"Happy Birthday USA" or "Yeah Mars!"

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Following on the heels of the lovely neighbors to the north who just had a b’day

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress approved a Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, forming the United States of America.

Also on this day in 1997, the NASA Mars Pathfinder, which contained the Sojourner rover, lands on Mars. This famous photo of Sojourner probing the ‘Yogi’ rock should refresh your memory.

Recall that the scientists were naming the rocks after cartoon characters including Barnacle Bill, Yogi (as in Yogi Bear), Scooby Doo and Casper.

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Amazon or amazon?

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I was searching for a logo of Amazon.com to use and did an image search for ‘amazon’ on Live.

This is what I got as the #1 Amazon image. OK, it’s not quite what I was looking for but hey, I’m not complaining! 😉

As long as you’re at it, here’s the query, look at #9 or if you’d rather just skip right to the fun, brace yourself for this one. Hmm.

Alarmist Global Warming Claims Melt Under Scientific Scrutiny

Global Warming

Finally, the mainstream press is calling out Al Gore and some his numerous claims that have been refuted by science. Link to the article in question.

In this case the Chicago Sun-Times is asking him to acknowledge that these were in fact mistakes made in his book and documentary and we should be having a reasoned discussion on the subject, not further driving the Lemmings of society off the cliff with his belief of doom and gloom.

Global Warming – yes I’m sure the global temps are rising faster than we’d like. But it’s more apparent that it’s likely nature that is shaking her lovely Gaia of the flee infestation called ‘man’? Or is it man sending his descendants into a hellish existence on earth hundreds of years from now? Or is it a combination of the two?

I’m inclined to believe it’s the natural order of things and we should learn to ride the storm.

Agree or Disagree? Let’s hear it.

RIP Fred Saberhagen

Berserker

Fred Saberhagen passed away today at age 77, he was born in 1930 and spent a great amount of his time on this world taking geeks to other worlds. He began publishing in 1961 with short stories in Galaxy and If magazines, and published his first book ‘Berserker’ in 1967, first in a series about interstellar killing machines programmed to destroy all life. The best stuff he’d written in my opinion was the Berserker series.

Here’s my favorite quote of his:

I am generally way out of touch with trends, except now and then I am surprised to find myself leading one, like sympathetic vampires.

Indian firms hire Americans to drive growth

Call it reverse outsourcing or local talent hunting, but high-tech Indian firms say they have been hiring Americans as part of their long-term growth strategy.

Officials at companies like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s largest outsourcing firm, and Wipro Technologies, another major Indian technology provider, say this has nothing to do with periodic outcries that Indians are taking away jobs from Americans.

Upwards of 10% of the workforce for Tata is non-Indian and play a variety of roles at the companies such as sales, consulting, IT services, marketing and communications.

I’m inclined to agree with their sentiment that it’s unrelated to the recent wave of negativity such as the Senate inquiry into the H1-B issues of late. I’ve worked with a handful of offshore development sites and it truly behooves these IT providers to have ‘local talent’ in this country. As one executive from Wipro recently put it, they “are better culturally assimilated to the local environment with a stronger market knowledge and local domain competence?.”

[via: Indo-Asian News Service & BOP Watch India]

Happy Birthday Canada!

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Today is Canada’s 150th 140th birthday, also known as Canada Day. On this day in 1867 the 1st of the British North America Acts were passed (they’re now called the ‘Constitution Act, 1867‘).

Q: Where did the name ‘Canada’ come from?

A: French explorer Jacques Cartier and his crew interacted with the Iroquoians (today they’re referred to the ‘St. Lawrence Iroquoians‘) in the late 16th century along the shores of what we now call the St. Lawrence River in Quebec and Ontario.

Cartier picked up on their word ‘canada’ which meant ‘settlement’, ‘village’ or ‘land’ and henceforth the territories had a name.

iPhone Hand’s On Report: Top 10 List Of Things That "Absolutely Suck"

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I’ve written before about how I obsess over my Windows Mobile Smartphone, so I won’t be switching over anytime soon, but Ben from Smash’s World switched yesterday and he’s already compiling the list of what’s wrong.

