Friday, January 13, 2006

We shoot to avoid getting sued for tazer use...

SWAT Team Shoots Suicidal Fla. Student

Recently it seems like there have been a lot of stories (okay, maybe just 2 or 3) about law enforcement having to take someone down with a handgun. Sometimes that leads to the person dying. (in this case, the kid was taken to the hospital; there is no word on his condition at this time)

When asked why the law enforcement agents don't use tazers, they say that they are too worried about getting sued for using a tazer.

Does this seem like backward logic? They are too worried about getting sued, so they shoot and possibly kill someone instead...

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Film Camera a Dinosaur?

Nikon will stop making most film cameras

So I guess this is a sign of a major shift in technology.

Nikon will stop making most of its film cameras. It will keep the top-line model and a low-end manual-focus model. However, it will not make any of the rest.

Additionally, it will stop making most of its manual-focus lenses. There is a German company that plans to start making manual-focus lenses for those people who don't want to give them up.

So that seems interesting. I guess cameras have come a long way. The manual-focus film camera is a dinosaur.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

No uniform iPod dock connector for a reason?

This was news to me. From Baby, you can drive my iPod in the section "The iPod tax":
For automakers, this seamless integration comes at a cost. Apple exerts tight control over accessories for its music player through its "Made for iPod" licensing program. Dashboard integration with the iPod requires the ability to plug into the iPod's special dock connector -- and that, in turn, requires a license from Apple.

I didn't know that you needed to purchase an Apple license to use those stupid proprietary connectors!

Do you think this is a reason why each new iPod has a slightly different way of connecting to it? It's frustrating buying accessories when you have to make sure that the accessory is for your particular iPod.

I think they'll just continue iterating through arbitrary dock connectors just so they can keep charging this license. That is, I'm sure that Apple holds the license on the connector due to some patent. By continually bringing out new connectors, they never have to worry about the patent expiring.

It's all so slimey. I really hate licensing so much.

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Fun Mashup: Dig Here!

So I heard about this fun mashup on NPR.

The idea is that you find your location on the Google Map in the middle of the page, then you click "Dig Here" to find out where you would pop out on the other side of the planet. (that is, if you dug a hole straight down from your location)

If I dig a very deep hole, where I go to stop?

I don't recommend digging down from Ohio. You end up in the middle of the Indian Ocean! :(

Hear more about other fun Google Maps mashups at Tailor-made Cartography with Google Maps (NPR, All Things Considered).

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Israel Says No to Robertson Theme Park

This is good for so many reasons.

Israel punishes US TV evangelist
Israel is pulling out of a $50 million deal with US TV evangelist Pat Robertson after he said Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution.

Tourism Ministry spokesman Ido Hartuv said Israel would not sign a contract with Mr Robertson to build a biblical theme park by the Sea of Galilee.

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So how long until pigs fly?

Glowing pigs: Taiwan breeds green-glowing pigs
Scientists in Taiwan say they have bred three pigs that glow in the dark.

They claim that while other researchers have bred partly fluorescent pigs, theirs are the only pigs in the world which are green through and through.

The pigs are transgenic, created by adding genetic material from jellyfish into a normal pig embryo.

The researchers hope the pigs will boost the island's stem cell research, as well as helping with the study of human disease.

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Teacher Ants!

Social insects make me smile.

It turns out that ants (social insects) can serve as teachers. A leader ant will head out in front of a follower and periodically stop and wait for the follower to catch up. When the follower is ready to continue, it touches the leader ant with its antennae a number of times. At that point, the leader takes off again and pauses later (repeating this stop-and-go process over and over again). This ends up "teaching" the follower the path to food (or some other resource).

The followers then can take the same path on their own, and they themselves can teach it to others.

This is reproducible in the laboratory. Apparently when the leader stops you can tap it with artificial antennae in the same way and it will take off by itself.

Now, with large groups of ants, they can use pheromone trails and other methods to spread information more quickly. However, this method works great for one-on-one interactions and the follower ant builds a memory of the path (rather than just following a trail).

Isn't that neat?

