Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year Useless Facts

Useless Facts



If the government has no knowledge of aliens, then why does Title 14, Section 1211 of the Code of Federal Regulations, implemented on July 16, 1969, make it illegal for U.S. citizens to have any contact with extraterrestrial or their vehicles?





If you sneeze too hard, you can fracture a rib. If you try to suppress a sneeze, you can rupture a blood vessel in your head or neck and die.


Nearly a third of all bottled drinking water purchased in the US is contaminated with bacteria.


Rats multiply so quickly that in 18 months, two rats could have over 1 million descendants.


You are more likely to be struck by lightning than to be eaten by a shark. You are more likely to be infected by flesh-eating bacteria than you are to be struck by lightning.


If you urinate when swimming in a South American River, you may encounter the candiru. Drawn to warmth, this tiny fish is known to follow a stream of urine to its source, swim inside the body, and flare is barbed fins. It will remain firmly embedded in the flesh until surgically removed.


When a pilot light in a gas barbecue fails to ignite the gas jets properly, it is easy for you to inhale gas accidentally while trying to light it by hand. If this has happened, when the match does light, sometimes a trail of flame will blaze from the jet onto your mouth, filling your lungs with fire. Oddly enough, you would suffocate before burning to death as the flame would consume the oxygen in every breath you would take.


The soft plastic headphones used on airplanes create a warm, moist environment in the ear canal that is ideal for breeding bacteria. Wearing headphones for just an hour will increase the bacteria in your ear by 700 times.


On a plane, if the passenger in your seat on the incoming flight had serious gas, then you are sitting on a cushion full of disease-causing microbes.


Homely criminals get 50% longer jail sentences, on average, than good-looking criminals.





Four sunken nuclear submarines sit at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. One, a Russian sub resting in deep water off of Bermuda, holds 16 live nuclear warheads. Scientists and oceanographers are unsure what the impact of the escaping plutonium will have, but warn that corrosion could create the proper chemical environment for a massive nuclear chain reaction.


In 1994, electromagnetic interference (EMI) from a nearby cellular telephone captivated a power wheelchair at a scenic vista in Colorado, sending the passenger over a cliff.


More people working in advertising died on the job in 1996 than died while working in petroleum refining.

Happy New Year!!

I wish all my readers a happy and Prosperous New 2011

Welcome 2011

The atmosphere here is similar to January 25 1986 when the then rebel National Resistance Arm (NRA) stormed Kampala city in Uganda. The sounds in the air all around are similar to the sporadic gunfire the rebels used to oust the then government. Different sounds like bombs, automatic rifles, grenades and heavy artillery, all sounding off intermittently.

Here however it is different. The sounds come from fireworks being let off by the youth. From 10am New Year’s Eve until 2am on New Year’s Day, the Dutch streets could be mistaken for a military zone. This is the only time of the year that Dutch law allows the public to use fireworks. Fireworks at New Year are a long-standing Dutch tradition, and signify chasing the spirits of the old year away. In the Netherlands, fireworks cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 16. They may only be sold during a period of three days before a new year. If one of these days is a Sunday, that day is excluded from sale and sale may commence one day earlier.

Before moving to the city of Almere where we have bought a house, we used to live in a rural area in Noord Holland province 40 minutes from Amsterdam in a village called Wognum (pronounced Vohunum). In that small village everyone one almost knew everyone else, where they live, what they do and number of children. It was therefore not common for fireworks to go off before midnight. The youth knew they would immediately be reported to the police.

Almere is a big city where it is difficult to know who lives where. So over the last 3 days, the youth have been illegally setting of the fireworks. It is no longer fun at midnight when the rest set of theirs. The only consolation is that that is when the big ones go off. The big ones light up the sky for several seconds. Almost every home in the Netherlands goes out on the street to set off fireworks, hug each other and generally drink and shout in the New Year. The sky in all Holland is lit up with shiny bright colours from the fireworks- be it a village, city or town.

This is completely different from Uganda 10 or so years ago. I remember fireworks used to be set off only at the Sheraton hotel at the rooftop and at the American Club in Makindye. All middle class Kampalans went to the Sheraton to welcome the New Year. Other people in the outskirts burned old tyres in the middle of the road. Of course today it has changed much. Most happening places in Uganda set off fireworks at the stroke of midnight.

Happy New Year to all of you!