Here’s some topic highlights, read the article for the nitty gritty on each:

  1. The overall lack of a [visible] filesystem, and web-browser limitations.
  2. Why can’t I do [obvious task]?
  3. You can’t type fast without a lot of practice, and entering passwords isn’t so private.
  4. Messaging? What messaging? Sorry, distracted by all of the Junk E-mail.
  5. Menu navigation blunders.
  6. You need an adapter to use other headphones.
  7. You cannot use the phone as a modem, or browse/transfer files via Bluetooth. Don’t forget your iPod cable!
  8. Google Maps — Before I find where I’m going, let me find where I am. Hold on.

and more…

Of course, it may just be that there’s a slight learning curve and after a while its trained the user in how ‘the new world operates’ when it’s with an iPhone.

Time will tell, it’ll be fun watching to see if the goal of 10 Million units sold by end of 2008 comes to fruition and see the AAPL stock continue to soar.

This discussion from Ben’s blog was moved to a MacRumors: Forums here and the gripes with the phone are coming in, here’s a choice comment I hadn’t thought of before on the iPhone:

– Deadspots on my iPhone. I can’t hit certain keys like the add contact/talk/backspace button in the keypad; the 7, 8, and 9 keys when trying to set my voicemail password

Vista Codec Package v4.4.6

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Codecs have been a problem for most users at one time or another. This is because there has never been an ‘out of the box’ working solution that the average user could install and just have everything work properly from the start.

With Vista Codec Package, you won’t be wanting in the codec department with Windows Vista. See the bottom of this article for the list of 30 additional codecs added to your existing in-box codecs. Here’s the homepage for the product, scroll down a little to find the d/l locations for VCP.

Many user suggested default settings are implemented, the developer’s guidance is to “Install these packages, and forget them. By default you won’t need to make any adjustments to enjoy your media content immediately.”

It does not contain a media player and it does not associate filetypes. With this package installed you will be able to use any media player, limited only by the players’ capabilities, to play DVD’s, movies and video clips of almost any filetype. Streaming video is supported in several formats in all popular web browsers. Users of the package have the ability to choose what is installed and where to install it using the public redistributable.

This package supports these 16 localized installations and the default is English:  Chinese Simplified/Traditional, Japanese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Polish, Swedish and Turkish.

– AC3File
– AC3Filter
– AudioSwitcher
– AVI<->AC3/DTS
– CDDA Reader
– CDXA Reader
– CoreVorbis Audio Decoder
– CyberLink QuickTime Source Filter
– DC-Bass Source
– DirectVobSub (auto-loading version)
– DivX Audio
– DScaler Mpeg2 Video Decoder – installed as required
– DTS/AC3/DD+ Source
– ffdshow Audio/Video Decoder
– ffdshow video encoder
– File Source (MP3)
– Haali Media Splitter (AR)
– Haali Video Renderer
– Microsoft Windows Media Video 9 VCM
– Mpeg Splitter
– MPEG4 Video Splitter
– Nero Digital Parser
– Nero FLV Splitter
– Nero QuickTime audio/Video Decoder
– Ogg Vorbis Audio CODEC
– Real audio/Video Decoder/Splitter
– ShoutcastSource
– Sipro Lab Telecom Audio Codec
– VP7 Decompressor
– XviD MPEG-4 Video Decoder

Hack Your Laptop Batteries, Save Some Money

Is your laptop battery showing its age? If you’ve looked at a replacement like I had to last year then you’re already aware of how costly it can be, well over a hundred dollars U.S.

If you’re handy with a soldering iron and not afraid to take a crack at replacing the guts of the battery then you can save upwards of 75% of the cost of a new battery by simply replacing the Li-Ion batteries that comprise your laptop battery.

This video is a quick step by step tutorial to the process from Kipkay.

[metacafe 479447/laptop_battery_hack_dont_buy_a_new_one]

Additional references:

Counterintelligence Interrogation

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The other day I told you about the CIA docs released to the public and searchable from their site.

While browsing this treasure trove I stumbled across this one on ‘Counterintelligence Interrogation‘ techniques from 1965. It used to be a SECRET publication with the subtitle of ‘A collection of articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal and theoretical aspects of intelligence’.

Wow, this is the kind of stuff Sgt. Joe Friday would have written, I could hardly contain myself as I dug into it. 😉

I could summarize it as:

It’s a good quick read, I recommend it as bathroom material and something to consider in your RPG if you find yourself on the receiving or giving end of an interrogation.

Here’s a little more info:

It’s 18 short pages of Do’s and Don’ts for the prospective counterintelligence interrogator. Includes legal paperwork you should consider to dot your i’s and cross your t’s beforehand so information gleaned is admissible evidence, special considerations for interrogating females, how to harass and isolate your target, employ divide and conquer techniques, building your story, how to deal with the ‘smash and grab’ type of interrogators from competing gov’t orgs (i think hinting at the FBI), leveraging two-man teams and employing indigenous interrogators when operating overseas, etc…

It ends with this:

Never forget that some day the subject may have an opportunity to tell his side of the story to the press or other public medium, friendly or hostile. He will certainly talk to individuals. What he should honestly be able to say about us is that we are tough but fair. If he decides to paint us in other colors falsely, he probably won’t be convincing.