Teacher Ants Show Students the Way to Food
Ants exhibit myriad complex social behaviors despite possessing only teeny brains. Now new research suggests that teaching should be added to the list of ant accomplishments.

Nigel Franks and Tom Richardson of the University of Bristol in England studied so-called tandem running in Temnothorax albipennis ants, during which two ants run a course between nest and food with various stops and starts en route. The researchers found that the lead ant who knows the way to the food slows down as the follower familiarizes itself with the route and will not proceed until the follower taps it on the back. The two also maintain a variable but matching speed and distance over time.

"This behavior is beautifully simple," Richardson says. "If one experimentally removes the follower and taps the leader with a hair at a rate of two times per second or more, the leader will continue."

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Plants emit methane

Well this really screws things up...

Plants: An ozone culprit?
New findings suggest that plants might produce methane in situ by a hitherto unknown process, and emit quantities representing 10-30% of the earth's atmospheric methane levels. If confirmed, the results -- published in this week's issue of Nature -- will require a re-evaluation of the planet's global methane budget, and have a significant impact on many fields, from the study of past climate changes to greenhouse gas accounting.

I guess that's something they missed in the zillion years of plant biology. Ironically, photosynthesis has been receiving too much light. Methane production has gone completely overlooked.

So what does this mean?
Ultimately, the findings may lead to potential changes in the way governments manage greenhouse gases, consisting mostly of methane and carbon dioxide. For instance, some countries are trying to reduce their emissions by planting forests to absorb CO2 - but if that solution also results in more methane emissions, it will pose additional problems, according to David Lowe from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in Wellington, New Zealand, who was not a co-author.

I see, so planting trees to get rid of C02 can actually increase greenhouse gas emissions. Well, that's lovely.
"These are the findings of just one group. Now others around the world will have to make efforts to confirm these observations and to figure out the process that might be involved," said Lowe.

Something to keep in mind:
Despite the questions these findings may raise about greenhouse gases, the researchers insisted that efforts to reduce emissions should target man-made activities. "Emissions from plants are natural, they've been there long before man started to affect the atmosphere -they are not a factor in anthropogenic global change," said Röckmann. "They should be left untouched."

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"Every day spent with you is like having a cesarean section"

Some of the funniest lines come from David Sedaris stories.

This one is from "Me Talk Pretty One Day" published in his recent book Me Talk Pretty One Day, which describes his struggles learning French in France from an evil French teacher who asks a beautiful optimistic Yugoslavian girl who says that she loves everything if she "loves [her] war." Funny stuff. (clearly, the subject quote is from this evil teacher to Sedaris)

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Carry a condom or pay

Carry a condom, Colombian town tells men
BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) -- A western Colombian town has angered the influential Catholic Church with a novel scheme to cut AIDS infections, threatening males over age 14 with fines if they fail to carry a condom.

Apparently that really pissed off the Catholics:
Father Jesus Velasquez of the local Catholic church said he wouldn't let the measure pass without a fight, comparing it to "selling guns in the streets."

"What is required is education and respect for moral and Christian values," he said.

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Hubble Reveals Thousands of Orion Nebula Stars

NASA Press Release: NASA's Hubble Reveals Thousands of Orion Nebula Stars
In one of the most detailed astronomical images ever produced, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured an unprecedented look at the Orion Nebula. This turbulent star formation region is one of astronomy's most dramatic and photogenic celestial objects.

"Orion is a bustling cauldron of activity. This new large-scale Hubble image of the region reveals a treasure-house of beauty and astonishing detail for comprehensive scientific study," said Jennifer Wiseman, NASA's Hubble program scientist.

That press release links to a page on that shows some of the images that are the subject of the press release. They are really neat. On top of that, some of them are zoomable. It's possible to zoom in on them and pan around, and the interface is quite nice to use.

Hubble Panoramic View of Orion Nebula Reveals Thousands of Stars
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Inhale Less Pollution by Walking?

A new study shows that walking may expose people to less air pollution than riding in a motor vehicle (or even bicycling!).

