October 31, 2007 11:54 AM
Posted by: GuyPardon
[Photo credit: Noel Dickover]
Ah, All Hallows Eve has come around again, though the holiday is being celebrated with costume-clad kiddies collecting candy and pumpkin-brew besotted co-eds in these parts, as opposed to the bonfires of Samhain, the celebration end of the harvest that is the ancient ancestor to to Halloween.
In honor of the holiday, we’ve opened the Vault of Tech Terror up again and added a new Halloween tech trivia quiz to the archives. We made the Word of the Day zombie army. And we asked our readers the following three questions:
1) Should you ever travel to Hades, you’ll have to get by this three-headed dog, the namesake of a secure method for authenticating a request for a service in a computer network.What’s the secret word?
2) This underworld denizen is also a program or process that is dormant until a certain condition occurs, when it’s summoned up to do its processing. Is it a(n):
3) You might see “RIP” on a gravestone, but your network depends on it for managing router information within a corporate LAN. What does RIP stand for (other than, of course, “Rest in Peace”)?
We’re not the only ones celebrating the holiday in fine techie fashion. Wired, for instance, has a marvelous gallery of geek-o-lanterns, including the Death Star pictured above, carved by one Noel Dickover. (Hawkeyes, beware: Iowa has begun taxing jack-o-lanterns, geeky or not.)If you’re stuck for ideas for dressing up, Chris Pirillo came up with five costumes for geeks: Steve Jobs, an iPhone, Chris Crocker, the Blue Screen of Death or the FreeBSD Demon. BBspot does him six better, with 11 more costume ideas for geeks, including a personal favorite: a 1G iPod Nano “complete with scratches and class action suit.” Heh.
CNET has a gallery of frequently hilarious ways to geek out this Halloween as well.
Christopher Null, over at Yahoo Tech, has his own list of the best geek costumes, including the TRON guy and an exploding Sony battery.
Brent Evans did a great geeky Halloween costume roundup as well, including Lego bricks, a working PacMan costume, Rubix cubes and the Wii-mote. Nicely done! He also links to the Wired Flickr photo pool of techie costumes.
Browsing through the lists, its not hard to notice a decidedly male-tinge to the selections. For the ladies out there, here’s a top 10 list of the best Halloween costume ideas for girls. Along with Trinity, Sarah Connor, Princess Leia and Ripley, she offers up Ada Byron Lovelace. Well played! I loved the Matrix, Terminator, Star Wars and Alien, to be sure, but true geek-cred goes to anyone dressing up as the first computer programmer.
I’m vaguely surprised by the lack of a Bluetooth fairy out there.
Halloweenforgeeks.com has a ton of DIY projects for anyone that wants to upgrade the normal porch offerings of carved pumpkins and spiderwebs. If you just want off the shelf geeky gizmos to make the holiday howl and friends freak out, PseudoMart.com has a great list of techie toys for Halloween.
Finally, if you’re swamped with work and haven’t been able to pull together a costume, you can always print out your own Halloween mask. Thanks, Lifehacker! Now THAT’s geeky.
Have fun out there!
October 25, 2007 11:09 AM
Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
They’re everywhere, and nowhere more prevalent than in the work world. Kurt Vonnegut symbolized them thusly: * As a means of maintaining our serious and sober demeanor on WhatIs, I shall follow his sterling example throughout this blog post. ~ IW
From the seagull manager (one who flies into the office shrieking, craps on everything, and then flies out again) to the copy shop employee who screws up the order for your 10-minutes-from-now presentation and shrugs, working life is studded with *s. You probably know if your boss is an *. You can probably recognize if a colleague is an *. Even your best friend may sometimes display distinctly *-like behavior. But what if someone even closer fits the description? Is it possible that you’re an * and just never realized it? How would you know?
According to Bob Sutton, who wrote The No * Rule (substitute relevant term for asterisk), an * is someone who leaves others “demeaned and de-energized.” A couple of warning signs:
- Thinking that what you have to say is so important that it supercedes what anyone else is saying, thus giving you the supreme right — perhaps even the obligation — to interrupt.
- People seem to get hostile in response to your emails. *shrug*
- You believe that you’re surrounded by idiots.
