Friday, July 28, 2006

TOPIC: 50 Best Firefox Extensions for Power Surfing
Quick Online Tips has a great post that shows off the 50 Best Firefox Extensions. I haven't tried all of them, but QOT didn't miss any of my favorites. Check out the list and offer YOUR feedback, too!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

QOTD: The hardest thing to do is to disquise your feelings when sending a large crowd of visiting relatives home. -- Unknown (Humor)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

TOPIC: America, A Murderous Culture?
Seattle Washington -- Nine people murdered in as many days. Washington, D.C. -- Labeled a "crime emergency". Indiana -- A 17-year old shooting people randomly. Anytown, USA -- Robbery, Assault and Murder. Hometown College, USA -- Date rape, Vandalism, Burglary. Is America becoming a truly murderous culture?
If you watch the nightly TV faire, it would not be much of a stretch to surmize that Americans have a blood lust for violence and crime -- especially the heinous crime of murder. Read the newspaper in any metropolitan area... watch the regional six o'clock news on many suburban neighborhoods... visit your local movie theater... the theme is the same -- people are angry, violent and uncompassionate toward their fellow man. Our so-called entertainment industry is rife with violent images -- yet, we call it "entertainment". Consider... Monday Night RAW, the NWO, the WWF -- all full of evil-looking (and acting) steroid-morphed monsters screaming murderous threats at each other. YouTube, iFilm, RottenTomatoes and Squizzle -- squeal with delight as they offer up video clips of violent acts, people dying and serious injuries for laughs. The local theatre shows Saw, Hostel, When a Stranger Calls and other such horror films -- and we pay millions to sit through the blood-letting. Again, we call it "entertainment".
What kind of people are we? What are we becoming? Why would ANY of us call these things entertainment? This is sickening to think about, but we MUST consider what we view, how we act, what we say and how we project future events. If we don't soon turn our backs on this violence -- and return to compassion for one another -- we will truly become the murderous mob we're made out to be in the eyes of Hollywood.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

TOPIC: TV, Other Distractions Make It Harder to Learn (says study)
Tuesday, July 25, 2006 / Source:
Your parents were right — don't study with the TV on. Multitasking may be a necessity in today's fast-paced world, but new research shows distractions affect the way people learn, making the knowledge they gain harder to use later on. The study, in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also provides a clue as to why it happens. "What's new is that even if you can learn while distracted, it changes how you learn to make it less efficient and useful," said Russell A. Poldrack, a psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. That could affect a lot of young people.
A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation last year found third-graders through 12th-graders devoted, on average, nearly 6½ hours per day to TV and videos, music, video games and computers. As Poldrack explains it, the brain learns in two different ways. One, called declarative learning, involves the medial temporal lobe and deals with learning active facts that can be recalled and used with great flexibility. The second, involving the striatum, is called habit learning. For instance, in learning a phone number you can simply memorize it, using declarative learning, and can then recall it whenever needed, Poldrack explained. A second way to learn it is by habit, "punch it in 1,000 times, then even if you don't remember it consciously, you can go to the phone and punch it in," he said. Memorizing is a lot more useful, he pointed out. "If you use the habit system, you have to be at a phone to recreate the movements."
The problem, Poldrack said, is that the two types of learning seem to be competing with each other, and when someone is distracted, habit learning seems to take over from declarative learning. "We have to multitask in today's world, but you have to be aware of this," he said. "When a kid is trying to learn new concepts, new information, distraction is going to be bad, it's going to impair their ability to learn." That doesn't mean he thinks a silent environment is essential — music can help in learning because it can make the individual happier, he said. But in general, "distraction is almost always a bad thing."
What Poldrack and his colleagues did was to use brain imaging to study the parts of the brain in use when 14 people were learning. Participants were asked to predict the weather after receiving a repeated set of cues. During part of the learning, researchers added a second task where participants had to keep a running mental count of high tones that they heard, thus adding an element of distraction. The results showed that when doing single-task learning, the brain used the region associated with declarative memory, while the habit memory region was associated with dual-task learning. The dual-task learning did not affect the participants' ability to predict weather at the time, but it reduced their knowledge about the task during a follow-up session later.
"In my opinion, this article represents a significant step forward in understanding the interaction between the various memory systems possessed by healthy human adults and task demands," commented Dr. Chris Mayhorn, who teaches psychology at North Carolina State University. The results suggest that at least a bit of the information is being learned even when we are distracted by a secondary task, said Mayhorn, who was not part of Poldrack's research team. By relying on the habit memory system, he said, "We may find ourselves in situations where we have picked up information about performing some task but we are unsure where that information came from." In some situations this could be dangerous, he added: "For instance, we may find ourselves making decisions based on 'gut feelings' that utilize this implicit information and not realize that our decisions may be biased by where we learned that information."
Mayhorn noted that the experiment was small, looking at 14 people from a limited age range. "It is difficult to determine how far we can generalize these results," he said. "But I still believe that the results are interesting because they extend previous results and provide direction for future research in the area." Poldrack's research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Whitehall Foundation.

