Efforts to understand, improve, or do less harm to the world around me.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

I can cure that disease I gave you

I have an AOL email account from a long time ago and just got some spam from them.  Having wrestled with AOL's system-slowing, garbage-dumping software on many occasions, this killed me:

"AOL Can Help Clean Out and Speed Up Your PC"

Yes, you too can give AOL $5 a month to help remove crap like AOL.

High end graphics card for Photoshop?

So a photographer friend of mine was curious if getting a better graphics card would translate into faster Photoshop.  Ordinarily I wouldn't think so, but Apple has been trying to play up the fact that its handing off more and more to the video card and Photoshop has advertised increasing integration with the OS.  This is why I was confused about the issue.  Turns out its all smoke and mirrors.

A brief look into this shows this doesn't mean jack when it comes to Photoshop.  Unless its an Intel graphics card or a no-name company listed as "on board," definitely go with a basic graphics card.  In my case, my friend was only going to buy a Mac and they don't even sell "on board" video cards anymore.  Power on the graphics card doesn't translate into Photoshop power.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The appeal of a direct approach

Despite the balancing between the sexes, men are still supposed to be the initiator in all but a small percentage of cases.  Thus, a guy who is direct, confident, and focused is fundamentally more attractive because they are (at least on a gut level) seen as more likely to initiate(Thanks Silver)  This doesn't explain the interest in "broody" types mentioned in the link.

A somewhat related XKCD comic.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Today in your total lack of privacy

More stuff that maybe you thought you owned, but no really you don't...
  • Be careful you don't sign something at the doctor's office that says the doctor owns (and can censor) any reviews you write about them online. I'm sure they'll follow up this terrific news by suing you if you just say something negative about them in public. Having given two very angry reviews of terrible health services people, this obviously boiled my blood.
  • Any photos you post to TwitPic.
  • As usual, your iPhone
Oh and there's a secret patriot act.  Since you have to be a Senator to read it, try finding a lawyer to represent you if you accidentally violate it.

Modern Warfare 3: Fuck Yeah edition

You get all the exciting "I heart Michael Bay" of the Modern Warfare series with an appropriate soundtrack.

Explosions?  You becha.

(Thanks Wes)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Recommended iPhone freeware

Based on experiences with an iPhone 3Gs.  Includes some crippleware and trialware, but nothing too annoying.

Strongly recommended:
  • Dragon Dictation - a must-have voice-to-text program.  Wish it was a little more integrated into the OS the way Android's voice-to-text is.
  • Siri - works really well for quickly finding things around you.  I can see this as critical for very busy people.
  • iMailG - a Gmail front-end that works really well.
  • Google Phone - text message for free when you have a net connection, get your own forwarding phone line, and other Google services
  • Gorillacam - a must-have photo program with all sorts of tweaks and boosts, including taking 3 pictures at a time, camera stabilization
  • Wifi photo - get pictures and videos off your phone over a network connection quickly and easily.  Big help if you didn't install iPhoto.
  • TuneIn Radio - has the best ratings of anything on the App Store, even above Angry Birds.
  • Soundhound - great for finding out what artist is playing on the radio around you
  • WavePad - the audio is TERRIBLE on the default speaker unless you turn it way down in options, but very good on headphones.  Has a variety of basic audio-editing capabilities including cut, echo, voice-triggering, and more.  Doesn't save to a compressed format, but great quality and feature-rich.
  • Sleep Machine - simple but effective sleep assistance
  • Mint - won't sync correctly with some banks, but still great.
  • Motionize - just a silly video/photo toy, but I've had a ton of fun playing with it
  • Photosynth - creates amazing panoramas, but you've got to sign up for Microsoft's service in order to save them in a panoramic format off the phone.
  • PS Express - great little picture toy for tweaking images
  • Glympse - tired of trying to tell someone where you are or want to keep track of someone else?  This service transmits your location to a person of your choice or a duration of your choice.
  • PDFReaderLite - not oustanding, but the best file viewer program if you want to read your PDFs and other documents on your phone.
  • Wuala - great backup service and tool
  • Dropbox - similar to Wuala, with less space but more convenience

