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Monday, November 18, 2013

Gold vs Bitcoin instrinsic value

Gold is just a chunk of metal, people's belief made it have value, it's all depends on what you believe. In a logical world, platinum should be 40X more expensive than gold, since it's rarity is 40X of gold, yet the price of platinum and gold is roughly the same.

Gold, platinum or Bitcoin all have zero value to a monkey, because monkeys doesn't believe in them, monkeys may believe a banana has more value than all the gold in the world. You see? gold does not have intrinsic value, unless it's useful to its users. Gold is useful to humans, and so is Bitcoin.

Monday, April 09, 2012

HowTo: Wake Up Computers Using Linux Command [ Wake-on-LAN ( WOL ) ]

Wake-on-LAN (WOL) is an Ethernet networking standard that allows a server to be turned on by a network message. You need to send 'magic packets' to wake-on-lan enabled ethernet adapters and motherboards, in order to switch on the called systems. Make sure you connect the NIC (eth0 or eth1) with the motherboard, and enable the WOL function in the BIOS. This is a quick guide to enable WOL under RHEL / Fedora / CentOS / Debian / Ubuntu Linux.
Client Software

You need to use software to send WoL magic packets. You will find various tools for all modern oses, including MS-Windows, Apple OS X, Linux, and many smart phones.
Linux Install etherwake Under Debian / Ubuntu Linux

etherwake command can be used to send a Wake-On-LAN "Magic Packet" under Linux operating systems. Type the following command to install the same under Debian / Ubuntu Linux desktop:
$ sudo aptitude install etherwake
Sample outputs:

[sudo] password for vivek:
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  etherwake wakeonlan{a}
0 packages upgraded, 2 newly installed, 0 to remove and 11 not upgraded.
Need to get 20.9 kB of archives. After unpacking 98.3 kB will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n/?] y
Get:1 squeeze/main etherwake amd64 1.09-3 [9,564 B]
Get:2 squeeze/main wakeonlan all 0.41-10 [11.4 kB]
Fetched 20.9 kB in 2s (10.3 kB/s)
Selecting previously deselected package etherwake.
(Reading database ... 195338 files and directories currently installed.)
Unpacking etherwake (from .../etherwake_1.09-3_amd64.deb) ...
Selecting previously deselected package wakeonlan.
Unpacking wakeonlan (from .../wakeonlan_0.41-10_all.deb) ...
Processing triggers for man-db ...
Setting up etherwake (1.09-3) ...
Setting up wakeonlan (0.41-10) ...

Note: Red Hat Linux and friends user should use net-tools package which is installed by default.
How Do I Send WOL Magic Packets Under Linux?

Type the following command:
# wakeonlan MAC-Address-Here
# etherwake MAC-Address-Here
# etherwake -D MAC-Address-Here
RHEL / Centos / Fedora Linux user, try:
# ether-wake MAC-Address-Here
If your MAC address were xx:yy:zz:11:22:33, you would type:
# wakeonlan xx:yy:zz:11:22:33
# etherwake xx:yy:zz:11:22:33

    xx:yy:zz:11:22:33 is remote servers mac address. You can obtained mac address using combination of ping and arp command - 'ping -c 4 server3 && arp -n'.

How Do I Verify That Remote Linux Server Supports Wake-on-LAN (WOL)?

First, reboot the remote server and go to BIOS > Power Management > "Wake On LAN". Turn it on. Next, save and close the bios. After activating Wake On LAN in hardware (BIOS) it is also necessary to activate it using ethtool. The ethtool will configure eth0 to respond to the magic packet:
# ethtool -s eth0 wol g

    -s eth0 : Your NIC. Feel free to replace eth0 with your actual network interface device name.
    wol g : Sets Wake-on-LAN options using MagicPacket.

Type the following command to see current status of wol for eth0:
# ethtool eth0
Sample outputs:

Settings for eth0:
    Supported ports: [ ]
    Supported link modes:
    Supports auto-negotiation: No
    Advertised link modes:  Not reported
    Advertised auto-negotiation: No
    Speed: 100Mb/s
    Duplex: Full
    Port: MII
    PHYAD: 1
    Transceiver: internal
    Auto-negotiation: off
        Supports Wake-on: g
       Wake-on: g
    Link detected: yes

If you are using RHEL / SL / Fedora / CentOS Linux, edit /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0:
# vi /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0
Add / modify the following line:



ETHTOOL_OPTS="wol g autoneg off speed 100 duplex full "

Save and close the file. If you are using Debian / Ubuntu Linux, edit /etc/network/interfaces:
# vi /etc/network/interfaces
Append the following to eth0:

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static
        post-up /sbin/ethtool -s eth0 wol g
        post-down /sbin/ethtool -s eth0 wol g links clicky
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Can .NET make PHP run faster than the official PHP implementation?

Phalanger is usually compiler of which generates. ONLINE assemblies by PHP value, so the item runs within a. NET exclusive machine.

The modern benchmarks often indicate of which PHP applications compiled by Phalanger do noticeably swifter than whenever they are executed because of the official PHP implementation dependant on Zend serps, even if a caching extension is needed.

Read this post to master how Phalanger is effective and what exactly lessons is usually learned for making the public PHP enactment run at the very least as rapidly, eventually with PHP 6 dependant on Zend Serps 3.

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Snapshot of Manuel Lemos
Manuel Lemos Portugal
manuellemos. online

Precisely what is Phalanger?

Phalanger is usually an Open Supplier project that is a PHP compiler that could generate. ONLINE assemblies, very like Java bytecodes in addition to Zend opcodes by PHP value. This shows that the caused compiled value can operated with a. ONLINE virtual unit, just including compiled C# value, or possibly be became native unit code on account of. NET JIT (Just On time) collection capabilities.

This project was developed in 2004 by means of Tomas Matousek in addition to Ladislav Prosek for the Charles College or university in Prague, Czech Republic. In 08 they traveled to work intended for Microsoft along with the project was handed over to completely new team connected with developers created by Jakub Misek, Miloslav Beno, Daniel Balas in addition to Tomas Petricek. Just last year they founded a corporation named DevSense while using the intention connected with providing business oriented support intended for Phalanger.
This Proposal connected with Replacing Zend Serps by Phalanger

Not long ago Phalanger 3. 0 was published introducing a lot of improvements with regard to compatibility while using the PHP 5. 3, interoperability having. NET software implementations as well as Mono with Linux, and probably just remember performance upgrades.

But this story in this article wouldn't exactly choose the announcement of Phalanger 3. 0 generate. Actually what exactly motivated this post was that your PHP programmer named Rasmus Schultz made the php. internals list and proposed to change the public PHP implementation dependant on Zend intended for another dependant on Phalanger.

The allergic reactions of entire refusal on the proposal were being somewhat envisioned. Some coders presented technological arguments. Others displayed more over emotional arguments like the point that core developers are working for some time on this C dialect code of which executes PHP and extensions.

The point that. NET is usually a Microsoft matter was also increased. Nowadays Microsoft is far more friendly towards Open Supplier world along with the PHP project for example. That still isn't going to make people forget the dark beyond of Microsoft whenever they actively conducted and disdain Open Supplier projects. So you can some rejection a result of the lack connected with trust with Microsoft goals.

Anyway, Phalanger seriously isn't a Microsoft project. It could possibly run likewise on Linux along with platforms applying Mono, that's an Start Source software implementation on the. NET options. This is usually an important aspect because the majority the open Web servers on what PHP apps are installed operated with Linux.

There was clearly claims of which Mono could well be much slower versus. NET engine even so the Mono challenge has evolved in recent times and not any evidence seemed to be presented to demonstrate that is the event today.
Phalanger vs Zend Serps

All that discussion connected with replacing this Zend Serps based PHP enactment by Phalanger having. NET or maybe Mono is usually irrelevant. Personally I not view core PHP coders accepting of which, no matter the quantity of well normal arguments can be presented.

What can be relevant is usually what Phalanger performed to get past the Zend Serps performance. I'm sure that is usually an opportunity with the PHP center developers to know about different ways of reach better efficiency, not only with regard to execution speed but in ram usage. Those usually are factors of which influence the money necessary for scaling in place a World-wide-web application.

