A Couple Of Funnies

While making my way around the Internet I sometimes stumble on to interesting and funny things. Today I will share 2 of them with you.

The first is from a web comic series known as xkcd.

To be honest with most of my clients for the business, this is what I do if the problem they have, or the programme they want to use is something I’ve never seen before.

xkcd Cheat Sheet

Click on the picture to see the full size version.

While Twitter is growing in popularity everyday, it has a lot of people that are very funny sending short messages.

Sometimes they send them using their own names, sometimes they post things to the website as somebody altogether different.

Somebody posted things to Twitter under the guise of sing and song writer, Stevie Wonder. I would link to the original Twitter account but unfortunately it has been blocked so please enjoy this screen shot from the page.

Twitter

Click on the picture to see the full size version.

Once again, I do not claim ownership of these, I am mearly showing you a couple of things that I found funny.

Spam Doesn’t Always Come In A Can

SpamIf you have an email address you will at sometime received them. You may not have worried about them and you may have been a one of the lucky few that has had all of them go straight into a junk email folder. They are one of the biggest pains on the internet and at times have been used to spread malicious software. Spam has been around since 1978 and now accounts for as much as 84% of all emails sent on the internet Source(http://securitylabs.websense.com/content/spamPercentage.aspx)

Quiet often people unknowingly sign up to receive marketing emails form a multitude of companies when they join up for online services or when they install a new programme on their computer. At times this kind of spam can be dealt with thanks to an “Unsubscribe” link on the email, usually at the bottom.

Due to the, very often, tech savvy nature of those creating the spam emails, you should always be very careful when clicking on any unsubscribe link. Only if you are sure the email has come from a valid company that you have had some dealing with at some time in the past, should you click on the link. What might happen at times if you click the link is your computer might either get infected with a virus or you will get more spam sent to you.

Most emails spam is related to cheap prescription medication, a study by Commtouch Software Ltd found, due to the high cost of some medications and a need by people to try and get things as cheaply as possible.

The only way to not get spam is to not have an email address, however with the need for an email address these days there are a few simple steps you can take to keep your email address clear of spam.

Don’t sign up for any websites or newsletters. While most websites will do their best to keep your email safe, there are times when things go wrong and either someone gets into the database the website has or the website might change owners or fall on hard times and may end up selling their database for a quick money injection. If you do decide to sign up for either newsletters of websites you should have a secondary email address, yahoo, hotmail, gmail or similar to use for those purposes that way your main email address is not going to be included within their database.

If you have your main email address being provided by your internet provider, you can ask them to activate a spam filter on your account. This will quiet often cost a bit extra but will reduce the number of spam emails you will get.

There are a lot of programmes that can sort your emails on your computer and keep spam out of sight, however sometimes these can slow your computer down and be ineffective at ties calling a valid email a spam email.

Some email programmes, Thunderbird, Outlook, Windows Mail, now have a junk mail filter built into them. They learn which emails are spam and which are valid by you clicking on the “Junk Email” button when you are looking at the emails. While this method will reduce the number of spam emails you see, your computer will still download them and keep them.

While spam is illegal to send in some countries it will never die due to people still buying what the spammers are selling. If just 1 person out of a hundred buys what the spammers are selling, due to the high number of emails they are sending, they will still make a lot of money.

Saving Power Can Be Easy

PowerWith the price of electricity increasing around the world due to a move to new renewable methods of power production and a drop in the amount of coal able to be mined a lot of people are looking to try and save power and reduce their bills. Sometimes to an extreme level.

There are many devices that check the actual power consumption of electronic devices, I use a product from a company called Watts Clever, the MS-6118 power meter. It allows me to check the power usage of a device that is plugged in down to as low as 0.1Wh and up to 2400Wh.

It amazes not just myself but also most people when I show them the total usage of power for their devices when they are turned on, on standby and even turned “off”.

Most people believe, due to media reports, that a device in standby mode can still use a lot of power. In my testing of numerous devices I have found that not to be the case, in one instance I found the standby state of the 1/1000 of the size of the same device turned on.

