I'm starting to feel a little paranoid. Of course, as Kurt Cobain (1967-1994), the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the Seattle grunge band Nirvana famously said : "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you."
The reason for my paranoia? Well, over the course of the past few days, several folks have included notes in their email messages to me saying: "How do you find the time to discover and report on all these websites?"
Reading between the lines I feel that they are desperately trying not to add: "...instead of actually doing some real work for a change..."
One short response that springs to my lips and that usually comes in handy for questions like this is: "Years of practice and self-denial!" (It sounds a lot better when I say it ... especially with my cool British accent, but we digress...)
The truth is that I spend a large part of my day as a freelance writer researching topics and writing about them for other folks (sometimes I even get paid for it). As part of this, I tend to blunder into interesting places around the web. Furthermore, friends like Jay Dowling and Alan Winstanley are always passing on interesting sites they run across. Also, I'm a member of the How Things Work (HTW) group on Yahoo, and they tend to leap from topic to topic (and website to website) with the agility of mountain goats.
More to the point, I'm used to multi-tasking and juggling a lot of balls in the air (metaphorically speaking). As Lucille Ball (1911-1989) once said: "If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do."
One of the first things I do in the morning when I arrive at my office is to open an on-going "blog file". Whenever I run across – or I'm introduced to – an interesting site, I copy its URL into this file along with a few notes. On the morning of the Programmable DesignLine newsletter, I bundle the current week's "harvest" into a blog (like the one you're reading now)... and then I open a new file and start gathering items for the following week. I tell you, I'm like a well-oiled (and highly-muscled) machine ... reminiscent (some may say) of a Greek Warrior ... but, once again, we're in danger of wandering off into the weeds...
As usual, Jay, Alan, the HTW group, and lots of other folks have done us proud this week with a little something to appeal to everyone's palate. Truth to tell, I really don't know where to start, so let's just leap into the fray with our usual gusto and abandon...
Whether you were a fan or not, it was still sad to hear about the passing of Michael Jackson. I really don't think his fame and money brought him much happiness, so I hope he's now at peace. Not surprisingly, emails on this topic were bouncing around all over the place, and I received one that said:
Stevie Wonder on Michael Jackson's Death:
........ .. . . .. ...
.. . .. . . . . .. . .. . .. .. .. .. . . ..
... ... .. ... ... ... ... .... ....... ... ... ... .... ..... .. .
.. . . . .. . . . ..
... . .... ... .... .... ...
...... .... .... .... ..... ..... ..... .. . . .... .....
. .. .
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....... ... ... ... .. ... ........ ... .. .... ... ... .... ....
. .. .. .
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.. .... ... ... ... ....... ...... .....
Deep stuff... I nearly cried when he said:
". .. . . . .. .. . .. .. . . .... ...."
I passed this on to several folks, including my friend Alan in the UK who responded by saying: "Go to the following website..."
..."then paste the following into the Input box and click on the Translate button and then the Play button:"
.. / .--- ..- ... - / -.-. .- .-.. .-.. . -.. / - --- / ... .- -.-- / .. / .-.. --- ...- . / -.-- --- ..- / --- ..- -.-. .... / .-- .... . .-. . ... / - .... . / --. --- -.. -.. .- -- / .--. .. .- -. ---
I'll leave it to you to discover what this says...
Moving on... I'm sure that you've seen that "Young Dilbert" cartoon video called The Knack. Even if you've seen this many times before, it's always worth taking another look. I love the part at the end when the mother anxiously says "Can he lead a normal life?" and the Doctor somberly replies "No – he'll be an engineer." (In fact I just now took a few second's break from writing this blog to send this link to my dear old mom.)
Good grief ... look at the time ... let's speed things up a little. Did you hear that military researchers are developing Corpse-Eating Robots (what could possibly go wrong?). A slightly more palatable (pun intended) item relates to Snake-like Magnetic Trains that can travel at more than 300 miles per hour. And just to remind us of the awesome power of nature, we have a video of a moving train hit by a tornado.
What? You want more? Well, I hope you have some free time on your hands, because I have all sorts of mega-cool things to show you. For example, I just saw an incredibly cool Record Player. Unlike a regular unit that spins the disk, in this case you place your record on a flat surface and this little VW Van model rolls around and around playing it. You have to see it to believe it...
Looking for somewhere to take the kids (especially if they are like our "Young Dilbert" above)? Well, Wired Magazine brings us 100 Geeky Places to Bring Your Kids. Also from Wired is an article on Pee-Powered Cars, but I'm not sure we want to go there (grin).
Tired of camera jitters when taking a video? Here's a way to Make your own Steadycam. And how about an article that provides a really good description of Memristors, including their history and significance.
Have I seen any interesting Gadgets and Gizmos? Of course! How about a USB flash drive in the shape of a key (this really does look rather cool). Or maybe you could be tempted with a USB mini panda speaker for your iPod? Meanwhile, Think Geek has some tempting books – I particularly like the look of the one titled Tech Girls are Chic, which is claimed to be: "A great book to encourage girls to blaze trails in the Technosphere." Also on Think Geek we have some Wooden Hydraulic Water Machines, which I would have loved to play with when I was a kid (actually, I would love to play with them now).
If I really had some serious money to spend, I might well be tempted to splash out on a Cowling Desk by MotoArt. These are the folks who make furniture and objet d'art out of old, recycled airplanes. Their stuff isn't cheap, but it's sooooooo scrumptious!
On the news front, we have a story about a New Hampshire man who swiped his debit card at a gas station to buy a pack of cigarettes and was charged over 23 Quadrillion Dollars (he spent two hours on the phone with his bank trying to sort this out, including getting them to refund the $15 overdraft fee they had charged him). Do you like Greek Food? I do (actually I like almost anything on the food front), so I found this History of the Gyro to be a tasty tidbit of trivia.
Last but not least, the anniversary of man's first landing on the moon has been foremost on our minds recently (you can check out my personal story on my The Way Things Were website). So, not surprisingly a fabulous flurry of interesting articles and links have crossed my desk. On the bright side we have some cool satellite photos of Apollo landing sites. On the downside we have NASA admitting that the original moon landing tapes were erased. Of course this provided fodder to the folks who believe that the moon landings were a hoax. Do you realize that 6% of Americans believe the landings were faked and could not have happened? (On the other hand, 33% believe in ghosts, 4% believe in vampires, and there's a 50:50 split on evolution versus some flavor of creationism, so we shouldn't be too surprised.)
I don't know about you, but when I see something like "6% of Americans," I immediately say to myself "Hmmm, I wonder how many of the little scamps there are?" A good place to answer this sort of thing is the US and World Population Clocks website.
Meanwhile, a rare Neil Armstrong signature, signed on the day of his moon launch, is expected to fetch about $30K at auction. And I just ran across a really interesting site that documents how you can recreate your own Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) in your basement.
But now I must away to start gathering items for your delectation and delight next week... until then, have a good one!
2009 New Year Resolution (Goal: Walk 1000 miles at ~3 miles a day)
[A=Actual, C=Current, P=Plan-to-Date, R=Remaining, T=Total]
|Days:|| T=365, C=203, R=162|
|Miles:|| T=1000, P=609.00, A=569.65, Δ=–39.35, R=430.35|
|Note:|| I'm still closing in on the 600-mile marker...|
Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me – Clive "Max" Maxfield – at firstname.lastname@example.org).