Skype for iPhone - now with video

Thursday, December 30, 2010

10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Technology


Illustration by Tamara Shopsin

Your gadgets and computers, your software and sites — they are not working as well as they should. You need to make some tweaks.

But the tech industry has given you the impression that making adjustments is difficult and time-consuming. It is not.

And so below are 10 things to do to improve your technological life. They are easy and (mostly) free. Altogether, they should take about two hours; one involves calling your cable or phone company, so that figure is elastic. If you do them, those two hours will pay off handsomely in both increased free time and diminished anxiety and frustration. You can do it.

GET A SMARTPHONE Why: Because having immediate access to your e-mail, photos, calendars and address books, not to mention vast swaths of the Internet, makes life a little easier.

How: This does not have to be complicated. Upgrade your phone with your existing carrier; later, when you are an advanced beginner, you can start weighing the pluses and minuses of your carrier versus another. Using AT&T? Get a refurbished iPhone 3GS for $29. Verizon? Depending on what’s announced next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, get its version of the iPhone, or a refurbished Droid Incredible for $100. Sprint? Either the LG Optimus S or the Samsung Transform are decent Android phones that cost $50. T-Mobile users can get the free LG Optimus T.

STOP USING INTERNET EXPLORER Why: Because, while the latest version has some real improvements, Internet Explorer is large, bloated with features and an example of old-style Microsoft excess.

How: Switch to either Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. Both are first-rate, speedy browsers, and both are free. It remains a tight race between the two, but Chrome has had the lead lately in features and performance. Both browsers include useful things like bookmark syncing. That means that your bookmarks folder will be the same on every computer using Chrome or Firefox, and will update if you change anything.

UPLOAD YOUR PHOTOS TO THE CLOUD Why: Because you’ll be really sorry if an errant cup of coffee makes its way onto your PC, wiping away years of photographic memories. Creating copies of your digital photos on an online service is a painless way to ensure they’ll be around no matter what happens to your PC. It is also an easy way to share the photos with friends and family.

How: There are many good, free choices. To keep things simple, use Picasa, Google’s service. After your initial upload — which may take a while, so set it up before you go to sleep — you will have a full backup of your photo library. And by inviting people to view it, privately, with passwords, you will not have to e-mail photos anymore. Anytime you have new pictures, upload them to Picasa, send a message to your subscribers, and they can view your gallery at their leisure.

GET MUSIC OFF YOUR COMPUTER Why: Because music bought digitally wants to be freed, not imprisoned in your portable player or laptop. It wants to be sent around the home, filling rooms like good old-fashioned hi-fi.

How: Using iTunes for your digital music? Buy Apple’s Airport Express for $99 and connect it to your stereo. When you play music on your computer, you can stream it to the Express and, therefore, your stereo’s speakers. Have an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad? Download Apple’s free Remote app and you will be able to control your music from anywhere in the house.

BACK UP YOUR DATA Why: Because photos are not the only important things on your computer. With online backup services, you do not have to buy any equipment; you just install software, which sits on secure servers and runs in the background, regularly updating a mirror image of all your files while you spend time on more important things, like confirming that Ben Gazzara really was the bad guy in “Road House” (he was).

How: Go to sosbackup.com. Pay $80 a year. Install the software. Sleep easy.

SET UP A FREE FILE-SHARING SERVICE Why: Because while e-mailing yourself files is a perfectly decent workaround, there are easier, more elegant ways to move files around — and they do not cost anything, either.

How: Go to dropbox.com and set up a free account. You will then get an icon that sits on your desktop. Drag and drop files onto that icon, and they are immediately copied to the cloud. The free account gives you up to two gigabytes of disk space; 50- and 100-gigabyte are also available, but they cost $10 or $20 a month.

Set up your account on all your other computers, and they all have the access to the same files. You can set up shared, private and public folders, and apps for iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry and Android mean you can gain access to shared files from anywhere.

GET FREE ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE Why: Because attacks on unwitting users are more widespread and tactics are growing more advanced.

How: Windows users should download Avast Free Antivirus. Mac users can downloadiAntiVirus Free Edition. Both applications will provide a basic level of security against a variety of so-called malware. And they cost zero.

GET A BETTER DEAL FROM YOUR CABLE, PHONE AND INTERNET PROVIDER Why: Because it does not take much to get them to give you free (or cheaper) services. These companies are generally indifferent to customer needs, but they are quick to cough up discounts — if you ask.