Monday, July 24, 2006

OnThisDay: July 24
1824 - Harrisburg Pennsylvanian newspaper publishes results of the first public opinion poll.
1918 - On Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem, the cornerstone for Hebrew University was laid by Dr.Chaim Weizmann. Dr. Wiezmann would go on to become the first elected President of the newly formed Isreal (1948).
1925 - Teacher John Scopes found guilty of teaching evolution in a Tennessee high school. He was fined $100 & court costs.
1969 - The Apollo 11 astronauts, two of whom had been the first men to set foot on the moon, splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean.
1987 - IBM-PC DOS Version 3.3 (updated) released. [This is not Microsoft's DOS.]
1990 - Iraq massed tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of tanks along its border with Kuwait.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

TOPIC: Where did the term "computer bug" come from?
Did ya ever wonder how the term "bug" came to be used in association with problematic computers or their associated program code? Well, here's the true story...
The term "Bug" is widely known to be an error or problem in software and hardware systems. The term originates at Harvard University in August 1945 when the Mark I computer project staff notice something is wrong with one of the computer's circuits. After a lengthy search, someone locates and removes a two-inch moth from one of the computer cabinets. From then on, computer problems are referred to as bugs.
Source: Computer History Snapshot

Friday, July 21, 2006

TOPIC: Marriage programs to get a boost from fedsCongress to spend $750 million to promote marriage, better fathers
Source: AP/NBC
Ron McLain has no qualms about the federal government getting involved in marriage. Indeed, he’s counting on it. McLain has applied for a $550,000 federal grant to hire counselors for Marriage Mentoring Ministries Inc., a tiny business in Fresno County, Calif., that helps couples before and after they exchange wedding vows. He also has a bid in for a $250,000 grant to teach men to become better fathers.
The market is obviously very ripe for this with the divorce rate as high as it is, and obviously couples want a good marriage,” said McLain, who oversees the organization along with his wife, Joan. They specialize in training couples to mentor other couples, with many of the classes taking place at local churches. The grant money represents the latest shift in welfare reform in the United States. For the next five years, Congress is setting aside up to $100 million a year to promote marriage and $50 million a year to produce committed fathers. This year’s allotment goes out before Sept. 30.

Programs aimed at prevention
Supporters say that if the government can get more low-income parents to tie the knot and help them work through the rough spots that inevitably occur, then those families are less likely to need federal assistance in later years.
Children who grow up in healthy, stable, married households don’t wake up one day and decide they want to run away to Hollywood and become street prostitutes,” said Wade Horn, the Bush administration’s point man for welfare reform. “Couples in a healthy, stable married relationship don’t come home one day and decide they want to abuse their children. This, in my view, is an exercise in limited government.
Others see the government as engaging in a social experiment with scarce resources they say would be better put elsewhere. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., says the Republican-backed program is like a city filling potholes right before the next mayor’s race. Only this time, the administration is reaching out to religious groups.
This is one of those real strange things they get involved in where they say they want small government and they say they want to get government out of people’s lives. Then they go try to find two high school kids and use some money to encourage them to get married,” McDermott said.