Usually you should think of which gains with execution swiftness of 100 % pure computational tasks would possibly not matter a whole lot in real life because PHP value is most likely waiting intended for I/O operations to do, like data bank access, data file access, having the HTTP needs and giving the HTTP tendencies.

However, when benchmarking an authentic world app, like in particular Wordpress, the Phalanger team were able to make the item take in relation to 2 moments less to interact to HTTP needs than while using the regular PHP dependant on Zend Serps using FastCGI likewise an opcode cache.

Perhaps it will not sound much, but 3 seconds improvement within a requests that experience average 7 moments, is an excellent small progress. That is concerning a 25% attain. In cases which the weight connected with computational chores performed by means of PHP scripts is usually higher, the gain is usually even far more evident.

Even for anyone who is not so related to your web page response speed so that the end user happy, remember nowadays The search engines considers this response speed as one of the factors of which affect this ranking connected with site websites. So a eventual answer speed gain is probably not something for being ignored.

Given most of these facts I thought i would contact this Phalanger team for more info about the reason the Phalanger +. NET build provides a really great improvement spanning a Zend Serps + FastCGI + opcode cache build. Thankfully Jakub Misek replied right away to the inquiries.

What When i learned by Jakub that has more importance is that an important factor is which the. NET serps can round up the. NET assemblies earned by Phalanger by PHP value into unit code optimized with the current unit CPU. It is called JIT (Just On time) collection.

The Zend Serps also compiles PHP in opcodes. This is equivalent to Phalanger databasing PHP in. NET assemblies, in addition to Quercus databasing PHP value into Capuccino bytecodes.

The change is which the Zend Serps executes this compiled opcodes in sort of virtual unit emulating some sort of the behavior of any CPU, though. NET in addition to Java execution engines can certainly compile this assemblies or maybe bytecodes in native unit code. That value can run much quicker than the latest Zend Serps would understand and do the opcodes.

Another point increased by Jakub is that your PHP World-wide-web application compiled by Phalanger in addition to run because of the. NET engine relies on a single process to regulate a sole memory allowance heap for those requests. Adjusted the Zend Serps + FastCGI (or maybe Apache pre-fork), there'll be multiple operations running with parallel, each because of their own ram heap having memory currently being reallocated in each and every request.

This may seem to not be a whole lot a make any difference of Phalanger vs Zend Serps, but quite of multi-process vs multi-threaded World-wide-web servers. It truly is true that in case you function a multi-threaded World-wide-web server including Microsoft IIS (or maybe Apache technician, Nginx, lighttpd, for example... )#) you use 1 memory heap for everyone requests.

This usally causes a more cost-effective usage on the available RAM within a Web server unit, as it will eventually reduce this eventual ram waste as soon as the execution connected with requests treated by scripts of which consume considerably more memory versus average.

This is usually one point i always brought in place in 2008 as i was invited for carrying on Microsoft World-wide-web Development Smt. There When i gave a compact talk about stuffs that Microsoft is able to do to guide PHP function better with Windows. A type of things is usually to help doing PHP far more thread-safe (view slide 12).

Zend Serps and the majority of the PHP extensions were thread-safe, so theoretically PHP can often run using a multi-threaded World-wide-web server devoid of crashing. In practice sixty that there are numerous extensions that make use of code that is not thread-safe. So fails may however occur as soon as that value runs using a multi-threaded World-wide-web server.

That's why PHP is usually more recommended running FastCGI cases, instead connected with running to be a module connected with IIS, or another multi-threaded World-wide-web server. But it's the penalty on the overhead connected with communicating that has a FastCGI case, as well producing greater GOOD OLD RAM waste.
Upgrades for PHP 6 with Zend Serps 3

PHP managing on Zend Engine has already been a incredibly mature software for World-wide-web application progress, but it could possibly go additionally by addressing more difficult matters.

Basically When i see a couple complex matters to be addressed with future versions on the Zend Serps based PHP. I was not saying that is a trivial attempt, even less that is certainly something which can be fun to try and do for almost any core programmer, but it is necessary to obtain progress, so PHP dependant on Zend Serps can fit the effectiveness of. ONLINE, Java along with similarly optimized circumstances.
1. Thread-safety intended for running having less ram waste

As i mentioned above the vast majority of Zend Serps and PHP extension cords code is usually thread protected. What remains for being done is usually to identify what exactly libraries connected with PHP extensions will not be thread-safe in addition to either deal with the code for making it thread-safe or maybe replace this libraries by means of equivalents which might be thread-safe.
3. JIT (Just on time) compiler

The recent Zend Serps opcode interpreter in addition to executor ought to be replaced by way of JIT compiler of which generates native machine value from Zend opcodes. The caused machine code need to be optimized in addition to cached with memory.

Should you ever considered why this Google Stainless- browser is fast, that is certainly because it relies on a JIT serps named V8 to help compile JavaScript in machine value before carrying out it. It's not necessarily just this JavaScript on the Web websites. It is additionally the cell phone browser itself of which uses JavaScript, likewise the extension cords that create new features for making it all the more useful. Most things that runs with JavaScript, is usually compiled having V8 JIT serps.

V8 likewise powers Node. js, that is a popular project intended to allow applying JavaScript also within the server area. Some time period ago most of us talked from the Lately with JavaScript podcast in regards to trend connected with Node. js becoming sort of PHP but also in JavaScript.

Implementing a correct JIT compiler is easier said than done, but fortunately there are numerous Open Supplier projects which might be adopted, as an alternative to writing some sort of JIT compiler by scratch. Suggestions an presentation of some i always know:
some sort of) Phalanger or maybe Quercus

There is not much more to mention about Phalanger besides the concepts already claimed above.

I just now suspect so it will never consider as tolerable JIT alternative, not on account of technical is important, but maybe because doing so is built over a platform put together by Microsoft. Therefore you know, you will discover core coders that can't stand anything related with Microsoft that has a passion. But exactly who knows I may wrong.

What exactly I claimed about Phalanger, I could truthfully also say around the Quercus. It really is a project which often compiles PHP in Java bytecodes. It truly is basically identical approach for just a different software, which seriously isn't so different of course, as. NET is defined as the Microsoft implementation of any platform including Java.
m) Facebook or myspace HipHop

Coincidentally Facebook or myspace just produced an boosted version in their PHP Facebook or myspace HipHop compiler of which does JIT. Unlike the 1st version generate that normally takes hours to help compile an effective PHP app like Wordpress, this generate implements rapidly dynamic translation of PHP value to native machine code which will compile PHP value in a while.

Facebook currently employed Scott MacVicar, a PHP center developer to figure on this PHP HipHop compiler challenge. I think this actuality helps doing HipHop JIT engine a robust candidate for being used by means of PHP center developers for the reason that JIT engine in the future of Zend Serps based PHP.
g) PHC PHP Compiler

PHC is usually a PHP compiler of which compiles PHP scripts in PHP extensions to use with this Zend Serps based PHP enactment. To possibly be accurate most of us cannot telephone it some sort of JIT engine because doing so uses this static collection approach, very like the first HipHop PHP compiler enactment, so it is quite slow.

The leading difference is usually that PHC can certainly generate G code that could run having Zend Serps, while HipHop is usually a project fully independent connected with Zend Serps.

LLVM is a few compiler instruments that among other considerations can often create JIT compilers for a range of languages, as well as PHP.

In 08 Nuno Lopes started working away at a PECL LLVM extendable that aimed to feature JIT functionality the Zend Serps by databasing Zend opcodes in native unit code.

I reached Nuno in addition to he laughed and said that this project is usually somewhat abandoned a result of the lack connected with interest connected with other center developers that can help on obtaining the challenge goals.

Ever since the fascination about bringing someone's a PHP JIT compiler that blends with Zend Engine almost emerged, who appreciates if Nuno or maybe other coders will regain involvement in resuming this project.
age) Zend unique JIT compiler

Zend may likewise put together their unique JIT compiler. They may even produce a JIT serps that builds native unit code specifically, instead connected with generating intermediary opcodes primary. That is defined as what this Google V8 serps does, and it's really very quick.

Such challenge would use up Zend many resources but finally it could well be something they can have larger control.
f) Something diffrent

Well, I simply just covered several possibilities of existing JIT projects which may somehow possibly be adopted with future PHP releases while using Zend Serps. If you recognize about another interesting JIT answers, just write-up a thoughts telling in relation to them.
If a PHP JIT structured engine will likely be available?