Sutton created a simple, 24-question test, the * Rating Self-Exam (ARSE) to help you find out if you are, in fact, an *.
Here’s a list of resources from Sutton’s site (Warning: Sutton does not subscribe to the Vonnegut style.):
Sutton’s work is intended to serve the greater good by allowing the *s among us to recognize themselves and repent. Here’s to an *-free work zone!
~ Ivy Wigmore
October 24, 2007 1:09 PM
Posted by: SarahCortes
I’ve always considered RFID to be “neat technology”. I knew that Walmart was starting to mandate the use of RFID by its many suppliers, but beyond that, I never really heard of any practical, “real world” use of the technology. I guess some credit card suppliers were considering it (or perhaps already are using it), but RFID had never really “hit home” at a personal level.
Now granted, I’m not big on gambling (I go to casinos for the buffets, frankly) – but here, to me is a “real world” example of RFID in action:
The Chip Inventory System, from a company called Progressive Gaming, uses RFID technology to provide tracking of chips in a casino environment. Casinos can use this technology to track chip flow, detect counterfeit chips and determine how much was just won/lost on a particular bet.
It’s a little too “Big Brother” to me, but I can imagine that investment in this technology (by casinos) may have a nice return. When I go for seconds on the buffet desert line, I’ll leave my RFIDs with a friend – back at the table.
October 23, 2007 12:01 PM
Posted by: GuyPardon
, interactive media
, Web applications
, Web design
, Web services
Say what you will about link bait — this list of freeware and open source Web development applications from Andrew Sellick is a great resource if you’re in the business (or even hobby) of building Web sites and don’t have the budget for Adobe’s creative suite. While some resources are likely to be familiar to many, like Eclipse or the IE Toolbar, if you work in the creation or maintenance of online content, it’s a sure bet you’ll discover something new and worthwhile in Andrew’s list.
Thanks to Andrew for all of his hard work researching and pulling them together — and to the delicious community, as always, for highlighting the achievement by collectively bookmarking it to the top.
October 17, 2007 1:02 PM
Posted by: GuyPardon
, new media
, social publishing
Yuval Shavit, a triple threat of writer/coder/sarcasm maven over at SearchITChannel.com, turned me on to the xkcd webcomic a few months ago. Today, he pointed out the edition above, an example of DB humor that might just result in coffee-laced chuckles in server rooms worldwide.
xkcd is written by by Randall Munroe, a Christopher Newport University graduate who worked on robots at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia before he began producing xkcd full-time.
These days, his witty, snarky comic is produced three times a week and has found its way into the offline world on prized geeky t-shirts everywhere. Techies who live and breathe acronyms (and challenge themselves to identify them) may be disappointed to learn that xkcd doesn’t actually stand for anything; according to Randall, “It’s just a word with no phonetic pronunciation. It stands for the comic and everything the comic stands for!”
What does the comic stand for? Mostly funny pokes at a geek’s challenges, including work, the quest for love, the oddity of daily life and quirks of technology, but that’s probably too narrow. Randall is unapologetically nerdy, honest and manages to inject his sparsely drawn figures with actual pathos, along with a brand of humor that seems to speak directly to the reptile brain of techies everywhere. With subjects ranging from raptors to Red Spider, zeppelins, Vanilla Ice, Mussolini, Guitar Hero and Firefly, xkcd plays on the heart strings of modern geek culture to hilarious effect, though occasionally with a thoughtful note. Cory Doctorow loves it, and so do I.
If you happen to live in Massachussetts, keep an eye out for the next real-world meetup. And if you’re looking for updates, here’s the xkcd RSS feed.
October 15, 2007 3:44 PM
Posted by: GuyPardon
, data center
, energy efficiency
Thanks to the ever-observant Cory Doctorow (whose Eastern Standard Tribe I thoroughly enjoyed last week), I’ve discovered that today is Blog Action Day.
According to the organizers over at blogactionday.com, Blog Action Day is intended to try to elevate a singular issue into a higher place in the world’s consciousness. This year, it’s the environment. All you have to do to participate is to blog about whatever environmental issue you are the most passionate about, contribute the day’s advertising earning to a favorite environmental charity and encourage others to do the same.
