Friday, September 6, 2013

Arts Alive / Free Museum Day

Arts Alive / Free Museum Day

Over 1,400 museums nationwide will be participating in a "once a year" free admission day on Saturday, September 28, 2013 from 10am to 3pm.

In Pinellas County, Florida several local museums will join in the festivities.

Some of the museums participating:
  • Florida Holocaust Museum
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • St. Petersburg Museum of History
  • The Dali Museum
  • The Morean Arts Center
  • and many more

Arts Alive / Free Museum Day only takes place once a year so save the day on your calendar. Several museums and galleries will also offer discounts for memberships to their venues on that day. It's a win win event for many in our area.

Here's the official website for Arts Alive / Free Museum Day.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

USB Refrigerator from X-Treme Geeks

USB Refrigerator from X-Treme Geeks

I just found out that I still have one more of these puppies to give away. We'll have a drawing for it at the next monthly meeting of the Tampa Bay Computer Society (TBCS).

A couple of years ago I ran into a cache of these USB refrigerators from X-Treme Geeks. I bought a bunch of them to give to my geeky friends for Christmas, and to give away to TBCS members in drawings.

I had forgotten that we still have one to give away, and so: Tuesday night, September 17, 2013 from 6:45-8:45pm at our offices in Clearwater at 1510 Barry Rd.

Just what do these little rascals do? Here's their official advert:

"USB Fridge - Handy Desktop cooler keeps beverages frosty cool. Micro desktop fridge for a single 12oz soda or beer can. USB cable works with all platforms including PC, Mac, and Linux."

These things actually work! I only use it for fun, however. The USB refrigerator is X-Treme Geeks way of separating the gadget-minded from their hard-earned dollars... well, they certainly saw me coming. Even though I got a deal on them, I'm sure I paid too much.

Here's the link to watch it on YouTube: USB Refrigerator X-Treme Geeks

3D Printing to Change How We Fix Broken Bones

3D Printing to Change How We Fix Broken Bones

Many of us have gone through the nightmare of breaking a bone. First you suffer the pain of the bone breaking, then you suffer the pain of having the bone set... whew! Next your broken appendage is wrapped in a plaster cast, and you face several weeks of wearing this heavy, smelly, and sweaty cast.

Enter 3D printers. 3D printed casts are much more comfortable and lightweight. This seems like an excellent advance.

Using 3D printing will change how we fix broken bones. This is really revolutionary. So far it appears that the most major drawback to this new technology is that we're not going to be able to sign the victim's cast. <grin>

For the most part, 3D printing seems to have several advantages:

"The 3D casts are meant to be much more comfortable and easy to wear. Currently, the casts made of plaster are often uncomfortable, heavy, and get ruined if they get wet. A 3D printable cast would change all of that. Not only would it be able to get wet, but it would also be much more lightweight and comfortable.

The process involved in getting a 3D printed cast would be very similar to the process we currently have to go through to get a plaster cast. The patient is first x-rayed in order to determine exactly where the break is. The limb is then 3D scanned in order for the cast to be moulded to the particular shape of the patients limb. The software behind the system then creates a cast that is specifically designed to support the location of the break.

The cast that is created both protects your limb and creates an environment for the bones to heal, but it also allows for your skin to breath. You can also take a shower without having to worry about damaging the cast."

3D Printing to Change How We Fix Broken Bones. Not only will the 3D casts be lighter and more comfortable, but you will also be able to wear clothes over them, AND they are recyclable.

Here's the full story: 3D Printing to Change How We Fix Broken Bones

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Food City Salute- Fourth of July 2013

Food City Salute- Fourth of July 2013

This is a commercial for Food City that salutes our military. It's a beautiful little vignette that'll bring a tear to your eye.

I saw some people on another blog complaining that there was a problem with the way the saluting takes place... pedants.  <grin>

If you can get by the "faux salutes", you're in for an uplifting experience that will cause a lump in your throat. Take a look. It's only a minute long.

