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Showing posts from January, 2008

The art of poetry

... To feel that waking is another dream that dreams of not dreaming and that the death we fear in our bones is the death that every night we call a dream. ... To gaze at a river made of time and water And remember Time is another river. To know we stray like a river and our faces vanish like water. To feel that waking is another dream that dreams of not dreaming and that the death we fear in our bones is the death that every night we call a dream. To see in every day and year a symbol of all the days of man and his years, and convert the outrage of the years into a music, a sound, and a symbol. To see in death a dream, in the sunset a golden sadness--such is poetry, humble and immortal, poetry, returning, like dawn and the sunset. Sometimes at evening there's a face that sees us from the deeps of a mirror. Art must be that sort of mirror, disclosing to each of us his face. They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders, wept with love on seeing Ithaca, humble and green. Art is that It…

3-year-old found frozen to death in Saskatchewan

It's precisely the kind of news you don't want to see. A three-year-old girl has been found frozen to death on the Yellowquill First Nation east of Saskatoon, the Globe and Mail just reported. Her one-year-old sister is still missing, and her fatherA three-year-old girl has been found frozen to death on the Yellowquill First Nation east of Saskatoon, the Globe and Mail just reported. Her one-year-old sister is still missing, and her father, who is suffering from frostbite and hypothermia, was rescued.

Changes to come: if Obama wins

Something I got from a forwarded email :)

Miscellaneous security software (part 2)

This is part 10 in my Optimizing Broadband|Windows|Firefox series and part 2 of my reviews of miscellaneous security software. Covers firewalls and Windows updates, and wraps up this segment.[If you just landed here: this is part of a series. Click here for a table of contents]

Firewall reviews
I'll try to keep this one short. I had a real hard time choosing my firewall, and had to try all the available options (I've never used one I had to pay for). The reasons for having a firewall is obvious: the one that comes built-in with Windows isn't competent, and according to a study, someone tries to hack your computer within 7 seconds of online time (I can't remember the sources, but it was possibly a UK security firm that conducted the research). I've used Comodo, Kerio and ZoneAlarm; I've also used the firewalls that come as part of the security suites every antivirus company has to offer (except NOD32 and BitDefender).

Among the latter category, Kaspersky's fire…

US spy satellite dies, will crash to earth

[Updated] A large US spy satellite has lost power and is headed for a crash in late February or March.Update: They're planning to shoot down the 5,000-pound satellite from a Navy ship, according to Bloomberg. The shoot-down has been delayed due to poor weather.

A large US spy satellite has lost power and is headed for a crash in late February or March, government officials requesting anonymity revealed to the Washington Post. The satellite, which no longer can be controlled, could contain hazardous materials, and it's unknown where on the planet it might come down, they said. The information is reportedly classified as secret.

Mad girl's love song

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my lids and all is born again. (I think I made you up inside my head.)I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my lids and all is born again. (I think I made you up inside my head.) The stars go waltzing out in blue and red, And arbitrary blackness gallops in: I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane. (I think I made you up inside my head.) God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade: Exit seraphim and Satan's men: I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. I fancied you'd return the way you said, But I grow old and I forget your name. (I think I made you up inside my head.) I should have loved a thunderbird instead; At least when spring comes they roar back again. I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. (I think I made you up inside my head.) by Sylvia Plath [source: PDF]

World's weirdest week?

This really must be the weirdest week ever! I'm a longtime fan of the 'odd news' columns on websites, and swear I haven't seen such an outburst of craziness ever, ranging from Canada to Australia. Laughs guaranteed.This really must be the weirdest week ever! I'm a longtime fan of the 'odd news' columns on websites, and swear I haven't seen such an outburst of craziness ever. Here's the summary:The Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation is in a mess due to a self-redemption casino kiosk in Regina mistakenly giving out $20 bills instead of $5s. The company is now trying to track down the lucky folks by examining security camera footage. There's (yet again) a new Mars photo released by NASA that features a statue-like figure. There's a hi-res version of the image (24 megs, TIF format) available so check it out.A man in Australia first got bit by a crocodile, then got shot by a friend who was trying to help him. The doctor has no doubt in mind that the…

Fighting with your partner improves longevity, study says

It's official: fighting with your spouse actually helps you live longer, according to a new study.It's official: fighting with your spouse actually helps you live longer (why am I grinning? :D) Researchers at the University of Michigan recently released findings gathered over 17 years and across 192 couples, according to Reuters. The study found that people who keep their anger in are twice more likely to die early than those who speak their mind. Apparently, it's the resentment generated by suppressed anger that mingles with any medical vulnerabilities a person might have, and eventually aggravates the problem. Conclusion? It's healthy to recognize that you're being attacked unfairly and it's even more healthy to speak up and to talk about it and try to resolve the problem if you want to live longer, the lead author of the study said.

