12/30/2005 11:32:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|rdn’s weblog » Blog Archive » Solar Powered Light-Graffiti Projector Cool concept. A solar-powered flashlight, basically. Charges during the day, and projects at night. This would be great to use for the numbers on your house. Mount this gadget to the gutter or roof overhang, and have it project the numbers on the house at night so you don't have to leave outside lights on. You could probably modify this gadget because you wouldn't have a need to focus it, just set it once and leave it.
|W|P|114192558740530277|W|P|Solar-powered light-art|W|P|12/29/2005 11:31:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|

Diatom - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia It looks as if diatoms might be the missing piece of the puzzle in my idea for an anti-global-warming machine (that also makes electricity). Here's the deal. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere sucks. Plants turn this into oxygen, but we're killing all of the plants, so we're in trouble. But 2/3 of the earth is water, and there is a little helper that might be able to help out a lot. According to recent research, it looks like diatoms can eat liquid carbon dioxide and put out oxygen with the help of sunlight and a nutrient-rich environment. The only problem is that the carbon dioxide we want to get rid of is in the air, and diatoms are in the water. Bring in a large tank of water. If we were to pump carbon dioxide down to the bottom of a tank of water, the pressure at a certain depth would compress the gas into a liquid. But it won't help to have a coal-burning electric plant powering the pump, so we can use solar and/or wind power. Recent advances in tidal power are starting to look good too! Now that the carbon dioxide (we might not need to separate it from the rest of the air, just pump the whole thing down there) is down there, we need to get sunlight and nutrients down there as well. Nutrients are near the surface of the water, on the 'top layer', where the sunlight is. A simple water pump takes care of that. So now we have a layer of liquid CO2 on the bottom of our tank, with circulating water refreshing the nutrients on the bottom. Getting a lot of sunlight to the bottom could be done with clear walls/windows, if the tank is above ground, or if this system is in the open ocean, a mirror array could focus intense sunlight to the bottom of the array either via fiber optic or just a dry pipe going to the bottom. Once there, the sunlight would be re-distributed through some windows that would have an anti-algae nanotech coating. The sunlight would be split down to normal levels, or maybe x2 brightness, instead of the transport-level 10x or 20x that would fry micro-organisms. At this point, the diatoms would hopefully start munching on the CO2 pool and give off oxygen. The tank would have to be designed so that CO2 doesn't over-flow out of the 'pressurized zone', and the pump stops pumping when the tank is full. When the tank can' take any more CO2, the CO2 pump stops pumping, while the water circulation pump continues. The wind turbine/solar panels/tidal generator could continue making electricity that could be sold. This is especially true at night, where the diatoms wouldn't be active. Perhaps this excess energy would be wanted at night when everyone's electric car is charging? This is all wishful thinking, but as far as I know, it is possible. Ocean energy link: Link

|W|P|114192552031355978|W|P|The anti-global warming machine?|W|P|12/28/2005 11:29:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|ThinkGeek :: eStarling Wi-Fi Gmail / Flickr Enabled LCD Frame: "The eStarling frame is a standalone Wi-Fi LCD photo frame that connects to a wireless network and automatically displays photos e-mailed to it in a slideshow format. Additionally you can specify an RSS photo feed..." Very cool. All they need now is a fuel cell that will last a lot longer than a battery, and to replace the LCD with an OLED or similar low-power display, and you've got a picture that can hang on the wall, with a shelf life (no pun intended) of at least a year, I would think. All they have to do now is enable them to communicte with each other to display like pictures at the same time. (for example, the four frames on the wall would display pictures from a certain vacation, then all of them would switch a few hours later to pictures from last Christmas, etc. Cool effect!) |W|P|114192543773559324|W|P|eStarling WiFi projects Flickr-enabled LCD frame|W|P|12/27/2005 11:28:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|

Quick Vibrating Lockpick - Overview A $9.00 tool you can make yourself out of drugstore parts that opens a padlock in about 2 seconds. I actually have one of these hummingbirds lying around...time for a project... :-) Check out the video too - it's hilarious: Video

|W|P|114192532855237650|W|P|...and I never used a padlock again...|W|P|12/26/2005 11:27:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|

or, more appropriately, what will be going on above you for 2006... mininova : Books > Ebooks > What's Up 2006 - 365 Day's of Skywatching: "What's Up 2006 - 365 Day's of Skywatching" This is a free e-book you can download that will tell you if anything substantial is to be seen in the sky that night. Cool!

