8 Keys to Instant Charisma

I wonder how many people see the title and think “ah, little known tricks in D&D, wonder if this is a loophole found in the 4e version already. 😛

I found this article 8 Keys to Instant Charisma at ‘The Best Article Every day’.

Some of the tips I was already aware of such as ‘mirroring’ the person you’re interacting with, I learned that little trick when I first started thinking about dating girls. Yes, i analyze everything.

What Is That?

So after a brief discussion, we’ve decided to put up WIT posts once a week on Wednesdays.  I have a TON of images I can use for your guessing pleasure, but I don’t want to deluge the blog with them!  Best to spread them out 😉

I always have a difficult time deciding which image to put up next, so I just assign random numbers to each, and use the next on in the queue.  And that, folks, is the pic you see before you now!  Ooooooh….shiny!


Show some comment love, and give us some guesses 8)

Is Virtual Destruction an Art Form?

Games - PacMan

The designers at Criterion, makers of the “Burnout” series, understand a part of gamer psychology that is rarely discussed: gamers are thrilled by wanton destruction. Call it “physics porn.”

If you’ve never had the pleasure of playing the Burnout series as one example of destruction being a good thing, then you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Most crashes are pretty realistic in Burnout, but check this one out on youtube; unbelievable…but fun!

Read Wired news about the heart-stoppingly beautiful art form of virtual destruction and why we love it.

Green News Links

Green Earth

Global Warming to Kill 10,000 by 2012
Environmental Graffiti
A report released by the British government warned the country’s National Health System to expect thousands more deaths and complications from heatwaves, malaria, and contaminated water as global warming effects progress in the next five years.

Visual Guide to Recycling Plastics #1 thru #7
Most recycling programs only accept plastics #1 and #2, so being able to quickly identify them can be a time saver when sorting your recycling.

An interview with Google’s green energy czar
The phrase “to Google” has become synonymous with “to search.” But soon it may connote something altogether different: “to green.” That is, if the internet titan can successfully pull off its latest world-changing endeavor.

Rich Green Investors Like Solar
It appears that another covey of wealthy, Venture-Capitalists and Uber-Investors are going to be putting their money where they see sunny, money-making opportunities. Khosla Ventures, Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital and Bill Gross’ Idealab — are backing yet another new player in the increasingly hot market for large-scale solar power, pumping $50 million into Infinia, a Kennewick, Wash., company manufacturing a Stirling solar dish.

Valentine Blog Spam Update #1

This is an update to the post V1agr4 Spam Is Old And Busted, Valentine Spam Is The New Hotness on the 10th of Feb where I talked about a new and troubling trend (i like using that phrase).

Since then, the incoming rate of Valentine spam has remained at about 40 per day now which is pretty impressive. I’m guessing the spammers are holding out hope that the keyword searches using Valentine in it are expected to continue during the week which is understandable. Regarding this question i had posed:

2. Will it slow or stop in the few days leading to Thursday?

The answer thus far is “no”, it has not slowed or stopped, though I’ll continue to monitor :)

I’m expecting it’ll continue through Valentine’s Day but not after. That will show how closely the spammer(s) are watching and trying to stay in step with the expected behavioral patterns of people.

If these guys/gals are really good they’d also be monitoring Google Trends to see what the search trends are and try to piggyback on those popular keywords or the 2nd and 3rd tier of popular keywords.

Your Solar-Powered Tombstone Has Arrived

Serenity Vidstone

Solar powered Tombstone?  What. The. Hell.

I learned of this interesting monstrosity gadget from groovygreen.com.

The Vidstone Serenity Panel is a video panel embedded in a tombstone for an added cost of $2000 and it uses a solar-powered panel. From the Vidstone site:

…provides families with the option of viewing a custom-created multimedia tribute at a loved one’s place of rest. This 7” LCD Panel attaches to most upright or slanted gravesite monuments, including gravestones, mausoleums and columbariums. At the mere touch of a button, a 5 to 8 minute video plays on the screen, recounting the most precious and poignant memories of a loved one.

It even comes with a head-phone jack. Let’s hope the tombstone doesn’t wind up under a tree where it’s shaded!

Marvel Universe Online Canceled


Some folks were no doubt excited at the possibility of Spiderman and X-men rocking on the screen, cracking skulls and taking names. But it appears those fantasies will have to remain just that for now since Shane Kim from Microsoft Game Studios tells MTV:

I’ll confirm. Marvel and we have agreed to end development on the MMO. It was an amicable decision…. It’s just something that we felt that, for us and for them, it would be better if we ended development. Which is disappointing, because that had a lot of promise. But sometimes you have to make these decisions.

When asked what went wrong:

It’s a tough space. It’s a very competitive space. And it’s a space that’s changing quite a bit. …When we first entered into the development and agreement of the development of ‘Marvel Universe Online,’ we thought we would create another subscription-based MMO.