Proponents see no conflict

But Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif., said children in one-parent households are seven times more likely to live in poverty than those in two-parent households. Yet, more and more children are being raised in broken homes, which leads to more spending on welfare and other government programs, he said. It’s amazing to me how anyone can find this controversial,” Herger said. “Being a parent of nine children myself, it’s tough enough to raise children when there’s two parents, let alone when there’s just one mother, totally alone, trying to raise a child.”
David Fein, a demographer who has conducted extensive research on marriage and the poor, said getting low-income couples to marry is not the hard part. They actually marry at the same rate as more affluent people. The problem is, subsequently, their marriages are much more fragile,” he said. There are various reasons for that fragility, but financial stresses and strains play a part. At the same time, the poor don’t have the same ability as wealthier Americans to get help when their marriage needs it, he said. But Fein’s point underscores that seminars on conflict resolution and learning to say you’re sorry won’t solve the problem entirely.Fortunately, the people who have developed these policies are not arguing that all you have to do is help people learn better relationship skills,” he said.

Money already at work
The federal government has provided some money in recent years to promote marriage, an average of about $14 million annually during the past four years, said Horn, the assistant secretary for children and families in the Department of Health and Human Services.
Marriage Mentoring Ministries, which works with church groups, already has obtained one grant for $50,000, which McLain used to hire a part-time employee and to purchase a computer and printer as well as other supplies. He used the equipment to make thousands of leaflets about the benefits of marriage. McLain hopes the larger grants will allow his organization to reach minority communities. He likes welfare’s expanded emphasis on marriage, especially what it can do for children. When they watch mom and dad ... resolving their conflicts and having a normal relationship, they’ll be better able to carry that on in their relationship when they start dating and get married,” he said.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

QsOTD: Timely quotes from two world leaders:

Part of those terrorist attacks [Hezbollah's attacks on Israel] are inspired by nation-states like Syria and Iran. And in order to be able to deal with this crisis, the world must deal with Hezbollah, with Syria, and to continue to work to isolate Iran. -- President George W. Bush [07/18/06]

The operation in Lebanon is aimed at eliminating the threat posed by the axis of terror and hate - Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran. -- Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni [07/19/06]

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

TOPIC: Doctor and nurses charged over Katrina patient deaths
Published: 19 July 2006

A doctor and two nurses have been charged with murdering four patients awaiting evacuation from a New Orleans hospital during Hurricane Katrina.

The staff have been charged with killing four patients, who have not been named, but were aged 9, 62, 67, and 90. The state prosecutor said the four were injected with lethal doses of morphine and an anti-anxiety drug on 1 September last year.

The charges against the three staff: Dr. Anna Pou and nurses Lori Budo and Cheri Landry, were brought by Louisiana's attorney general, Charles Foti, who launched an investigation into the deaths of dozens of patients at the Memorial hospital last October.

With the flooded city in chaos and thousands stranded without food and water, witnesses have described how patients at the hospital were enduring temperatures of 100 degrees (37.8 C).

Yesterday, Mr Foti said police had ruled out any suggestion the three carried out acts of euthanasia, or mercy killings. "This is not euthanasia. This is plain and simple homicide," he said.

The four had not been in immediate danger as they awaited evacuation, Mr Foti said, adding: "I think the patients would have lived"

More than 200 sick and elderly patients in nursing homes and hospitals in New Orleans and the surrounding area died in the weeks following the hurricane, which struck on 29 August.

Allegations of mercy killings and euthanasia being carried out at six hospitals and 13 nursing homes in the state are being investigated. Mr Foti said further charges could be brought, but did not provide any further details.

