Going portable: Get your pocket-sized geek on

Got drives?

As seen in Hubpages

“If you’re like me and occasionally use other people’s computers, you may be sensitive about what you leave behind. Besides, the owner of the computer you’re borrowing isn’t forward-thinking enough to put some real software on there. You’re stuck with whatever questionable Web browser and office tools are on that unit and it’s not your place to install new software on that person’s computer.”

Check it out. You just might find it educational.

The FDA Wants To Make Sure Inhalable Caffeine Canisters Are Safe Before You Huff

Somehow the idea of inhalable caffeine doesn’t do it for me.

Yeah, my caffeine consumption borders on legendary, but I can tell these under-development cannisters that you can huff are not going to get my engine cranked.

Maybe they’ll be the thing if you a) can’t stand the taste of coffee and can’t drink that Mountain Dew for some reason or other. Maybe.

But for me, there’s more than that buzz in a cuppajoe. Hot. Strong. The stronger the better. It’s just not coffee until it tastes like someone left a cigar butt in it.

It’s the taste, man. And the warmth. And that moment of mindfulness as you take that first sip and try not to make a mess.

Huff that caffeine if you want to. I’ll take mine straight, no cream, no sugar, thank you.

Just pour it like you don’t own it.

The story, from Consumerist: http://consumerist.com/2012/02/the-fda-wants-to-make-sure-inhalabale-caffeine-canisters-are-safe-before-you-huff.html


New quit-Facebook move has wealth envy at its core

There are lots of reasons for a person to want to quit Facebook, but objections to how insanely rich it made its founder isn’t one of them.

But as the social media behemoth prepares to go public and make what could be a record-shattering IPO (that’s “initial public offering” for those of us who put our money in CD’s of the Miles Davis and Willie Nelson variety), folks appear to be storming the exits. There’s even an I’m Not On Facebook Twitter feed and website, though it appears the people behind thee site are more interested in hawking T-shirts than anything else.

But the objection is that Mark Zuckerberg used to be one of the guys; now he’s a porcine one-percenter. He’s committing the grevious sin of making a pantload of money from Facebook.

OK, what’s the problem? More power to him.

I have my own negative feelings about Facebook and did shut my account down for a year before restarting it. It can be a colossal waste of time. By its very nature it shoots your privacy out the window. The user leaves himself to be flamed, cracked, stalked and generally violated with just a few mouse clicks. You have to use filters to screen the good information from the usual junk. Many third-party apps are malware just waiting to happen. And each new innovation puts your life a little more out in the street — like what’s that option that allows you to share everything you read online?

But it’s still fun and somewhat useful. Many of my friends use Facebook as the only way to communicate, eschewing even anachronisms such as email. There are some real blasts from my past among my Facebook friends, including old running mates from decades ago, former co-workers, kinfolks, some old girlfriends (awkward), even an ex-wife (tres awkward). Many of my blog readers come from my Facebook ranks, and the whole thing is good for business. I won’t knock that.

So Mark Z can probably buy WalMart instead of shopping there. Anybody have a problem with that?

Facebook isn’t my go-to social media site, though. Not even close. I spend more time on Twitter than any of the others, and tweeted incessantly during the last few minutes of the Super Bowl (a barnburner of a game — I tweeted that the game was so nerve-racking, if there was a toilet on the 50-yard line the players would be using it). I use Linkedin for professional contacts and get a lot of mileage out of the groups. I enjoy Google+ and picked up some story ideas from Quora.

But come on! So Zuckerberg won’t ever have to work at a WalMart as long as he lives; he might be in a position to buy the whole schmeer. Like who cares? Get a life! He came up with a product that at the time was far better than anything remotely similar (remember how long it took to load a Myspace page?). People like his product. He’s created value, whether real or perceived, and the users number almost into the billions. Apparently he’s doing something right.

I was once accused of wealth envy because my computers run Linux instead of Windows. Ain’t necessarily so. I have no problem with gazillionaire Bill Gates. I just find Linux meets my needs and allows me to really customize my system and use free software. It’s funny hearing some Mac users decry Gates and his billions, though the late Steve Jobs could afford to buy his black turtlenecks by the shipping container. But I digress.

