Word Of The Day: Octothorp



Octothorp, weird yet interesting word isn’t it?

Maybe you’ve seen it in any of these other traditional spellings: octalthorpe / octothorp / octothorpe / octatherp

It’s just one word used to represent that symbol at top, you’re probably most familiar with it as part of the telephone number pad. In most regions of the US and Canada it’s more often called the ‘pound sign’ or the ‘number sign’.

Little is known about this word, but two things we do know. One is that this is truly an obscure word, to the point where most dictionaries don’t even list it, including the Oxford English Dictionary. Second thing known for sure is that the etymology of this word is definitely obscure.

There are a lot of stories that try to explain how it got its name and the experts can’t really agree on the true story. The first part of the name is not in question, ‘Octo-‘, which is Latin for eight because of the eight points on the symbol. But the second half of the name ‘thorp’ is in doubt, if you’d like to read the various stories of explanation then you should check out the article here on worldwidewords.org and this explanation by Octothorp Press on their ‘About the Octothorp‘ page.

Further reference:

PRC Cuts Skeletons From Local Version Of WoW


The operators of “World of Warcraft” in China have replaced skeletons with healthy human bodies in the local version of the online game. This is due to a recent government campaign to clean up Internet content. The PRC gov’t says this supposedly promotes a ‘healthy online culture” to protect the government’s stability.

WTF? Hacking and slashing players and other monsters is OK, but rendering some skeletons on screen is bad? Sheesh!

Link to the AP article on Wired.


Who doesn’t like getting free crap swag when visiting with a partner or customer or attending a convention and stopping by a booth you otherwise might have bypassed had the booth babe not been handing out t-shirts?

Here’s someone who obviously has collected his fair share of swag t-shirts. Seeing some of these shirts really takes me down memory lane.

I’ve got my share of shirts as well, half haven’t even been worn, maybe I should use some as prizes here on geeknews. Hmm.

[via has_many:questions]



Driving While Texting, Faster Route To The Grave

Weeks ago, five high school cheerleaders died in an automobile accident when their car crossed the center lane into on-coming traffic and collided with a big rig.

The police are now saying that it’s likely due to the driver texting on her mobile at the time of the accident:

Cell phone records show a text message was sent from the phone belonging to the driver, Bailey Goodman, at 10:05:52. A reply was sent to her phone at 10:06:29. Thirty-eight seconds later, someone called 911 to report the accident that killed Bailey and her friends. [ABC News]

This was a horrible accident, yet it’s common sense that you can’t text while driving safely, I think geeks and non-geeks alike instinctively know this. But Teens aren’t the only ones most at risk here of trying to multitask on their mobile, there is another group of people just as dangerous to fellow motorists on the road with them and that would be the obsessive compulsive workaholic.

You know what I’m talking about, someone that has to check their mail constantly via their smartphone, refreshing the stock page on their mobile browser, etc…someone like me! We are a danger to society, should be identified and restricted from owning a mobile newer than this:

Old School Mobile

Only then will society be saved from those obsessive compulsive workaholic threats on the road. It takes a lot of willpower at times when I hear the little chirp that a new work e-mail has arrived in my inbox and hold off from taking a peek until I stop at the next red light.

What Is That? 7-17-07

Here’s an artifact from the 1950’s, it’s a publicity photo. Leave your guesses in the comments and earn the fame and attention of geeks galore if you think you know what this device is that the woman is so happy over.

No, it’s not from inside the spaceship from the cult classic ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still‘, though if you thought that, then I’d say you’re a really hardcore sci-fi geek. 🙂

This is also not a giant electric razor, nor is it some randy woman playing with a vacuum hopper!

If you want one last hint, here it is:[The manufacturer of this device also made electric razors until they spun off that razor division around 1979].

With all the hints given in this WIT article I’ve practically given it away, you should be able to research the answer through Live or Google without much difficulty.

What is that?

Swedish Woman Gets World’s Fastest Net Connection

SigbrittSigbritt, 75, has world’s fastest internet connection

A 75 year young woman from Karlstad in central Sweden has been thrust into the IT history books – with the world’s fastest internet connection. Fast enough to pull down HD-DVDs in 2 seconds or view 1500 HDTV channels simultaneously.

Sigbritt L?thberg’s home has been setup with a smoking hot 40 Gbps connection, that’s thousands of times faster than what you and I get at home.

Rank hath its privileges, or in this case age has its privileges? Nope, it’s the old story of “it’s who you know in high places” that’s applicable here. You see, until this connection was hooked up Sigbritt didn’t even own a computer, but her son Peter L?thberg is Sweden’s internet pioneer and he collaborated with the local networking council to setup his mom’s home as a demonstration of what’s possible for the rest of humanity if you invest in the right infrastructure.