Top 7 reasons why Blogger+Adsense+Analytics sucks

My angry compilation of reasons that make a Blogger experience drudgery.My angry compilation of reasons that make a Blogger experience drudgery.
Blogger has only 16 templates you can choose from. That's poor. Plus, you don't really have stretched 3-column templates.Custom templates and widgets aren't really much help either. Blogger's R&D department (if there really is one) is slow when it comes to upgrading, and when it does, it makes sure all your stuff is screwed. If you've signed up for Adsense, brace yourself. You'll wake up on mornings where you'll discover Google ads splashed in places you never put them. If you plan to continue using Adsense, get used to it, and see a shrink if necessary. If you haven't seen your Adsense messing up your day yet, you're either blessed or need a shrink already.Bloggers are stats-needy. Google is sympathetic and has Google Analytics. Unfortunately, it often analyzes your traffic horribly wrong. Example: righ…

Google search share drops, Yahoo! rises

Latest results from Comscore reveal a drop in Google's share in the search engine market. Yahoo! is enjoying a popularity boost.SVW reports: Latest results from Comscore show a slight drop of 0.2 percentage points in Google's share of search in December 2007 compared with November 2007 to 58.4 percent. Second place Yahoo gained 0.5 percentage points to 22.9 per cent over the same period. The reason?According to Comscore, Americans conducted 9.6 billion searches at the core search engines, representing a 3.9-percent decline versus November. With many Americans traveling and spending time away from home during the holidays, search activity typically experiences a seasonal decline during December. Google Sites saw 5.6 billion core searches during the month, while Yahoo! Sites recorded 2.2 billion. Here's what I think: The holiday season just might be the reason Google lost some share in the search engine market (for Google, 0.2 percent would be thousands and thousands of u…

The Telegraph's 100 must-read books for children

The Telegraph has come up with a list of 100 books that 'every child should read', in order to, of course, make sure they remain readers for life. I think it's poorly compiled. The Telegraph has come up with a list of 100 books that 'every child should read', in order to, of course, make sure they remain readers for life. The list features an introduction by Michael Morpurgo and is divided into three parts: the early years, the middle years and the early teens. I checked out the list: most of the titles are popular stuff, including Roald Dahl, JK Rowling, Mark Twain, Philip Pullman, and CS Lewis.

The whole thing seems to be bordering on fantastic literature, but surprisingly, the Arabian Nights or Hans Christian Andersen aren't on the list. Huckleberry Finn or Oliver Twist isn't there either (although you have Tom Sawyer and Great Expectations); and only one title from the Harry Potter series makes the list (honestly, haven't kids grown up with Harry Pot…

Miscellaneous security software (part 1)

This is part 9 in my Optimizing Broadband|Windows|Firefox series and part 1 of my reviews of miscellaneous security software. Covers anti-spyware, anti-adware, registry cleaners, junk file cleaners, and install monitors.The following aren't really reviews, but should provide you with everything you need to know.

Anti-spyware and anti-adware reviews
Most antivirus applications today come with built-in anti-spywares, so unless you're suspicious something is wrong with your PC you don't need to worry. However, it would be a good idea to install a third-party anti-spyware and anti-adware once in a while to make sure everything's under control. The chief anti-spyware and anti-adware brands are Windows Defender (from Microsoft), Ad-Aware 2007 Free (Lavasoft), AVG Anti-Spyware Free Edition (Grisoft) and Spybot S&D (Safer Networking). Note that I haven't mentioned any paid software, such as the popular Spy Sweeper (Webroot Software). It hardly makes any sense to spend m…

Antivirus reviews 2008 (part 3)

This is part 8 in my Optimizing Broadband|Windows|Firefox series and part 3 of my review of this year's antivirus software. Concluding episode covering free antivirus apps.[Antivirus software reviews: jump to avast! Antivirus 4.7.1098 Home Edition review | Avira Antivir 7.06.00.268 Personal Edition Classic review | AVG Anti-Virus 7.5.516 Free Edition review | Conclusion | part 1 | part 2 | Anti-spyware reviews | Firewall reviews | this is part of a series on optimizing broadband, Windows and Firefox: here'sthe intro page with the table of contents.]
Note: I no longer update this page. For an updated and easily navigable version, check out AV Scan.