I don’t mind the one-percent gang. I wouldn’t mind working for some of them. With those folks I stand a better chance of making my exorbitant asking price. I won’t have to worry so much about whether the guy is going to vanish come billing time, or whether the check would bounce. Instead, it’s a straight value-for-value transaction, and a rich guy (i’m talking self-made here; I don’t count the trust-fund brats in this equation) would understand this concept better than anybody.

Ditch Facebook because of the malware. Junk it because you don’t like to put your business out on Front Street. Shut it down if you’re wasting time instead of rainmaking. Kill it because it has no value for you. Scrap it because you can’t stand the third-party games, the inane postings, the fact your significant other is making time with a former flame, because those pictures of you lying unconscious in a puddle of what you hope is beer are messing up your chances of a promotion …

But quitting Facebook because it’s printing money for Zuckerberg is the wrong reason. Spin again to find another excuse.


How much does the Internet know about you? (besides a lot)

How much does the Internet know about you?

Probably enough.

You’re surfing your favorite sites, and the ads seem to be for places that are awfully close to where you live, and for products/services you are interested in.

Like the man said about the Thermos bottle that keeps your coffee hot or your sweet tea cold, “how do it know?”

It’s almost accurate to say the Internet is stalking you. It sees you when you’re sleeping, it knows when you’re awake. It probably knows what sites you surf, and what you’re using to surf these sites.

Check out these graphics, and tell me they don’t creep you out:

(Signs by Danasoft – Get Your Sign)

These goofy graphics aren’t anything new. I had these up for a long time on my old blog, and I’ve been meaning to put them up here for some time. Now’s my chance.

Syndicated tech columnist Kim Komando recently ran a piece on this, along with a link to a site that is powered by ip2location.com. When you click on the button below, it’ll bring you to the site with some really interesting information. OK, the linked site has the Kim Komando brand all over it, but … well, admit it, she’s not half bad to look at.

Anyway, click this graphic to find out all the gory details:

See What They Know

I copied/pasted the results from when I ran this test myself. For the record, I was using the wireless Internet system from my day job, running my Acer Aspire One with Bodhi Linux and Google Chrome:

* * *

Here’s what They Know

Your location as guessed from your IP Address

As I linked this into a social media site (Google+), I saw some of the values in the above box change. I don’t know if it will keep my information or read back yours. Probably the latter.

* * *

Below is from my own readout, and I excised some information that y’all probably didn’t need to know:

REFERRER (who told you to come to this page)
Default Browser 0
Mon Jan 09 2012 13:18:36 GMT-0500 (EST)

Sites you’ve visited

Hmmm… We were not able to detect any social networking sites that you’ve visited recently.

Sites must exploit a Web feature to see your history. By default, browsers display links you’ve visited in a different color. And sites can see how a page looks on your computer. If a link changes color, the site knows you’ve visited that link. Using special code, a site can check more than 25,000 links per second!

This page only checks to see if you’ve visited a handful of sites. If nothing is listed above, you haven’t visited one of the sites we checked (or you recently cleared your browsing history).

* * *

If you check the ip2location site itself, you might also find it quite interesting.

I saw that Net Speed entry on my readout (it says DSL) and this probably explains a bit. The wireless connection at work is really poky. But it’s a decent fringe benefit.

I will take the rest of the Komando readout to mean my computer is more secure than most. Unknown operating system, default browser, no history of sites browsed. Very good. Excellent, in fact. The more “unknowns” your readout has, the better.

You put enough of your business out there as it is.



Sidebar: What have you done behind the wheel?

There are lots of ways to get distracted while driving, and cell phones are just a part of it. While assembling the lead article in today’s blog, I began thinking of some of these other distractions.

Think of this as a bucket list. But unlike most bucket lists, I don’t endorse attempting any of these while at the wheel. Do not make it a point to complete all these before they take your license away.

But being the reprobate I’ve been accused of being, I’ve checked off some of those I’ve done:

  • Phone calls (yes)
  • Text messaging (yes, once, never again)
  • Eating (yes; burritos are the easiest)
  • Drinking (yes)
  • Using a two-way radio (yes)
  • Adjusting the radio, any kind (yes)
  • Swapping out a CD (yes)
  • Reading a map (yes)
  • Reading a newspaper, book, etc. (yes)
  • Taking notes (yes; this scared my passenger more than the phone call)
  • Writing (yes; used to write whole articles on the way back to the office)
  • Taking a photo (yes; knew how to preset the camera for this)
  • Disciplining your kid (no; don’t have any)
  • Disciplining your pet (yes)
  • Arguing with your spouse/significant other (yes)
  • Groping, same (no comment)
  • Changing your clothes (yes)
  • Discussing politics or religion (yes)
  • Using the GPS (never used one)
  • Getting lost (yes)
  • Applying makeup (no)
  • Personal grooming: Hair, teeth, etc. (yes; even trimmed my mustache at 70 mph — don’t try this at home)

Looking at the results, I guess I really am a reprobate. Amazed I’m still alive.