Pedestrians Inhale Less Pollution than Passengers
Surprisingly, taxis topped the list of air pollution danger, according to research published in the current issue of Atmospheric Environment. London's Black Cabs exposed passengers to an average of more than 108,000 ultrafine particles--microscopic soot 10,000 times smaller than a centimeter that is particularly dangerous for its ability to penetrate deep into the lungs--for every cubic centimeter traveled. Public buses came second with around 95,000 particles per cm3, followed by cycling at 84,000 particles/cm3 and walking at around 46,000 particles/cm3.

In fact, walking is even better that cycling! By a huge margin!

So what provided the most protection?
Researchers followed the volunteers with video cameras--including ones mounted in a three-wheeled stroller, prompting passersby to wonder aloud about a lost baby, Kaur recalls--to capture visual evidence of exhaust blasts or lurking smokers that they could then correlate to particle measurements over the course of the trip. A personal car--a 1996 Toyota Starlet--provided the most protection, exposing its passengers to an average of just under 37,000 particles/cm3.

So if you drive your own car, you can do better than walking, but otherwise if you're forced to use public transportation (or biking), you are "better off" walking.

Now, they claim that riding in your own car may not be as safe as it sounds. The particle detectors they were using weren't all-inclusive. Additionally, if you can walk far away from vehicles, then you can do much better than the vehicles around you.
Of course, that car contributed to the pollution woes of passing pedestrians and prior research from Kaur and colleagues showed that walking further away from traffic reduced exposure by up to 10 percent. In fact, when exposure to all forms of air pollution measured--larger particles and carbon monoxide--was compared, walking proved the best mode of transportation. "Walking is not just good for you from an exercise point of view but also from an exposure point of view," Kaur notes. "Sometimes people have the impression that the vehicle should provide some protection and that's not always the case."

Isn't that interesting?

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There's no reason to forgo warrants

These poll results really make me mad.

Poll finds U.S. split over eavesdropping
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Though Americans are growing more skeptical of the White House record on civil liberties, the nation is divided over whether the Bush administration should use wiretaps without first obtaining a warrant, a recent poll shows.

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,003 adults found that 50 percent of those polled believe it's OK to forgo warrants when ordering electronic surveillance of people suspected of having ties to terrorists abroad.

If someone has been talking to al-Qaeda, why wouldn't a judge approve a wiretap? There is a secret court that was formed explicitly for this reason. The Bush administration says that the secret court just cannot act fast enough, but how can we accept that as a valid reason for illegal wiretapping? To use a cliche, how can justice that must be done in secret be justice at all?

Some say it may be a weakness of our system to put even someone as powerful as the president through official procedures, but it is also a strength. The freedom and liberties that we defend through "fighting terrorism" cannot be trampled upon in order to make that defense. We must work within the system. Any gains that can be made illegitimately are not worth their costs.

I strongly believe that there are legitimate ways to "fight terrorism" that are sufficient. If they are not, then we should work to change the system. However, at no point is it right to work outside of the system.

This isn't just rhetoric. I really do not think the marginal decreases in safety (the probability that your life will be harmed from a terrorist attack is far lower than the probability that a chemical in your home will kill you) justify the extreme decreases in liberty. And I'm really disturbed that the administration feels the other way.

So clearly the results of that poll are pretty depressing.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

iPod Jeans

Levi Strauss debuts iPod-ready jeans
Denim giant Levi Strauss said on Tuesday it had designed jeans compatible with the iPod music player, featuring a joystick in the watch pocket to operate the device.

The Levi's RedWire DLX Jeans for men and women, which will be available this fall, also have a built-in docking cradle for the iPod and retractable headphones. Pricing was not immediately available.

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New: The iToast

UPDATE: There are rumors that Apple is bringing out a whole line of kitchen appliances. Names like iNuke and iSteam are being tossed around.

Apple is bringing out a toaster. No joke. The iToast.

iToast features wireless connectivity over Airport Extreme wireless networks.

Apple has a bread database... iToast analyzes your bread and accesses the database over wireless for proper toaster settings. Database has over 2000 types of bread with new brands being added daily! Weekly emailing tells iToast users what new breads have been added... "iToast Wednesdays!" Domestic breads available now... international breads online in March.