I realize its consensual of which PHP have to evolve. If it not evolve, something diffrent will carry its area. The indisputable fact that other companies allow us engines that will make PHP function faster and in some cases with larger memory proficiency, is a symptom on the need intended for PHP to help evolve.

PHP was developed in 1994. In 2000 PHP 4 was launched introducing Zend Serps 1. It given PHP the facility of opcode collection. In 2004 PHP 5 was launched evolving this PHP target model. An original PHP 6 approach failed mainly because adding built-in Unicode service was some sort of too dedicated goal.

I'm sure now it truly is more in comparison with time for just a big PHP generate. I imagine nowadays this PHP language can be quite much element complete, even so the PHP value execution engine would need to evolve.

Will probably Zend or maybe other PHP center developers reckon this need to have? I are not aware of. Anyway, I just now shared the view concerning this to tell an issue that probably some others also imagine.

But over time PHP center developers appeared to not receive so enthusiastic on getting your hands on ideas offered by others. They tend to become more excited having implementing ideas them to got as a way to address his or her needs, but it's not specifically a concept.

Sometimes good ideas just make the time to be recognised and carried out, which is usually a shame, although better in the future than never ever.

I remember in particular on time in 2002 as soon as PHP 5 was being planned. Andi Gutmans connected with Zend demanded suggestions connected with features of which developers felt for being important for being implemented with PHP 5.

I suggested to feature built-in service for WATER AND SOAP protocol with PHP, and so developers could possibly just produce Web products and services calls seeing that simple seeing that calling category functions. I thought this was not anything new in numerous other languages.

What put into practice my tip was very long and pointless discussion, not around the technical merits on the proposal, but instead about the best way PHP element proposals need to be presented or maybe not. The discussing finish up dying as soon as everybody was upset of the item, so taking that approach seemed to obtain been ignored.

More than couple of years later, with 2004, the proposal appeared being put into practice by another person at Zend. The enactment worked just precisely the way earn money proposed. To ensure the idea hasn't been really ignored.

Nowadays, PHP incorporates a more proper feature estimate system dependant on RFCs (Ask Comments) eventually and then a election process.

But usually that is certainly meant if you are that are likely to actually in order to develop the value to put into practice the attributes. Since that is not my event, I simply just leave taking that approach here for people who interested to receive.

The RFC process is usually a step forward that can help not forgetting good ideas but it truly is still definitely not ideal. It's not necessarily uncommon intended for proposals currently being rejected devoid of much responses to proponent of what he would need to change produce his proposals acceptable.

This typically causes incredibly ungrateful predicaments because from time to time the proponent has already gone through many effort by means of implementing evidence of concept value. In the tip some proponents surrender trying to promote PHP because this can be a frustraiting practice. That is usually a shame but it is happening for quite a while.

In this posting I displayed my mindset of where by PHP is actually and where I'm sure it should go to advance by approaching current difficulties. Those difficulties are difficult to treat but doable to put into practice eventually while using the cooperation connected with external challenge contributors.

Feel unengaged to post some sort of comment to this particular article to express to whether people agree or maybe not, or what ya think it need to be done for making PHP target needs you think it not address very well.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Windows 8 new feature, Picture Password

Glass windows 8‘s hottest feature nevertheless which Glass windows 7 and also other major operating systems won’t have should be to allow consumers to sign inside their accounts using picture private data. Before anyone say, “Hey, that doesn’t are most often that risk-free, ” as it happens that 'microsoft' is coupling effect gestures using picture password in order that it won’t always be too easy like just selecting the best picture private data. If I’m certainly not straying much from specifics, then every single user are able to log throughout faster using picture private data by gesturing with at the least three distinct touch gestures with a specific photograph password.

Administrators can make off your picture private data feature whenever they favor wording password attribute. To reduce hackers via illegally reaching easy rural login, Glass windows 8 routinely disables photograph password pertaining to remote get access. It is smart, users are able to have a means to log straight into their records faster along with less problematic however be viewed as secure while usual, so Microsoft’s reply is photograph password pertaining to local multilevel only.

I’m expecting Microsoft would likely add another layer involving security including simple green number as well as face identification or speech recognition only to make visiting into one’s account can be even more secure. Of study course, face along with voice recognitions aren’t challenging to hack into, because cyber criminals could often photo someone’s deal with and file someone’s speech to get around face along with voice private data recognitions. That is why I feel such more password identification measures are generally good provided that these are generally coupling collectively in cellular levels. This means hackers ought to attain many things for you to bypass your layers involving authentication.

I feel it’s an excellent if consumers don’t ought to remember prolonged text accounts, because some may write along long accounts and keep such accounts in evident places that will anyone could have their accounts, consequently defeating the full purpose involving strong accounts. I feel Windows 8′s photograph password feature most likely are not adequate throughout protecting users’ logins though Windows 8 can be coupling photograph with effect gestures to make stronger photograph password. That is why I point out that photograph password along with touch body language combination just as one authentication means for Windows 8′s brand-new password feature may require a number layers involving authentication including face identification. As long any additional layers involving authentication are generally accurate along with fast for you to execute, I don’t see it will have a trouble of making it possible for users for you to log inside their accounts rapid, safe, along with easy.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011


RENREN buys video sharing site in a $80m deal, expected to be completed by 4th quarter 2011. were previously in talk with Tencent and, but apparently the talks fell through.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Two Great Wordpress Plugins

The 1st one is:

All in One Adsense and YPN Plugin

It will "automatically insert google adsense ads or yahoo publisher network (YPN) ads in to your posts on the fly." It is better than other plugins such as adsense deluxe because you don't have to manually insert tags in each post, this wordpress plugin will insert adsense code into all existing posts and new posts automatically. It's like turn on and forget.

The 2nd one is:

Hot Linked Image Cacher Plugin

This plugin will "automatically search for Hot Linked Images within your posts and automatically cache the images locally and update the img links within your posts." For people who often link images from other sites, this is a God-send. It'll scan your posts and cache all hot linked images locally and update the img links within your posts automatically. You could also specify exactly which post to cache by entering a post id too. Great!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Art of BS: How to Succeed on Term Papers and Essays

Last year I was in an interesting English class. The subject of the class was Harry Potter (specifically, we compared it to other works of children’s literature, like the Oz books, examined the global phenomenon, its popularity, etc.). Halfway through the quarter (yes, I wish my school was on semesters like everyone else, alas, not so), we had our midterm. When everyone got their grades back, many were disappointed. My one friend could not understand how I did so much better on the essays. We both had read the Harry Potter series more than once, so we both had extensive knowledge on the topic at hand. Was I a better writer than she? I don’t think so, but I can guarantee you I was much better at the ancient sacred art of BS’ing. My form of BS, is more along the lines of “Executive and Slightly-knowledgeable BS,” meaning it won’t work if you know nothing about the subject. Professors won’t say it, but sometimes the difference between who receives a good grade and an okay grade is who can simply follow directions and convey their thoughts more effectively.

That being said, I’ve decided to provide a few tips (ten) I’ve learned when writing essays or papers. My tips may not ensure you get that A, but they should help you improve your grade. At the very least, these tips should help you to not fail. Remember, there’s no substitute for actually knowing the material. However if you forget a few things, then you can use some of these tips to make the best of what you know. I’ll start off with why my friend didn’t do as well on the midterm.

1. Give the professor what he/she asks for! - Many professors actually TELL their students what they want to see on papers and exams. Yet, for some unknown reason, students still think that their way is best. Remember, the professor is handing out the grades, not your 8th grade teacher who told you to write differently. My friend didn’t do as well as I did because she didn’t write the way the professor asked. For some reason, my professor hated introductions and conclusions. Did this fly in the face of everything I’ve ever been taught about writing a sound essay? Yes. However, the professor TOLD us how she felt about them, and how she thought it was pointless to re-hash what you’ve already stated. So, I listened to the professor and left out an introduction and a conclusion. It wasn’t BS; it was simply common sense. So, in conclusion, pay attention to what the professor wants, and follow it!