Feel free to copy and share this. Check those you’ve done, post in the comments (or not), and pass it along.




Hacks: Old tech blog back with new look, emphasis

I just had to. My old tech blog (for those who saw it for the few months it was active, it was called The Workbench Reloaded) is back.

But it’s not all about computers or matters of tech, either. Here’s the emphasis:

“The best hacks don’t necessarily involve computers either. They may be little tricks to help you get up in the morning, to save a few bucks at the grocery store, to plan out your schedule … as I see them and test them, I’ll share them. And I welcome input.”

Here’s the link:

Check it out.



Replacing a cardiac pacemaker battery: DIY not recommended

Prepare for surgery; this’ll only hurt a lot.

Recently my dad, who is 82 now, went in for a surgical procedure that I always wondered how it was done. He had the battery replaced in his heart pacemaker.

This surgery spurred a flurry of email from several corners of the country, as my older brother (upstate NY) and I (South Carolina) exchanged messages with Mom and Dad (California). The tone of the messages was, well, a little different.

My brother and I wanted to know how you actually replace a pacemaker battery, and what size jumper cables you’d use for the job. I’m really touched by all the sympathy that came across in these messages.

“Keep me posted,” I wrote. “I’ve always wondered how they replaced the battery.”

“So do they use tiny jumper cables?” my brother wanted to know. “Or new hamsters?” Sick puppy.

Now, I’m a big do-it-yourself fan. I do my own programming on the computer, built my own perpetual jukebox for the home stereo, and do whatever repairs are needed around the house. Part of it is because, admittedly, I’m frugal. But more important, I’m intrigued by the challenge of doing something myself. Always been that way.
So why not home surgery? I’ve mentioned it a time or two in this blog, and I was only joking a little. But with this Obamacare thing, expect more people to try home surgery using online instructions and whatever tools they may have in the desk drawer. Can’t be any worse than government-run health care, but that’s another rant for another day.

To this end, I went to eHow, the mother of all DIY sites. I’m familiar with eHow. Not only have I consulted that site for various projects. I also used to write for them. Seriously. My work shows up under a different name because, quite frankly, it’s hack work. I really don’t want that crap to be associated with my name. Even the headshot photo I used for eHow articles was designed so you can’t see my face. It paid, though, which is a lot more than you can say about other Web sites.

But enough of that. I did a little checking with eHow to see what articles I could find about replacing your own pacemaker battery. eHow being eHow, I had my preconceived notions:

1) Dash over to Walgreens and get a pacemaker battery. In most stores in the lower 48 states you will find them near the hearing aid batteries and continence supplies.
2) Sterilize a screwdriver, pocket knife, and needle-nose pliers. An autoclave is best for this task, but boiling the tools in spring water will work in a pinch …
… and so on like that.

According to eHow writer China Zmuida (did I mention that few of the writers use their real names?), battery replacement is only done through surgery, preferably by a real doctor under sterile conditions. Well, she didn’t say it exactly like that, but you get what I mean.

Which makes sense and it is the highly-recommended procedure, but really, that is kind of lame. But in China’s eHow piece, DIY surgery didn’t even enter the discussion. Her article had the standard tips and warnings prescribed under eHow’s editorial guidelines, and all of them have to do with not skipping appointments and the usual standard stuff. But the “do not try this at home” caveat appears nowhere in the article.

And there is no “hey, y’all, watch this” anywhere in the article.

The closest I found to a DIY project is a Livestrong piece by Mike Belfiore on how to replace the battery in a heart monitor. Not even in the same ballpark. Livestrong, by the way, is owned by the same folks (Demand Media/Demand Studios) that runs eHow.

I checked out another DIY site, Instructables, which has more over-the-top projects (try applying your own sutures as an example). Nothing there, either.

Anyway, I’m glad my Dad left this one for the professionals. He’s doing well, his color has improved since the battery was replaced, and he says he’ll be around a while to harass the family unit some more.