Lawyers for the three people charged are expected to issue a statement at some point today.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Item of Historical Interest: Intel was founded 38 years ago TODAY (on July 18, 1968) -- by former Fairchild Semiconductor Company engineers Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore. The name Intel is a shortened version of "Integrated Electronics". The company's first money making product is the 3101 Schottky bipolar 64-bit static random access memory (SRAM) chip.
TOPIC: Symantec sees an Achilles' heel in Vista
Some of Microsoft's efforts to make Windows Vista its most stable and secure operating system ever could cause instability and new security flaws, according to a Symantec report. Researchers at Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec examined the new networking technology in recent test releases of Vista, Microsoft's next major operating system release, according to the report.
They found several security bugs and determined that Vista's networking technology will be less stable, at least in the short run, than Windows XP's, the report said. "Microsoft has removed a large body of tried and tested code and replaced it with freshly written code, complete with new corner cases and defects," the researchers wrote in the report, scheduled for [public] publication Tuesday [later today].

Monday, July 17, 2006

OnThisDay: July 17
1775 - First military hospital approved.
1861 - Congress authorizes paper money.
1945 - President Harry S. Truman, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill began meeting at Potsdam in the final Allied summit of World War II.
1955 - Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California.
1990 - Saddam Hussein's Revolutionary Day speech claims Kuwait stole oil from Iraq.
1993 - The Common Gateway Interface (CGI) is invented at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications in 1993. This advancement enables a web browser to request data from a program executed on a web server. CGI moves the web from a reading and viewing mechanism to a truly interactive experience.
1997 - Woolworth Corp. closed its last 400 five-and-dime stores, laying off 9,200 employees.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

QOTD: Proverbs 18: 10-11 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. 11The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

TOPIC: Moronic Morning Musings...
Have you listened to the morning radio jocks on FM radio lately? I don't normally go through the stations during my 45 minutes commute to work each day. Most days, the radio is set on a regional Christian music network that is commercial-free and user-supported. However, this morning I decided to spin the dial and see what else was playing. It just so happens that FM radio frequency propogation was great, so I heard stations from Raleigh, NC to Charlotte, NC to Florence and Myrtle Beach, SC.
If you listen to morning radio, you're not likely to see things the way I do -- as you are used to the musing of the jocks. Since I seldom listen to commercial radio, I am not used to hearing commercials or blathering radio personalities on the air. I was truly surprised by what I heard. To use the term "moronic" is to be generous. The local hip-hop station had some "playa" who wrote about book telling black men how to successfully cheat on their women ( The local yahoo Southern station has a bunch of hillbilly-sounding rednecks yucking it up over ignorant jokes that were funny to them alone. The local NPR station was bashing George W. Bush as hard as they could go (no surprise there).
As I continued to spin the dial, I ran across talk radio stations with egotists telling everyone what they should think about various topics. Other jocks argued on air (good-natured) about current events; made fun of celebrities; bashed government and generally offered a bunch of nonsense ramblings -- like what they think makes a difference to anyone listening.
Gosh, I feel empathy for people listening to this crap every day. No wonder so many people walk around mad, disenfranchised or bewildered all day -- especially those who are in their vehicles long hours as part of their job. What an awful way to spend the day -- listening to this drivel.
I hope each of you will THINK about what you hear. Remember, GIGO -- garbage in; garbage out. What you take into your mind will come out -- one way or another! There's a song I learned as a child... Part of it goes like this, "Oh, be careful little ears what you hear... oh, be careful little ears what you hear... For the Father Up above... is looking down in His love... So be careful little ears what you hear..."