|W|P|114192526172473681|W|P|Free eBook tells what is in the stars|W|P|12/23/2005 10:24:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|People are strange. Every year, you hear about the people who are offended when a Walmart greeter says 'Merry Christmas' to them. They don't believe in the reason for Christmas, so they prefer 'Happy Holidays'. Isn't this a little self-centered? I don't see this as any different than the following scenarios: I'm having a good day, so I say 'have a nice day' to someone. Well, they object to me assuming that they want to have a nice day, they prefer 'have a good one'. So everyone should say 'have a good one'. See the problem here? It's not that their belief is the problem. They think I should be saying what they prefer, not what I prefer. Here's the thing, though. Every major advance in history was done because someone thought for themselves. So, no, I will greet you how I prefer, and in doing so, I am showing you that I am an individual, and am extending my individuality to you in a show of good faith, this being the holiday and all. Please feel free to respond in kind! Merry Christmas!
|W|P|114192148557204118|W|P|Merry Christmas?|W|P|12/22/2005 10:22:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|I like the idea of a hybrid vehicle, but financially, they don't make sense for me. If I could retro-fit a used, efficient internal-combustion vehicle, however, it may end up being not only well-performing, but financially sensible! Aftermarket manufacturer Sigma Automotive is wrapping up testing on it's Electrocharger. The Electrocharger is a replacement for the alternator, and while it acts like a normal alternator most of the time, when starting from a dead stop, it acts like a generator, helping power the car's acceleration from a battery pack. In turn, this gets the car up to speed using electricity, and not a lot of gas. Once the car is up to speed, only a small percentage (think less than 20%, depending on a few factors) of the car's engine is needed to maintain speed. During this time, the battery recharges quickly and waits for the next stop. This acceleration-assist model is currently what the Silverado Hybrid uses to get it's fuel economy. The option also exists for regenerative braking, which basically means you use the engine to slow the car, like a trucker does, which puts all the force of the slowing car (kinetic energy) into the generator, and makes re-usable electricity, instead of heat from the brakes. I'm glad to see a product like this come out, since it is the first piece in the puzzle for me to build my Hybrid Super-car. I'll review my plans on the blog, one component at a time. My ultimate goal is to have a well-performing vehicle that gets great gas mileage, and has enough room inside to haul stuff around. With the pending advent of the Electrocharger, I'm off on my way to designing my hybrid: Efficient turbo-diesel passenger vehicle ~40mpg full-RPM range performance (low from the diesel torque, high from the turbo) Check (probably a VW Jetta TDI Wagon) Hybrid retro-fit system +20% mileage? (~48mpg) low-RPM performance (electric motor torque) and regenerative braking Check (Electrocharger) Next up: working on a way to comfortably cruise at, er, a respectable 55 miles per hour, eh, or higher, without wasting too much gas. |W|P|114192139666338333|W|P|My crazy hybrid car project|W|P|12/21/2005 10:21:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|Could it be true? Would we be so lucky? If you read, or even are remotely interested in, this blog, chance are you would like (or be remotely interested in) the show Fururama. Think of Futurama as an intelligent version of "The Simpsons". Well, it still is animated, but if The Simpsons were the animated version of the Three Stooges, and Family Guy (another great show, but what's up with the dependence on flashbacks lately?) were the animated version of Benny Hill, you could think of Futurama as a cross between Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and a non-snooty, futuristic version of Frasier. They also lower the humor bar every now and then, but just enough to do some low-brow stuff without it becoming sickening. Needless to say, I obviously am a big fan of the show, and would LOVE to see this one come back. The classic episodes are incredibly intelligent, which I believe drew the audience it did. This group of people are pretty demanding, so hopefully the writers would be able to continue on with the quality they have done in the past. If they were able to continue on where they left off, I could see Futurama easily replacing "The Simpsons" at this point. Everyone cross your fingers!