Free antivirus software have certainly come a long way, and can no longer be ignored on grounds of incompetence. I've had free antivirus succeeding in situations where the big names all gave way. Here are the top 3 antivirus software:


avast! Home Edition

Alwil product page | top

The latest version of avast (v4.7.1098) is reportedly v…

Antivirus reviews 2008 (part 2)

This is part 7 in my Optimizing Broadband|Windows|Firefox series and part 2 of my take on this year's antivirus software. Covers NAV, McAfee and Trend Micro.[Antivirus software reviews: jump to Norton Antivirus 2008 review | McAfee VirusScan Plus with SiteAdvisor 2008 review |
Trend Micro AntiVirus plus AntiSpyware review | part 1 | part 3 | Anti-spyware reviews | Firewall reviews | this is part of a series on optimizing broadband, Windows and Firefox: here'sthe intro page with the table of contents.]

Note: I no longer update this page. For an updated and easily navigable version, check out AV Scan.

This brings us to the biggies, and Norton is probably the biggest antivirus brand that's out there, so let's start with that.

Norton Antivirus
Symantec product page | top

Symantec has this habit of coming up with minor variations of Norton every year: they're more or less the same, or only rarely significantly improved (some say v2007 was a leap ahead). Norton can be a real …

Antivirus reviews 2008 (part 1)

This is part 6 in my Optimizing Broadband|Windows|Firefox series -- and is part 1 of my take on this year's antivirus software. Non-geeky and honest.[Antivirus software reviews: jump to BitDefender Antivirus 2008 review | Kaspersky Anti-virus 7.0 review | ESET NOD32 Antivirus 3.0 review | ZoneAlarm Antivirus review | Panda Antivirus 2008 review | F-Secure Anti-Virus 2008 review | part 2 | part 3 | Anti-spyware reviews | Firewall reviews | this is part of a series on optimizing broadband, Windows and Firefox: here'sthe intro page with the table of contents.]

Note: I no longer update this page. For an updated and easily navigable version, check out AV Scan.

Intro
Linux users are lucky: there aren't really many viruses that target them. Even Mac folks don't have to lose sleep over virus attacks too often. But life for us Windows people is different. Much of our digital worries hover about the possibility that a single malicious program could turn the world upside down.

To ma…

Blogger woes (read this blog in Firefox)

New feature: please sign up for my posts, by subscribing via email or feeds (click on a post or this article header if you can't see it). It's pretty simple, and you get all the stuff downloaded right into your inbox or feed reader.

I'm really getting put off by Blogger. Ever since I've started this blog, I noticed that you often have to hit the refresh button several times to display images properly (you can only see the CSS border but not the image itself). But what's happening right now takes the cake.Update (January 20, 10.54 pm PST): All thanks to Tom from the Blogger Help group for the steps I needed to fix this blog. Hopefully it should look okay now.

New feature: please sign up for my posts, by subscribing via email or feeds (click on a post or this article header if you can't see it). It's pretty simple, and you get all the stuff downloaded right into your inbox or feed reader.

I'm really getting put off by Blogger. Ever since I've started thi…

Non-tech ways to improve your Net speed

Without your realizing it, your broadband quality could be compromised by the most everyday factors. Did you know that the presence of ground heaters affect your internet connection? Well, I didn't. Here are some tips to make sure appliances and the sort don't bog you down.Keep telephone wires away from power lines. It's recommended not to use a telephone extension cable; most of the time it distorts the signal and cuts down on connection speed. Don't have more than 3 ADSL filters at home. Ground heaters, halogen lamps and vacuum cleaners are power hungry, and the magnetic fields they generate play a role in the alternation of the signal. Don't place your modem or telephone wires near such appliances, unless you want to see a connection drop. Make sure the lead from your modem to the phone socket is as short as possible. If possible, don't overlay the telephone socket. Each additional phone or appliance you plug in affects the signal. Make sure the …