Food City Salute- Fourth of July 2013

If you're feeling really, really good about life after watching this, please leave a comment below. If, for some reason, you are NOT uplifted, complain to your parents that they screwed up something in your upbringing. Of course, I am joking.

I don't know the fine people at Food City (heck I don't even know WHERE they are), but I surely loved this commercial.

You can send others to this ad on YouTube:
Food City Salute- Fourth of July 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How does a skyscraper melt a car?

How does a skyscraper melt a car? Wow!


"A London skyscraper dubbed the Walkie-Talkie has been blamed for reflecting light which melted parts of a car parked on a nearby street. What happened?"

How DOES a skyscraper melt a car?

"It's like starting a fire with a parabolic mirror.

Fundamentally it's reflection. If a building creates enough of a curve with a series of flat windows, which act like mirrors, the reflections all converge at one point, focusing and concentrating the light,' says Chris Shepherd, from the Institute of Physics.

The half-finished 37-storey "Walkie Talkie"- nicknamed such because of its tapering rectangular design - is indeed a curvy building. Its design, which has also been compared to a brimming pint glass, has provoked controversy before.

It transpires the car, a Jaguar on Eastcheap in the City of London, was parked at just the spot where the focused light landed."

While melting parts of a Jaguar is newsworthy, turns out this overheating phenomenon HAS happened before.  Here's the complete story:
Who, what, why: How does a skyscraper melt a car?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fastest-Spinning Man-Made Object Created

Scientists have created a microscopic sphere which rotates roughly 500,000 times faster than your average washing machine - 600 million rotations per minute. It's the fastest spinning object EVER created. (Maybe we need to work on our washing machine R&D.)  <grin>
"Michael Mazilu, a physicist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said in a statement. 'The rotation rate is so fast that the angular acceleration at the sphere surface is 1 billion times that of gravity on the Earth surface — it's amazing that the centrifugal forces [the forces pushing outward due to circular motion] do not cause the sphere to disintegrate.'
Very large objects obey classical rules of physics as laid out prior to the 20th century, whereas quantum theory describes the bizarre behavior of tiny subatomic particles. But at the boundary between the very small and the merely tiny, scientists aren't quite sure what happens."
They manufactured a miniature sphere, levitated it in a beam of laser light, and accelerated its spin to 600 million rotations per minute (rpm) until it broke apart. The rotating sphere acted like a tiny gyroscope which stabilized its motion, and it cooled to minus 387 degrees Fahrenheit.
Read the full story here:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Brazilian Testicle Mascot 'Mr. Balls' Promotes Cancer Awareness

Brazilian Testicle Mascot 'Mr. Balls' Promotes Cancer Awareness

As long as I'm talking about health this morning, here's a newsy item about testicles (betcha never thought you'd ever read that sentence). The article claims that both children and adults just love to have their pictures taken aside Senhor Testiculo as he promotes cancer awareness.

"BRAZIL -- In order to raise awareness about testicular cancer, a Brazilian non profit organization has created a mascot named "Senhor Testiculo," which translated into English means "Mr. Balls."

Read the full story:

Lifespan-extending drug given late in life reverses age-related heart disease in mice

Lifespan-extending drug given late in life reverses age-related heart disease in mice

The longer you stay alive... the longer you may be able to stay alive. Advances and breakthroughs in medicine occur on a daily basis. The drug rapamycin may help to reverse heart disease.

The encouraging thing about this article is that the author explains that they are not just trying to extend life, but they are also shooting to improve its quality at the same time. A longer life won't be much fun without better functioning.

Lab Mice
"Elderly mice suffering from age-related heart disease saw a significant improvement in cardiac function after being treated with the FDA-approved drug rapamycin for just three months.

The research, led by a team of scientists at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, shows how rapamycin impacts mammalian tissues, providing functional insights and possible benefits for a drug that has been shown to extend the lifespan of mice as much as 14 percent.

There are implications for human health in the research appearing in Aging Cell. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming nearly 600,000 lives per year."