|W|P|114192133767013800|W|P|Futurama to return?|W|P|12/20/2005 10:17:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|When my home state of Illinois originally rolled out its electronic tolling program, I-PASS, the toll authority, said that the transponders in the vehicles would never be used to track your location, only to collect tolls as you pass through the tolling gateways. This being state government, no-one believed them, and it appears that that day is upon us. During the last year or so, Illinois has virtually forced its residents to purchase the electronic tolling transponders by doubling the tolls for users paying with cash. For me, that would mean going from $0.40x4 tolls ($1.60 for about a 20-mile commute) to $0.80x4 tolls ($3.20 per day, $16/week, $64/month, $768/year). I can't afford to pay the extra $384 per year, so I had to purchase the $15 transponder, along with just about every other commuter in Chicago. Once everyone had the I-PASS transponder, all toll plazas in the Chicago area went under construction to have "open-road tolling". This basically means that you don't have to slow down to pay your toll, they get your transponder number as you go underneath the sensor array. Case in point, there is a toll booth for motorists entering or exiting I-355 to/from I-55. Here is a satellite map of this toll plaza. You can plainly see the open-road tolling lanes on the inside, and the toll booths on the outside, both for motorists without I-PASS, and people with trailers, etc. that have special tolls they need to pay. 9 blocks north of this toll plaza is the 75th street overpass, about a half mile away. What you can't see on the satellite map is that there are a second set of sensors hidden between the girders underneath this bridge. I wouldn't have noticed them, if it weren't for the spotlights that enable a set of cameras to record the rear license plate of cars as they go through. It does seem a bit odd when you approach the bridge at night. Most bridges are lit from a few fluorescent rods at night, while this one is incredibly bright. It isn't until you pass under the bridge that you notice that all of the lights are facing with traffic, pointing at the back of the cars as they go through the overpass. It's blatantly obvious coming the other way, as the lights are shining towards you. There are no lights or sensors on the southbound side. In the old days, the older I-PASS transponders used to beep when they were read. I think this caught the Illinois DOT by surprise, because some people still have them, and her is now a sign next to the highway, reading "I-PASS Users: ignore beep, you were not charged." So what purpose, exactly, would an installation like this serve, if not to catch speeders? Can we expect this on every overpass? Setting up a system like this only seems to serve two purposes, as I can see: Traffic/Congestion Monitoring I'm sure this will be IDOT's excuse for installing more of these. This is completely bogus, since there are already thousands of sensors buried in the roadways that can accurately record traffic conditions. Here is a great implementation of the usage of these sensors, which update every few seconds. Unfortunately for IDOT, this doesn't give you any personally-identifiable information about the motorists. Speed Traps By taking the distance between the sensors (let's say a half-mile) and taking the posted speed limit (let's say 60 miles per hour), IDOT knows that it should take you exactly 30 seconds to get from sensor to sensor. If you got there in 25 seconds, they can figure out (via basic math) that you were doing 72 miles per hour. Now I'm not saying that catching speeders is wrong. The speed limit, however wrong that may be, is still the law. The debate as to safety vs. speed limits could go on forever, and it's widely known that there are much less speed-related problems on the interstate than on the streets. Anyway, my problem is with forcing people into the system by jacking up tolls, knowing that you're going to turn it into a speeding-ticket revenue machine in the near future, and all the while saying that you're not going to use it for that exact purpose. In addition, the half mile laid out on I-355 is prone to errors. People stopping at the booth would be able to accelerate all the way to the 75th street overpass, exceeding the speed limit, since their average speed would stay below the limit.In effect, starting from 5 mph at