Simple and, perhaps, effective. While you may not earn a Nobel for your efforts, you just might help the world become a tad greener today. We’ve blogged here before about ways to e-cycle, a new way to think green (carbon footprints) and even podcasted about greenwashing.
Here’s one more hot (or cold) concept to add to the list for the server geeks out there: green data centers. My colleague over at SearchDataCenter.com, the intrepid Matt Stansberry, has been hard at work writing “The Green Data Center: Energy Efficient Computing in the 21st Century.”
Learn more about the forces driving IT energy consumption, why you should care and how you can make a business case to do something about it. It’s well-written, it’s downloadable and, best of all, it’s free.
Go read it. For that matter, go read Matt’s post today posted today about how green computing is driving both better collaboration and faster product advancement.
In the meantime… it’s time to start practicing green computing!
Don’t forget to turn off your PC and unplug your chargers before you go home tonight.
Consider switching to a laptop and telecommuting more while flying less.
Ride your bicycle wherever possible and look into the slow food movement.
Adjust your PC’s hibernation settings to use the least amount of energy.
Consolidate some servers through virtualization.
Use LCDs, not CRTs.
And don’t forget to e-cycle!
October 4, 2007 10:05 AM
Posted by: GuyPardon
, new media
, public domain
As reported by the AFP, the University of California at Berkeley has created a dedicated channel on YouTube for more than 300 hours of classes and events. Videos include peace and conflicts studies, bioengineering and “Physics for Future Presidents,” though I wonder how much that last is a dig at former or current POTUSes. Given that Berkeley s a famously liberal institution, you can draw your own conclusions. You can find the courses at http://www.youtube.com/ucberkeley.
Tech fans may find gems like “SIMS 141 – Search, Google, and Life,” with Google’s Sergey Brin, to be of particular interest:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Ka9IwHNvkfU" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
If that doesn’t meet your bar for online video goodness, you might try BoingBoing TV, a new IPTV feature hosted by cybergoddess Xeni Jardin and BoingBoing’s co-creator, Mark Frauenfelder.
The 3-5 minute segments will also feature cyberpunk author and digital copyright maven Cory Doctorow and gadgets editor Joel Johnson. The debut episodes featurethe usual mix of pop ephemera and geeky art, including a piece on Listography.com, an remix of an industrial movie from the 1960s and a robot covering Patsy Cline’s “Crazy.”
All Things Weird and Wonderful, here I come.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://p.castfire.com/Xu7m0/video/2835/bbtv_2007-10-03-205621.flv" width="450" height="325"/]
October 1, 2007 1:12 PM
Posted by: GuyPardon
Try the XEL-1. Engadget has a great photo gallery for your viewing pleasure.
Today, Sony unveiled the world’s first OLED television. That’s organic light-emitting diode, for you acronym-o-phobes.
The TV is only 3mm thick, has a resolution of 960 x 540 (though it’s described as 1080p) and comes with a TV tuner. More impressive, however, is the contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 on the 11″ screen. The screen manages to be thinner than an LCD or PDP (plasma display panel) set because no backlight is required — ah, the wonders of OLED lighting!
You can attach your next-gen optical disc player (Blu-Ray or HD-DVD) to the HDMI port, along with USB and Ethernet inputs for other devices.
You’ll have to wait until December for this beauty, sadly — and travel to all the way to Japan!
As amazing as this may be to gadgethounds, I’m still holding my breath for FOLEDs– a flexible OLED screens — on, say, a t-shirt, jacket sleeve or smartnewspaper. The technology is still a few years out, even if this video shows a tantalizing preview of what’s to come.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/1buy3N_Fvsg" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
October 1, 2007 12:38 PM
Posted by: GuyPardon
Here’s a short and sweet link to a great resource. Even though I’m happily not looking for a new job OR interviewing candidates for an open position (cease and desist, jobspammers!) , whenever either onerous task comes up again, I’ll have this terrific cheatsheet of resources for interviewers and candidates bookmarked.
Of special interest to the tech crowd:
Hat tip to HRworld.com for the link and this piece of simple, straightforward advice from the CareerHub blog: “When the interviewer asks, ‘Do you have any questions?’ the worst answer you could possibly give is, ‘No.’”