How: Just call and ask — they will probably give you something. Other tactics: Measure your Internet speed, using dslreports.com/speedtest; if it is less than what you are paying for, ask for a free upgrade. Or ask to speak to the cancellation department. That usually scares them.

BUY A LOT OF CHARGING CABLES Why: Because you should never have a gadget’s battery die on you, and they are cheap. Smartphone user? Have a charging cable at the office, one in the car, and a couple at home. Laptops? Have enough chargers in the house, so you are not tethered to the den when the power runs low.

How: eBay. Search for what you need with terms like “original” or “oem” (original equipment manufacturer). You will often see accessories for as little as one-tenth their normal retail price. Buy them by the gross.

CALIBRATE YOUR HDTV Why: Because that awesome 1080p plasma or LCD TV you bought has factory settings for color, brightness, contrast and so forth that are likely to be out of whack. They need to be adjusted.

How: Order Spears and Munsil High Definition Benchmark: Blu-ray Edition, a DVD, for $25. Its regimen of tests and patterns will help you adjust your TV’s settings to more natural levels. After you use it, you may want to fine-tune the TV some more, but you can do so knowing you are getting the most out of your display.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Medical Terminology for the layman

Artery - The study of fine paintings

Barium - What you do when CPR fails

Cesarean Section - A district in Rome

Colic - A sheep dog

Coma - A punctuation mark

Congenital - Friendly

Dilate - To live long

Fester - Quicker

G.I. Series - Baseball games between teams of soldiers

Grippe - A suitcase

Hangnail - A coat hook

Medical Staff - A doctors' cane

Minor Operation - Coal digging

Morbid - A higher offer

Nitrate – Higher than the day rate

Node - Was aware of

Organic - Musical

Outpatient - A person who has fainted

Post-operative - A letter carrier

Protein - In favor of young people

Secretion - Hiding anything

Serology - Study of English Knighthood

Tablet - A small table

Tumor - An extra pair

Urine - Opposite of you're out

Varicose Veins - Veins which are very close together

E-Mail Gets an Instant Makeover

By MATT RICHTEL

SAN FRANCISCO — Signs you’re an old fogey: You still watch movies on a VCR, listen to vinyl records and shoot photos on film.

Jay Laprete/Associated Press

Dave Hetzler checks e-mail and researches jobs at the Grandview Heights Public Library in Ohio.

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Chanel Valentine, a student, checking messages at lunchtime — she gets more than 300 texts a day.

Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

Lena Jenny, right, and Constance Linard text messaging with friends at Ms. Jenny’s home in Cupertino, Calif.


And you enjoy using e-mail.

Young people, of course, much prefer online chats and text messages. These have been on the rise for years but are now threatening to eclipse e-mail, much as they have already superseded phone calls.

Major Internet companies likeFacebook are responding with message services that are focused on immediate gratification.

The problem with e-mail, young people say, is that it involves a boringly long process of signing into an account, typing out a subject line and then sending a message that might not be received or answered for hours. And sign-offs like “sincerely” — seriously?

Lena Jenny, 17, a high school senior in Cupertino, Calif., said texting was so quick that “I sometimes have an answer before I even shut my phone.” E-mail, she added, is “so lame.”

Facebook is trying to appeal to the Lenas of the world. It is rolling out a revamped messaging service that is intended to feel less like e-mail and more like texting.

The company decided to eliminate the subject line on messages after its research showed that it was most commonly left blank or used for an uninformative “hi” or “yo.”

Facebook also killed the “cc” and “bcc” lines. And hitting the enter key can immediately fire off the message, à la instant messaging, instead of creating a new paragraph. The changes, company executives say, leave behind time-consuming formalities that separate from what they crave: instant conversation.

“The future of messaging is more real time, more conversational and more casual,” said Andrew Bosworth, director of engineering at Facebook, where he oversees communications tools. “The medium isn’t the message. The message is the message.”

The numbers testify to the trend. The number of total unique visitors in the United States to major e-mail sites like Yahoo and Hotmail is now in steady decline, according to the research company comScore. Such visits peaked in November 2009 and have since slid 6 percent; visits among 12- to 17-year-olds fell around 18 percent. (The only big gainer in the category has been Gmail, up 10 percent from a year ago.)

The slide in e-mail does not reflect a drop in digital communication; people have just gravitated to instant messaging, texting and Facebook (four billion messages daily).