the toll booth enables them to basically 'earn' the right to speed later by going below the limit while leaving the toll plaza. Also, the distance between the sensors is prone to errors. Just one second of delay with either sensor reading (or if one sensor is off by one second compared with the other) would make a computing error of 2.4 miles per hour. (if we used the example data above) In additon, you're allowed to have multiple cars listed for each transponder. If the transponder doesn't register, the camera looks up your plate # and bills your account. No account, and you get a ticket. So what's stopping someone from registering a second car on their transponder, then taking the car, blasting through the first booth, and throwing the transponder under the seat for the second? The first booth sees the transponder, the second sees the plate#. Pretty sure the camera isn't being used for every car, just the ones that don't register when they drive through... All in all, these sensors seem to be in the testing phase for catching speeders. Due to the problems I list above, anticipate trying to explain yourself when errors occur, and still being fined because you couldn't explain it in simple-enough terms to your state's EnforceBot. Also, if you don't live in Illinois, don't laugh. It'll come to you soon enough. |W|P|114192128079953131|W|P|I-pass being used to catch speeders?|W|P|12/19/2005 07:55:00 PM|W|P|Dan|W|P|So far, we have Cleaned off spyware and viruses and Turned off some of the pretty features in Windows XP. In this next installment, we take it up a notch and turn off some other features in XP that most people don't need (but some may want). Firewall Windows comes with a basic firewall. If you don't know how your home network is set up, then leave it on. If you have purchased an external firewall for your home network, then you can use that firewall instead of the one built into windows. Familiarize yourself with the web interface of your network firewall, and learn how to operate your network-based firewall before you turn the windows-based one off. By making your network firewall do the work of protecting you, your machine has more time to do other things. This step is critical, so this entry will be short. Learn how to configure your router's firewall before you turn off the Windows firewall, and understand what you are doing. Computer browsing Windows Xp 'remembers' a lot of things in an attempt to have them readily available the next time you use them. In addition, XP automatically tries to guess what you're going to do next, and busys itself with loading up any imaginable command you might give it on a given screen. Unfortunately, what ends up happening is that the machine tries to remember so much information, that finding what you want takes longer than just getting the data. You can tell Windows XP to not bother trying to remember some of this information by clicking 'My computer' > 'tools' > 'folder options' > and selecting the 'view' tab. Turn off 'Automatically search for network folders and printers' and check \Do not cache thumbnails'. We're starting to get into the nitty-gritty here, so we'll save some more for next time when we look at registry settings and some services we might be able to turn off. Until next time, happy computing! |W|P|114186941574223891|W|P|How to increase your computer speed (part 3)|W|P|12/16/2005 09:52:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|In my last installment, we cleaned our machine of viruses and spyware, cleaned out old, unused files with Disk Cleanup, and reorganized our hard drive with the defragmenter tool. At this point, your machine should be back to where it was when you got it, except a little bit slower due to the programs you installed on it. But what if you want to push your machine's performance above where it was when you got it? As it turns out, if you are using Windows XP, there are a lot of settings that make XP "pretty", but sacrifice speed. If you are OK sacrificing some of these pretty effects for raw speed, you're in a prime position to gain some speed on your machine. First of all, do yourself a favor and benefit from other's research. That means getting on mailing lists, subscribing to RSS feeds, or just generally making a habit of trying to stay educated about computers in general. After all, I could tell you 'do this and that', but the sacrifices I make for speed might not be appropriate or even possible in your situation. What's the GI Joe slogan? 