Read the full story here:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Scientists map the wiring of the biological clock

Scientists map the wiring of the biological clock

I loved working night shift, and did so for many years. Oops, could be a cancer causer. Wow, couple that with my drinking alcohol to excess and smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day for 30 years. Too late now. It's great for younger folk that we now have a wiring diagram of our biological clock.

Biological Clock
"The connections make the clock precise but also let it adjust to changes in day/night cycles.

The World Health Organization lists shift work as a potential carcinogen, says Erik Herzog, PhD, Professor of Biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

And that’s just one example among many of the troubles we cause ourselves when we override the biological clocks in our brains and pay attention instead to the mechanical clocks on our wrists.
Researchers have reported the discovery of a crucial part of the biological clock in the brain: wiring that sets its accuracy to within a few minutes out of the 1440 minutes per day. This wiring uses the GABA (γ-amino-butyric acid) neurotransmitter to connect the individual cells of the biological clock in a fast network that changes strength with time of day.

Here's the full article:

Edward Snowden: Republicans call for NSA whistleblower to be extradited

Edward Snowden: Republicans call for NSA whistleblower to be extradited

While I am always a champion of privacy rights, and very concerned about how much privacy we have lost because of the internet, I'm also concerned about the leaking of information that reveals our knowledge and being revealed to our enemies. Civil libertarians will defend Edward Snowden for whistleblowing. Others will want him to be extradited to face charges here in the US.

Edward Snowden
"The NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was condemned by US politicians and threatened with prosecution by the country's intelligence chief on Sunday after revealing himself as the Guardian's source for a series of explosive leaks on the NSA and cyber surveillance.

A spokesman for the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said Snowden's case had been referred to the justice department and US intelligence was assessing the damage caused by the disclosures.

"Any person who has a security clearance knows that he or she has an obligation to protect classified information and abide by the law," the spokesman, Shawn Turner, said.
Snowden had top-secret clearance to help run the National Security Agency's computer systems but he was a contractor, hired by the giant US defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. The company issued a statement describing the disclosures as "shocking" and pledging to co-operate with any investigation."

Full story here:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The internet is good for the planet, and let’s keep it that way

The hardware the drives the internet includes a plethora of data centers filled with computing gear, networks that connect continents, and a growing amount of battery-powered devices.  Does the energy required to operate these things consume more resources than we can afford?

Is the internet good for the planet? A group of very bright people are working to determine how the internet effects our environment.

Internet Hardware
"Is the net effect of the internet on the Earth’s environment positive or negative?
That’s the million dollar question that a group of about 100 people, including Vice President Al Gore and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, tackled at a Google event this week. It’s also the question that I’ve spent about six years thinking about as I’ve written about the evolution of cleantech innovation and how digital technologies can drive efficiency.

The rub of the internet is that it is a collection of data centers filled with computing gear, networks that weave across continents, and a growing amount of battery-powered devices; all of these things need energy to operate. The disturbing part is that the energy consumption of the internet will only grow as the population hits 9 billion in 2050, and all of these people get connected to the internet.

But on the flip side of that energy suck is the idea that the internet can make processes and systems significantly more energy efficient, from transportation to shopping to the electricity network itself. Sustainability wonks call that dematerialization, or replacing atoms with bits. A study called Climate 2020 found that information and communications technology could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from other sectors of the economy, below business-as-usual growth, by 15 percent."

Read here for the full story:

Friday, June 7, 2013

Flying Quadrotors with Your Mind

Flying Quadrotors with Your Mind

A biomedical engineering professor at the University of Minnesota is developing tools to help people with disabilities. He and his team have developed a skull cap with 64 EEG sensors that is able to translate human thoughts into commands that can be acted upon to fly Quadrotors using your thoughts. This technology is intended to help people with disabilities do things like control wheelchairs, robotic arms, etc.

Quadrotors Mind Control
"Bin He, a biomedical engineering professor at the University of Minnesota, is developing tools to help people with disabilities. But part of that research involves some studies that look like pure fun. He and his students have developed a way to control the flight of a quadrotor using your mind.

“Our study shows that or the fist time, humans are able to control the flight of flying robots using just there thoughts sensed from a noninvasive skull cap,” says He.