James E. Katz, the director for the Center for Mobile Communications Studies at Rutgers University, said this was not the death of e-mail but more of a downgrade, thanks to greater choice and nuance among communications tools.

“It’s painful for them,” he said of the younger generation and e-mail. “It doesn’t suit their social intensity.”

Some, predictably, turn up their noses at the informality and the abbreviated spellings that are rampant in bite-size, phone-based transmissions. Judith Kallos, who writes a blog and books about e-mail etiquette, complains that the looser, briefer and less grammatical the writing, the less deep the thoughts and emotions behind it.

“We’re going down a road where we’re losing our skills to communicate with the written word,” Ms. Kallos said.

Mary Bird, 65, of San Leandro, Calif., is another traditionalist, if a reluctant one. “I don’t want to be one of those elders who castigate young peoples’ form of communication,” she said. “But the art of language, the beauty of language, is being lost.”

Ms. Bird’s daughter, Katie Bird Hunter, 26, is on the other side of the digital communications divide and finds her parents to be out of touch.

“They still use AOL,” she says, implying with her tone that she finds this totally gross.

Ms. Hunter says she seeks to reach friends first by text, then by instant message, then with a phone call, and then by e-mail. “And then, while I’d probably never do this last one, showing up at their house.”

Like a lot of younger people, Ms. Hunter, who works in construction management in San Francisco, says e-mail has its place — namely work and other serious business, like online shopping. She and others say they still regularly check e-mail, in part because parents, teachers and bosses use it.

David McDowell, senior director of product management for Yahoo Mail, conceded that the company was seeing a shift to other tools, but said this was less a generational phenomenon than a situational one. Fifteen-year-olds, for example, have little reason to send private attachments to a boss or financial institution.

Yahoo has added features like chat and text messaging to its e-mail service to reflect changing habits, as has Gmail, which also offers phone calls.

“Mail is now only a part of Gmail,” said Mike Nelson, a Google spokesman. “It’s video conferencing, texting, it’s I.M., it’s phone calling.”

Mr. Katz, the Rutgers professor, said texting and social networks better approximated how people communicated in person — in short snippets where niceties did not matter. Over time, he said, e-mail will continue to give way to faster-twitch formats, even among older people.

The changing trends have even some people in their 20s feeling old and slightly out of touch, or at least caught in the middle.

Adam Horowitz, 23, who works as a technology consultant for a major accounting firm in New York, spends all day on e-mail at his office. When he leaves it behind, he picks up his phone and communicates with friends almost entirely via texts.

Yet he sometimes feels caught between the two, as when he texts with his younger brothers, ages 12 and 19, who tend to send even shorter, faster messages.

“When they text me, it comes across in broken English. I have no idea what they’re saying,” said Mr. Horowitz. “I may not text in full sentences, but at least there’s punctuation to get my point across.”

“I guess I’m old school.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/technology/21email.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=globaleua26


Monday, December 20, 2010

Useless Facts

A collection of useless, but interesting facts:

Rene Descartes came up with the theory of coordinate geometry by looking at a fly walk across a tiled ceiling.

If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle; if the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died as a result of wounds received in battle; if the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.

Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.

The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.

Ballroom dancing is a major at Brigham Young University.

Some biblical scholars believe that Aramaic (the language of the ancient Bible) did not contain an easy way to say "many things" and used a term which has come down to us as 40. This means that when the bible -- in many places -- refers to "40 days," they meant many days.

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, and purple.

Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them used to burn their houses down - hence the expression "to get fired."

Canada is an Indian word meaning "Big Village".

There are two credit cards for every person in the United States.

Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.

"I am." is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.

The term "the whole 9 yards" came from WWII fighter pilots in the South Pacific. When arming their airplanes on the ground, the .50 caliber machine gun ammo belts measured exactly 27 feet, before being loaded into the fuselage. If the pilots fired all their ammo at a target, it got "the whole 9 yards."

The original story from Tales of 1001 Arabian Nights begins, "Aladdin was a little Chinese boy."

The most common name in the world is Mohammed.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard's fish was named Livingston.

The 'y' in signs reading "Ye Olde ..." is properly pronounced with a 'th' sound, not 'y'. The "th" sound does not exist in Latin, so ancient Roman occupied (present day) England used the rune "thorn" to represent "th" sounds. With the advent of the printing press the character from the Roman alphabet which closest resembled thorn was the lower case "y".

