Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Google Search Circa January 2001

Google is offering people the opportunity to step back in time, virtually that is. An old search index in perfect condition. After trying it out themselves, they made it available to the public. All you have to do is go to http://www.google.com/search2001.html and you can run a Google search as if it was January 2001. Its not exact, but is fairly close. The site is slated to be available for the next month, so if you are interested in giving it a try do not wait to long.


"We found a vintage search index in mint condition. We dusted it off and took it for a spin, gobsmacked to see how different the web was in early 2001.
We had so much fun searching that we wanted to put this old index online for everyone to play with. We thought it'd be even cooler if we could actually see the full versions of the old web pages, so we worked with the Internet Archive to link to their cache of these pages from 2001. Step into the time machine and try a 2001 Google search.

Charles Simonyi to Become First Civilian to Travel to Space Twice

Charles Simonyi is set to go to the International Space Station next spring. That would be his second trip to space making him the first civilian to make a return trip to space. These trips are not cheap costing 20+ million dollars, but Charles Simonyi is able to afford it having made his millions working at Microsoft.


"Space Adventures, the only company that provides human space missions to the world marketplace, announced today that Charles Simonyi, Ph.D., intends to train with the Soyuz TMA-14 crew in preparation for a spring mission to the International Space Station (ISS)."

Blackberry Bold Release Date From Best Buy

Boy Genius Report posted pictures they said were from Best Buy's system showing when the Blackberry Bold would be coming out. As shown on the screen shots which can be viewed at http://www.boygeniusreport.com/2008/09/28/blackberry-bold-release-date-at-best-buy, the Bold is coming out October 26th.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Markets Take Historic Dive

After the bail out failed to pass, the markets took a historic tumble. By some metrics the market fell more in one day that in any other day in history. By others, it fell the most in one day that it has in many years. While it is impossible to know what would have happened had the bill passed, it is probably safe to say that things are going to get worse before they get better.


"Market Snapshot

DJIA 10,365.45 -777.68 -6.98%
Nasdaq 1,983.73 -199.61 -9.14%
S&P 500 1,106.42 -106.85 -8.81%

Sniper on a Hill Shoots Man in Prison

A man in a French prison was shot dead while in the exercise yard. The shooter; a sniper on a hill outside the prison. It sounds like the plot from an action thriller, but it happened in real life. The police have the sniper in custody.


"Like a scene from a crime thriller film, a prisoner who faced interrogation over a murder was shot to death inside his French jail by a sniper positioned on a nearby hill."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chinese Astronauts Return Safely to Earth After First Spacewalk

Chinese astronauts landed safely after completing their countries first spacewalk. The three were examined and nothing appeared to be wrong with them. Initial reports were that all three felt good as well.

This marks the successful completion of the China's next step in a space program who's suspected goal is to put a man on the moon within the next decade. That would be ahead of NASA's target date of returning to the moon by 2020.


"Chinese astronauts returned to earth and emerged triumphant from their capsule Sunday after successfully completing the country's first-ever spacewalk mission."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

12,978,189 Digit Prime Number Found

This prime number is a Mersenne prime. The idea behind Mersenne primes (2^p)-1 may be prime where "p" is a prime number. The "p" in this 12,978,189 digit prime number is 43,112,609. This is the largest prime number we know of. It was the first ten million plus prime number found and still the largest.

If you want to see the prime number in its entirety go to http://prime.isthe.com/no.index/chongo/merdigit/long-m43112609/prime-c.html but be warned it may take a while to load.


"On August 23rd, a UCLA computer discovered the 45th known Mersenne prime, 243,112,609-1, a mammoth 12,978,189 digit number! The prime number qualifies for the Electronic Frontier Foundation's $100,000 award for discovery of the first 10 million digit prime number. Congratulations to Edson Smith, who was responsible for installing and maintaining the GIMPS software on the UCLA Mathematics Department's computers."

Four Billion Cell Phone Subscriptions Predicted by The End of The Year

The International Telecommunications Union predicts that by the end of this year there will be four billion cell phone subscriptions. Much of this growth coming from the countries with developing economies. They stress that this does not mean that four billion people will have cell phone subscriptions as some have more than one cell phone.

Still, it is an impressive jump from 3.3 billion subscriptions at the end of last year.


"The number of mobile phone subscriptions in the world will reach four billion by the end of the year driven by growth in developing economies, the International Telecommunications Union said Friday.
Continued progress in 2008 is chiefly due to the growth in major developing markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Chinese Astronauts Performs China's First Spacewalk

Chinese astronauts completed China's first spacewalk. It went off well with two of the astronauts out in space and one monitoring everything from inside. The historic first for the Chinese was recorded complete with one of the astronauts waving the flag.

It looks like the space race just got a little more crowded. A race to put the first human on Mars perhaps?


"A Chinese astronaut on Saturday performed the nation's first-ever spacewalk, the latest milestone in an ambitious program that is increasingly rivaling the United States and Russia in its rapid expansion."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Google Comes Out For Gay Marriage

Google is not known for coming out for or against social political issues. So, it came as a bit of surprise to see Google take sides on California Proposition 8. Just so its clear, a vote of "yes" is a vote to ban gay marriage and a vote of "no" is for gay marriage.


"Because our company has a great diversity of people and opinions ... we do not generally take a position on issues outside of our field, especially not social issues.
However, while there are many objections to this proposition ... it is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8. While we respect the strongly-held beliefs that people have on both sides of this argument, we see this fundamentally as an issue of equality. We hope that California voters will vote no on Proposition 8 -- we should not eliminate anyone's fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love.

Pirates Seize Ship Carrying 33 Russian Designed T-72 Tanks

Somali Pirates seize a ship off the Horn of Africa carrying 33 Russian designed T-72 tanks with spare parts and ammunition. United States ships in the area are reportedly "monitoring the situation" and the Russians have dispatched the missile frigate "Neustrashimy" to the region presumably to hunt down the ship. The seized ship "Faina" was headed to Kenya in a reportedly legal sale from Ukrainia. It is unclear if Ukrainia has dispatched any ships in a recovery attempt as of yet.