Wonder Bread and Orowheat are proud to partner with Apple and iToast, they say.

And there's more...
iToast has built in iPod functionality! Listen to music while you wait for your toast!

Multi-wave laser beam toasting. "Quick Toast" feature for fast toasting. Bagel setting... wide slots for big breads. HOLDS 10,000 SONGS!!! Bose Acoustic Wave™ stereo speakers inside. Bread database access included... no monthly fee. Bread database distributed over Akamai... NO LAG TIME! INSTANT TOAST SETTINGS RETRIEVAL!! All of this for just $99!


"Purchase music and video content direct from iToast... no computer required! Can share purchases with your Mac or PC and transfer to iPod... automatically syncs with iPod so you can continue with the video as you leave the house... exactly where you left off!

That's pretty crazy.

Could there be more?
"Let's say you and your husband/wife/life-partner enjoy different kinds of bread for your toast. With iToast, each slot has SEPARATE SENSORS! You can toast a bagel in one slot and a slice of rye in the other... iToast automatically adjusts each slot! Knows to only toast bagel on one side thanks to Apple Toast Database!"

"iToast ships next week!!"

Could it be for real?

I sorta hope so...

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Pretty New Apple Toys

Say goodbye to the Powerbook. Say hello to the The MacBook Pro. (note: only 15.4" models available, but it's a nice 15.4")

Note it's new fun power connector. It's held in with a magnet, so if you yank your laptop away from your desk, it'll just unplug without breaking anything. (though anything else plugged into your laptop is doomed)

Same old iMac. Same old iMac price. New speed and performance. The New iMac.

Both based on Intel's new "Core Duo" dual core processors. Both use SATA hard drives.

Oh, and both include an on-board iSight camera at the top of the screen.

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Clever T-shirt...

Cost of war: $2 trillion = 4 times what Bush said

The escalating cost of war
The cost of the Iraq war could top $2 trillion after factoring in long-term health care for wounded U.S. veterans, rebuilding a worn-down military and accounting for other unforeseen bills and economic losses, according to an analysis by Columbia University economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard lecturer Linda Bilmes.

Escalating cost: The figure is more than four times what the Bush administration estimates the cost of the war through 2006 -- around $500 billion, according to congressional budget data.

The study predicts the war will last until 2010. It is billed as a detailed analysis not only of the potential costs of sustaining the operation in Iraq, but also the expenses likely to be incurred long after U.S. troops withdraw.

Economics of war: Stiglitz received the Nobel Prize in economics in 2001. He and Bilmes presented their analysis Sunday at a conference of economists and social scientists sponsored by the Allied Social Sciences Association, the American Economic Association and the Economists for Peace and Security.

The report notes that the government will have costly obligations to a new class of veterans, be forced to make new investments in stressed military ranks thinned by multiple tours of duty, and withstand the enduring impact of the war on the nation's overall financial outlook.

The estimates were based on information compiled by the Pentagon, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Congressional Budget Office.

In 2002, the White House predicted the war would cost $100 billion to $200 billion.

Stiglitz is a Nobel prize winner in economics.

Did people at the White House do any thinking before entering into this war? Any thinking at all?

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Education in Ohio: Crap, Crap, Crap?

Two nuggets from the news today:

Intelligent design: Schools become battleground
Opponents of Ohio's Board of Education's science standards were set to rally Sunday night, according to an article in that day's Columbus Dispatch. Their beef with the board stems from guidelines that they feel allow the teaching of intelligent design in high schools.

According to the Dispatch article, "Ohio standard's say students should be able to 'describe how scientists today continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.'" Although this language is not as nakedly supportive of intelligent design as in the recently struck down policy of the school board in Dover, Penn., it does allow for the discussion of intelligent design in high school biology classes.

I thought school boards were just supposed to be a rubber stamp for tax increases. When did school boards start getting so much curriculum power?

Students leave top-rated schools for online charter programs
AKRON, Ohio - About 3,000 students have opted out of the state's 112 top-rated public school districts to enroll in charter schools, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Most of the students traded high-achieving public schools for online charter schools, which have some of the poorest academic ratings in the state, according to an analysis of school data by the Akron Beacon Journal.