Why a 56K dial-up will never be even close to 56K

This is part 4 in my Optimizing Broadband|Windows|Firefox series and points out the factors that restrain dial-up connections. Tips to improve speed included.[If you just landed here: this is part of a series. Click here for a table of contents. This article was last updated on: February 05 2008] And it never will be (sorry if this broke your heart). Yes, your dial-up might not be as fast as your ISP is advertising it to be, but make no mistake that you'll never reach your modem-capacity mileage. Reasons (source): 1. Static electricity caused by radio signals, power lines and other sources interfere with your modems signals. This results in the 56K to fall back to 42-50Kbps.2. 56K modems also require a clean, straight through telephone connection to the telephone company's central office switching center. Phone company line amplifiers that boost a telephone signal over a long distance, PBX switchboard systems, and other phone equipment alter the phone signal and force 56K mo…

Art preceding science (again)?

Among many other things, it points out that Niels Bohr was inspired by Cubism while devising his famous model of atomic structure, and that science actually needs artists to paint pictures inspired by String Theory. I'm still sitting dumbfounded; it's been quite a while since I last read a sensible discourse on the science vs art issue.I just read an article in Seed magazine by Jonah Lehrer titled "The future of science... is art?" Among many other things, it points out that Niels Bohr was inspired by Cubism while devising his famous model of atomic structure, and that science actually needs artists to paint pictures inspired by String Theory. I'm still sitting dumbfounded; it's been quite a while since I last read a sensible discourse on the science vs art issue. At nine pages, Lehrer's article is testing, but it's still definitely a must-read for anyone with a science-aware knack of mind. Reasons for the title to this post: check out this.

'My Net's slow, do I dump my ISP?'

This is part 3 in my Optimizing Broadband|Windows|Firefox series and deals with how to measure your broadband speed. Discusses factors that cut down on your bandwidth.[If you just landed here: this is part of a series. Click here for a table of contents]

Short answer: no. Read on first.

By now I've given you the web addresses you need to determine your internet connection speed. But, if you've tried it out already, you know by now that your speed seems to differ by the hour, and even across speed calculators. Why does that happen?

The primary reason is, your internet speed isn't fixed, and does differ by the hour. You might feel like your ISP is pulling your leg at certain hours when lots of people are logged on to the internet at the same time (this article claims the dreaded hours are 4-6 pm in the UK; by rule of thumb it's the peak office hours, as well as after hours when all the Net freak in the world are busy socializing. Here's a Yahoo! Answers page on that iss…

Food hits for 2008

Catherine Jheon came up with an interesting list of food stuff that will make it big in 2008. The sources she cites are azcentral, npr's radio show and GlobeLife. The list with my ideas included.Catherine Jheon came up with an interesting list of food stuff that will make it big in 2008. The sources she cites are azcentral, npr's radio show and GlobeLife; here's her picks:
We will continue to push aside big plates and chose small, tapas-style entrees. This trend will continue for desserts.Bottle water is out, to be replaced flavoured tap water.Exotic grains such as amaranth and quinoa are in.Gojiberry and pomegranate will step out of the spotlight as blood orange takes centre stage as the new super fruit.Artificial is out and authentic is in. That means goodbye aspartame, hello date sugar. Cupcakes are out.We’ll see a rise of bold flavours specifically from Brazil, Peru, Korea and Africa. Comfort food will continue to get a makeover with dishes such as braised veal-cheek b…

How well do you know your dog?

A recent paper published in Animal Cognition journal this week implies that you really don't know your dog as well as you've been used to thinking. A new piece of software is able to classify dog barks according to different situations as well as identify barks from individual dogs.A recent paper published in Animal Cognition journal this week implies that you really don't know your dog as well as you've been used to thinking. Csaba Molnár from Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary and his research team published a paper in Springer’s journal Animal Cognition, which shows that a new piece of software is able to classify dog barks according to different situations. The software can even identify barks from individual dogs, which is something, well, we can't do. According to ScienceBlog: The aim of Molnár and colleagues’ experiments was to test a computer algorithm’s ability to identify and differentiate the acoustic features of dog barks, and classify them according…