It is unknown if the Pirates knew of the cargo on the ship before they attacked, but some doubt it reasoning both that Pirates generally just attack targets of opportunity, and that it would be extremely difficult to sell these tanks.

This attack seems a new high watermark for modern piracy. One that may well be surpassed if countries do not act decisively to curtail these activities.


"A Russian warship on Friday rushed to intercept a Ukrainian vessel carrying 33 battle tanks and ammunition that was seized by pirates off the Horn of Africa — a bold hijacking that heightened fears about the surging piracy and high-seas terrorism."

Microsoft to Debut "Pre-Beta" of Windows 7 at the End of October

Microsoft announced it will hand out a "pre-beta" of Windows 7 at its upcoming Professional Developers Conference at the end of October. It is not clear what will be included in this "pre-beta" software package.

This is a good sign for those that have been desperately trying to avoid Vista without switching to Macs, while watching their computers slowly become painfully outdated and die. For Microsoft's sake, and the sake of their stock holders, lets hope that people like what they see and do not just see Windows 7 in the same light as Vista.


"Microsoft will hand out a "pre-beta" build of Windows 7 at its Professional Developers Conference on Oct. 28, the company said.

The PDC will also include 22 sessions on Windows 7 and its related technologies, indicative that the software giant is shifting its focus to its next-generation operating system. There are no sessions explicitly categorized as designed for Windows Vista on the list of sesssions Microsoft has placed on the PDC site.

Microsoft did not explain what the "pre-beta" software to be handed out at PDC would include.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Interactive Timeline - Google

Google has been around for ten years and has had more than its share of milestones. To help people keep track, or for those who want to take a look back, Google has unveiled an interactive timeline chronicling its important milestones over the past ten years. It takes a look back to see just how much they have accomplished in roughly a decade.

The interactive timeline can be found at http://www.google.com/tenthbirthday/#start

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Barack Obama Presidential Coins in Production

A Birmingham company is producing coins depicting Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama as the president. The coins, which have been sold and given to some democrats, were apparently made with at least the tacit permission of the Democratic Party.

This may not be the smartest thing for a campaign that has been accused of hubris on more than one occasion. Besides that, it could makes for a unique fundraiser or reward to some of his loyal supporters. Win or loose, it will likely be a collectible as well.


"A company in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter is making commemorative coins for American presidential hopeful Barack Obama.
The coins already sold to the Democrats will be presented to the senators, congressmen, governors and other politicians they are being given to within the next two weeks.
When they got in touch with the Democrats the party jumped at the chance. And the coins have proved such a hit that locally produced versions have already been launched to compete with the UK originals.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

T-Mobile Announces First Cell Phone to Run on Android

T-Mobile announces G1 with Google; the first cell phone to on the Android operating system. This has been a long time coming. We will have to wait and see what kind of a splash Android will make in the cell phone market, but it will likely be noteable.


"The T-Mobile G1 with Google is the first commercially available phone to run on the 'Android' operating system, which empowers developers with tools to create and offer consumers applications that add value to their lives."


"Today, T-Mobile announced the world's first Android-powered phone. This marks an important milestone in the young history of Android. It was less than a year ago, on November 5, that the Open Handset Alliance, a group of more than 30 technology and mobile companies, announced plans to create a complete mobile platform that would facilitate the development of advanced mobile applications and give users the best the web has to offer on a mobile device."

Daxx Dalton (5th Grader) Suspended for Wearing an Anti-Obama Shirt

Dann Dalton, An 11-year-old in 5th grade, was suspended for wearing an anti-Obama shirt. When officials saw it they told him he could change shirts, turn the shirt inside out, or be suspended. The school had an interesting explanation for the suspension.


"Aurora Public Schools would not talk about the case but said the district "Respects a student's right to free speech, such as the right to wear specific clothing," but administrators say they review any situation that interrupts the learning environment.

Paperwork submitted by the school district says Daxx Dalton was not suspended for wearing the shirt, but for willful disobedience and defiance.

This seems like a political stunt or an attempt to stoke some controversy on the part of the boy and/or his father. Still, the school handled this wrong and the kid should not have been suspended. The family intends to pursue legal recourse.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if his friends all decided to wear the same/similar shirt as a protest, or someone else wears a political shirt with the opposite message (pro-Obama or anti-McCain).

Massive Diamond Discovered in Lesotho (Africa)

A 478 carat rough diamond was discovered recently in the Letseng mine in Lesotho Africa. It ranks as the 20th largest rough diamond ever found. Initial evaluation of the massive diamond suggests that is could create a 150 carat cut stone. That would be larger than the 105.6 carat diamond "Koh-i-Noor" which is part of the British Crown Jewels.

It would not be the largest cut diamond in the world. That honor goes to the Cullinan diamond found in 1905. It was 3,106 carats uncut and yielded a 530 carat cut diamond called the Great Star of Africa.


"The diamond, which is as yet unnamed, has the potential to yield a 150 carat cut stone, and could sell for tens of millions of dollars, the company said.


"Preliminary examination of this remarkable diamond indicates it will yield a record-breaking polished stone of the very best colour and clarity," said the company's chief executive Clifford Elphick.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Music to be Sold on MicroSD Cards

SanDisk just announced that music will be sold preloaded on MicroSD cards in time for the holidays. It is an interesting idea. CD sales have been falling and switching formats may make it easier on the consumer. Instead of using Disk players (not that you see many of those these days) or being forced to load the music on their computer, most customers will be able to plug them into their phones. The MicroSD cards are also much smaller and lighter then CDs making storage and transport easier.