Ohio's top schools are labeled "excellent" if they achieve at least 21 of 23 state performance standards, which include minimum passing rates on state proficiency tests, graduation and attendance.

The five largest online charter schools met only two to five performance standards on last year's report card, among the lowest ratings for any school in the state.

Susan Bodary, executive assistant for education to Gov. Bob Taft, said the state is learning that families choose alternatives for a variety of reasons and "not just academics." They may opt out of high-performing districts because they have different ideas about parent involvement, discipline or safety, she said.

Ohio has been opening many more charter schools ever since NCLB got its hands on the state. Unfortunately, this has given parents more options in how they educate their children, and many uneducated Ohio parents want to make sure their children are brought up with just as little education.

I suppose in both of these cases the parents are to blame. The parents vote in the inept school boards. The parents choose the charter schools. So maybe the subject of this post should be, "Parents in Ohio: Crap, Crap, Crap?"

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New Batch of WMF Flaws Flagged

New Batch of WMF Flaws Flagged
Updated: Just days after the release of Microsoft's out-of-cycle WMF patch, researchers publish details—and exploit code—for two new denial-of-service vulnerabilities. Redmond is investigating.

That's right! There are NEW WMF bugs!

The good news is that these bugs do not appear to allow for arbitrary code execution (unlike the last one). These just cause denial-of-service (DOS) type problems, which just tends to be pretty annoying.

There is speculation that more examination of these bugs may lead to arbitrary code execution.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Study: Cough Suppressants Don't Work!

Over-the-counter cough suppressants ineffective, physicians say
But for sufferers of "acute cough from cold," the group suggests you ignore over-the-counter drugs with the active ingredients dextromethorphan, codeine and the expectorant guaifenesin.

Products with just the first of those tongue-twisting ingredients include Robitussin Maximum Strength Cough Suppressant, Vicks 44 Cough Relief, Benylin Adult Formula Cough Suppressant and Sucrets 8 Hour Cough Suppressant.

The National Institutes of Health's online service Medline Plus says another 150 or so other popular products also use dextromethorphan - alone or in combination - such as some Coricidin, TheraFlu and Alka-Seltzer cold medications.

Some good news:
The good news, the chest doctors said Monday, is that some older antihistamines work against coughs from colds. Mostly, they're the ones that make you drowsy.

They include the diphenhydramine in Benadryl, the brompheniramine in Dimetapp, and chlorpheniramine in Chlor-Trimeton, and many other products by the same over-the-counter pharmaceutical giants marketed for allergy and sinus woes.

This all seems puzzling, right? Well:
That cough you thought you knocked back in a few days with that $7 cough syrup? Coughs from colds go away in two or three days, anyway.

So they say it's all a myth!

Something to keep in mind this cold season...

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JotSpot Tracker

I'm not sure how I feel about this application just yet, but I think it's worth a note.

JotSpot Tracker

It's basically a web front-end for spreadsheets. Paste your spreadsheet on-line. You can even integrate/view it with/as a calendar or a map. You can then have other users subscribe to it, view it, and even change it. You can subscribe to other people's calendars too.

They do a better job explaining it than I do. See the actual link for the screen shots that go every place where you see lots of ellipses.

JotSpot Tracker - How it Works (Screenshots)
Casting Call Acting Inc. handles the scheduling of auditions for major studios.

Today, they maintain a spreadsheet of actors and actresses. It's frustrating because the information is always changing and the spreadsheet needs to be sent by email to casting directors, agents and managers...

...with Tracker, they simply copy and paste their spreadsheet into their browser... automatically create an interactive talent tracking web site...

...agents and managers can now make their changes, apply formatting and edit in one centralized place...

...or even add notes, attach resumes or include headshot images in each row...

...sharing it with other people and letting them make their own changes is as easy as entering an email address...

...a calendar view allows the managers to look at upcoming audition dates...

...and a map view allows them to plot shooting locations or home addresses.