Link to the article from TheLocal.se

via Ministry of Tech

Time: ’25 Sites We Can’t Live Without’

Time magazine lists the 25 web properties we can’t live without – Link.

Here’s the list. I’m agreement with most of them, but clearly their priorities are a little different than my own. For me, I need the microsoft.com properties such as MSDN or their support sites.

What about you, what are some of your ‘must haves’ not on the list?


I’m In Heaven – Watch Gadgets Galore And More

I’ve learned of a new favorite tech site at ‘Gadgets Reviews‘ with a nice clean blog theme, tons of gadget reviews and best of all for me, lots of cool gadget watches like the one below with compass and temp gauges.

My favorite watch from the site just recently posted is the ‘Veiled Watch‘ so that the display and crystal blend with the bracelet to the point where you can barely tell its even a watch, very stealthy.

But watches are the tip of the iceberg, check out the site. Looks like I have another gadget feed to follow! 🙂



Nigerian Mobile Phone Use Up 12,000% in 6 years


The number of connected mobile phones in Nigeria rose from 266,461 in 2001 to 32,322,202 units in 2006, indicating a monumental increase of 12,030.18 percent.

According to figures provided by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) there were 3,149,422 mobile phones in 2003, up from 1,569,050 units in 2002.

The number rose astronomically to 9,174,209 in 2004 and 18,587,000 in 2005 said NCC. There were 600,321 fixed telephone lines in 2001, but the number rose to 1,687,972 in 2006, showing a modest increase of 181.18 percent.

The total for 2002 stood at 702,000 lines, rising to 872,473 in 2003 and 1,027, 519 lines the following year. The figure rose marginally to 1,223,258 units in 2005.

NITEL, now privatized, accounted for 540,662 fixed lines in 2001, while Private Telephone Operators (PTOs) shared the remaining 59,659 lines.

In 2002, NITEL had 555,466 lines, compared to the 146,534 lines operated by the PTOs while the national telecom company accounted for 539, 405 of the 1,027,519 fixed lines in 2003.

Surprisingly, the PTO?s operated 520,251 fixed lines in 2004, up from the 507,268 lines which NITEL had.

NITEL’s dwindling fortunes continued in 2005 as it accounted for a mere 447,979 fixed lines out of a total of 1,223,258 lines available.

With an estimated population of 126 million as at December 2005 and 140 million from December 2006, the country only boasted of a combined total of 866,782 fixed and mobile phone lines in 2001.

The figure increased to 34,010,174 connected lines in 2006, showing a steep rise of 9,592.19 percent.

Calculated on the earlier population estimates, teledensity rose from 0.73 in 2001 to 24.29 in 2006, indicating an increase of 3,227.40 percent.

Follow-up: Opera Mini 4 Beta Testing

Recently I told you that Opera had released a Beta of it’s mobile phone browser and that I would try it out for a week and not touch the IE browser at all, then report back here. I installed the browser on my Cingular 2125 (made by HTC) using Tao Intent Java Midlet Manager.


The good news:

This browser is sexy and has the potential to stand heads and shoulders above the default browser on my phone (IE).


Basic Browsing Experience – Browsing web sites is fun compared to the stodgy old browser I’ve been using for the past 2+ years on various smartphones. For instance, Yahoo mail menu animations make the experience of navigating through the menu system intuitive and interesting, while viewing the same menus on IE rendered as static lists with bullets.

Quickzoom – The quickzoom is a must-have for me now, I’m in love this feature. You can view this demo here to see for yourself how the browser receives the full web page reduced to fit the mobile’s screen, but you can quickly navigate that page and zoom in on text or graphics of interest in order to read and click links. This ability to crunch the entire page into the viewable real estate and zoom in on the sections of interest is just very very cool.

Install – The installation across the web via my mobile was a no-brainer and had no issues. I will need to figure out how to create a shortcut to the browser so I can launch it from the main menu because right now it’s a pain in the ass to have to click 7 times through the menu system to get to the Midlet Manager and start the browser. (Not knowing how to do the shortcuts is probably just me being lazy until now since IE was always readily available in 2 clicks).

Cursor Navigation – Unlike IE, you actually have a cursor to navigate around the screen and click on things to interact with the page in a fashion almost identical to what you do on your PC’s browser. Big plus here in my opinion as the IE method of having to cycle through all the links to get to the one of interest is a pain at times.

The bad news:

Fonts – Fonts render ok, but Opera really needs to do something about the small font. It’s too big! 🙂 And then there’s the inability to render italic fonts altogether.