2. Write what you DO know - I’ve taken two history classes in college, and I really couldn’t tell you too much about history. One reason is that I sometimes cram too much before exams, so I don’t put the information into long-term memory. The other reason is that, even while in the class, I didn’t know that much about history. How was I able to secure a B+ without being a history buff? I was able to because I always told the professor what I knew, and I did study (sometimes quite a bit) before exams. When writing on an essay test, the first rule of effective BS is to put the facts down. Even if you know some facts that aren’t particularly related to the question at hand, you should figure out a way to write them in. The more facts you give, the better it will look (of course you need to keep it coherent and relevant, but if you’re good at BS, it shouldn’t be a problem). For example, if I was given an essay on Benjamin Franklin, here’s some facts I know:

Benjamin Franklin gave a lot of money to the University of Pennsylvania.

Benjamin Franklin pursued American interests in France for many years.

If the question I was presented with were something along the lines of, “Discuss Benjamin Franklin’s involvement in the revolutionary war and its subsequent effect on America” I’d be sure to work those facts in. I’d write something like

“Benjamin Franklin lobbied France to help the Colonists fight the British.”

I would then probably discuss this effect on the Revolutionary War. Then, even though it’s a bit of a reach, if I had nothing else, I’d bring in that University of Pennsylvania fact. I’d mention his commitment to education, and how that affected America for years to come, and so on. Remember, this is a technique if you don’t have enough meat in your answer. If you have no clue what the answer is, then it may get you a few extra points, rather than writing nothing and getting a zero on the question. Once again, it is always important to know the material. However, if you are struggling with having enough length, or can’t remember some things, adding some facts you DO know and tying it all together can help significantly.

3. Learn to paraphrase like a champion - Whenever you’re writing a paper, it’s always a challenge to squeeze out some of those extra lines. Since you’d be crazy to ever plagiarize in college (although some people actually still try it), you need paraphrase like crazy, then cite your source. I feel it’s a definite skill to be able to read a sentence, and change it around so that it is very different (and not plagiarized) but it presents the same fact or opinion.

For example, consider this sentence from the Zebra article on Wikipedia:

“The Plains Zebra (Equus quagga, formerly Equus burchelli) is the most common, and has or had about twelve subspecies distributed across much of southern and eastern Africa.”

If I were writing a report on Zebras, I might write something like:

“The most common Zebra in Africa, the Plains Zebra, has around twelve subspecies scattered around both southern and eastern Africa. Currently, the Plains Zebra is known as Equus quagga, but was known as Equus burchelli previously.”

I took the basic facts presented in the original article, rearranged words and used synonyms, and then added a new sentence based on what was in parenthesis. Paraphrasing is essential, especially for long reports based on information in textbooks, biographies, and the like. Remember to always cite your sources (even if you aren’t taking direct quotes, because ideas are property of the person who came up with them). I feel that you can stretch most sentences if you need more length on your paper.

4. The Thesaurus is your friend - I can’t even begin to express how many points I lost on papers in high school because I’d use the same word over and over again, in a multitude of sentences. Microsoft Word, and I assume all other word processors, is equipped with a fantastic thesaurus tool. Use it! Instead of saying “said” a million times, try using “exclaimed,” “shouted,” “remarked,” “quipped,” or something of that sort. It also generally makes a paper/essay look better if instead of writing, “he was fat” (thusly utilizing a very generic adjective), writing, “he was portly” (thereby taking advantage of the wide array of vocabulary words available to English speakers).

5. Use more than just spell-check - When writing a paper, it is astonishing when I think of the amount of people who will just click that nice “spell-check” button and be done with it. In case you didn’t know, spell-check doesn’t catch everything. I’m not sure if other versions are different, but in my version of Microsoft Word, spell-check won’t catch it if you accidentally have a number in a wo5rd, which could make you sound like a real idiot (Note: I ran this article through spell-check before posting). Proofreading the paper yourself is helpful, but having a friend read it over is even better. Also, don’t rely on grammar checkers to catch every grammatical mistake. It’s been my experience that while they’ll catch very blatant mistakes, having a sentence that is simply awkward phrasing may not be found. Finally, and maybe I need to change some setting, but Microsoft Word seems to hate the passive voice. I see no real reason why it should always want change phrasing to make verbs active. Only avoid passive voice if your professor tells you explicitly. Don’t listen to Microsoft in that respect.

6. Make an outline, seriously - This works for essay tests and for papers. Always make a little outline before you start writing. At least then you have a definable goal, and the only thing you need to worry about is execution. If you’re taking an essay test, using an outline is a great way to refresh your memory of the facts, while answering the question completely.

7. When all else fails, write an awesome conclusion - So, if you’re having trouble with the essay, and you can’t seem to remember some important facts, don’t get too discouraged. In my experience, some people have fewer facts, but write a better essay than others, and therefore receive the higher grade. This isn’t a guarantee, but if you at least have a well-structured paper with a solid conclusion, the professor should award you some style points. Depending on the class, whimsical conclusions can be supremely effective. One year I was in a class, and I pretty much blanked on a whole important section of history. However, I made sure to include some overblown conclusion on how the Salem Witchcraft trials had ramifications leading all the way to today’s justice system. I probably also compared some Salem political officials to today’s current administration. The professor liked it (maybe it was the Clinton ‘08 sticker on her bag that gave me the divine inspiration), and I scraped a B. The point is, don’t ever give up, if you have a solid presentation, and an impressive conclusion, your grade may not suffer as much.

8. Actually prepare for the essays - Some professors like to give out the subject of their essay questions before the exam. Other professors may even give you a list of possible essay questions. If given this, you would be crazy to not prepare. Simply reviewing some facts is always good, but I found it more helpful to actually think about how I’d answer each potential essay. Instead of saying to myself, “oh, he’s going to ask me about George Washington, I better re-read that chapter of the textbook,” I’d actually read the question and think about how George Washington related to it, how I would develop a logical response, and so on.

9. Proofread, re-read, proofread again, then ask your mom what she thinks - Okay, so you don’t have to ask your mom to read your paper, but a friend or other family member will do. I mentioned this briefly when I was discussing spell-check, but read over your paper! It is also sometimes very helpful to print off an actual physical copy to read and take notes on. I have found that sometimes I miss mistakes when looking at my computer screen, as opposed to actually reading the physical text. The longer the paper is, the more people you should have read it. If it is on an obscure subject, then still let other people read it. While they may not be able to help you with the content, they can at least see some grammatical mistakes you may have missed. Not to mention, if you are writing on something that your professor has no familiarity with, you should definitely have someone else read it. If your friend gets wildly confused about the subject, there’s a good chance your professor would have been as well, and you would do well to re-write some things to make it clearer.

10. Mess with margins, font sizes, and font styles sparingly (meaning, don’t do it) - Most professors have caught on to the whole “Courier New” trick. So, if you’re counting on making that ten page length by simply changing fonts, you may want to go back to the drawing board. Some people still try to get away with messing with margins. I personally don’t do it (especially because many of my professors have specifically demanded 1 inch margins around the entire paper), but you are always welcome to try. If you chronically have length issues, I suggest actually starting with single spacing and a smaller font. If you have single spacing, you will, in a weird way, be encouraging yourself to write more (at least that’s how it works for me, and some other people I know). Not to mention, that once you think you’ve written all you can write, and it comes time to change it to double spacing, or Times New Roman 12 point font, you may find that you’ve surpassed the requirements. You also may get an added confidence boost to see your work balloon to 2-3 times as many pages as before.

So, they may only be 10 tips, but I feel that they should help many students to have more success on essays and papers. There’s no substitute for actually knowing the material backwards and forwards, but if you forget a few things, you can always stylize stuff a little more. College can be tough, but if you learn how to use just a little bit of “Executive and Slightly-knowledgeable” BS every now and then, you may just find that your English professor actually remembers your name. Of course, if you have any tips of your own, or think I’m crazy, feel free to post them in the comment section.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Scientifically Proven: Blondes make men act dumb

WHEN men meet fair-haired women they really do have a “blonde moment”. Scientists have found that their mental performance drops, apparently because they believe they are dealing with someone less intelligent.

Researchers discovered what might be called the “bimbo delusion” by studying men’s ability to complete general knowledge tests after exposure to different women. The academics found that men’s scores fell after they were shown pictures of blondes.