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Free on-line file storage/sharing

Ever have to send a very large file to someone and you are pretty sure that e-mail isn't the most appropriate way to get it to that person? Wouldn't it be nice to have a place where you could post that file to have them download it from there?

Take a look at the list of services on Creative Guy: Free online file storage/sending.

These are services that provide free on-line web caches that give you around 2 GB of file storage to put whatever you want there. People can then download from those locations. Your files will be deleted after a certain amount of time. For example, files might be deleted if downloads have gone idle for 7 days or if the file has been downloaded for 25 times.

Some of them even provide e-mail interfaces so you can e-mail your files to the service and your recipients can download the files from them.

Very useful.

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Blonde joke

So I found a fun blonde joke (Scroll to the "Additional humor update:").

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Lyrics: "Wait" by Get Set Go (Grey's Anatomy)

I was looking through my stats today and noticed someone searching for
"he'll be gone" lyrics grey's anatomy

It turns out my blog is the only thing that comes up when you search for that. However, the information the searcher wanted is not anywhere on my blog... Until now.

The song that plays in Grey's Anatomy that frequently repeats "He will be gone" is called "Wait" by Get Set Go. If you're looking for the lyrics, then check out:

Get Set Go Lyrics - Wait Lyrics. Greys Anatomy Soundtrack Lyrics
Artist: Get Set Go
Song: Wait

Wait, wait for the dawn my dear
Wait till the sun gets here
And you will wait too long he will be gone
Wait, wait till the sun shines through
Wait till the sky is blue
And you will wait too long he will be gone, he will be gone

Ooh, he will be gone
Ooh, he will be gone

Wait, wait till the signs are right
Wait till the perfect time
And you will wait too long he will be gone, he will be gone

Ooh, he will be gone
Ooh, he will be gone

La la la la la ...

Wait till you don't doubt no more
Wait till you know for sure
And you will wait too long he will be gone now

It's a catchy song. I like it.

So hopefully that helps someone out.

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

iCal Exchange

Those of you who use OS X's iCal application or any of Mozilla's calendar applications (which are available on Windows) may be familiar with sites like iCalShare which keep a catalog of useful calendars to which you can subscribe. For example, let's say you want to keep track of all of the US holidays. Let's say you also want to keep track of each day Lost is on (including a description of each episode). Well, you can go into iCal (or a Mozilla calendar app) and subscribe to an iCalShare calendar that does exactly that.

Well, ideally you could also publish your own personal calendar somewhere. That way other people (perhaps only people you give a password to) can subscribe to your calendar (and you can subscribe to theirs). That way it's easy to keep track of when someone else is available.

Well, iCal Exchange does exactly that. You get a free account (all you need to submit is e-mail address, user name, and password) and you can publish your calendars to it into either a public area or a private area. People can then subscribe to your public or private calendars. Private calendars will require a password for subscription.

They've also started working on a "Showcase" feature where you can put some of your calendars in a "showcase." That will allow other people to find it and subscribe to it (so these are obviously public calendars that probably aren't very personal; calendars that show events happening at your university, for example). It looks like that feature is underdeveloped at the moment though.

So that's fun. That way if you want to do iCal publishing, you don't need a .Mac account nor do you need your own webserver. Just use iCal Exchange.

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Emo Sucks (e.g. Fall Out Boy)

This is the funniest thing I have seen in a while.

Google Video: Interpretation of Fall Out Boy

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Don't work so hard

I thought this was funny. I think my girlfriend will too...

Google Video: Don't work so hard

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Pentagon: 80 percent could have been saved by body armor

Mass. pols blast Bush for skimpy GI armor
Bay State congressional leaders yesterday blasted the Bush administration over a new Pentagon study that revealed as many as 80 percent of Marines killed in Iraq from torso wounds could have survived if they had better body armor.

80 is a pretty high percentile, no?

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But Rhapsody Sucks!

HP Ditches iTunes for Rhapsody
Winning a coveted piece of digital real estate, RealNetworks has struck a deal to make its Rhapsody software the default for playing and buying music on Hewlett-Packard's consumer PCs in the United States -- replacing Apple's iTunes in that role.