Kim goes on to beat around the bush on difficulties in trying to find the right model to generate revenue and be competitive in a World of Warcraft universe.

That article linked above also has inside info on Gears of War2, Mass Effect, Halo Wars RTS and Fable 2.

Windows Mobile Wins Over Sony Ericsson

Sony Ericsson

In a coup for Microsoft, Sony Ericsson for the first time will offer a smartphone that runs on the Windows Mobile operating system.

This is boding well for the Windows Mobile team whose worldwide market share has risen from 9 to 13% in just one year and 4 out of 5 of the world’s top handset makers are also on board with Windows. Though with Symbian dominating with a 48% share of every phone on the planet there’s a lot of room to grow for competitors in the mobile phone OS biz.

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‘Green’ Robot Hits The Waves, Runs On Ocean Heat

Ocean Glider 

A new underwater robot has been test-gliding continuously beneath the 4,000-meter-deep Virgin Islands Basin since December, powered by an unlimited supply of ocean heat.

The seagoing glider, which uses thermal energy from the ocean to propel itself, is the first “green” robot to explore underseas. It draws energy from the differences in temperature between warm surface waters and the colder, deeper layers.

In the photo above, the glider is resting on at the surface in the Caribbean before it once again dives into the Virgin Islands Basin between St. Thomas and St. Croix.

The idea for the thermal glider was first conceived in the 1980s by Doug Webb.

Read more about it at the Washington Post or TG Daily.

Learning From Podcasts: Foreign Policy After 9/11

podcasts and podiobooks

Want to learn and not have to attend school or sit in front of the PC and study or open a book and have to dredge through hundreds of pages of text?

Then I have an answer for you! Let the universities and learned experts in your field of interest come to you for free, via podcasts. Learn while you drive to work or while you’re working out.

One example is the UC Berkeley series they’ve made available for regular Joes like you and me to learn about Foreign Policy post-911. This series has 11 podcasts from the professor of the course as well as his guest speaker.

Topics range from “What terrorists want” to “War clouds over the Persian gulf”. But the most interesting download is #10 near the end of the course called “Day of Empire” by guest speaker Amy Chua discussing one of topics of her book of the same name (link to her book on Amazon).

Day of Empire is in-depth analysis of how hyperpowers rise to global dominance and how they fall, from the Mongols to the British Empire to the United States. I’ve been interested in the military and political powers throughout history since I was in high school and thought I had a good handle on the similarities between the previous powers and the USA today, But after listening to the sample link to this particular discussion posted below I came aware with new insight, some of which scares me even more about our future than I was before.

Name: UC Berkeley Course: Foreign Policy After 9/11
RSS: Podcast subscription Link
Web: Home Website
Speaking ability: Varies, depends on the speaker of the day.
Length: Long, roughly 50-60 minutes per session
Sample desc/link: Day of Empire by guest speaker Amy Chua (mp3)
Bonus: Download in either MP3 or RM format

Booting Linux In Under 40 Seconds


Power users of an OS will periodically obsess over optimizing aspects of their OS environment. Creating shortcuts to save 3 clicks, Turning off unneeded or unwanted services, tweaking the HOSTS file to reduce name resolution times, improving their graphics processing.

And then there’s the desire to reduce the time to get from an Off state to the point where you can interact with the shell. In other words, reduce the boot time. This is desirable no matter what the OS, but yesterday I came across an article that walks you through reducing the boot times for Linux.

In a nutshell, the author explains how to enable Hibernate on your Linux box, including rebuilding your kernel to add the Hibernate power management functions.

He also includes a youtube demo of his laptop’s 32 Sec boot cycle.

V1agr4 Spam Is Old And Busted, Valentine Spam Is The New Hotness


I gotta hand it to the spammers, they’re a smart bunch and I’ve been noticing a new and troubling trend for months now. It’s possible this is an old tactic and I’ve only just noticed it on Geeknews.

All week Geeknews has been receiving and catching dozens upon dozens of spam comments every day with ‘Valentines’ in the keywords.

No doubt they’re trying to drive up the pagerank of the sites they’re linking to as men and women worldwide are searching with that holiday keyword as we gear up to the big day, Thursday Feb 14 2008.

A couple of things I’m interested in monitoring here:

1. How quickly will the ‘valentine’ keyword fall out of favor by the spammer(s)?

2. Will it slow or stop in the few days leading to Thursday?

3. Will it continue up to that very day when it’s basically too late to capitalize on the holiday searches because the blog may not be crawled in time?

4. If this spammer is targeting blog comments in blogs located primarily in the Western civilizations, then I suspect they will transition to the next big holiday after Valentines which is Easter. So, assuming this ‘ad campaign’ i’m watching is relatively successful enough for him/her to continue the trend, when will I see the first ‘Easter’ related spam comment?