Further analysis convinced the team that, rather than simply being distracted by the flaxen hair, those who performed poorly had been unconsciously driven by social stereotypes to “think blonde”.

“This proves that people confronted with stereotypes generally behave in line with them,” said Thierry Meyer, joint author of the study and professor of social psychology at the University of Paris X-Nanterre. “In this case blondes have the potential to make people act in a dumber way, because they mimic the unconscious stereotype of the dumb blonde.”

The research adds to a body of evidence that people’s behaviour is powerfully influenced by stereotypes. Previously scientists have found that people walk and talk more slowly in front of the elderly, while other studies have revealed that unconscious racial assumptions and prejudices emerge in written tests.

Researchers believe that blondes have been particularly vulnerable to stereotyping over the past century.

The image of the dizzy blonde came to prominence in the 1925 Anita Loos novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Film stars including Marilyn Monroe, Suzanne Somers and Goldie Hawn further popularised the “dumb blonde”.

The persona has more recently been boosted by celebrities such as Paris Hilton, the member of the hotel family nicknamed the “heirhead”, and Jessica Simpson, the singer.

Others believe its origins go far deeper. According to researchers at St Andrews University, north European women evolved blonde hair and blue eyes at the end of the Ice Age to make them stand out from their rivals at a time of fierce competition for scarce males.

Psychologists have suggested that because white babies are often born blond, there is a primal association between blondness and childhood, encouraging people to admire and fawn over the pale-haired.

The new peer-reviewed study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, was based on two trials.

In all cases those participants exposed to images of blondes recorded the lowest scores.

Real-life blondes were sceptical about the findings. Laura Bailey, the Marks & Spencer model, said: “I’ve always been taken very seriously. I have always been blonde and I have never had an issue with the way I am. If I’m being insulted, then I’m blissfully unaware.”

Michelle Collins, the blonde-haired former EastEnders actress, suspected the results were more to do with men’s approach to sex than intelligence. “I don’t think it’s to do with hair at all; it’s all about the breasts,” she said.

“But if someone walks round with extensions down to their bottom, even I would treat them differently.”


Exactly why and when humans developed blond hair is a mystery. It appears to have emerged late in evolution after humans had first travelled out of Africa.

Up to a third of women in Britain may look blonde, but only about 3% are naturally so.

How blondes developed a reputation for dizziness is also unclear, though the likes of Marilyn Monroe may have helped the process along. Certainly “blonde jokes” have become a popular genre.

For example: Q: What do you call a blonde with two brain cells?

A: Pregnant.

Some blondes are of course highly intelligent. Susan Greenfield is an Oxford professor of pharmacology and director of the Royal Institution. The actress Joanna Lumley is a noted environmentalist and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

90 suicides a day spur Japan into action

The Japanese Government is calling for a complete national rethink about attitudes to suicide in an effort to unravel centuries of social pressure and tradition.

The practice, which claims more than 90 lives each day, should no longer be seen as “the honorable way out” but as an act of desperation and – perhaps – preventable misery.

The Government has published a “counter-suicide White Paper”, which sets out a nine-step plan to transform the way in which suicide is regarded and treated. Measures include training more counselors and expanding Samaritans-style telephone helplines.

The White Paper exposes the traditional approach in Japan of ignoring the issue altogether and presses for the kind of basic research into causes that is standard in most developed nations. It says that Japanese should know more about the causes of suicide and be better equipped to spot the signs of an impending attempt. There should be help for those who have survived an attempt. The paper notes that Monday is by far the most likely day of the week on which a co-worker or loved one may try to end it all.

Government sources told The Times that the document could be seen as evidence that, after decades of inaction, Japan had finally grown embarrassed by its extraordinarily high suicide rate, which stands at ninth in the world but is far ahead of any other developed nation. Japan is hoping to reduce its current rate – of about 32,000 suicides a year – by 20 per cent within the next decade.

Suicide rates used to rise when unemployment was higher and fall during more prosperous spells. The Government’s sudden alarm, though, arises from the apparent breaking of that cycle: Japan’s economy has recently experienced its longest run of expansion since the Second World War but the suicide rate has continued to rise during that time.

The White Paper comes as Japan is approaching its tenth successive year in which more than 30,000 people have taken their own lives. The statistic gives Japan a higher per-capita rate than nations blighted by civil war, desperate poverty or long periods of the year without sunlight.

The timing of the White Paper is also strongly linked to emerging trends in Japanese suicide that threaten to worsen the problem before it gets better. Phenomena such as “web suicides”, in which several strangers – usually in their twenties – meet on the internet and arrange to die together, have received plenty of media attention but, experts say, are only a tiny fraction of the problem.

Work-related causes for suicide have long dominated men’s suicide rates and experts believe that women between the ages of 25 and 45 may become increasingly vulnerable as they enter the workforce in greater numbers and rise to positions of greater seniority and stress. Studies are also likely to be made of the “March problem”, the traditional spike in suicides in March that coincides with university entrance examinations and the main job-hunting season.

Means to an end

- A Japanese legend relates the mass suicide of the 47 samurai. After avenging their master’s death they committed ritual suicide at his graveside

- In 1970 the writer Yukio Mishima led a revolt and urged the Army to overthrow the Government. He then committed hara-kiri in front of an audience of 800

- In 1993 author Wataru Tsurumi published The Complete Manual of Suicide, which sold 1 million copies

- In 2001 railway stations in Japan introduced mirrors to deter suicide attempts by showing victims their own face before they jump

- Every February the Fuji-Yoshida police scour the Aokigahara woods at the base of Mount Fuji for bodies of suicide victims

Source: Times research

Thursday, November 08, 2007

USB 3.0: The next generation

A new generation of USB interface will allow for much faster downloads

Transferring files from your digital video camera to your computer will happen in an instant as USB enters a new generation.

The head of the USB Implementers Forum, Jeffery Ravencraft, said last month that USB had become the standard for connecting devices to computers. He said the formation of the USB 3.0 Promoter Group would help deliver a "faster sync-n-go capability".

"USB is the most successful interface in the history of computing. Last year 2.1 billion USB connections [were shipped] and to date over six billion units [have been sold]," Ravencraft said at the Intel Development Forum in Taiwan in October.

"It's phenomenal, people use it everywhere. [But] the consumer has very low tolerance and is impatient with technology."

The growing use of video and audio devices, with their bigger files sizes, was one of the reasons behind the development of faster transfer rates, he said. For example, a 27GB high-definition movie takes about 14 minutes to download with high-speed USB 2.0. With superspeed USB 3.0, it will take 70 seconds, according to Ravencraft.

USB 3.0 would also be more energy-efficient than its predecessor, reducing the load on laptops, he said.

"We're wanting to drive power efficiency for all of our platforms, (therefore) USB 3.0 will not constantly [talk to] the device."

However, users will still be able to charge devices such as mobile phones and PDAs, Ravencraft said.

"We may even allow the ability to charge even better."

He confirmed the next generation of USB would be compatible with previous versions of USB interface.

The promoter group is expected to deliver its USB 3.0 specifications in the first half of next year and the first products may appear in late 2009.

On display at the forum was wireless USB, which has received regulatory approval in several countries, but is yet to get the tick in Australia.

The technology uses ultra-wideband technology to deliver transfer rates of 480Mbps at a distance of three metres; comparable to wired USB 2.0 and several hundred times faster than Bluetooth.

The US, Japan, Europe and South Korea have decided which portions of the radio spectrum ultra-wideband devices may use, and Canada and China are expected to announce similar decisions before the end of this year.

There is no word on when Australian regulators will reach a decision on spectrum approval for wireless USB.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

eBay is apparently selling an Airbus A380

Click on the picture to enlarge.

So eBay is apparently selling an Airbus A380, I wonder what I will see after I click on their ad?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Ten Ways to Avoid a Google Reputation Management Nightmare

Google is no longer just a search engine. With your potential customers, future employers, and members of the media turning to Google for information about your business, Google has become a reputation engine.

In helping clients with their online reputation, I’m consistently asked how they can push out negative content that appears on the first page of Google for a search for their name. Whether they were fined by the SEC, ridiculed by an ex-employee, or investigated by their local newspaper, they share one common goal: get that negative result off of the first page!