There are downsides to this idea. The smaller the medium is the easier it is to loose. Labeling will probobly present some difficulty as well. With significantly less surface area then a CD, it is not immediately clear how people will be able to label what songs are in which MicroSD. Imagine the frustration associated with needing to insert all your MicroSD music mediums to find the one song you really want to play. A problem such as that is not likely to be solved by the MicroSD holder which is slated to come out at the same time as the MicroSD's with music on them will be sold.

Of course, all this assumes that people are looking for a physical storage medium at all. That is to say, why would people want to carry around handfuls of these MicroSD cards when they can load their entire music collection onto an MP3 player. It also assumes that customers want to buy packets or bundles of songs instead of individual ones which has been the trend.

When you combine the problems with the competition of downloadable content (legal and illegal alike), it does not look promising for this new push by the music industry. This is especially true as more and more people are able to download music right to their phones.

To see the potential success of this technology we will have to wait for the holiday sales receipts, but I would not be counting on this as my savior if I was a music industry executive.

More information can be found at http://www.slotmusic.org


"Leaders in music, retail and flash memory technology today announced they’re bringing consumers an innovative, new physical music format, dubbed “slotMusic™.” microSD™ cards will soon be made available with pre-loaded, high quality, DRM-free MP3 music of top artists from EMI Music, SONY BMG, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group. A selection of slotMusic cards will first be available at brick-and-mortar and online stores throughout the U.S., including Best Buy and Wal-Mart, with Europe to follow. A complete list of slotMusic albums, availability and pricing will be announced in time for the coming holiday season. SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ: SNDK), inventor of the ubiquitous microSD format, is leading the technology development behind slotMusic.

slotMusic cards enable consumers to instantly and easily enjoy music from their favorite artists without being dependent on a PC or internet connection. Users simply insert the slotMusic card into their microSD-enabled mobile phone or MP3 player to hear the music – without passwords, downloading or digital-rights-management interfering with their personal use.

Drop The Mouse and Pick up a Laser Pointer

Who needs a mouse when you can use a laser pointer? Patent pending technology being developed by Alpay Kasal of Lit Studios for use by Interference Inc pushes the drop the mouse mentality. The video of people playing games with this looks like a lot of fun.


"LaserGames is a means of controlling games and applications on any scale using a laser pointer. I'm sure you've seen laser controlled bits of coolness in one form or another but I'd like to think I just raised the bar a bit - mouse emulation means you can play whatever you want to throw at it (versus using a dedicated app made in mxp or vvvv or whatevs). In this clip you see a 2000 lumens projector, and the laser pointer is of the typical 5mw red diode keychain variety. When I have some time, I'm going to get set up outdoors and let people on the street have some fun with it. I just got it working with simultaneous red and green pointers so we got multi-player action coming up."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Charles Rangel Calls Sarah Palin "Disabled" - Twice

Unbelievably, not only did Charles Rangel call Sarah Palin "Disabled" once, but twice. Here is the transcript from http://wcbstv.com. A video is available at the website below.


"In a CBS 2 HD exclusive interview, Rep. Rangel called Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin "disabled."

The question was simple: Why are the Democrats so afraid of Palin and her popularity?

The answer was astonishing.

"You got to be kind to the disabled," Rangel said.

That's right. The chairman of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee called Palin disabled -- even when CBS 2 HD called him on it.

CBS 2 HD: "You got to be kind to the disabled?"

Rangel: "Yes."

CBS 2 HD: "She's disabled?"

Rangel: "There's no question about it politically. It's a nightmare to think that a person's foreign policy is based on their ability to look at Russia from where they live."

He later said that "Disabled" was not the word he meant. In fairness, I can not imagine that Charles Rangel actually thinks Sarah Palin is disabled. Still, that has to qualify as an almost unbelievable mistake. Especially given that he said it not once, but confirmed it on a second prompting.

Israel Police Use "Skunk Bombs" Against Protesters

This story flew under the radar given the Russia-Georgia conflict but is worth mentioning even at this late date.

A "Skunk Bomb" is a type of non lethal weapon and is unlikely to cause any permanent damage, save perhaps someone with significant preexisting respiratory issues. But even there, it seems at least as safe if not safer than most non lethal weapons.

Spraying people has two main effects. The first is trying to make people want to leave to clean them selves to get rid of the smell. The second may be to hinder the people sprayed from leading a crowd.

The main draw back to this technology is that some people may chose to just deal with the smell. That can be from either not caring about the odor or wearing mask/filter. Also, once the person is sprayed the prospects of them being arrested would seem to drop. It is doubtful that the cops want to drag these people into their vehicles nor bring them to prison.


"Israeli police say the new crowd-control method, which they call a "skunk bomb," was used for the first time Friday in the village of Naalin. Palestinians have been holding almost daily protests against a security barrier that Israel is building in the area.

Israeli police say a water-spraying device showered the liquid on the demonstrators, forcing most to rush off to change their clothes.

Israeli officials say skunk bombs are a non-lethal method of dispersing Palestinians who throw stones and fight with Israelis guarding the construction of the barrier.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Largest Particle Collider in the World is Broken

The world is safe for about two more months. The largest partial collider in the world is broken, and it will take them about that long to fix it. While most do not actually believe that the Large Hadron Collider will bring about the end of the world (Berman Post: Large Hadron Collider Turned on) there are a few that do. Others chose to make a joke out of it such as the HasTheLargeHadronColliderDestroyedTheWorldYet.com website. (Berman Post: HasTheLargeHadronColliderDestroyedTheWorldYet.com) and the HasTheLHCDestroyedTheEarth.com (Berman Post: HasTheLHCDestroyedTheEarth.com). Regardless, it will be about two months before we will be able to find out just what effect the Large Hadron Collider will have on our understanding of the universe, and/or life as we know it on earth.


"The world's largest atom smasher - which was launched with great fanfare earlier this month - has been damaged worse than previously thought and will be out of commission for at least two months, its operators said Saturday.
"It's too early to say precisely what happened, but it seems to be a faulty electrical connection between two magnets that stopped superconducting, melted and led to a mechanical failure and let the helium out," Gillies told The Associated Press.