What Is That??

Give some applause for Viral, who figured out the last WIT image as a SIM card slot for a cell phone!  Wow, I’m not able to pull the wool over you guys, am I?  Well, I’ll keep trying :)

Back in my teens, I used to have a good time trying to figure out the images that the GAMES Magazine had on their monthly issue.  I try to draw inspiration from my memories of those times, not having any old mags around,or a local place to buy it, I have to rely on my old noggin.  But one thing remains constant, I try to bring only images that relate to technology in some degree.  If you have any suggestions in that area, feel free to drop us a line, and we’ll give you props in the next WIT post for your idea.

Without further adieu, behold:

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Comments below!

What’s The Difference Between The Recycle Bin And The Recycler Folder?

In Windows, when a user deletes a file it goes to their respective Recycle Bin. The file will remain in this bin until it’s emptied or the file is restored.

The Recycler folder is used on NTFS partitions and it contains a Recycle Bin for each user on the system, this folder has Hidden and System attributes.

As an Administrator you can view and delete other user Recycle Bins from this folder as well.

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Eclipse Ships Largest-Ever Release of Leading Open Source Software Development Platform

Eclipse is an open source community, whose projects are focused on building an open IDE (Integrated Development Environment) and they’ve just announced that the latest and largest version, named Europa, has gone Gold.

This release consists of over 17 million lines of code and received contributions from over 310 open source developers in 19 countries.

Some key improvements to this release are:

  • Ease of development and deployment of server apps
  • Java Development Toolkit
  • Web Tools Project

Although it’s a pipsqueak of an IDE when compared to Visual Studio, Europa is a significant effort and has the support of some big players in software development and of course in open source. This includes Adobe, Red Hat, Wind River, QNX, IBM to name a few.

If you’re interested in the project or in getting the bits for yourself, here you go:

Astronomers spot double star explosion

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Scientists have spotted two stellar explosions going off just weeks apart in the same galaxy.

The discovery, made by NASA’s Swift satellite, marks the first time two supernova events have been observed in a single galaxy so close in time.

The blasts occurred in an obscure galaxy located 380 million light-years away in the constellation Hercules. Called MCG +05-43-16, the galaxy had never been known to host a supernova before.

Read MSNBC Tech/Science for more

What Is That??

Wooohoo!  Summer is officially here folks.  I’m jazzed about all the stuff I have planned to do with my family, and of course with you 😉  My son, bless (or curse) his 12yr old heart, is on his last day of school today, which marks the end of having any peace during the day for the next few months.  Maybe I’ll do the same thing my parents did when I was his age, feed him breakfast, and then shove him out the door and tell him not to come back until it gets dark!  Hehe.  Well, it doesn’t work for everyone….

On to the matter at hand here.  Congrats to xavier for guessing that last weeks WIT was a braille device!  (insert applause here)  Maybe I was too easy on you!  Here’s a snappy of something you don’t see everyday.  Try this one on for size…

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So onward into verbal battle we go, my fellow geeks.  Show no mercy and defeat the mighty mystery at hand!  Sharpen your wit, and submit your comments…

UFOs Among The Top Queries Of The CIA Docs

The CIA’s web site has a Freedom Of Information section to search declassified documents from the spy agency. In the last 2 months here are the top 5 search keywords people have entered into their site:

May, 2007:
 ufo: 1782
 0001156395: 1625
 bay of pigs: 950
 cuba: 634
 vietnam: 547

April, 2007:
 bay of pigs: 1124
 ufo: 1064
 iran: 682
 vietnam: 588
 soviet: 412

As you can see (unless you’re color blind), i’ve highlighted ‘UFO’. Are people so daft as to think that they’re going to post the ‘good stuff’ online? Gimme a break 😀

From spot checking the UFO reports myself (looks like ‘Flying Saucer’ was more popular back in the 50’s), they all pretty much run along the lines of this one from 1952:

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I’ve found some really cool stuff though, completely unrelated to UFOs, will report here later. Some of it is stuff that was formerly Soviet Top Secret which was translated, shared within the US intelligence community and is now declassified under our own rules! How cool is that!