Of course, it’s near on impossible to make a negative Google result simply disappear—although there are some black-hat SEOs that claim to have that gift. Instead, your best approach is to provide Googlebot with a healthier diet of web content that shows your reputation in a positive light.

On that note, here are my recommendations for the best web content to fill up the first page of Google results.

1. Get your own web site.

It sounds simply enough, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, you’d be surprised at the number of individuals and companies that haven’t registered their own branded domain name and thrown up a web site. Registering or and adding a basic web site is a sure-fire way to occupy one of the top ten Google listings for your name.

2. Start a blog.

image If you love and nurture a blog, it will likely become a great asset in your reputation management arsenal. But the great thing about a blog is that it tends to rank well, even when left un-watered. Blogs are the cactus of online content. and both provide free blogs and free hosting. Add just a few posts, keep it targeted to your name—that means use it in the blog title, posts etc—add a few links and bake for a few days. It will be on the first page of Google in no time.

3. Add a sub-domain.

If you’ve put a lot of effort into growing your main web site, chances are there’s an opportunity to add a sub-domain. Sub-domains are great. Google considers them as separate from your main site, but they still include your main brand. There are a lot of great reasons to add a sub-domain: careers, corporate info, and product info. Take a look at as an example.

4. Create a social networking profile.

image profiles can rank well for your personal or company name. When you sign-up, be sure to use your real name—using a nickname won’t help with your Google reputation—and enable the option that lets you pick the URL of your profile. works a whole lot better than

5. Create your own social network.

image If a social networking profile ranks well in Google, how much more so your own social network? will let you create your own customized social network. Better yet, you can pay just $5 a month and point your own domain name at it. Take a look at for an example.

6. Create a business profile.

image You should join because it’s a great tool for networking with your peers. You should also join LinkedIn as it allows you to talk about yourself, link to your other Google-friendly web content, and customize your profile URL. Wouldn’t you rather your potential employer find your LinkedIn profile on Google, than that run-in you had with your last boss?

7. Share your photos.

image is very Google friendly. Upload photos of you, your company logo, your products, etc, and label them using your name. Add some comments to each photo (including your name) and Voila! You’ve just added a dozen pages of content, each labeled with your company name! Be sure to do the same when selecting your profile name for Flickr too.

8. Claim your identity.

image is a blessing for those looking to control their Google reputation. It effectively lets you create a profile and then link out to all of your other profiles. Whereas LinkedIn is heavy on the networking-side, Naymz is more of a holding-tank for your brand. Best of all, Google seems to love it!

9. Create your own Wiki.

image If you’re facing a Google reputation nightmare, you may be tempted to create a Wikipedia profile for yourself. After all, Wikipedia ranks all over Google, right? Bad move. Not only is it hard to get one approved, but they’re totally unbiased. That DUI incident, you’re trying to cover-up, will likely make its way on to your profile. Not good. Instead create your own wiki and build your profile that way. is perfect for this. You can focus it on your personal name, or your company name. The best part is that you get to decide who contributes to it.

10. Get a free page from Google.

image I’ve saved the best until last. Ok, I lied. While a free page from Google Page Creator ( isn’t the best web content for managing your Google reputation, there’s something satisfying about having Google help mend your reputation.

So, there you have it. While these shouldn’t be used as a “get out of jail free card”—you should avoid a reputation nightmare to begin with—they’ll at least help you re-build your Google reputation.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Airbus A380 - the complete guide and review

For Stephen Bleach, being a part of the inaugural A380 flight on Thursday was revolutionary... but not for all the right reasons

The monstrous A380 prepares for takeoff

I’ve always been pretty middle of the road, politically speaking. But whenever Gordon Brown deigns to call the next election, I’m voting Socialist Worker’s Party. Eight hours on a plane has turned me into a Marxist.

Not just any plane. I’ve just stepped off the first commercial flight of the A380 superjumbo, the largest passenger aircraft ever built. Yes, it’s impressive: taller than five double-decker buses, wider than a football pitch, 37 times the length of Peter Crouch in his socks, that sort of thing. And yes, it’s an amazing piece of engineering, a staggering technical achievement: but it’s also the best advert for Bolshevism since the tsar said, “Stuff that Lenin chap, let’s build another palace.”

Never has the gap between the haves and the have-nots of the air been more evident. At the front of the plane (business is on the top level, the “super-first” Suites at the front of main deck, economy at the back on both levels), the elite have unparalleled luxury and space. Further back, the proletariat have to... well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’ve just spent eight hours in the cheap seats: here’s a blow-by-blow account.

Takeoff: it just shouldn’t. It doesn’t seem credible that something this size should get into the air at all. Our takeoff weight today was 468 tonnes, which is the equivalent of 12 very surprised sperm whales. And when it finally comes, 50 minutes after we started boarding today’s 455 passengers (they’ll need to speed that up a touch), takeoff is a revelation.

Where other planes crank up the engines to a mighty howl and go for a death-or-glory charge to get airborne, the A380 feels more like an inter-city train leaving a station: silent, gentle, almost imperceptible. There’s a moment of anxiety when the lack of any roar, or bumping, makes you think something is terribly wrong. Then finally, after 40 seconds of smooth, quiet acceleration, this unlikely behemoth leaves the ground with a whisper and drifts quietly into the skies as if it were the most natural thing in the world. After a moment’s collective sigh, everyone breaks into applause. Taking to the air with the A380 does, genuinely, feel like a miracle.

One hour in: as well as kind, civilised folk who’ve bid in a charity auction to be on the first A380 flight, the plane is full of rude, selfish, jostling journalists like me, and the moment the seat-belt sign is turned off, it’s the cue for all of us to leap to our feet and interview mercilessly anyone within notebook distance. We do tend to make a bit of noise, but I didn’t realise we’d actually drown out the engines. That’s how quiet this plane is. In the momentary lulls between hacks barking questions, you can hear the gentle conversations of real people four rows back.

Two hours in: journalistic frenzy over, time for lunch. It’s terrific, produced by a couple of celebrity chefs I’ve never heard of, but will look out for in future. Sam Leong’s fillet of bass with fungi is the best economy-class food I’ve ever had on an airline.

Three hours in: distractions done with, there’s time to take in the surroundings. And when I do, a question occurs. If this is really the most luxurious plane ever built, why am I still shoehorned into a 32in seat?

Here, I have a confession to make. Last week, when the press were first allowed to see the inside of this plane at the Airbus factory, I – along with every journalist there – got a bit overexcited about the double beds in first and the huge business-class seats; all newer, bigger and swisher than anything we’d seen before. As a result, we didn’t spend too much time in the ominously familiar-looking economy area. A sin of omission, for which the hour of judgment has just come. Or rather hours: I’ve got five more to go.

Some passengers say the economy area is much lighter and airier than we’re used to. I don’t see it – though the large windows do provide a better view. The seat is pretty comfortable... for cattle class. My knees don’t touch the seat in front, and it’s an inch or so wider than a standard 747 equivalent. But it’s still not the ideal place to spend eight hours or more of your life, especially when you know that the real high rollers are just a few feet away, in the Suites. Time to see how the other half live...

Four hours in: the airline people are standing close guard on the curtain that separates economy from first, but for an instant they take their eyes off it, and bingo: an advance party of journalists plunges through the gap.

It’s another world. Hushed, spacious, all the seats are in cabins a little like those you’d find on a cruise ship, although the partitions only reach to about eye level. The champagne flows incessantly, and there are normally unobtainable bottles of Château Cos d’Estournel 1982 being poured. In a few of the 12 elite suites, the inhabitants have had their flat beds made up, and sprawl languorously under Givenchy duvets in front of their 23in TVs. Nobody sleeps, though. Having paid up to £25,000 at auction for a ticket, they want to savour every minute.

Upstairs, the improvement in business class, with its colossal 34in-wide seats, is arguably even greater. With just four abreast as opposed to economy’s 10, it feels both communal and spacious. The lucky ones try hard not to look smug. I try hard not to be jealous. We all fail. Five hours in: back in the cheap seats, I ruminate on what might have been. When we were shown the first A380 back in 2003, we were promised the following: boutiques, self-service restaurants, duty-free shops, children’s play areas, casinos, pubs, libraries, gyms (with treadmills to prevent DVT), showers, 18-hole golf courses. (Okay, I made the last one up, but it was going that way.) So why am I sitting here, unexercised, unshowered and unshopped, with the nearest pub in the outback five miles down? Why do we only have a slightly better version of what every long-haul holidaymaker knows and loathes – rank upon rank of sardine-tin seats, with no room to circulate or socialise? Only one conclusion: they were having us on.