Gillies said the sector that was damaged will have to be warmed up well above the absolute zero temperature used for operations so that repairs can be made - a time-consuming process.


HasTheLHCDestroyedTheEarth.com is another website with the singular purpose of reporting on if the Large Hadron Collider has brought about the end of the world. It is just like HasTheLargeHadronColliderDestroyedTheWorldYet As posted about before (Berman Post: HasTheLargeHadronColliderDestroyedTheWorldYet.com). The main difference is the answer. Instead of the "NOPE." from HasTheLargeHadronColliderDestroyedTheWorldYet, HasTheLHCDestroyedTheEarth.com answers with the more simple "NO".

Friday, September 19, 2008

New Google Search Language - Pirate?!?

In order to make all the worlds information searchable and available to everyone, you must be able to search in many different languages. To this end, Google is constantly working on adding new languages. Google's latest language addition ... Pirate. That is right, Pirate.


"As we've written before, one of our goals is to enable everyone using Google to find the information they want easily, no matter what language they speak.

It recently came to our attention that Google was not accessible to a large, influential, and notoriously quick-tempered community: Pirates. As of today we are proud and rather relieved to announce that Google Search is available in Pirate.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Google Blog - What to do if You Can Not Access Your Email

Many people's correspondence has be come significantly email based. Given that trend, being cut off from your webmail can be very frustrating. With this in mind, Google has some advice on how to try to avoid being cut off in the first place, and how to get back into your Gmail account should the unfortunate happen.


"We know how important webmail is to the people who use it regularly, since (of course) we use it ourselves at Google. So we know that not being able to access a webmail account -- no matter what the reason, or how long it lasts -- can be frustrating at the very least. Sometimes interruptions are caused by technical issues with your mail program or your Internet connection. More often, they're account-related."

Rearrange Your Gmail Screen

Gmail now allows you to move labels or chat to the opposite side of the screen. This will be a big help to those with long labels or chat lists who do not like scrolling.


"In my work email, I have painfully long lists in both Labels and Chat, so I used to scroll constantly in order to see my Labels. Now, with Right-side Labels enabled, I can see both my Labels and my Chat buddies at the same time, with one on the left and one on the right. (This is where that widescreen comes in handy.) Some of my coworkers preferred to move Chat instead of Labels, so I made that an option as well.

FYI: these Labs aren't currently compatible with the "Navbar drag and drop" Lab that allows you to drag and rearrange Chat and Labels on the left side.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Fantastic Contraption is an addictive puzzle game. The laws of physics apply in the game. To win the game you must get a designated piece into the designated goal area. To accomplish this you have to build contraptions. Your building blocks for your contraptions are, three distinct balls with five potential connecting points (top, right, bottom, left, middle)and two types of connectors. One ball rolls right, another rolls left, and the last does not move under its own power. The difference between the connectors is one is solid and the other allows some things to pass through it. If you get stuck or just want to see how other people beat the level, you can see what other people made available and even modify them.

The game is free, but if you want to design your own levels or play other people's levels you have to pay $10. Even without paying, you can share your designs with other people easily through a designated URL. You do need to register for a free account to save or get a URL so you can send the link to your friends.

As an example, below are a few of my designs:

This one is a Plow: http://FantasticContraption.com/?designId=370168

The Plow upgraded to Speed Plow: http://FantasticContraption.com/?designId=424666

Admittedly, both Plows are more like tunneler, but I called them Plows for the speed at which they "plow" through the junk.

This is a three level monstrosity: http://FantasticContraption.com/?designId=1252359

This is one of my more interesting creations. I call it a magic ball. It does not look like it could possibly work, but it does:

This second magic ball does not win, but it is a bit mesmerizing before it destroys itself: http://FantasticContraption.com/?designId=536772

Feel free to post links to your contraptions as a comment.

Game embedded below.

Powered by: Game Code City

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Audio Indexing Available in Google Labs

Shortly after Google made politicians speeches searchable on the Youtube.com political channel I wrote a post about how this technology if more universally available could have a revolutionary effect on sorting and searching through a wealth of otherwise untapped information.

Berman Post: A Few More Thoughts on Googles Speech-to-Text Technology

"A few days ago the Berman Post had the article "Berman Post: Google Makes Politicians Speeches Searchable" about, well, Google's Speech-to-Text technology. I have a few more thoughts to discus on the mater of Speech-to-Text technology.

...most information recorded in an audio format goes unused and ignored unless someone painstakingly goes through and transcribes it. Even then, there is the persistent problem of inaccuracy. A single word addition or miss could change the entire meaning. In order to figure out if their is an error you would have to try to find the place in the recording that the words were transcribed from and listen yourself. Finding that specific point is usually time consuming, and this process combined with the possible errors means that a lot of transcribed work goes unused as well (or is used with no regard for the possible errors it contains).

Google's (and some others who are working on the same thing) new technology fix this problem. Google as automated the transcription process...

Today, Google announced that they were making the audio indexing technology available in Google labs. This is great news.


"Nearly two months ago, we introduced the Google Elections Video Search gadget on iGoogle, a tool that transcribes and indexes the spoken content on YouTube's Politicians channels. It didn't take long for folks to find some creative ways to use it! Now it's possible to enjoy this technology in a bigger way: We just launched Google Audio Indexing (aka GAudi) in Google Labs. The dedicated site offers more features, such as "search within video" and "sharing," and a more robust user interface.

As with all things in Labs, we will continue to experiment with new features. So whether you care about flip-flopping, the glass ceiling, change or taxes, we'll keep working to provide the most relevant results for you.

Gmail Blog - Forgotten Attachment Detector

Most of us has been there, we send an email only to realize moments after we send it that we forgot to attach the file. Worse yet, the mistake is only discovered when the recipient emails you back hoping that you respond before the deadline passes.

That may all be a thing of the past with Google's new Forgotten Attachment Detector. If you turn on the detector, you get a warning message if you forget to attach a file and you mention it in the email.


