I found this short video documentary on compulsive hoarders (wikipedia), people whose lives are dominated by their relationship to possessions. The video is fascinating in a clinical sense, but could be scary or possibly revolting if you’re lacking in empathy for these folks because clearly there’s a psychological issue going on here.

The video is called ‘Possessed’, is about 20 minutes long and you meet 4 very different hoarders. If you enjoy watching medical mysteries or science shows, then I highly recommend watching it.

Plate Armor For Programs, Part 2


A while back, I was given an Ironkey 2gb flash drive to review for GeekNews.  I’ve had plenty of time now to put it through some testing, and now I’m going to lay my experiences out on the line for you.


The unit comes in a slick, stainless-steel, waterproof case that feels sturdy and with quite a heft to it compared to other flash drives I’ve used. The case is injected with an epoxy that covers the circuitry and keeps it dry and shock-resistant. Just looking at the drive itself, you can tell it’s secure, and that any tampering would cause the destruction of the drive. Having only a single seam along the back of the unit is a testament to its apparent strength and protection.

So setting up the Ironkey drive for the first time, it asked me to set up a login and password and configure the secure Web browser, taking just a few minutes. The Ironkey has an internal password generator that can create passwords for you that include normal, alphanumeric, or strong variants, depending on your desire for secure access to the unit.

Setting up your account online was the next step. After filling out the necessary information, and answering a few questions to setup the Ironkey services, I had access to an online password backup, device and software updates and use of Ironkey’s encrypted surfing service, through Firefox. Now I was ready to use the Ironkey!


So now I can plug in the drive in any computer with a USB 2.0 port, and a menu will appear on the bottom right hand portion of the screen, asking for your validation password. Once past that, you have several options available to you. Backup your files with encryption, a password manager, access to your account online, and changing settings. I knew from reading the documentation, that Firefox was included in the drive as a mobile app, so I decided to check that out first. And, true to word, Firefox settings were completely self contained, including cookies, passwords, and any temporary content generated via web surfing to several of my favorite haunts on the web. Plus, I had thought using the secure proxy via Ironkey’s encrypted web service would have slowed any surfing down, but I was pleased to be wrong. It was also handy to port over all my IE bookmarks, that serves as a secure backup just in case!


I spent some time copying files to and from the drive, and was pretty pleased with the transfer rate of 12mb (read) 10mb (write) even though the documentation proposes rates of 30mb (read) 20mb (write).  Taking about 5 minutes to fill up the available 1.6gb of available space, this drive isn’t the fastest I’ve used, but I believe the speed vs. security far outweighs any inconvenience.

Well, I work at home, so security isn’t generally an issue. However, it is nice to be able to lock the drive via the Ironkey menu at anytime, and still leave the drive in the USB port while going off to take care of other things. It’s a nice touch, and relieves me from having to remove the drive and pocket it every time I have to leave my desk. It is a semi-pain to have to type in your passkey again when you want to continue using it, especially if you’re using a 15 digit secure passkey complete with control characters, like me (Did I mention that if you enter your password ten times wrong, the drive circuitry self destructs?). But, such is the life of keeping your data secure.

So let’s say tragedy hits, and you’ve either lost or destroyed your drive. Ironkey offers a secure online backup service that allows you to restore any backed up data onto another Ironkey drive with little difficulty, and you’re on your way back to business once again. How cool is that?

In all, a very handy and secure flash drive in my opinion. Its satin debonair finish and heft definitely give it a class that I find lacking in most similar units. Definitely this would be recommended to those with a wish to keep their data secure in a fast and easy to use package.


Thanks again to Katie Mason, at Ironkey for the opportunity to review this device!

Diggy Games – Weird, Interesting, Lotsa Fun

I was introduced to Diggy Games last week and have spent a bit of time there in the last couple of days playing some interesting Flash-based free online games. It’s also got a lot of old school games you may have once loved and forgot about. One game new to me that was a little weird but fun is a version of Tower Defense, what’s different about it is that it uses Monkeys and Balloons as you can see below; it’s called Bloon Tower Defense.

Another of my favorites that allowed me to relive old times was Cloud Soldier, a side-scroller in the sky.

 Bloon Tower Defense

DJ’s Be Free! Audiotool Is Here!

All I can say is WOW.  Aside from the corny generic name, Audiotool by Hobnox is a crazy cool web based app for audio lovers.  This is a Frankenstein of Flash and Java that allows you to utilize a virtual recording studio to produce your own music and then publish it for the Hobnox community to check out.  Everything is controlled via your mouse, which makes producing slow, but manageable.  After playing with it for an hour, I was pleased with my results, but frustrated that I couldn’t export my track as a WAV file.  In all, a nice tool, bringing those without the cash for hardware into the producing game.  Way to go!


A Bucket ‘O News Links – 10-13-08

Games Space Invaders Gaming:

Microsoft Sues over Damaged Xbox Cargo [IDG News] -Microsoft is suing cargo delivery service DHL Express for allegedly losing 21,600 Xbox game consoles because of a 2007 train derailment in Texas.