Subjects wore a skull cap studded with 64 EEG sensors. Using special algorithms, data from the sensors were translated into commands for the robot. When a wearer thought about making a fist with one his left hand—but did not actually do it—the robot would flight left. Thinking about the right fist tilted sent the robot to the right. Both fists meant rise and then fall."

The full article is here:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

‘Lights out’ for turtles

‘Lights out’ for turtles

Millions of years of evolution have taught newly-hatched sea turtles to follow the brightest light to the ocean. That used to be moonlight reflecting on the water. Today it is a variety of lights put there by humans. Saving the turtles requires that we have a "lights out" ban near our beaches during nesting season.

Loggerhead Sea Turtles
"The first nests found on North Redington Beach and at Fort De Soto Park mark the start of sea turtle season. The residents and owners of beachfront properties are reminded of the “lights out” ban. Most of the Pinellas County beach communities have ordinances in place prohibiting lighting that casts glare onto the beach during turtle nesting season, from May 1 to Oct. 31.

Florida’s beaches are essential for nesting loggerheads. The Pinellas County beachfront area averages about 120 nests per season and each nest can contain, on average, 100 to 110 eggs. The last nest is expected to hatch by the end of October.

Each May and July, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium conducts a beach lighting survey to identify problem lighting that may not be in compliance with turtle protection ordinances. Properties with lights shining on the beach at night are reported to Pinellas County Coastal Management and the local code enforcement agency."

Read more:

Grow your own glowing plant

Grow your own glowing plant

The glowing plant Kickstarter campaign ends tomorrow with almost half a million dollars in crowdfunded donation. They asked for only $65,000 and received that within the first 2 days. For a donation of $40 they will send you over 50 seeds to grow your own glowing plants.

Glowing Plant
"The Glowing Plants Kickstarter, the first-ever crowdfunded synthetic biology campaign, is winding down into the final hours. Launched on April 23, 2013, the campaign aimed to create a glow-in-the-dark plant while showcasing the technology of synthetic biology.  It also served as a vehicle to introduce two startups in the sector: Genome Compiler Corporation and Cambrian Genomics.

The campaign has been wildly popular, attracting widespread media attention that saw the initial funding target of $65,000 be surpassed in just two days. Had that breakneck pace continued, the campaign would have pulled in about $1 million, but it now looks to finish with about $465,000 — still a remarkable achievement for a bioscience project."

Read the complete story here:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Push for US Internet 'wiretap' law faces tough road

Push for US Internet 'wiretap' law faces tough road

The FBI is becoming more aggressive to get expanded authority to wiretap our Internet communications such as Gmail, Dropbox, Google Voice, etc.

"The FBI is stepping up its effort to get broader authority to put "wiretaps" on the Internet to catch criminals and terrorists.

But the move is drawing fire from civil liberties groups, technology firms and others who claim the effort could be counterproductive, by harming online security and imposing hefty costs on makers of hardware and software.

US law enforcement has for years complained about the problem of "going dark," or being unable to monitor Internet communications in the same manner as wiretaps, for which officials get a court order to tap into a local phone company.

President Barack Obama said in a May 23 speech his administration is "reviewing the authorities of law enforcement, so we can intercept new types of communication."

Read more:

Monday, June 3, 2013

Google says it won’t approve any Glass apps with facial recognition until it has protections in place

Google says it won’t approve any Glass apps with facial recognition until it has protections in place

While Google is not going to permit facial recognition with Google Glass as of yet, it seems to me that it's only a matter of time until this feature will be available.

"Today, Google posted a notice to its Google Glass channel on G+ that lays out its plan to prevent abuse of facial recognition on the head-mounted computer. Its solution? Reject any Glassware that uses it until they have proper protections in place.

Since Glass began hitting people’s faces, the questions about how a wearable camera with a computer attached would affect privacy have been ramping up. Specifically, facial recognition technology jumped out as a concern. If Google Glass can take HD video of you, why couldn’t it match your face up with a G+ profile or other data set and allow the user access to more information at a ‘glance’ than you’d care to give them?"