"The first one I worked on was something we had been experimenting with a few years ago here inside Google but had never launched -- a Forgotten Attachment Detector. Many of us have experienced the embarrassment of having sent a message without attaching the file we said we were going to attach. Turn on the Forgotten Attachment Detector in Labs, and you'll get an alert if you mention attaching a file but forget to do so."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Porn on The Plane

The porn on the plane controversy was bound to come up once airlines started offering passengers internet access on their flights (Berman Post: Delta Airlines Will Become the First Major US Airline to Offer Wi-Fi on Their Entire Domestic (Mainline) Fleet).

It used to be the case that overt sexuality on the air plane was relegated to people joining the "Mile High Club." For those unfamiliar with the term, it refers to people having intimate relations on the plane once it reaches altitude. "Mile High" thus refers to the minimum high at which those relations allow entrance in to this club of sorts. Since these are generally clandestine acts, the biggest nuisance to the other passengers is usually waiting a bit longer to use the lavatory and perhaps a bit of an awkward passing in the aisle.

It also used to be the case that your worst case seating scenario was being flanked on both sides with people of "impressive girth" and a not so pleasant smell. Now imagine that last scenario with one or both of the people sitting next to you surfing the internet for pornography, and (dare I say) reacting in a manor consistent with such activity (feel free to shudder a little bit).

Of course, this has been possible for as long as people have been able to bring media players along with them on flights. It just seems more likely now given the unrestricted access to the internet. The airlines do not want to restrict certain sites in part for fear of the legal fall out over first amendment concerns. As always in these matters, it generally comes down to a question of protecting children from objectionable content while protecting an adults ability to see them.

Let us just collectively hope that no one tries to push this issue and people will leave what ever pornography desires they have to the privacy of their homes.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


You find your self browsing through some videos on YouTube when you come across one you want to save on your computer. Now what? There are a few different ways to download the video in question, but most are relatively complicated for the less tech savy among us.

Enter KissYouTube.com. Downloading a YouTube video with KissYouTube.com is as easy as typing the work "kiss" into the URL, and then clicking the download button.

To illustrate; you come across the video "http://www.youtube.com/example" and want to save it to your computer. This simple process starts with the insertion of the word "kiss" into the URL, "http://www.KISSyoutube.com/example" (bold an capitalization added for emphasis) and hitting the enter key. That will take you to the KissYouTube.com webpage where this is a download button.

In order for the video to work you must remember (and the site prompts you) to add ".flv" to the end of your video (Video example.flv). KissYouTube.com links to free FLV video players and video converters at http://www.kissyoutube.com/youtube-video-player.html.

For the website to work you must have Java or a Java enabled browser, which most people have. If you do not, you can download Java for free at http://java.com

Saturday, September 13, 2008


HasTheLargeHadronColliderDestroyedTheWorldYet gives you an answer to that nagging question if the world has been destroyed by humanities biggest new toy, a giant partial collider. I am happy to report that as of this posting the answer is a comforting "NOPE.". While I can not vouch that the owner of the site will use his last few seconds on earth to update the site if the answer changes, chances are that if you can check the site yourself we are still safe.

Friday, September 12, 2008

9/11/2008 Pictures (part two)

If you have some problem loading the page, all the pictures below (along with a few videos no included in this post) are available at:

When I talk about the pictures, the text is referring to the photos below. Not all photos have comments, and some comments apply to a few pictures in a row. You will see quite easily as you continue down the page.

Please feel free to use or pass along these photos. All I ask is that you site me (Andrew Berman) as the photographer, and site the Berman Post website as the source.

My journey was decently long. This photo was taken shortly after I left my apartment (notice the street sign).

Some photos while I walk.

The fountain made for a nice foreground.

As did the fluttering flags.

Fast forward.

The lights were on the roof of the parking garage you see in the picture.

Moving closer.

At just the right angle, the two towers of lights seem to merge into a single pillar.

Right underneath the building holding the lights

Under the building and out the other side.

Merge effect from the other side.

Back to the first side, different angel.

The street light made for a nice touch.

On to "Ground Zero" / "Ground Hero"
I liked the two flags on this guys motorcycle.

Here he is posing with it.


Top of the above tribute, upside down because it was hanging over a bar.

More tributes.

FDNY Ladder 10

Sometimes a picture is just a picture, sometimes its more. These all are in the "more" category, but this begs a bit of explaining. As America remembers 9/11 (Tribute of lights), we stand strong (American flag), rebuilding (construction crane), while putting an end to terrorism world wide (stop sign). Part of the beauty of the "more" is that it can mean different things to different people. Please feel free to comment below on how you feel about any of these images.

Same as above, without the stop sign for those that prefer.

Over looking the pit where the World Trade Towers used to stand.

Looking through a hole.

Looking through a window.

Back to the memorial site.
Life goes on as people set up shop to sell visitors trinkets to remember their visit.

Another shot of the Tribute of lights

Buildings that face the spot where the World Trade Towers used to stand lit up at night.

A slight change in angle gives the picture a much different feel.

Another tribute.

One last Picture.

Dedicated to all those who lost their life that tragic day. You will never be forgotten.

"Sometimes a picture is just a picture, sometimes it's more."

"Sometimes a picture is just a picture, sometimes it's more."
Quote by Andrew Berman

Self explanatory.

Please feel free to comment on your interpretation of this quote.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11/2008 Pictures

I was at Ground Zero tonight and walked around for a while. Pictures tomorrow.

Update:Berman Post: 9/11/2008 Pictures (part two)

A Few New Interesting Posts on the Google Blog

Here are a few recent posts from the Official Google Blog which make for an interesting read if you have some time.