Alliance to Research Games as Teaching Tools [Seattle P-I]-Microsoft and several universities have formed an alliance to investigate the use of video games as learning tools for young students.

‘Spore’ gets cute and spacey add-ons [CNET] -Your Spore creature could soon get even creepier–or cuter, depending on your preferences in primordial beings. Electronic Arts on Monday officially confirmed rumors that an expansion pack titled Spore Creepy & Cute Parts Pack will be available worldwide as soon as November 18.

Budget Gaming 101: Tips For The Broke Gamer [Consumerist] – Frugal gaming tips galore. Read the comments

Pocket ProtectorTech:

‘Unbreakable’ Encryption Technology Demoed [BBC News]-Perfect secrecy is a step closer with the launch of the world’s first computer network protected by unbreakable quantum encryption.

OpenOffice 3.0 released, for Mac [Macworld] – The Community announced Monday the release of 3.0, a free office software suite designed as an alternative to Microsoft Office.

Green Fluorescent Protein Scientists Win Nobel Prize In Chemistry [AHN] – A Japanese national and two American researchers won this year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the discovery of the green fluorescent protein, or GFP as well as utilizing biological processes inside cells and behind diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Pocket PC Gadgets:

Windows Mobile Firefox ‘Just Weeks Away’ [WindowsForDevices]-Code-named “Fennec” for now, the browser will sport a finger-friendly interface with “kinetic” scrolling, an “expose” feature for tabs, and an optional geolocation feature.

Reality To Go: 3-D Virtual Reality on Mobile Devices [Science Daily]-New information architecture from researchers in Offenburg, Germany puts 3-D visualizations in the palm of your hand.

T-Mobile Preorders 1.5 Million Android G1s [CRN] – T-Mobile has already taken 1.5 million preorders of Google’s G1 Android phone, according to reports.

Internet Web News:

Google Agrees to Work with Click Forensics [PCWorld] – Google is now cooperating with Click Forensics, a click-fraud detection company that Google in the past has accused of issuing misleading data.

Going Wireless without Wi-Fi [International Herald Tribune] – A cellular phone network system is competing with WiMAX to be the next generation of wireless connection to the Web.

Ballmer’s ‘Miss’ on Yahoo Looks Good Now [Bloomberg News] -Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said he was disappointed Yahoo refused a takeover offer that went as high as $47.5 billion back in May. Now he looks lucky.

Google: Yes, If Revenue Craters, We’ll Fire People [Silicon Valley Insider] – Sensationalist title, but the gist of it is true

A Little Link Love

Geek Love

Here’s some link love for sites that have linked to Geeknews recently. – GeeG is a new geeky site that covers Aliens to Global Warming to Photoshop. – Mike created Blue Onion Software as a personal project. So far it’s looking pretty good, especially since one of his goals is to work on expressing himself and experimenting with technology. – I don’t speak or read Hebrew, but from browsing the site it appears to focus on pointing to sources of information on the net to learn technology, with at least some focus on coding. – I think the blog url says it all. It’s a private site so you can’t peek unless you have the codeword. 🙂 – This is like Geeknews but for my neighbors to the South in Mexico. – “because there’s life outside the basement”. – I never did figure out what The Fourth Checkraise is about, but i’ve suspected Ilkka is smarter than me and has a plan to take over the world one day. If so, I hope I can be a henchman.

Group Wants Next President to Disclose ‘Truth’ About UFOs

Obama UFO 

As if the upcoming new president of the US doesn’t have enough to deal with, the Paradigm Research Group is trying to pressure Washington DC into releasing evidence of UFOs. They’re doing this through an initiative called the Million Fax on Washington, it’s a campaign to pressure politicians in capitulation.

Good luck with that. Wired has the details on the story.

Other related stories include:

Sumo Paint Stomps Into Beta

I came across this beauty today in my meanderings on the net.  Sumo Paint is a Photoshop clone that works entirely from your web browser.  Now I’ve never been into the Photoshop scene, so I can’t pretend to know about all its complexities, but this web based version seems to have all the bells and whistles.  I uploaded an image and fooled around with a variety of the settings, turning a perfectly good image into something that resembles a plate of dog food.  BUT, I had fun doing it 😉


Get it while it’s hot, friends.  Who knows how long a good thing like this will remain free?

iMovee – Virtual Big Screen TV on the Go

iMovee - 1

iMovee is a hip product. It’s stylish glasses, aka, private entertainment video glasses, that project a virtual big screen television inches in front of your eyes. The best part is that it works with your iPhone, Zune, Xbox, Wii, lots of mobile phones and other gadgets.

This is great for dental patients, passengers on a plane or any other situation where you want to just get away, but can’t. The newest model – iMovee AIBO Mobile TV – has a sleek robotic feel to it and has an MSRP of US$349.95.

We’ll try to obtain one for testing.

iMovee - 2

Surreal World Of Daxo

Truthfully, I don’t know what the purpose of this website is, other than being a window into the soul of a twisted or severely profound person.  I spent thirty minutes there, and still don’t know what, if anything, that I was doing.

Check it out.  I would suggest turning down the volume a bit, some of the items in this website tend to get a bit noisy.  Have fun!