The word "samba" means "to rub navels together."

The international telephone dialing code for Antarctica is 672.

The glue on Israeli postage stamps is certified kosher.

The little bags of netting for gas lanterns (called 'mantles') are radioactive -- so much so that they will set of an alarm at a nuclear reactor.

Mel Blanc (the voice of Bugs Bunny) was allergic to carrots.

Each unit on the Richter Scale is equivalent to a power factor of about 32. So a 6 is 32 times more powerful than a 5! Though it goes to 10, 9 is estimated to be the point of total tetonic destruction (2 is the smallest that can be felt unaided.)

Cinderella's slippers were originally made out of fur. The story was changed in the 1600s by a translator. It was the left shoe that Aschenputtel (Cinderella) lost at the stairway, when the prince tried to follow her.

Until 1965, driving was done on the left-hand side on roads in Sweden. The conversion to right-hand was done on a weekday at 5pm. All traffic stopped as people switched sides. This time and day were chosen to prevent accidents where drivers would have gotten up in the morning and been too sleepy to realize *this* was the day of the changeover.

Donald Duck's middle name is Fauntleroy.

The very first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin during World War II killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.

Dr. Seuss pronounced "Seuss" such that it rhymed with "rejoice."

In Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart never said "Play it again, Sam." Sherlock Holmes never said "Elementary, my dear Watson." Captain Kirk never said "Beam me up, Scotty," but he did say, "Beam me up, Mr. Scott".

Dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors.

More people are killed annually by donkeys than die in air crashes.

The characters Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra's "Its A Wonderful Life."

The flag of the Philippines is the only national flag that is flown differently during times of peace or war. A portion of the flag is blue, while the other is red. The blue portion is flown on top in time of peace and the red portion is flown in war time.

Armored knights raised their visors to identify themselves when they rode past their king. This custom has become the modern military salute.

The "huddle" in football was formed due a deaf football player who used sign language to communicate and his team didn't want the opposition to see the signals he used and in turn huddled around him.

Goethe couldn't stand the sound of barking dogs and could only write if he had an apple rotting in the drawer of his desk.

If you are locked in a completely sealed room, you will die of carbon dioxide poisoning first before you will die of oxygen deprivation.

Carnivorous animals will not eat another animal that has been hit by a lightning strike.

The term, "It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye" is from Ancient Rome. The only rule during wrestling matches was, "No eye gouging." Everything else was allowed, but the only way to be disqualified is to poke someone's eye out.

Mr. Rogers is an ordained minister. Sir Isaac Newton was an ordained priest in the Church of England.

A 'jiffy' is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.

Certain frogs can be frozen solid then thawed, and continue living.

Hershey's Kisses are called that because the machine that makes them looks like it's kissing the conveyor belt.

Steve Young, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, is the great-great-grandson of Mormon leader Brigham Young.

Money isn't made out of paper, it's made out of linen.


Every time you lick a stamp, you're consuming 1/10 of a calorie.

Raggot the Gerbil


A male Nutmeg Mongolian Gerbil http://www.popularpets.net/gerbils/pictures

A gerbil is a small mammal of the order Rodentia. Once known simply as "desert rats".

Actually from the LA Times:

"In retrospect, lighting the match was my big mistake. But I was only trying to retrieve the gerbil," Eric Tomaszewski told bemused doctors in the Severe Burns Unit of Salt Lake City Hospital. Tomaszewski, and his homosexual partner Andrew "Kiki" Farnum, had been admitted for emergency treatment after a felching session had gone seriously wrong.

"I pushed a cardboard tube up his rectum and slipped Raggot, our gerbil, in," Tomaszewski explained." As usual, Kiki shouted out "Armageddon", my cue that he'd had enough. I tried to retrieve Raggot but he wouldn't come out again, so I peered into the tube and struck a match, thinking the light might attract him." At a hushed press conference, a hospital spokesman described what happened next. "The match ignited a pocket of intestinal gas and a flame shot out the tube, igniting Mr. Tomaszewski's hair and severely burning his face. It also set fire to the gerbil's fur and whiskers which in turn ignited a larger pocket of gas further up the intestine, propelling the rodent out like a cannonball." Tomaszewski suffered second degree burns and a broken nose from the impact of the gerbil, while Farnum suffered first and second degree burns to his anus and lower intestinal tract.


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