Making Terms of Service Clearer

"Last week's launch of Google Chrome generated some discussion over the legal language in our new browser's terms of service (TOS). As we noted in a subsequent post on Google Chrome's terms of service:
"... Under copyright law, Google needs what's called a "license" to display or transmit content. So to show a blog, we ask the user to give us a license to the blog's content. (The same goes for any other service where users can create content.) But in all these cases, the license is limited to providing the service."
We've also seen some discussion on a few blogs about how our universal terms of service apply to other products, with some users worried that Google is trying to claim ownership of the content they generate. To be clear: our terms do not claim ownership of your content -- what you create is yours and remains yours.

Bringing History Online, One Newspaper at a Time

"For more than 200 years, matters of local and national significance have been conveyed in newsprint -- from revolutions and politics to fashion to local weather or high school football scores. Around the globe, we estimate that there are billions of news pages containing every story ever written. And it's our goal to help readers find all of them, from the smallest local weekly paper up to the largest national daily.

The problem is that most of these newspapers are not available online. We want to change that.

Today, we're launching an initiative to make more old newspapers accessible and searchable online by partnering with newspaper publishers to digitize millions of pages of news archives.

Another Step to Protect User Privacy

"Today, we're announcing a new logs retention policy: we'll anonymize IP addresses on our server logs after 9 months. We're significantly shortening our previous 18-month retention policy to address regulatory concerns and to take another step to improve privacy for our users.

Back in March 2007, Google became the first leading search engine to announce a policy to anonymize our search server logs in the interests of privacy. And many others in the industry quickly followed our lead. Although that was good for privacy, it was a difficult decision because the routine server log data we collect has always been a critical ingredient of innovation. We have published a series of blog posts explaining how we use logs data for the benefit of our users: to make improvements to search quality, improve security, fight fraud and reduce spam.

Over the last two years, policymakers and regulators -- especially in Europe and the U.S. -- have continued to ask us (and others in the industry) to explain and justify this shortened logs retention policy. We responded by open letter to explain how we were trying to strike the right balance between sometimes conflicting factors like privacy, security, and innovation.

Update to Google Suggest

"There's been quite a bit of comment in the last few days about Google Suggest, particularly how it's used in Google Chrome. Google Suggest is actually built into a number of different products including Google Search, Google Toolbar, browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox, and the Google Search application on the iPhone.

...For 98% of these requests, we don't log any data at all and simply return the suggestions. For the remaining 2% of cases (which we select randomly), we do log data, like IP addresses, in order to monitor and improve the service.

However, given the concerns that have been raised about Google storing this information -- and its limited potential use -- we decided that we will anonymize it within about 24 hours (basically, as soon as we practically can) in the 2% of Google Suggest requests we use. This will take a little time to implement, but we expect it to be in place before the end of the month.

All data retention is a balance between user privacy and trust on the one hand, and security and innovation on the other. In the case of Google Suggest we decided it's possible to provide a great service while anonymizing data almost immediately. But in other cases - such as our core web search - storing data like IP addresses for a time is crucial to make improvements to search quality, improve security, fight fraud and reduce spam.

The Future of Search

"I am a search addict. I’m naturally inquisitive – I’ve always liked finding things out. Plus, I’ve worked at Google on search for the past 9 years and 3 months. Of course I search - a lot. Yet I would guess that on any given day, I only do about 20% of the searches that I could. This past Saturday, I kept track of the things that came up in conversation that I wanted to search for right then but couldn’t:
Looking at this list, two things are very clear: (1) I could do a lot more searches and (2) search still has a lot of opportunity for innovation, change, and progress. There are lots of ways that search will need to evolve in order to easily meet user needs. Let’s look at some of my unanswered questions from Saturday and consider how search might change over the next 10 years.

New Gmail Reply Features in Labs

This new batch of upgrades to reply feature in Gmail includes default reply all, reply with selected quote text, and preset vacation message changing. To turn on the features click on settings (upper right hand corner) and then the labs tap (far right). Once there you can look at all your options and turn on the ones you want.


"We Gmail developers are arguably among the most demanding of Gmail's users. So in addition to the feedback we get from all of you, a lot of the ideas for new features come from our own frustrations and experiences. We send and receive a lot of mail, and we've already started using these Labs features to make replying that much better."

New Gmail Labels Features in Labs

This new batch of upgrades to labels features includes keyboard shortcut, custom colors, and drag and drop for the navbar. To turn on the features click on settings (upper right hand corner) and then the labs tap (far right). Once there you can look at all your options and turn on the ones you want.


"Since launching our first batch of 13 Gmail Labs features, we've received a lot of suggestions for more experimental features you'd like to see -- plus, we've had some of our own ideas. Today, there's a new batch of labs features to play with. If you like using Labels, we hope you like these."

Remembering September 11 2001

Never Forget

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Large Hadron Collider Turned on

The Large Hadron Collider was turned on today, but it will be some time before it is up to full power. It will also be some time before they start colliding protons.

What can we expect to happen? Well, there are a few possibilities:
1) Absolutely nothing, major technical error, design flaw, or glitch renders the whole project worthless.
2) It works but nothing new is discovered.
3) Our current understanding of of the universe is confirmed.
4) It works and our understanding of the beginning of the universe expands.
5) It works and somehow destroys the earth.
6) Some combination of the aforementioned five.

What is likely. Well, I am not a physicist but my bet would be on a combination of three and four. Stay tuned to find out.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Microsoft Unveils a Blue Laser Mouse

Microsoft revealed its new blue laser mouse technology. The new "BlueTrack" technology means you can use the laser mouse on almost any surface. This technology is set to be available next month for between $80 and $100.

You can read Microsoft's press release at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/sep08/09-09BlueTrackPR.mspx

Man Told to Dance to Prove Identity

A member of the Alvin Ailey dance troupe was told to dance to prove his identity. Abdur-Rahim Jackson was told to do this at an Israeli airport.

It is not clear to me how this would help security figure out if the man was lying about being who he said he was. If the security guards were versed enough in dance to know if he was some sort of "pretend dancer" you would think they would just know who he was. Surprisingly enough, this was no the first time such a request was made of him. Going through an American airport he was asked to do the same thing.