'Knowing is half the battle'? Knowing is about 95% of the battle in computers. Before we get started, it's fairly commonly known in IT circles that you are able to run XP on 128MB RAM, but for some reason, XP really opens up at 192MB RAM. After that, the more memory, the better. In fact, Tom's Hardware just did an article on how much memory is overkill on a modern machine. It's a long article, but the jist of it is that (unless you're a graphic designer or big-time gamer) 1GB of RAM isn't out of the question, and testing shows that you will use all of it if you get it. Unfortunately, a lot of RAM is expensive, but if you want to take the plunge, decide first how much money you're comfortable spending, THEN go to a reputable online retailer like newegg.com. By deciding your budget ahead of time, you're less likely to talk yourself into buying more. So what if you don't have any money, or just don't want to spend any? Here are some settings you can change in XP that will help raise your speed: The Desktop: we now make you ugly Right-click the desktop, and click 'properties'. Themes tab Go for 'Windows Classic'. Have flashbacks to working in smoky offices and mustaches on everyone. Background tab 'None'. You can choose your own color, but that ultra-high-resolution picture of your kids has to load up every time you look at the desktop, which is a definite killer. If you really need that reminder of why you can't fly off the handle and destroy your cubicle, try getting a cheap printed picture from Shutterfly and a cheap frame from Walmart/Target. Screen Saver tab This is arguable, since the screen saver does use computing power, but you obviously aren't using the machine, so you'll never notice. If you've got a CRT (boxy) monitor, a screen saver is a must to prevent burn-in, so choose a basic one like 'Windows XP'. If you've got an LCD (flat-screen), you don't get burn-in, so you don't necessarily need a screen saver. I recommend setting the screen saver to 'none', but then changing your monitor's power settings. ('Start' > 'Control Panel' > 'Power Options' > 'Turn off monitor' > 'After 5 minutes') This works pretty well for LCD's, since the monitor turns on instantly when you move the mouse. It's your call what is more annoying with CRT's, the delay in making the screen saver go away, or the time it takes for the monitor to turn back on. You'll definitely want to do only one or the other. Appearance tab You should already be on 'Windows Classic Style'. Click the 'Effects' tab and un-check everything. These are all effects you can do without. Settings tab If you are using the video that came built into the computer, your computer has to process your video signal while you make word documents, etc. Most computers have dedicated memory for the video, but every once in awhile, you run across a machine that uses a portion of the main memory for the video. You'll have to experiment here, so try out 800x600 and 1024x768. Also see which setting is easier on your eyes. You really don't need to go larger than 1024x768 unless you have an enormous monitor. Finally, if you have a video card in your machine, it's doing all the work, so just set it to the defaults and be happy, because it's doing its own thing without affecting your machine too much. That's all for now, join in next time when I write about more system settings (and issue more warnings than you can shake a stick at) as we look at some of the more advanced things you can do for your need for speed. |W|P|114183325441066778|W|P|How to increase your computer's speed (part 2)|W|P|12/15/2005 09:51:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|Can we all just agree on something? Roads are for cars, not people. People are supposed to cross at the crosswalk, if one exists. And if one doesn't exist, the idea is that you wait until there are no cars coming, then cross the street. Lately, I've been seeing more and more people just step out in the street, looking right at the car coming, and just continue on their way. What's the idea here? "They have to stop"? "I'll sue if they hit me"? Seriously, this is getting ridiculous, and it seems as if it's getting worse around the holidays. One of these days someone is going to step out a little too close and get hit, and instead of successfully taking the driver to court, they'll be committed for attempting to end it all on the hood of someone else's car.