But Rhapsody sucks! I know that a lot of people have trouble moving to iTunes because they really like Windows Media Player or they really like WinAmp. However, iTunes is at least a very practical and very usable application. If you get used to it, it's definitely a worthwhile replacement for WMP and WinAmp.

However, Rhapsody is just one of those crappy applications that might as well be spy ware. It's one of those things that gets packaged with something you actually want. You notice a few days later that there's this extra program in your Programs menu or (even worse) on the Desktop. (just like those "Install AOL Now!" icons that come with things)

I'm actually giving Rhapsody too hard of a time, and I guess this move makes sense... But c'mon... Yuck... "Rhapsody." Ewe.

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

That's a mighty nice veto you've got there...

Wisconsin governor vetoes abortion bill
MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) -- -- Gov. Jim Doyle on Friday vetoed a bill that would have forced doctors to tell women seeking abortions after their fifth month of pregnancy that their fetuses could suffer pain.

Doyle, a Democrat, said there is no evidence conclusively proving when a fetus can feel pain. The Republican-controlled Legislature should not be allowed to decide scientific fact, he said.

Good for him.

This fetal pain legislation is just as backward as requiring school teachers to read a statement saying that evolution is a theory and kids should read Of Pandas and People to learn about ID.

So nice veto, Gov. Jim Doyle. May your cheese be smelly and delicious.

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Friday, January 06, 2006


Ants Harbor Antibiotic to Protect Their Crops
For the past few millennia, ants of the Attini tribe have tended gardens of fungus that they eat. Over the past few decades scientists have studied these agricultural insects, trying to understand how their gardens grew in the first place. Now a group of scientists have discovered that the ants carry a potent antibiotic bacteria in special pockets on their bodies that help control a parasite that can ruin their fungus harvest.

"Every ant species [that we have examined] has different, highly modified structures to support different types of bacteria," Currie observes. "This indicates that the ants have rapidly adapted to maintain the bacteria. It also indicates that the coevolution between the bacteria and the ants, as well as the fungus and parasites, has been occurring since very early on, apparently for tens of millions of years."

In fact, more than 200 species of ants display this complex symbiosis, according to Currie. "It now appears that the fungus-growing ants are more modified for culturing their mutualistic bacteria than for their mutualistic fungi," Currie notes.

The unexpected finding also bears promise for human agriculture and medicine: the ants have been able to avoid promoting resistance for as long as 50 million years. "I think it has to do with the ants having several mechanisms to suppress the parasite," Currie says. "In addition to the bacteria, the ants have specialized behaviors that involve removing the parasite from the fungus garden."

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Unofficial Fix Available; Microsoft Working Slow

UPDATE: Microsoft seems to have supplied its official fix. I haven't checked to see if it's on Windows Update yet. See Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-001 for details. You can download the patches directly from there too.

Microsoft won't release a fix for its WMF security bug in every Windows operating system since 1990 until January 10.

Huge virus threat rocks Microsoft
NEW YORK ( - The new year is off to a rocky start at Microsoft, where security experts are scrambling to confront a potentially massive virus threat to Windows PCs.

According to a report Tuesday in the Financial Times, the latest vulnerability involves a flaw which allows hackers to infect computers using programs inserted into image files. The threat was discovered last week. But it mushroomed over the weekend, when a group of hackers published the source code they used to exploit the flaw.

The bug is pretty bad. If you just happen to VIEW a malicious image (perhaps an attachment on an e-mail or on a new website you are visiting) then you get hit by it. Usually you have to do something to grant the virus access to your system. Now it can happen automatically!

It's a good idea to install the unofficial patch avialable at:

.MSI installer file for WMF flaw available (NEW)
Published: 2006-01-03,
Last Updated: 2006-01-03 16:16:44 UTC by Tom Liston (Version: 1)

For all of you corporate folk out there, we now have a .msi installer file available for version 1.4 of Ilfak Guilfanov's unofficial patch for the Windows .WMF flaw. A very big "thank you" goes out to Evan Anderson of Wellbury Information Services, L.L.C. for his diligent efforts to get this put together. Note: Like Mr. Guilfanov's original patch, this will dump out not only Guilfanov's source code, but also the code that Evan wrote to do the install from within the .msi. Note also: We have reverse engineered and verified that the installation/uninstallation code in the .msi does what it says it does and nothing more. The wmfhotfix.dll installed is the binary equivalent of the previously vetted version 1.4.