You can read the article on http://www.foxnews.com at http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,419269,00.html

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Full Day of Power on One Charge

HP has become the first to build a commercially available laptop which can last 24 hours on a single charge. Who would work at their laptop for 24 hours in a row, hopefully not many. Having this kind of charge does mean that you do not have to remember to charge your laptop every night. Read the story on http://biz.yahoo.com at http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/080908/20080908005543.html.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

BlackBerry Bold Available For Order September 24

It now looks as though the much anticipated BlackBerry Bold will be available for order in the United States on September 24. This release date is only for AT&T, with the dates for other companies still unknown.


"A few AT&T dealers this week sent us in the emails that contained the word from head office...

We have very important liquidation opportunities, please read the entire message and post for your employees. This has been sent to the stores, SM's, DM's, and GM's... AT&T is pleased to announce the launch of the new Blackberry Bold. It will be available to order on September 24, 2008. 

Sweet. If dealer ordering begins on the 24th as is currently planned (I know many of you at this point won't believe it till you see it!), the AT&T Bold could likely be in your hands a day or two after... so it should be available everywhere on or hopefully a few days sooner than the rumored October 2nd release date. The wait is almost over folks!


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Did the McCain Camp Rescue Discarded Flags from the DNC

Did the McCain camp rescue discarded American flags from the DNC? According to McCain supporters, yes. The story goes that garbage bags full of flags were found in or near garbage bins. The Obama camp says that this is a cheap political ploy by the McCain camp, and the flags were going to be reused (or at least not discarded). In total, 84 such bags were found. It is inappropriate to discard American flags in the trash if they are damaged beyond repair. From the article, the few flags that can be seen do not look damaged beyond repair, but it does not mention the condition of flags in the story. Also not mentioned is if there was any other garbage or trash in the bags with the American flags. If yes, that would make a much stronger case that the flags were being inappropriately discarded. If not, it very plausible that the Democrats were just using the bags as storage. After all, how many people have not at one point in their life used garbage bags to transport things other that discarded waist. That said, few would put those bags near or especially not in garbage bags. The obvious fear being that you or someone else would toss the bags thinking them trash. I think is goes without saying that Obama himself did not order the flags be thrown away, but just in case, it is now said. Had Obama specifically ordered the flags not discarded it is unlikely they would have been. Then again, it is unlikely he thought giving the order was necessary. Should he have; that is your call.

Read the story for your self on http://foxnews.com at http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/09/06/mccain-camp-to-chastise-dems-for-discarding-american-flags/ and come to your own conclusions.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Son Sees Father on TV, The Father They Cremated Five Years Ago

What would you do if you spotted your father on a current events program; the father you cremated five years ago! As incredible as this sounds, it happened to a British man who's father disappeared in 2000 and who's body was thought discovered in 2003. It turns out that the father had lost his memory and was being cared for under a different name given to him by the care facility since they had no way of identifying him. The two have since been reunited.


"Renehan’s father, John Delaney, disappeared in 2000, the Daily Mail reported. When police found a decomposed body in April 2003, wearing similar clothes and with similar wounds to Delaney, they declared it was him.

A coroner confirmed the police findings and Renehan paid for a cremation and wake, the Mail reported. He is now demanding an apology from police for the trauma he suffered believing his dad was dead.

Turns out 71-year-old Delaney had been in a care facility since 2000, after suffering a head injury and memory loss, the Mail reported. Unable to give any clues as to his identity, Delaney was given the name David Harrison and placed in a home.

New Gmail Code for Internet Explorer Six

Google's newly released code for Gmail in Internet Explorer six gives users access to the new features other users already had. They include, AIM integration, an updated contact manager, invisible mode, and remote sign out. With a upgraded versions of Internet Explorer eight out, along with a number of other web browsers (Berman Post: Web Browsers Updated), you would think the need for this would be minimal. That said, enough people never bother to upgrade that it is worth it for Google to roll out this new code base.


"Last October, we launched a rewritten code base for the Gmail user interface to Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 users. Since then, we've added support for Safari 3 and Firefox 3 and improved performance in other browsers. This new code base included major performance improvements and provided us with a solid foundation for launching new features such as colored labels, group chat and rich emoticons, invisible mode, AIM integration, Gmail Labs, an updated contact manager, and remote sign out.


This week, we've started to roll out Gmail's new code base to IE6 users. If you use IE6 and have the latest IE6 updates from Microsoft installed, you'll start seeing the features listed above.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

John McCain is Now Officially the 2008 Republican Nominee For President

No surprise here, but everything is now official. No more "presumptive" in front of the phrase "Republican Nominee." Congratulations John McCain.

Google Encourages People to Try Gmail in Chrome

Chrome features a new super charged java script engine (JavaScript engine, V8) that is meant to increase the performance speed of many web apps. Among those is Google's Gmail.

Google highlights the Chrome feature were they make is easy to make short cuts to web pages along with the the speed, crash control, and viewing space in the browser.

Read the whole post on http://gmailblog.blogspot.com at http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/try-gmail-in-google-chrome.html.

Chrome's Terms of Service Changed

Section 11 of Chrome's terms of service had some worried. It used to say:
"By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any content which you submit, post or display on or through, the services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the services and may be revoked for certain services as defined in the additional terms of those services."

The terms were apparently a mistake:


"Whenever we release a product in beta as we just did with Google Chrome, we can always count on our users to come up with ways to improve it. This week's example: several eagle-eyed users and bloggers have expressed concern that Section 11 of Google Chrome's terms of service attempts to give us rights to any user-generated content "submitted, posted or displayed on or through" the browser.

You'll notice if you look at our other products that many of them are governed by Section 11 of our Universal Terms of Service. This section is included because, under copyright law, Google needs what's called a "license" to display or transmit content. So to show a blog, we ask the user to give us a license to the blog's content. (The same goes for any other service where users can create content.) But in all these cases, the license is limited to providing the service. In Gmail, for example, the terms specifically disclaim our ownership right to Gmail content.