Sunday, July 09, 2006

TOPIC: Grave robber
I just read a wonderful and thought-provoking devotion from Woodrow Kroll & Tony Beckett -- from the book Faith Walk. Here it is for your review...
Psalms 16–17, Acts 20:1–16
Key Verse: Psalm 16:10

Archeologists sometimes uncover less than they hope when digging because someone else got there first—namely, grave robbers. Artifacts that can help us understand past civilizations may be disturbed or the burial site looted. Both groups seek the items made with precious metals or gemstones, but for different reasons.

In Psalm 16 we read about a type of grave robber. This one robs the grave of death itself. David believed that even death could not rob him of life because eternal life is found in God.

The ultimate fulfillment of Psalm 16:10 was in Christ. Note the carefulness of the wording. “You will not abandon me to the grave.” It does not say, “death.” Jesus did die, but He was not abandoned to the grave.

Nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” Consider this carefully. With death comes decay—unless the grave is robbed, by God. God robbed the grave of Jesus not with crowbars, shovels and picks but by His awesome resurrection power. Jesus truly died, but He did not remain dead. Jesus truly lives, bodily! The promise of Psalm 16 was fulfilled in every aspect when Jesus arose.

Unless Jesus returns first, you will die. Your body will be in a grave, and one day that grave will be robbed—of death. “The dead in Christ will rise first,” Paul said (1 Thess. 4:16).

Jesus has conquered death and sin. If you have accepted Him as Savior, rest assured that life on this earth is temporary and that God will give you permanent life with Him. Thank God now for the wonderful gift of eternal life.

I do thank God for eternal life -- no matter what happens here (in this life), I know my future is secure in Him! Amen

Friday, July 07, 2006

QOTD: And now, from the ignorance is bliss department comes this quote from Muhammad Ali: "I don't always know what I'm talking about, but I know I'm right."

Proverbs 18:2 - A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinions.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

TOPIC: Is it time to switch from a PC to a Mac?
Graham Clulely, senior technology consultant at email and web security provider Sophos, believes that Windows has become an unsuitable operating system for unsophisticated home users who are unable to stay abreast of the security requirements necessary to safely go online. What's more, Clulely does not expect this to change with the release of Vista.
"I'm sure that Vista will be a big step forward in terms of security. We fully expect Vista to be a big improvement. However, the issue is less about the operating system and more about the threat environment which is happening," says Clulely. "There's no doubt there will be improved security on Vista but there's no such thing as 100% security. We can be sure that the financially motivated hackers will continue to target Windows users as long as there is a substantial number of them. So we will for sure see Windows Vista specific hacks."
Sophos caused a stir earlier today when it released its latest security report accompanied by a media release which quoted Clulely recommending that home users switch from Windows PCs to Apple Macintosh computers because of security issues. Clulely and Sophos continue to stand by the statement. "The reason we said that some home users should consider switching to Macintosh is because if you look at the top 10 viruses we've reported on for the first six months of this year, some of them are really old," Cluley told iTWire.
We are sick and tired of talking about these old viruses that are still hanging around. We don't believe that businesses are being affected by these because they're pretty clued up these days. We're talking about home computer users who may be running no security tools on their computer or may have installed one a couple of years ago and they haven't updated it. We've been trying to teach those sort of people about security for the last 15 to 20 years. We might have to concede that this portion of the user base can't seem to cope with the requirement to keep their PC protected. It may be wise for them to simply move out of that environment and switch over to Macintosh which can do all the things they use their regular PCs for but Macintosh isn't targeted anywhere near as much.
"When my friends and family tell me that they're thinking about getting a new computer these days, I tell them to get a Mac if they're worried by things such as pop-up adverts. For those people who aren't geeks, I believe this is good advice." But doesn't that just shift home users out of harm's way temporarily? If enough of them switch to Mac, won't virus writers simply start to target them as well? Not according to Clulely. "For those people who are struggling, they're probably going to be a lot better off with a Macintosh and probably for a long time to come," he says. "The PC market is so big that it's the environment to be in for the hackers looking for a profit."
But what about cost considerations of switching from a PC to a Mac? According to Clulely, it would probably be much the same as upgrading to Vista.
Source: iTWire

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

OnThisDay: July 5th
1865 - William Booth founded the Salvation Army in London.
1946 - The bikini made its debut during an outdoor fashion show at the Molitor Pool in Paris.
1954 - Elvis Presley's first commercial recording session -- Sun Records in Memphis, TN.
1975 - Arthur Ashe became the first black man to win a Wimbledon singles title as he defeated Jimmy Connors.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Editorial reportedly published in Tampa area newspaper:
I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Americans. However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the "politically correct" crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others.