Google has promised not to add facial recognition to any of their products without having privacy protections in place. Consider the line in the sand still drawn.

Read the complete article at:

Friday, May 31, 2013

7 things you can do to make Internet Explorer more secure

7 things you can do to make Internet Explorer more secure

Here's a few tips on how to secure Microsoft's browser. I tell my students that when you have a window that pops up telling you that you have a security issue... if you click on the link to scan your computer, abandon hope all ye who enter. Performing that action will infect your computer. Only click on the X in the upper right-hand corner to close the window.

"How well Internet Explorer—or any Web browser, for that matter—protects against attacks and malware greatly depends on whether you keep it up to date and have the right security settings. Here's how to take the proper security measures with Internet Explorer 9 and 10."

"The fundamental step to keeping any browser secure is to update it regularly. Once you've made that a habit, you'll also find that Internet Explorer has a solid set of built-in security features, as well as some privacy protections. The settings recommended here will do the trick for most situations, but they aren't set in stone. The better you learn the security functions, the better you can adjust them to your own browsing habits."

I strongly recommend that you take a few minutes and follow the directions given at this website:
7 things you can do to make Internet Explorer more secure

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tablets Killing Desktops Faster Than Ever

Tablets Killing Desktops Faster Than Ever

Accelerating sales of computer tablets are quickly putting desktop pcs out to pasture. Remember: these devices only came on the market in 2010. How rapidly they have changed the game.

"The contraction of the PC market continues faster than ever, eaten by the rapid growth of the tablet market, which is expected to outsell laptop and notebook devices for the first time this year and all PCs by 2015. But portable PCs may still be the saving grace for PC sales in the years ahead.

If there is anything new about the news coming out from IDC's Quarterly PC Tracker, it's the increase of the rate of the PC's decline. IDC had initially predicted a decline of "1.3% in 2013 followed by a gradual increase in volume." Now the analyst firm is predicting a sharper decline of 7.8% in 2013 and 1.2% down in 2014."

Complete article found here:
Tablets Killing Desktops Faster Than Ever

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Internet Archive by Deepspeed media

Internet Archive by Deepspeed media

Are you aware that the Internet Archive has been saving major chunks of the Internet since 1996. You can plug in a website, and see how it progressed over a period of years. The archive is also known as the Wayback Machine (thanks to Rocky and Bullwinkle). Imagine that everything ever written or televised was stored for access by the general public. What a wonderful resource!

This 13 minute video explains what's happening with the archive today. Truly a fascinating subject. 

"Archive is a documentary focused on the future of long-term digital storage, the history of the Internet and attempts to preserve its contents on a massive scale.

Part one features Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive and his colleagues Robert Miller, director of books, and Alexis Rossi, director of web collections. On a mission to create universal access to all knowledge, the Internet Archive's staff have built the world's largest online library, offering 10 petabytes of archived websites, books, movies, music, and television broadcasts.

The video includes a tour of the Internet Archive's headquarters in San Francisco, the book scanning center, and the book storage facilities in Richmond, California.

See the video:
Internet Archive by Deepspeed media

Saturday, May 25, 2013

10 Incredible 3-D Printed Products

10 Incredible 3-D Printed Products

It's now possible to purchase 3-D printers for under $3,000 dollars. Techs are now in the business of printing an ever increasing diversity of objects: body organs, blood vessels, artificial limbs, furniture, clothing, cars, and FOOD - just to name a few.

"3-D Printing began as a way for architects and car designers to model their products, but has recently become an emerging new technology poised to change everything from manufacturing to retail to medical science.

In just the last year, 3-D printers have produced artificial organs, research tools for scientists and the head of Stephen Colbert. As these devices drop in price, rise in capabilities and work their way towards the ubiquity enjoyed by conventional inkjet printers, we decided to take a look back at the 10 most incredible objects ever made with a 3-D printer."