Aviation enthusiasts make up the bulk of the clientele today, and they’re determined to enjoy themselves, so I’m in a disgruntled minority (see below). And, to be fair to Singapore Airlines, they never made any of those extravagant claims anyway. But right now I don’t want to be fair. This feels like a missed opportunity.

Six hours in: the real test of a long-haul seat is: Can you sleep in it? I try for 40 winks. Not a chance. The buzz all around means it’s not a fair trial, but I suspect that even on a calmer flight, it wouldn’t be easy. One bonus point: that dried-out, sinusy feeling is noticeably absent. Higher pressurisation is apparently the reason. Seven hours in: time to test the much-vaunted entertainment system. In a stab at egalitarianism, everybody gets the same stuff (economy has a smaller screen, but it’s still a healthy 10+ inches). It’s cracking: 100 on-demand films, 150 TV programmes, 700 CDs. New films, too. There are USB ports and laptop power to every seat. No internet access, though it might come.

Eight hours in: we’re preparing to land, so I’ll sum up. If you’re planning a trip down under when the plane starts flying from London next spring, should you choose an A380? Yes. It’s fabulous in first and business, a touch more comfy than we’re used to at the back. Revolutionary? No – not for the huddled masses, anyway. Vive la révolution. Business class

Business class

Andy Odgers, 39, and Hazel Watt, 43, bagged seats together in business class. Here they are sitting in just one of them. “It’s fantastic, far better than any business class I’ve seen in a 747,” said Andy, “right down to the picture quality on the big TV screen.” The couple, from Richmond in Surrey, paid US$14,200 (£6,922) for the trip, but reckoned it was worth it. “My parents are in Sydney,” said Andy, “and they don’t know anything about us being on this flight. We’re just going to walk into their hotel and surprise them. They’ll be so jealous.” “It’s better than a lot of first-class seats,” said Hazel. “You could argue it’s a bit hot, but it’s the best flight I’ve ever had.”

First class

Julian Hayward, 38, paid top dollar for two seats on the inaugural A380 flight – literally: the one-way trip in the first-class Singapore Suites for himself and a friend set Julian back US$100,380 (£48,936). The entrepreneur invited The Sunday Times in for a cosy chat in his bijou suite. Was it worth it? “Absolutely – all the money goes to charity, so it’s ending up in the right place. And this flight really is a piece of history, the first outing for the biggest plane ever built.” Would he do it again? “Perhaps not for quite so much money! But yes, the standard is something you won’t find elsewhere. I’m very impressed by their wine list. Would you care for a glass?”

Economy class

Richard Killip, 45, bought three tickets for the economy cabin of the A380, and brought along his daughters, Sophie, 12, and Ellie, 10. All three – who hail from Liverpool, but now live in Singapore – loved the flight. “The most impressive thing was the takeoff,” said Richard. “It was so quiet, it was almost spooky.” “I’ve already shown off a little to my schoolfriends,” admits Sophie. “They’re all dead jealous that I’m on the first flight!” Who else will fly the A380?

- PLENTY MORE airlines are queuing up to get the biggest passenger plane on earth. But will they go where you want to fly? When will they start? And – crucially – what will the experience be like on board? Anxious to keep a commercial advantage, most are being cagey with the details. But here’s what we know so far...


Start date: August 2008

Routes: “The US and the UK,” says the airline – which is expected to mean Sydney to London (via Singapore or Hong Kong), plus direct flights from Australia to Los Angeles.

What’s on board?Suites in first class, though not as enclosed as Singapore’s cabins, and no double beds as yet. Lounge with sofas in business. Four self-service bars in economy, and seats by Recaro (which makes seats for Aston Martin). Plus internet access for all.


Start date:August 2008

Routes:Dubai-London looks certain. Dubai to New York, Australia and India also likely.

What’s on board?Top secret, but there are clues. The airline is installing first-class suites with doors on its fleet of 777s, with styling based on the Orient-Express train, and is expected to go even more luxurious with its A380s – president Tim Clark said: “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” But on flights to India, Emirates will cram in 644 passengers.


Start date:spring 2009

Routes:Paris to New York and Japan.

What’s on board?Questions bring nothing more than a Gallic shrug.


Start date:summer 2009

Routes:20 being considered, from Frankfurt to Asia and North America.

What’s on board?A complete redesign for all three areas, but no details as yet.


Start date:2012

Routes:Los Angeles, Singapore, Hong Kong and Johannesburg are likely to be first. New York “would be considered if customer demand were strong enough”.

What’s on board?BA only ordered the planes a month ago, so they haven’t decided yet. Don’t expect many gimmicks, though – for that, look to...


Start date:2013

Routes:Los Angeles, Dubai.

What’s on board?More double beds for sure, plus a casino – chairman Richard Branson says: “There’ll be two ways to get lucky on our A380s.”

Showers and gyms have been mentioned too.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Top 11 signs your ISP doesn't support Net Neutrality

Signs Your ISP Doesn't Support Net Neutrality

11. Every URL you enter manually resolves to
10. Your ISP lets you know when your Amazon packages have arrived.
9. There's a loud whirring noise at the switching box outside every time you access the Internet.
8. You only see every other pixel in online images.
7. There's a "pr0n downloading" surcharge on your bill.
6. The delay in your Skype conversations make them sound like they're being beamed through the Mars rovers.
5. YouTube videos only play at half speed.
3. You can't access web pages that contain your ISP's name, and the word "sucks."
2. Every site you visit is labeled as "Comcastic!"
1. Your Netflix DVDs arrive faster than your Bittorrent downloads.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Globalization of Hunger

Hunger becomes a global issue

At first, the numbers don't seem to add up. The world produces more food than ever—enough to feed twice the global population. Yet, more people than ever suffer from hunger; and their numbers are rising. Today, 854 million people, most of them women and girls, are chronically hungry, up from 800 million in 1996. Another paradox: the majority of the world's hungry people live in rural areas, where nearly all food is grown.

World Food Day on October 16 is a good time to try and understand the conundrum of world hunger. The root of the problem is the inequitable distribution of the resources needed to either grow or buy food (also known as poverty). World Food Day is an equally good time to call out one of the main culprits of the crisis: industrial agriculture, the very type enshrined in the Farm Bill that's currently before the US Senate.

The Farm Bill has far-reaching implications for farmers and food systems the world over. It is set to perpetuate a process whereby heavily subsidized US factory farms overproduce grains that are dumped in poor countries, bankrupting local farmers, who can't compete with subsidized prices. We've begun to hear a bit about the plight of these farmers, but few people know that most of them are women. In fact, women produce most of the world's food. They do so on small plots of land, working hard to feed their families and generate enough income for things like school fees and children's shoes.

US Agribusiness: Swallowing Up Lands and Livelihoods

Visit the websites of corporations like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, who together control 65 percent of the global grain trade, and you will read that their mission is to "feed a growing world." The reality is starkly different. Big Farming is part of a larger corporate economic model that prioritizes profit-making over all else, even the basic right to food. Around the world, agribusiness bankrupts and displaces small farmers, and directs farmers to grow export crops instead of staple foods.

Not long ago, most farm inputs came from farmers themselves. Seeds were saved from the last harvest and fertilizer was recycled from animal and plant wastes. Farmers found innovative ways to control pests by harnessing local biodiversity, such as cultivating insect-repelling plants alongside food crops. While these techniques can produce enough food to feed the world and sustain its ecosystems, they don't turn a profit for agribusiness. That's why corporations developed genetically modified seeds, chemical fertilizers, and synthetic pesticides.

These inputs are both expensive for farmers and highly damaging to the natural systems on which sustainable farming and, ultimately, all life depends. As the cost of farming has gone up, farmers' incomes have gone down due to trade rules that favor large-scale agribusiness over small farmers. For example, the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Agriculture forbids governments in the Global South from providing farmers with low-cost seeds and other farm inputs, turning farmers into a "market" for international agribusiness.