I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to America. Our population is almost entirely made up of descendants of immigrants.
However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand. This idea of America being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Americans, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.

We speak ENGLISH, not Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!

"In God We Trust" is our national motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women... on Christian principles... founded this nation... and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home... because God is part of our culture.

If the Stars and Stripes offend you, or you don't like Uncle Sam, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change -- and we really don't care how you did things where you came from. This is OUR COUNTRY, our land, and our lifestyle. Our First Amendment gives every citizen the right to express his opinion and we will allow you every opportunity to do so! But once you are done complaining... whining... and griping... about our flag... our pledge... our national motto... or our way of life... I highly encourage you to take advantage of one other Great American Freedom... THE RIGHT TO LEAVE.
Received via email (author unknown)
Emphasis & color added

America is 230 years young today!

Monday, July 03, 2006

QOTD: The wisdom the Bible talks about is not the same as a high SAT score or straight “A’s” in school. It is skill in living. The person who can take the instruction found in God’s Word and apply it to his life is a wise person. -- Woodrow Kroll [Source]

Sunday, July 02, 2006

TOPIC: An Apology to (Most) Yankees
I recently returned from a 10-day trip to New England. It was my pleasure to travel with our church youth group to Virginia, Washington (DC), Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine. We simply passed through some of those states, but spent a day or more in a few New England states -- primarily New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts. I have to admit that I owe (most) "yankees" an apology.
Being Southern born and bred, and never having travelled much farther north than Washington, D.C., my perceptions of "northerners" mostly came from experiences with vacationing yankees who drive south each Winter. Many of these folks are less than friendly -- and some are downright jerks. My favorite thing to say to some of the worst was, "If you don't like it down here, I-95 runs north all day. Get on it and DRIVE!"
My perception of "yankees" changed over the past ten days -- especially people from New Hampshire and New York City. While not all have our "Southern hospitality", I found that the majority of the people with whom we interacted were nice, friendly and polite. To say I was amazed is an understatement. To say I was blessed to have people on the streets of NYC speak and smile at me is also an understatment. It was GREAT!
In fact, some of the folks we dealt with in NYC were more polite and well-mannered than some of the kids who were on the trip with us. New England -- my apologies to you for assuming you would all be rude and unfriendly. I love your area of the country -- and I'm very glad I went. I hope to visit you again soon, too. God bless and keep up the good work!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

TOPIC: Liar, Liar
Communications technologies are far from equal when it comes to conveying the truth. A study that compared honesty across a range of communications media found people are twice as likely to tell lies in phone conversations as they are in emails. The fact that emails are automatically recorded - and can come back to haunt you - appears to be the key to the finding.
Jeff Hancock of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, asked 30 students to keep a communications diary for a week. In it they noted the number of conversations or email exchanges they had lasting more than 10 minutes, and confessed to how many lies they told.
Hancock then worked out the number of lies per conversation for each medium. He found that lies made up 14 per cent of emails, 21 per cent of instant messages, 27 per cent of face-to-face interactions and a whopping 37 per cent of phone calls.
His results, which were presented at a conference on human-computer interaction in Vienna, Austria, surprised psychologists. Some expected emailers to be the biggest liars, reasoning that because deception makes people uncomfortable, the detachment of emailing would make it easier to lie.
To lie is to deceive others and yourself. There is NO honor in lying.