|W|P|114183313564090263|W|P|Right of way|W|P|12/14/2005 09:33:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|OK, as I mentioned previously, we know RFID tags have the potential to give away our private information. So far, usage of RFID for personal use has been a nightmare, to put it lightly. The people who have been trying out RFID so far have proven that they didn't think it out compltely before they started trying this technology out on citizens, or simply refuse to let their privacy get in the way of profitability or ease of monitoring. Here's the deal. For companies like Wal-Mart (that allow partners to watch you in real-time while making your product selection), you're pretty much out of luck. Until you purchase that item, it's not yours, and you're on their private property, so in addition to the video at the door, the cameras in the ceiling, and the RFID tags in the products, you have a group of marketers watching you, and it's all legal. But what happens when you leave the store with the products? They're still able to broadcast their tags to anyone who asks. BellSouth recognized this, and filed for their patent to scan a garbage can, pick up, and record all of the RFID tags contained inside before dumping the trash into the garbage. Add a GPS unit on the truck, and it wouldn't be difficult to record this information and build quite a database on people over the course of a few months. Since garbage is in the public domain, (i.e. you "willingly" gave up your rights to it) this marketing research can be used or sold to anyone willing to pay for it. Starting to get the idea that RFID isn't your friend? I'll get into how to make it a little more friendly in the next, and final, blog in this series. In the meantime, try not to let anyone see your tinfoil hat... |W|P|114183203402268174|W|P|RFID tagging: so I heard you're out of toothpaste... (part 2)|W|P|12/13/2005 09:43:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|You may have heard of the plans for putting RFID tags in American passports. This isn't anything new, Wired wrote about it some time ago. RFID chipping a passport is no different than chipping your dog. A reader gets close to your chip, sends a signal to it, and the chip responds with whatever information it has been programmed with. In the case of passports, people are afraid that their passport will be broadcasting personal information like a social security number. The bad part is that anyone can provoke the RFID chip to broadcast its information, simply by asking for it with a reader, which can be concealed easily. Some states are starting to put them in driver's licenses also, which really makes security a problem. Obviously, the correct solution to this problem is to have the RFID tag not broadcast anything that can be used to personally identify you. Perhaps it can broadcast a unique "RFID number". Only the people authorized to have your information would be able to link your harmless RFID number to your bank information, for example. However, as we've seen in the past, you can't leave it up to the government, hotels, etc. to guard your information. Past expirience has shown that they simply don't care enough to take the proper measures to protect your information. In this last link, you can read about how many hotel keycards have your information on them, sometimes including your credit card number, in unencrypted format. You can buy a card reader for under $75, which would turn a hotel garbage can into a multi-thousand dollar jackpot. As far as RFID goes, if the companies/government use the same lax security, someone can steal this information simply by standing near you, putting a reader in a fake switch on the wall of a public place, etc. In addition, if your company/government waned to, they could install readers everywhere, and record your every movement. So far, you're pretty much stuck begging the legislators to promise to be secure with your information. I'll get into how to protect yourself in another posting. |W|P|114183267451012474|W|P|RFID tagging: the new security breach (part 1)|W|P|12/12/2005 09:31:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|The local market has a fingerprint scanner on the right of a supermarket checkout panel. How long until someone lifts the print with some tape and puts it on something else? Can anyone else think of a reason why this might be a bad idea? |W|P|114183197591963827|W|P|Why fingerprinting at the market is a bad idea|W|P|12/09/2005 09:29:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|I'll go first. I have a machine still being used in one of the classrooms I take care of. It's an original Apple IIc that is used at least twice per week to play math games in elementary school. I'm pretty proud of this machine, it's proof that a well-made machine and well-thought-out software can be relevant lot longer than today's offerings. That, and it's as old as I am. |W|P|114183187469848160|W|P|Contest: Who has the oldest computer in their production environment|W|P|12/08/2005 09:28:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|The thing people notice most when they have a slow machine is a slow internet connection. This article will show you how to increase your speed 5x, on average. Your internet speed can be increased by the greatest amount by simply removing malicious programs that are using your connection to spy on you, send spam, attach other machines, etc. Here's how to put you back in the driver's seat of your internet connection. Connection Counts Those with a broadband (DSL, cable) connection are most vulnerable. If I were to take a brand new machine and connect it to the internet with no protection, it would be infected (on