Crashes – Oy vey! On my Cingular 2125 Smartphone with factory install of Tao Intent Midlet Manager I was lucky to get 10 minutes without the browser crashing, returning me back to the homescreen. A lot of times it would happen in a minute or two. From reading the forums at the Opera site, it appears it’s not just me and it’s not just Tao’s Midlet Manager.


Opera has done well so far, I’m looking forward to trying out a more stable version, that alone is enough to make me switch browsers in a heartbeat. The new features they’ve added are great, the ability to navigate whole pages may not be to the same level as the iPhone’s capabilities, but its absolutely a step in the right direction given the screen real estate we have to deal with on small smartphones.

I’m really looking forward to the next release and I highly recommend you take some time to install this version even if it’s just to familiarize yourself with some of the features because if the final version is stable, you will want to move to this browser.

Talking Trojan Taunts Its Victims

yellow shield

Panda Software is reporting a medium level thread of infection from a Trojan called BotVoice.A (alias Win32\Hira.A). It’s fairly benign in the sense that it’s not deleting any files, but the interesting thing about this little bugger is its visible symptoms.

BotVoice.A is easy to recognize, as once it is run, the following message is heard repeatedly:

You have been infected I repeat You have been infected and your system files has been deleted. Sorry. Have a Nice Day and bye bye

If you want to listen to the message that BotVoice.A is continuously repeating, click here.

So. Hella. Funny! 😆

Web Sites Help Toys Come To Life

From Pleo the robotic dinosaur, below, to stuffed animals, companies are trying to revive the industry by infusing traditional toys with the latest technologies and linking them to the Internet.

This $349 baby Camarasaurus is among the latest toy gadgets you’ll see in toy and electronic stores in the next few months. It has no external wires, no remote control, but this little fellow, called ‘Pleo’, will show emotion and interact with its owner in a variety of dino sounds.

The deal is that Pleo will pull down new sounds and behaviors from a web site, it appears this is going to be a common theme with a lot of the holiday toys this year and it’s about darn time, too! 🙂

Link to the Chicago Tribune with much more.

Pleo the dino

Icemat Siberia: In Ear Headset Review

Who doesn’t need a ripping pair of headphones for their fave ear-candy?  Ever since the advent of the portable CD player, and MP3 units, 3rd party headsets have been a booming commodity.  I can remember all the units I’ve bought in the past that have had crap stock headgear tossed in as an afterthought – and sounded little better than listening to a victrola through a pair of tin cans!

So the like-minded folks over at Icemat have been developing their hardware for our listening pleasure, and are now offering their newest gear – “Siberia: In Ear”.  It’s an ear-bud type model, featuring the same blisteringly ear-canal crushing sounds as their previous “over ear” unit.


ICEMAT is a company based out of Denmark that is know for making some kick ass headsets with their ever popular Icemat Siberia Headset. Today we are going to look at another one of ICEMATS headset, the Icemat Siberia In:Ear Headset. Will the Icemat Siberia In:Ear Headset be as good as their Icemat Siberia Headset or will they be just another ho-hum headset on the market. Stick around and find out how they pair out.

Head on over to the review, and see just how good they really are!

CallWave Gadget Offers Free International Text Messaging

mail sms

CallWave is offering Gadgets & Widgets that make it possible for users to view a list of mobile phone contacts and send SMS messages to those mobiles directly from the gadget. Replies from your contacts are directed to your mobile however.

SMS’ sent to your friends in the US and Canada are free, you can send up to 10 free international messages using the beta service and additional messages require you to buy credits from CallWave.

For the latest and greatest details on the services and future upgrades you’ll want to visit their blog. To obtain the gadgets themselves, visit this page; they support Mac, Vista, Yahoo! and Google.

Other services from CallWave include:

  • Forwarding mobile voicemail to a service you can listen to over the Internet using a Dashboard gadget.
  • Visual Voicemail‘ keeps track of your inbound calls to your mobile, displays of the Caller-ID numbers and playback of messages are via the gadget
  • Coming Soon is a new feature called ‘Vtxt’, it’s a voice to text transcription service using speech recognition that programmatically converts your voicemail to text.

Symantec Looking For Beta Testers of NextGen Products


Symantec is inviting the public to join its beta programs for 5 of their newest Norton software and help them drive some quality into the products. These appear to be open betas which means you won’t be screened in order to install the product, all you have to do is download, install it and report bugs via the support forums. But for god’s sake do not install this on production machines!

The most interesting beta appears to be their AntiBot product to protect against malware and their related components.

The current betas can be viewed from the Public Beta page or by going directly to these product beta pages to download the product:

Current Norton betas:


{Found via BetaNews]