So for Google Chrome, only the first sentence of Section 11 should have applied. We're sorry we overlooked this, but we've fixed it now, and you can read the updated Google Chrome terms of service. If you're into the fine print, here's the revised text of Section 11:
11. Content license from you
11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.
And that's all. Period. End of section."

It is good to see Google react so quickly to clear up what could have been a major snag in their new web browser.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Picasa 3.0

Picasa 3.0 by Google is available for download. If you want to skip this brief review and discover it for yourself, head over to http://picasa.google.com for the free download.

Some of my favorite new features in Picasa 3.0 are:
1) Add text to photos - adding text is as easy as clicking the text button, clicking anywhere on the picture, and then typing. You can customize the size, angle, font, and colors all very intuitively.

2) Sync photos in Picasa to your Picasa Web Albums - no need to continuously upload your photos every time you make some changes. The sync feature does this automatically.

3) Retouch Button - now it is possible to clear up minor blemishes in your photos with slightly less intuitivity then the text feature, but simply none the less.

4) Name Tags - Possibly saving the best for last, Picasa tries to learn what people look like and present them all to you to be name tagged. Its not perfect, but it is not bad either. Features like this will help people organize there pictures, especially those who have not spent much time organizing and now have huge folders of pictures that are unsorted.

There are many other great features for you to discover, this was just a few of the highlights.

Picasa does not compare to Adobe Photoshop in terms of power or features, but it is impressive for a free web based program. Picasa does win in terms of ease of use for beginners, and is much better at networking pictures as you might expect from a Google Product.


"A little over two years ago, we launched Picasa Web Albums to make publishing photos online easy. Now Picasa Web Albums hosts billions of online photos from around the globe, with users adding millions of new snapshots every day. Each of these photos records a different moment, or a different perspective, but one thing they all have in common is that in each case, the person behind the camera wanted to share their experience with a friend, their extended family, or maybe the world.

Today, we're rolling out major technology upgrades to both Picasa and Picasa Web Albums. As you might have guessed, these are largely focused on how we share and enjoy our photos with others.


"Today, Picasa Web Albums introduced a new "name tags" feature to help you automatically organize your photos based on who's in each picture. Gmail's contact list plays a key role in making name tags work: not only does it help you quickly auto-complete names as you tag the people in your photos, but any new contacts you create in Picasa Web Albums automatically become accessible in Gmail."

Clones Offspring May Have Entered the Food Supply

The offspring of clones may be in the American food supply according to the FDA. Then again, it may not. The announcement seemed interesting enough, but it comes down to a simple, "we do not know." Since clones by their very definition lack a genetic distinction, it is impossible to tell them apart.


"Food and milk from the offspring of cloned animals may have entered the U.S. food supply, the U.S. government said on Tuesday, but it would be impossible to know because there is no difference between cloned and conventional products."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Web Browsers Updated

Web Browsers are what you use to to surf the internet. While many have similar features, each has a number of features that are more or less exclusive to them.

Top Picks




Massive List

America On Line

Avant Browser




Hot Java Browser

Internet Explorer





Slim Browser



Google Chrome Goes Live

Google Chrome went live today. I have had a chance to play around with it a bit and like what I see. This qualifies as one of those products that is best experimented with as opposed to read about, so head on over to http://www.google.com/chrome and download it for your self. At worst you will have wasted five minutes of your time. Alternatively, you may have found a nice back up web browser, or even your new main web browser.

I am sticking with Fire Fox as my main web browser for now, but as I continue to experiment with Chrome, who knows?


"In yesterday's post on Google Chrome, we promised to let you know when it would be available for everyone to try -- and that time is now. Visit http://www.google.com/chrome to download and start exploring. (For the moment, it's available only for Windows users, but you can sign up on the download page to learn when the Mac and Linux versions are available.)"

Practical Laser Weapons by the End of the Year

Practical laser weapons could be ready the end of the year. The move away from chemical powered lasers and to solid state electric laser appears to be paying off in spades.


"Defense contractor Northrop Grumman is promising the Pentagon that it'll have weapons-grade electric lasers by the end of 2008. Which means honest-to-goodness energy weapons might actually become a military reality, after decades of fruitless searching.

...Now Northrop is promising to hit what's widely considered to be the threshold for military-strength beams: 100 kilowatts. With that much energy, lasers should be able to knock mortars and rockets out of the sky.

Northrop's system combines a bunch of smaller lasers into a bigger one -- Death Star-style, sorta.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Google to Launch a Web Browser - Chrome

Google is set to launch an open sources web browser tomorrow called Chrome. It is to early to know what sort of shake up this will cause in the browser wars. Likely, Internet Explorer will be the hardest his. This may cause some strain in the relationship between Mozilla's Firefox and Google, but it may turn out to be the ground work for either a merger or strait acquisition (by Google).


"At Google, we have a saying: "launch early and iterate." While this approach is usually limited to our engineers, it apparently applies to our mailroom as well! As you may have read in the blogosphere, we hit "send" a bit early on a comic book introducing our new open source browser, Google Chrome. As we believe in access to information for everyone, we've now made the comic publicly available -- you can find it here. We will be launching the beta version of Google Chrome tomorrow in more than 100 countries."

To Obese For Prison

Texas officials have run into a rather large problem. Mayra Lizbeth Rosales is accused of killer her two year old nephew, but the officials can not get her jail, or court for that matter. The problem is that she weighs around 1,000 pounds. The accused is bed ridden from her weight and can not get through her front door.

Fox News

"A woman is accused of killing her two-year-old nephew but prosecutors in Texas do not yet know how to get her to jail and court — because she weighs nearly half a ton.


The morbidly obese woman has since been photographed and finger-printed at home but released on a "personal recognizance bond" because of the logistics problem.

The local sheriff at Hidalgo County, Lupe Trevino, says it would be impossible to keep her in jail pending her trial because she needs extensive medical care.
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