average) in under 16 minutes. Without me doing anything. AOL users are a little safer, as AOL acts on your behalf. However, if you have kids, all bets are off, because those downloadable mouse pointers, sound packages, etc. come loaded with spyware and viruses. Virus Scanners are only as good as the last Update No matter what virus scanner you have, it needs to be kept up-to-date on the latest threats that are out there. Make sure your virus scanner is set to update its "virus definition files" at LEAST 3 times per week, preferably every day. Our servers update every 6 hours. If you don't have a virus scanner, turn off your machine, unplug the network cable, and go buy one of the ones in a box at the store. I recommend McAfee for home use. I haven't had much luck with Norton's home offering, and although their corporate/network version is very good, I'll still stick with McAfee's full product (not the web-based pay-as-you-go version). Spyware is what makes the internet slow Some spyware installs itself without your knowledge. Some trick you into installing by pretending to be legitimate. Most get installed along with other programs, like Instant Messaging and Windows Themes. The first step is to remove spyware with something like the free program 'Spybot: Search and Destroy'. I know, goofy name. But a good program. Download it here. Again, this program is only as good as the latest definitions, so update the definitions first, THEN scan. Spyware studies have shown that your internet connection can be slowed to 20% of what it normally would be on average, so this definitely will help the problem. Spybot will probably find something on your machine. I've seen results ranging from 1 item to over 1200 on a single machine. Let me know if you break the record... :-) Protect yourself Make sure the virus scanner is automatically starting when the machine starts. Spybot has something called TeaTimer, I would install it. it will tell you when anything tries to install itself on your machine. If it alerts you while you're installing a program you bought from a store, it is probably OK to click 'accept changes'. If you're not doing anything, and all of the sudden it asks you to accept the changes, SOMEthing on your machine is trying to change something...don't accept the changes if you don't recognize what software is changing something. You're better off being restrictive and having to re-load some game rather than allow something in that you didn't intend to. In addition, make sure your machine is automatically updating itself via Windows Update. Also make sure the Windows Firewall is turned on. If all else fails If you run virus scan, and run spybot, and it can't clean off the spyware, bring your machine to a professional. It's not going to get better by itself, and if two good programs can't clean it, that's a bad sign. If you are able to clean everything off, but the machine is still slow, try a speed testing tool to see if it is the connection or the machine. If the connection is bad, contact your service provider or look into a higher-quality Cable Modem and/or router. (Standalone or Modem/Router Combo Unit) (Also keep in mind that wireless is more convenient, but 802.11g is 54Mb per second, while these wired ethernet products are 100Mb per second.) If even that fails If the connection is good, but your machine is slow, open 'My computer', right-click C:\, click 'properties'. Click 'Disk Cleanup' on the 'general' tab. Follow the directions. If your machine is still slow, click the 'tools' tab and click 'defragment'. Follow the directions to defrag C:\. If your machine is STILL slow, consider upgrading your memory to at LEAST 256MB of memory if under Windows XP, or possibly pick up a newer machine from someone cheap like Dell. |W|P|114183174052648213|W|P|How to increase your computer's speed (part 1)|W|P|12/07/2005 09:27:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|I've posted about Riya before. I like Riya. I think it will show to have great potential, as some of the comments on my previous posting get into. In reading Wired's story, "Face It: Privacy Is Endangered", I'm appalled at what normally is a very good publication. Not only does the author's own sources say that facial recognition is highly unreliable, but the author uses privacy concerns to turn this article into some sensationalist story about how Riya-like services will be used for stalking, profiling, etc. Two pages of this stuff. Here's the deal: Riya is still in Alpha, it's not even released yet. It's not a finished product. And yes, I'm sure more companies will come out with comparable services. But while the author tries to make two opposing points on facial-recognition privacy concerns, there is a simple answer to both: Facial recognition isn't accurate enough to connect your face to your private information on the web. OK, fine, then the security expert is telling you to not worry about it. Why is your personal information on the web anyways? I would look into how it got there to begin with before you worry about how it could be potentially used. Facial recognition services like Riya will be used to help people gain access to your info This is solved easily. Since this side of the article assumes facial recognition to be accurate enough to identify you on a semi-reliable basis, then you have nothing to worry about. Open an account with the offending service, and specify that whenever it sees a picture of you, to not publish your information. You could even upload a ton of non-public mug shots to train the service on what you look like. Since, as you claim, the facial recognition service is so good at finding you, then it will be just as good at hiding your information. Seriously, this