Most devices when on standby will use between 0.1Wh up to 7Wh. While a large number of devices on standby in a house will eventually build up the use of electricity, a few will not dramatically increase your power bill.

Due to the way electricity works I am not a hue fan of just turning off a power point when you are not using the devices plugged into it. If you are not going to use the devices for an extended period of time I would recommend unplugging them from the power point and only plug them in when you need to use them more regularly.

On the extremely case of power conservation I know of people that will now, when they go to work or shopping, turn off the power to their house from the meter box as a way to ensure even devices of standby don’t use any power.

The biggest users of power are often you hot water system, stove, freezer, fridge, lights, microwave ovens, kettles and toasters. While some of those devices are needed to be on all day everyday, the old rule of if you are not going to use something, turn it off, will definitely help reduce your power bills.

Technology Can Be Made Simple

RemoteHow many times have you spent a fair chunk of your spare time looking for a lost remote control, or you’ve pushed very hard on the buttons because the batteries are going flat?

At long last my time doing both those tasks is coming to an end. I recently purchased the Harmony 300 universal remote control from Logitech.

This might be sounding like an ad for the remote, it’s not, but from my experiences from a week of use this device will save time and hassles.

The Harmony 300 is not overly expensive. I paid only $34 for the remote that can be programmed using the myharmony.com website for over 5000 devices including some that are well over a decade old and some that are only small house brands.

If you want to set up the remote to turn on, say, your pay TV set top and you TV you can do it with the press of 1 button.

While the database used for the Harmony 300 remote is extremely large, as I mentioned over 5000 devices, sometime either some of the buttons aren’t quiet right, or the device you have isn’t in the database. Luckily the Harmony 300 can learn the functions of your remote by having it put into learn mode and having the other remote pointed at its back.

While the remote does need software installed on your computer from the myharmony.com website, support both Windows and Mac, the functionality of the remote and the benefits you get from having a sturdy and affordable remote replace multiple and at times flimsy remotes more than make up for the need of a computer with internet access for the short time you initially set up the remote.

To check to see if your devices are on the database of devices the Harmony 300 supports you can check on their website http://myremotesetup.com/EasyZapper/New/ProcSpice/landing.asp?par=val&cl=us,en

Is This The Future Or Now?

1984When I was in high school I read, as part of my School Certificate, George Orwell’s Animal Farm. While I can’t remember everything about the story I can remember that it was engrossing and the most enjoyable thing I had to read over my 6 years of High School.

George Orwell wrote another great book, once again dealing with politics and culture. It seemed when it was written, in 1949, to be a distant future, however it would appear to be closer to reality than Mr Orwell would have ever dreamed.

I have not read the book, it is one of the things I’ve come to regret and will rectify in the near future, however I have, through the advancement of technology, been able to watch the 1954 BBC TV movie on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bS0h9Dlc_V0

Taking place in a word where those in power control everything, including what people think, as well as watch everything the people do.

Since watching the movie I am stuck trying to work out whether those in bureaucratic positions within the developed world’s governments have read 1984 and decided to work towards created a world similar to that in the story, or if through the advancement of technology that kind of world has just evolved.

If you take in to account the use, or in the case of London the over use, of CCTV and the ability for the government organisations to tap into your phone conversations, whether land line, mobile or over the internet, the monitoring of the population is well under way.

It has been shown on numerous time around the world that through State censorship the media can only produce and air certain content before they are fined or closed down. While there are certain media organisations that have been instrumental in the success of certain political parties to allow them to increase their profits, they can only do as much as the government will allow them.

While the world is not split into 3 countries, although at times you’d think it is, and Big Brother does not tell us what to do or what to think, the current social landscape is very close to what was described. The question is how long until we reach that level of control and surveillance.

If you, like me haven’t read the book yet I’d highly recommend if you have a spare hour and 47 minutes to check out the movie. While the acting is shocking the story line, as to be expected being based off the 1984 novel, is worth suffering for.