Cheesy Gift of the Year

What is the cheesiest gift someone could possibly give you this year for Christmas? I’ve been reading quite a bit about what people want for Christmas. I’m curious about those gifts you would hate to get but others would think you would like.

Guess I’ll start.

People surely know I shop on ThinkGeek. They might think I would love to have this item below. However, this item seems dumb.

Snowbot OverlordThinkGeek :: The ThinkGeek USB Snowbot:

We welcome our Snowbot Overlords…

Color changing scan, eerie Snowbot sound, articulating arms…a ThinkGeek exclusive…

Last December, as we were settling down for a long winter’s nap, we were visited by two robots from the future! They spoke to us and now it is time to share their message. There’s good news and bad news. The good news is there are tons of really cool robots in the future. The bad news is they are divided into two factions, are waging war against each other, and have “downgraded” humans to pretty much servants and food. We quickly smashed the robots with hammers, and swore to devise a way to save humanity.

Before we destroyed the robots, however, we were able to learn two things. 1. Each army of robots uses a different color scanning light (red or blue); 2. We have no idea which side is in humanity’s best interest to win. So we built the Snowbot – a small, winter-themed beacon…and perhaps our only hope. Powered by a simple USB port, the Snowbot has a scanning light just like the robots from the future. You can change the speed of the scan, turn on/off the scanning noise, and (for future protection) change the scan color (red or blue). So no matter which robot army storms your home or office, a quick flick of a switch and you are rooting for the invader’s color. Hopefully then the robots will just make you a servant and not an appetizer. Good luck and happy holidays.

Literacy Environments

“Become illiterate, save a tree” – Darryl Henriques, 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Pave the Earth

Hmmmmmmm, as much as I love technology, I tend to shy awy from electronic books. Part of it, I think, has to do with how I use computers. In what I do, I multitask quite a bit, so I am frequently hopping from one thing to another, so I lose my place more frequently than is useful. Not that I don’t somewhat do this while reading a paper book. Instead its not as frequent.

Once upon a time I did have a PDA, however, I stopped using it before eBooks became prevalent. In fact, I thought about picking the PDA back up just to read eBooks.

Turn the Tables

CrossRoads Newsletter and Career Development Center:

With corporate recruiters and executive search firms now using blogs as a prescreening tool for candidates, Whitcomb advises people to create online journals to demonstrate their skills, share their expertise, and lend potential employers insight into their personality.

“You can write about projects you are working on, industry events, ongoing research, current trends, new products, and evaluations. You can also include articles or papers you have written, a bio, project histories, a downloadable résumé, and even audio or video presentations,” says Whitcomb.

What About Mixed People?

These companies use mitochondrial DNA to trace one’s genetic lineage. So, they take a sample from my mitochondria (which I got from my mom) and compare it to samples that have been taken from mitochondria samples found in their database to match it.

Well, my mom’s mom has lots of English and Scottish ancestry. So this doesn’t really do me a whole lot of good (even if it were a viable program).

Bodyhack:

DNA Tests May Flunk African History
Topic: Genes

Remember a while back when Oprah Winfrey took a DNA test and found out she was descended from Zulus?

Other African-Americans have gotten their DNA tested too, as have curious people inspired by theories about ancestors known as the “Seven Daughters of Eve.” There are even “home” DNA tests, as I wrote last year.

But a new study published in an open-source journal suggests that DNA tests don’t have much to tell most African-Americans.

Researchers found that fewer than 14 percent of mitochondrial DNA samples tested could be linked to a single ethnic region, and 40 percent turned up no links at all due to incomplete data from Africa.

According to the study, the research “suggests that few African Americans might be able to trace their mtDNA lineages to a particular region of Africa, and even fewer will be able to trace their mtDNA to a single ethnic group.”

Spies Among Us

Every quasi-governmental organization needs their own spies. Why am I not surprised that the MPAA has spies all over the country? I am surprised that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA, not to be confused with the Business Software Alliance the software equivalent of the MPAA and RIAA) are the spies. Though, the longer I think about, the more it makes sense that this was probably started by some dad whose kid is in the BSA and dreamed up this idea.