section of tech just became available. The security concern is obvious, and I'm sure there will be methods to protect the users, if they so desire. Do I know this for sure? no. But it sure is a lot more helpful to the proponent of what could be a great technology if you propose new features to develop, rather than try to slam the entire thing in an effort to get people to read your article out of fear. Doing the latter is like realizing that a meteor could crash into your house tonight, but advertising "You could die in your sleep tonight, more at 11..." |W|P|114183166962284678|W|P|Riya and false hysteria over privacy concerns|W|P|12/06/2005 09:25:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|For those of you who don't like talking to a machine, there is a great site here that has ways to immediately get a hold of a real person. Of course, the real gamble here is if you'll be connected to someone in India who will understand you even less than the machine. Here's a helpful tip: find the places you do business with, and enter their number AND the shortcut keys into your cell phone. Most cell phones will pause by using a comma or the letter 'p'. For example, if you would put this in your phone, you would have a way of reaching a human being at Washington Mutual, enter this in as the number in your address book: 18007568000,,,,0,0 (or possibly 18007568000pppp0p0 (each one of the commas or 'p' characters will pause for a specified amount of time. What character and how much time depends on your phone. This will dial the number for Washington Mutual, wait 4-8 seconds (depending on your phone), dial 0, wait 1-2 seconds (depending on your phone) and dial 0 again. If the phone system hasn't changed, you will be connected to a person, without having to look at your phone (or take your eyes off of the road). |W|P|114183160801020492|W|P|How to get around talking to the machine when calling a company|W|P|12/05/2005 09:24:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|So I'm looking at the breakfast menu of a restaurant near my house. The newspaper on the breakfast table on the cover reads "...oll might hit 2,000" and below it reads "...dreds of Nicuraguans buried alive in landslide" Nice. Nothing like cheery news to whet the appetite… Probably should have double-checked that one before running off a hundred copies.
|W|P|114183152929815157|W|P|Why it's a good idea to double-check the graphic designer|W|P|12/02/2005 09:22:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|I have about 30+ identical computers that have been retired from service. They're no good to run Windows XP in the production environment, so they're just sitting here, begging to be part of a project. They're 300mhz, 256MB RAM machines with 3-6 GB hard drives. In addition, they all have network cards (10/100), onboard 32MB video and a 15" monitor. What should I do with them? It would be a bad thing to donate them, since the power supplies and hard drives aren't good for a production environment...
|W|P|114183142639652830|W|P|What would you do with 30+ computers?|W|P|12/01/2005 09:19:00 AM|W|P|Dan|W|P|There is a great article being discussed on Slashdot on a recent finding that currents in the north atlantic are slowing, and appear to be on the brink of failing. Speculation as to why ranges from melting polar caps to global warming itself. This comes after an article in the independant that states that scientists believe global warming is now past the point where it can be reversed, and has also become self-sustaining. What does this mean in terms of hurricanes and other extreme weather? It's only going to get worse. A lot worse. To properly understand global warming, slashdotter Coryoth provides this excellent explaination:
Europe, and North America get colder yes (and to be honest I'm not all that happy about that, living in Canada at the moment), but the rest of the trapped heat from global warming doesn't magically vanish, it simply gets pushed elsewhere - so think more more heat (and droughts) for Africa, more energy in the Carribean to help power hurricanes etc. This is why the term "global climate change" is preferred these days. While there is "global warming" in that there is more energy trapped and retained in the system, that doesn't mean it's going to be evenly distributed as warming, it just means more energy in the system which can result in more dramatic swings and changes in climate.

That really is a good point. We've been hearing a lot about global warming lately, there's even been a Comedy Central show for awareness on the topic. I'm just not sure that people really understand global warming, however. I think most people feel that if it's not getting hotter where they live, then they can't see the effects of global warming.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Global warming doesn't affect the average temperature throughout the year. Global warming creates a higher temperature differential between hot and cold weather. The greater the difference between the two, the worse the weather will be.

The only chance we have is to try to stop global warming as much as possible. If the scientists are right, we might be too late, and there will be a coming period of time where a lot of the world will have winter-like climate for quite a long time. In any case, we might be able to cut our greenhouse gas emissions enough to where it wouldn't be life-threatening.

Think about what you can do to help, and if this article showed you how this situation is more serious than you thought, please send it to someone else who might benefit from it.

|W|P|114183129339657061|W|P|Why hurricanes are getting worse, and will continue to do so|W|P|