Note: I did receive one Valentine spam with what might be considered a crossover spam to Easter:

Happy bunny valentine

Here’s a small sampling of the Valentine spam comments caught just in the last 3-4 hours:

Quick free thoughtful valentine’s gifts
Recipe for valentine chocolate candy
Regalos para dia de san valentine
Geometry valentines poems
Funny valentines quotes
Sailors valentine gallery nantucket
Fun valentine gift for him
Simpson valentine
Gift golf valentine
Gift guy teen valentine
Gothic valentines e card
Hallmark best valentine
Happy bunny valentine

Pubic Lice: Geeknews To The Rescue?

I use Google analytics and check it out from time to time, I periodically monitor referrer logs, once in a while I check the WordPress stats to ensure everything appears to be hunky dory and for the most part this site just hangs in their on cruise control until the host provider screws up. I usually don’t react to what I see in the logs unless a particularly popular article is trending towards hitting my bandwidth limit for the month.

But a few weeks ago I noticed an innocuous referrer search query of “Pubic Lice” that sent some poor soul to Geeknews, probably in hopes of a salve or other cure for their ailment.

Then there were a few more, and a few dozen more queries for days after that. Yesterday, ‘pubic lice’ related queries accounted for the #3 and #8 most referred search queries since Jan1.

Sidebar: The #1 query’s keywords is also interesting but baffling to me since there’s no way I’m high enough on the returned search lists for people to click through to Geeknews. But I’ll discuss that later.


I already knew the page they were hitting, in fact I knew without having to dig it out of the analysis logs. I had posted something almost one year ago called ‘How Do You Get Crabs From A Gorilla?‘ , it had a wonderful pic of a bug that just grossed out the wife to no end, its topic was of course pubic lice and how it relates to our human ancestors. Go ahead and satisfy your curiosity by checking out the page, I understand, the picture is worth a quick click over.

What am I going to do about it? Nothing.

Though maybe putting in an advert like this one for eliminating the pest wouldn’t be such a bad idea, what do you think? This is assuming that they have a problem.

What Is That?

I can’t believe how fast you guys guessed that last one!  Well, I keep trying to stump you!  Hopefully this one will give you some pause….


Toss your hat in the ring and make a guess in comments!

BTW, if you want to submit any photos for future WIT posts, email them to 2007@geeknews.net (update that Andy!).  PLEASE make sure that you submit either original images (taken yourself) or have the express permission of the original owner to use a image found elsewhere.  Thanks!

Angelina Jolie: "I don’t do computers"

Angelina Jolie

She starred in several high tech productions including Tomb Raider and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. But in real life she’s quite technically challenged, one might say an anti-geek. Angelina Jolie recently revealed on stage while receiving an award she quipped:

As Brad knows, I don’t really know how to turn on a computer

Funny that, coming from the actress of Hackers fer crying out loud.

Ms. Jolie, you don’t need to know how to turn it on, we’ll be happy to turn it on for you. Just tell us when and where, we’ll gladly push your buttons. In reality, these people that claim they don’t know how to do something as simple as push a button or move a mouse are trying to show off how successful they are that they don’t need to know how to do common chores like, oh, driving their own car or pushing a button labeled ‘Power’.

Some of the funniest comments on Digg over this story:

– Because Brad pwns her in CS.
– I don’t use Angelina Jolie so I guess we are even.
– That explains her “performance” in Hackers.
– Can’t blame her. Every time she go near a computer, her huge lips get caught in the cooling fan.
– Reminds me of that Simpsons episode with the Malibu Stacy doll where one of her lines was “Thinking gives you wrinkles”.
– News flash! Angelina Jolie doesn’t use computers! Yeah, thats news….

Turing Award Honors Founders of Automatic Verification Technology

The Association for Computing Machinery, has named three gentlemen co-winners of the 2007 A.M. Turing Award, widely considered the most prestigious award in computing which recently received an infusion of cash donations from Intel and GOOG.

The winners are Edmund M. Clarke, E. Allen Emerson, and Joseph Sifakis; they won it for their original and continuing research in a quality assurance process known as Model Checking. .

Their innovations transformed this approach from a theoretical technique to a highly effective verification technology that enables computer hardware and software engineers to find errors efficiently in complex system designs.

You can read the rest of the announcement here, or jump to the ACM Turing homepage.

Tutorial Explores Mobile/Embedded Ubuntu

Mobile - Embedded Ubuntu

Ubuntu’s latest release, Gutsy Gibbon, now includes support for the embedded and mobile spaces with the Ubuntu Mobile and Embedded (UME) project.

LinuxDevices.com reports that IBM is hosting a hand’s on technical tutorial to introduce you to the Ubuntu Mobile and Embedded (UME) project, its architecture, and its use. How to install and test the Hildon desktop, build a dev environment for a mobile device.

Check out the IBM tutorial if you dabble in development and have an interest in embedded devices then .