Be loyal, kind and don’t steal movies:

A Boy Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, etc., etc. He is also respectful of copyrights.

Boy Scouts in the Los Angeles area will now be able to earn a merit patch for learning about the evils of downloading pirated movies and music.

The patch shows a film reel, a music CD and the international copyright symbol, a “C” enclosed in a circle.

Yeah for Fall

It’s 67 F in my apartment this morning. It feels so very good. Over the past week I’ve noticed temperatures have dropped. My apartment retains heat pretty well. Its 42 outside.

I went to visit Cat in Lawrenceville. She asked me to help her with her computers. I knew both were old and one is a Mac. What I didn’t know is she only has a Dial-Up Internet connection, one is a generic (AST) 486, the other a Macintosh LC III, and she didn’t have the ADB cable for the keyboard. She just wanted to get files off these two computers.

So I was able to get her the files she wanted off the 486 without any trouble. I ended up calling arfore and asking his advice on dealing with the lack of a cable for the Mac keyboard. His ideas? 1) Get a SCSi adapter, put the hard drive in a box running Linux, mount it with HFS. 2) Go buy a cable. To get Win to read the floppies, put tape over the High Density hole of the floppy. So the Mac is still a work in progress. She has ordered an ADB cable, so once she has it, we will be able get into it and see just how much further we can go.

BTW, Cat is interested in getting rid of both computers (once she has her files off):

  • AST 486, 8 MB RAM, with monitor
  • Macintosh LC III with monitor (no base)

Its funny that people think “good with computers” means good dealing with everything computer related. I know web servers, web design, web programming, and databases. This issue is way over my head, but I know people and can get advice. 🙂 I have been around long enough to know not to futz too much.

Is America Repeating Roman History?

This article about the novel Imperium (a fictional biography) suggests there are parallels between Rome’s transition from a Republic to an Empire and where we stand in America. If true, then we are right now on the cusp of a great turning point. Imperium is historical fiction. So how much of it is not real?

Rome Returns – Newsweek: International Editions – MSNBC.com:

When a band of pirates ravaged the Roman port of Ostia in 67 B.C., the Roman general Pompey the Great was granted extraordinary powers to manage the crisis. Despite vehement opposition from the aristocracy, who suspected his motives, Pompey was handed absolute control of the sea and the coast for 50 miles inland. “The pirates’ raid on Ostia was a kind of 9/11,” says author Robert Harris, whose new novel “Imperium” (416 pages. Hutchinson) is climbing Britain’s best-seller list. “A precedent was set of special military commands and the suspension of liberties, which was applied first to Pompey, then Caesar, then the whole constitution. You can make a strong case that was beginning of the end of the Republic.”

I’ve already ordered it. It sounds like a good read. 🙂

Homer a Pseudonym for a Woman?

I have always considered the Illiad or the Odyssey to be among the best of love stories. True, there is lots of violence. True, the characters are mostly men. Love is the motivation and driving force behind the heros and why each is able to overcome and win.

If they were written by women, then that will not change my opinion about them being my favorites.

Discovery Channel :: News – History :: Scholar: Iliad, Odyssey Penned by Woman:

The author of the Greek epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey was probably a woman, according to an upcoming book by a British historian and linguist.

Andrew Dalby, author of Rediscovering Homer, argues that the attribution of the poems to Homer was founded on a falsehood.

Homer’s link to the poems, Dalby writes, stems from an “ill-informed postclassical text, the anonymous Life of Homer, fraudulently ascribed to Herodotus,” a respected Greek historian who lived from around 484-425 B.C.

Read more

Guns For Hire – Part 1


Guns For Hire – Part 1
Originally uploaded by cszar.

I found this photo at Flickr really hilarious!

Photographer’s description:

“After the Muppet Show was canceled the main characters had to find other jobs. Dr. Bunsen, Kermit and Ms. Piggy opened their own security firm.”

In case you can’t find the link to my Flickr photos (such as reading this in your Friends page).