Over the past 50 years, as much of the world's farmland has been consolidated in fewer and fewer hands, millions of people have been forced to abandon their rural homes. In fact, this year, for the first time ever, the number of people living in cities around the world exceeded the number living in rural areas. Most of this urban population boom is due to rural migration.

Cash Crops and Climate Change

The same practices that have devastated women farmers and their communities worldwide have contributed to environmental destruction that impacts us all.

Export agriculture is a major contributor to global warming because it requires huge inputs of petroleum: it takes 100 gallons of oil to grow just one acre of US corn. It also requires a massive global transportation infrastructure, including ports, railways, fuel pipelines, and superhighways, often built at the expense of local people and ecosystems. In many places, 40 percent of truck traffic is from hauling food over long distances. Today, food that could be grown locally is shipped, trucked, or flown half way around the planet.

Trade rules have so distorted agricultural markets that almost anywhere you go, food from the other side of the world costs less than food grown locally. So people in Kenya buy Dutch butter, while those in the Big Apple buy apples from Chile. In the US, the average bite of food travels 1,300 miles from farm to fork. The system is so wasteful that many countries import the very same foods that they export. For example, last year the US exported—and imported—900,000 tons of beef.

Asserting the Right to Food

The good news is that our global food systems may be on the verge of a great transition. Although agribusiness has unprecedented control over the world's farmers and food supply, the realities of climate change, resource depletion, and the human suffering caused by industrialized farming have led more people to start thinking about the links between food, the environment, and social justice. Around the world, demands for food sovereignty—peoples' right to control their own food systems—is at an all-time high. Even in the US, where much of the population thinks of farming as a quaint and remote activity, more and more people are realizing that if you eat, you're involved in agriculture.

The theme of this year's World Food Day is the right to food. Securing this basic human right for all people, including future generations, will require fundamental changes in the way we use the Earth's natural resources to grow and distribute food. As we face rising temperatures and declining supplies of cheap energy, change will come of necessity. It's up to us—working in partnership with small-scale farmers around the world—to demand a change for the better.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Heavy Leopard Pre-orders Caused by Vista

Some solution providers have reported that the pre-orders for Apple's Leopard are more than double for the same time prior to Tiger's release. They cite Leopard's new features and customer dissatisfaction with Vista as key drivers, according to ChannelWeb on Thursday.

"We've probably doubled the backorders of Leopard, compared to what we did with Tiger," said Patrick Brown, CEO of Brown Computer Solutions, in Brattleboro, Vermont, a solution provider and Apple specialist. "With the Intel Macs, Apple has significantly increased the installed base. We do expect a very successful launch."

Chris gear, the marketing director for Macforce in Portland, Oregon concurred that poor reviews of Vista have created a strong sales environment. "More than anything, it has to do with the biggest growth coming from 'switchers' -- people switching from the Windows platform," Mr. Gear said. He also pointed out that since Apple's switch to Intel, many of his customers don't even have to worry about choosing between Mac OS X or Windows. However, the pent up demand for a new Mac OS has driven the market as well, he noted.

While some solution providers were having trouble ordering Leopard, an almost festive atmosphere has surrounded the launch. Mr. Gear is planning a launch party and will give away stuffed leopards.

Yukio Tezuka, an Apple specialist at MacSensei in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, said he would give away leopard-skin computer mice. "Many people are calling us," he said and reported strong interest by customers. However, he was also cautious. "When Tiger came out, there was a lot of code being re-written (afterward.)," Mr. Tezuka said. "Those are the kinds of things we're afraid of."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why Women Live Longer than Men

In humans and many other animals, males age faster and die earlier than females.

New research suggests this might happen because of intense competition over sex.

Scientists compared monogamous species with polygynous species, in which each male mates with many females. Males in monogamous species, such as the barnacle goose or the dwarf mongoose, naturally compete less over females than ones in polygynous species, such as the red-winged blackbird or the savannah baboon.

After investigating about 20 different vertebrate species, researchers Tim Clutton-Brock and Kavita Isvaran at the University of Cambridge in England found the more polygynous a species was, the more likely their males were to age faster and die earlier than females.

The researchers explained that as competition among males for sex grows more intense, each male on average has less time to breed. As such, there is no strong incentive to evolve longevity among males in such species.

Since men age faster and die earlier than women, these findings suggest that "at the time when current human physiology evolved, perhaps around the late Stone Age, polygynous breeding was the norm," Clutton-Brock told LiveScience. "Of course, this doesn't provide any justification for polygyny or promiscuity now for males."

Clutton-Brock and Isvaran detailed their findings online Oct. 17 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Top 13 Reasons your Facebook account will be disabled

Here's what we're hearing from people all over the world: Facebook is shutting down accounts of users who are exhibiting any behavior it finds remotely suspicious. As paradoxical as it sounds, "suspicious" often means just using the site too much! Sometimes they warn people and give them the chance to change their behavior, and sometimes the account termination is sudden and permanent. Most of the time the disabled accounts will be turned back on, whether automatically after a cool-down period, or after prostrating yourself to the FB authorities. But sometimes they'll lock it up and throw away the key.

Facebook remains intentionally vague about what "bad behavior" looks like, and so it's no wonder that people get confused, angry or despondent when they get the ACCOUNT DISABLED message. To help people avoid having their accounts disabled, I've listed the most common reasons why people report having their accounts abruptly turned off. Keep in mind, that this list is almost surely incomplete, and until Facebook changes their policy to embrace more transparency and two-way communication we'll have to live with a bit of uncertainty when using Facebook.

Here are the things that (supposedly) will get you kicked off Facebook:

1. You didn't use your real name
Don't try to use a nickname (or initials)in lieu of the name on your birth certificate, because Facebook will find you and spit you out.

2. You joined too many groups
Remember that the maximum limit is 200 groups per user. More than that just looks desperate, don't you think?

3. You posted too many messages on a wall or in a group
Even Guy Kawasaki had his account disabled--in his case for "excessive evangelism."

4. You posted in too many groups, too many user's walls
You may be axed for being too verbose in too many places. That's what spammers do, silly. On Facebook it is better--or at least safer--to be seen than heard.

5. You friended too many people
Not so long ago this was a prime cause of disabled accounts, but Facebook has instituted a maximum of 5000 friends that should protect you from yourself.

6. Your school/organization affiliation is doubtful
The overlords are sometimes not very trusting, and they may accuse you of not graduating from Harvard (or Plum Senior High School). The impertinence! Better have your diploma ready.

7. You're poking too many people
We've heard this from multiple sources, and it's easy enough to avoid. Save the pokes for people you *really* like, as mum always said. But beware the odd FB app that pokes on your behalf.

8. For advertising your app on wall posts
The line between spam and self-promotion is a thin one, but let it be known that pimping your shiny new Facebook app is definitely considered SPAM.

9. Using duplicate text in multiple messages
Some people paste a generic welcome message into friend requests to save time. DON'T DO THIS! It makes you look like a spammer. (Ironically, pro spammers are probably randomizing their messages to avoid this trap)

10. You are a cow, dog, or library
Being a real person is not enough, you must be a homo sapien. Accounts have been deleted for cows, dogs and libraries.

11. You are under eighteen years old
According to one report a user's account was suspended when they suspected her of being under 18. She was required to enter a work email address to prove her maturity, at which point her account was reinstated. [note: other users have pointed out that being under 18 is fine if you're part of a High School group, though underage home schoolers have been told to bugger off]

12. You wrote offensive content
Reports of "sudden death" on accounts have been reported by users who were told they had posted offensive content, but were not provided details of the offense.

13. You scraped information off Facebook
They have a zero tolerance policy for page scraping (i.e. pulling content off their web pages via a script). Unfortunately, they don't have a reliable way of proving it's you who's doing the scraping (IP matching is probably as good as they can get), so you may find this a difficult charge to defend yourself against.

Finally, you may be disabled for no clear reason at all. One Australian member reported this staggering experience:

"I was blocked for a little while because I was 'misusing certain features of the site' Naturally I closely examined their conditions of use etc for some insight as to what I must have done wrong. I couldn't for the life of me find anything...

"Upon request for clarification I was told that they were not at liberty to divulge which features or of course any thresholds of use. Then they warned me not to do it again or I would be banned permanently without recourse to reinstatement."

You have been warned. Remember that the hand of justice is swift and merciless.