WMFHotfix-1.1.14.msi has an MD5 of 0dd56dac6b932ee7abf2d65ec34c5bec
A pgp signature using the SANS ISC key is available as well.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Judge to Priest: Prove Christ Exists

Prove Christ exists, judge orders priest
AN ITALIAN judge has ordered a priest to appear in court this month to prove that Jesus Christ existed.

Yesterday Gaetano Mautone, a judge in Viterbo, set a preliminary hearing for the end of this month and ordered Father Righi to appear. The judge had earlier refused to take up the case, but was overruled last month by the Court of Appeal, which agreed that Signor Cascioli had a reasonable case for his accusation that Father Righi was “abusing popular credulity”.

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And speaking of crazy Irish...

A post on a blog characterizing the typical crazy uneducated Notre Dame fan: BRADY QUINN IS QUINTESSENTIAL AS NOTRE DAME WINS

He describes his blog as "Right-of-center, traditionalist slant on politics, current events, illegal immigration, the rights of the unborn, and judicial activism." Which one does not belong? Could it be "right of center?" Could he have possibly meant, "far right"?

Notice some other fun things. According to the images on the right of the blog, he is a member of the "Confirm Alito Coalition" and he also states that, "I Still Support the President." Freak, no? How about "White Boys Only Club," "Christians for Torture," and "Democracy for Dummies?"

Additionally, he spells Stanford "Standford" (personally, I don't think this was a typo) and has a strange "Click Here" convention that takes up a lot of space and makes it difficult to understand where a link for a particular item is. What's also funny is that he has a mailto link with his real e-mail address (no special encoding or anything) linked to text with his e-mail address spelled out with an "-at-". I'm sure he's intending to keep spambots away from his e-mail, but his e-mail address is unencoded in the link. The "-at-" won't even phase the spambot. It will just use the mailto link. The use of ALL CAPS throughout many parts of the site is also an eyesore. Oh, and don't even get me started on his use of "and" in his tags.

This is your typical Notre Dame fan. People like this are the reason why so many people are so excited to hear about Notre Dame getting destroyed in a football game. For some reason it just seems right -- they're getting their "just deserts" (that's the correct spelling; the phrase is not referring to a snack after dinner) for being having arrogance and yet having nothing to be arrogant about.

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O-H !!

I-O !!

Rudy sucks! Blow Irish!

From an AIM profile in my buddy list:
i guess now we all now who god *really* cheers for

"That's all I heard this week," scoffed Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk. "How big it was that coach Weis was getting four weeks to prepare. What about giving coach [Jim] Tressel four weeks to prepare? He's won four of five bowl games. That's where I thought the focus should have been for you guys."

well said!

stat of the game? osu's 617 yards were the most against notre dame. in any game. in any year. (courtesy of stewart scott)

Brady Quinn (who went to my old high school) was really enthusiastic about playing for "the greatest university in college football." He could have gone to UM or OSU, but he wouldn't have been guaranteed playing time in his first year. So like many crazy Dublin Catholics, he went to Notre Dame. Charlie Weis never played college football -- he was always a student of the game. Somehow he made it into coaching the pros and was very successful there. However, then he left to coach Notre Dame. Even though this was a pay cut, he always wanted to coach Notre Dame. He showed himself to be one of the most arrogant and overrated coaches in college football history. And now with one decisive stroke, OSU has defeated both the great Brady Quinn and Charlie Weis.

I'm sure that there will still be many crazies who flock to Notre Dame for no good reason. There will still be plenty of people who never went to Notre Dame nor could find it on a map that will still cheer for it. However, it will be more clear to everyone else that these people are truly crazy and need to be locked up.

Hopefully Penn State can win its game. Then after that it'll be great to see USC get put in its place.

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