Also good:
  • Alarmed - outstanding, but can't use a regular alarm when the phone is on silent like the default timer.
  • TouchMouse (free) and Mobile Mouse (not free) - lets you use your iPhone as a touchpad for a computer or media center.
  • TeamViewer - a remote desktop client with a long list of uses.
  • Speed Test - check your internet connection speeds.  Very helpful to compare different wifi spots.
  • Opera Mini - simple, easy to use, and a little smarter than other browsers.  Sadly it runs a bit slower, too.
  • Mercury - lots of tweaks and improvements on Safari, including password protection, privacy mode, tabs, skins, and more.  Some restrictions too for the free version, but not too bad.
  • The Weather Channel - their Android program sucked, but the iPhone one is nice.  Wish they wouldn't use national weather service for severe weather.  Barely readable.
  • Flight-Light - my flashlight program of choice.  Either on or blinking -- simple.
  • AroundMe / Localscope - prefer these to Google Places.  One of them isn't free anymore, not sure which.
  • SpyVid - important if you ever end up in a situation where you want to record someone or something unnoticed.
  • Gloop Free - kill about 45 minutes with this cool (tiny!) program.  Sort of interactive screensaver.
  • Indeed job search - the best job search program I've found so far
  • Errands - great todolist program, but doesn't save to any servers or back up to anything
  • CraigsPro - surprisingly feature-rich craigslist tool.
  • RPG Roller - good for table-top games like D&D
  • Stellarium - if you've ever wondered what's above you, this program will tell you in an altered reality format.  Just point it up at the sky and watch.

  • Physics Box - simple and fun
  • Overkill - not outstanding (in fact pretty hard), but if really bored, you can kill several hours
  • BTD4 Lite - so far the only "tower" game I've found for iPhone, its just as good as the online flash version
  • Pictoral - imaginative, interesting, and Challenger.  Save for the fact that its only visual, all the other brain teaser programs suck compared to this.
  • Beyond Ynth - a cool puzzle program, but anything past initial levels was genuinely difficult.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Modern cults

An excellent and accurate interview about cults.  I discussed the issue with a friend who grew up in one who found an enormous amount about it both interesting and accurate, especially with regard to the disconnection and circular thinking.

If someone will quit talking to you because you're not in their club or because you quit going to meetings, they're not your friend.  They're a tool.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Cleaning mildew-ridden shoes

Somehow mildew keeps creeping into my shoes and then spreads to my other shoes.  Cleaning them turned out to be a huge headache and I dislike throwing away almost-new shoes.

After many failed attempts (detailed below) the following tactic worked.  This damaged the pair that I used it on but as they were white running shoes and the material under the first layer was also white, I didn't mind.
  • Get a high-percentage Isopropyl rubbing alcohol.  I used 90% alcohol, 10% water.  You can buy this at almost any grocery store or Walgreens/CVS.
  • In a well-ventilated area or outside and FAR AWAY from open flame, douse shoes in the alcohol.  They should not be soaked, but you should be damp.  I used about 1/2 cup on each shoe.  Might not need this much.
  • Wrap in two plastic bags. 
  • Wait a few days.
  • Open the bags (which will stick a little to the shoes), set the shoes -- as open as possible -- in direct sunlight for another day or two.
(Stuff you can do with the left-over rubbing alcohol.)

Failed attempts:
  • Soak in soap for 3+ days, leave out in sun for several days.  Smell came back almost immediately.
  • Soak in diluted chlorine-bleach for 2 days, leave out in sun for several days.  Smell came back almost immediately.
  • Anti-mildew spray I bought at Home Depot: Concrobium Mold Control.  Worked for a few days, then the smell just came back. 

I did not try this, but might soon.  Feedback on this process is welcome.

Flash Game: Cursed Treasure sequel

One of my favorite online games ever has released another.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Vatican: climate change is cheaper to fix now

Not often accused to be the most forward-thinking organization, the Catholic church stands up against CO2 emissions.

The Sky in Motion

Of all the nature shows and time-lapse bits I've seen over time, its quite an accomplishment to play something that beat all of them.

Make sure you watch in HD on full screen on a reasonably fast computer.  When the video hesitates or lags, it really destroys the effect.

(Thanks Kim)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Composting cat waste

Been doing the composting thing lately and really enjoying the results in the garden so I started looking into ways to expand this.

There are two links from Washington State and UMN that say this is a bad idea, as the potential health risks outweigh the possible benefits.  Another link says that its pretty much its like human waste: you gotta leave it alone for a year.  If you aerate it properly and have a thriving compost bacteria/worm combo, you can speed that up as much as 6 months.  Without testing facilities, I'd still wait an absolute minimum of 9 months.

Regardless, the biggest find here looks to be sawdust: you can actually make it very cheaply and cats apparently love it.  If its not quite covering up the odors, you can just add the stuff all the commercial litter uses: baking soda.

Sunday, May 01, 2011