For pictures and more info:
10 Incredible 3-D Printed Products

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Time To Make Plans For June’s National Day of Civic Hacking

Time To Make Plans For June’s National Day of Civic Hacking

Next weekend (June 1st & 2nd) software developers across the U.S. will invent new apps that use public data for the common good. In my hometown of Akron, Ohio, hackers will build an app to map the parks in Summit County (along with 2 other projects).  In Washington, D.C., a hackathon at the White House will build apps for a “We the People” website, an online tool meant to make it easier for people to petition the government.

"On Saturday, 1 June, and spilling into Sunday, 2 June in some towns, hackers will join together at community centers, vacant parking lots, and closed-off streets, carrying laptops and trailing power cords. They’ll be connecting with educators, students, artists, and city workers in a coordinated effort to build open-source software that will solve local—or even national—problems.

Organized by HackForChange, with help from companies like Intel and Facebook, government agencies including the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, and nonprofits like Code for America, the National Day of Civic Hacking has events scheduled in 35 states. My community, Palo Alto, Ca., will be coming together at an event called CityCamp, which has an ambitious agenda: addressing problems of connectedness (traffic, parking, and the Internet, for example); sustainability (climate change, energy, and the environment); resilience (disaster recovery and cyber-security); and health (chronic disease, nutrition, and exercise).  Other cities' aims are a little more focused, and perhaps more realistic—though I appreciate my community’s tendency to dream big."

For more info on the national event:
Time To Make Plans For June’s National Day of Civic Hacking

Note: The Tampa Bay version is called Hack for Change, Tampa and will take place at the ITT Tech campus next Saturday & Sunday.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

U.S. Budget Deficit Shrinks Far Faster Than Expected

U.S. Budget Deficit Shrinks Far Faster Than Expected

What a pleasant surprise: the federal budget deficit is shrinking much faster than had been projected.

Because the federal budget deficit is shrinking so fast, many economists are cautioning that it's coming down too fast, too soon.  It appears to give us a bit of breathing space -- even though our problems are far from over.

"WASHINGTON — Since the recession ended four years ago, the federal budget deficit has topped $1 trillion every year. But now the government’s annual deficit is shrinking far faster than anyone in Washington expected, and perhaps even faster than many economists think is advisable for the health of the economy."

“It’s good news for the federal budget deficit and bad news for the jobs deficit,” said Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-of-center research group in Washington. “I’m more worried about the latter.”

Let's hope that we heed the call to pay more attention in the future.

Here's the full story:
U.S. Budget Deficit Shrinks Far Faster Than Expected

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mindreading is an art.

Have you been to a seance recently?  Consorting with the spirit world is a time-honored tradition. Here's a modern day mentalist performing his schtick.


Wasn't that refreshing?

"For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation will suffice." ~ Mentalist Joseph Dunninger.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Washington Woman, Accused Of Using Her Breasts To Smother And Kill Boyfriend

Guns Don't Kill People - Breasts Do

Here's a newsy headline I don't expect to see often.  However, it turns it that other women around the world HAVE indeed used their boobs as weapons.  I wonder what forensic science will make of this method?  A very strange news item for sure.

"A Washington woman is accused of using her breasts to smother and kill her boyfriend after an altercation at their mobile home.

...witnesses claim they saw Lange throw her boyfriend down in the back of the mobile home. She was later found by witnesses with her chest covering the victim's face. Police noted the size difference between Lange and her boyfriend -- she was 5-feet, 6-inches and 192 pounds, he was 5-feet, 7-inches and 175 pounds."

Guns Don't Kill People - Breasts Do



Friday, January 11, 2013

Waitress strips naked for final shift at pizza restaurant

Patrons say pie is awesome at Roberta's pizza!

A waitress at Roberta's pizza shop in New York got more than they bargained for when a waitress on her final shift stripped down to a pair of shoes.

"Roberta's is a popular pizza hotspot and customers often wait hours for the chance to dine on its artisinal pies, some of which have clever names like "Cheeses Christ."

The other waitresses reportedly wore black bobbed wigs in honor of their co-worker as a farewell gesture."

Video & Read more: