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$2 Bill Making a Comeback

Most people have seen the $2 bill and know that it is a real denomination of U.S. currency.  People collect them, trade them and you get funny looks from cashiers when you spend them.  What most don’t know is that the $2 bill is readily available at your local bank.  All you have to do is ask for them.  If they don’t have them, they will order them for you, usually at no charge but at a minimum quantity.

Lately the $2 bill has been making a comeback.  Experts can’t say what is driving demand for the bill.  Historically it was given out as change at race tracks, tips at strip clubs and, because it bears his face, commonly seen at Thomas Jefferson’s Estate/museum.  As of April 30, 2007 there were $1,549,052,714 worth of $2 bills in circulation worldwide.

It has been around for a long time. 1928 was the first $2 in its current design and size, but it was around before that as larger notes.  Many people think their $2 bills are worth something as a collector item.  However, unless you have one from the 19th century, they are just face value.

Some people are trying to bring the bill back as a common denomination to save space in your wallet and make giving change easier.  Who knows, maybe one day we will see that infamous $3 bill with Clinton on the face?  I doubt it.

So, next time you are at the bank, ask for $2 bills and watch the looks of excitement and curiosity you get when you spend them.  Hopefully, you won’t experience what this guy did though.


Ever wanted to make your own clothes?

Ever thought of a slogan or image you would want on a piece of clothing? Well quite a few sites have picked up on the idea and allow you to customize your own clothes. T-shirts, hoodies, hats, and even bags and purses are customizable through sites like Cafepress. Cafepress allows you to create your own clothing using your own designs and sell them for Cafecash. Cafecash allows you to order clothes from other shopkeepers. Now you may not be able to make money directly for selling your clothes, but at least you could buy the clothes you like.  Give it a shot if you’re handy at Photoshop or GIMP, or if you have a scanner draw up something and create some clothes.  It’s a great start for entrepreneurs looking to get into clothing design.  Check it out, I did, and it’s kinda fun.

Here’s a sample shop called Radiohead Clothing

Have a good one,


Baseball Diamonds: The Left-Hander’s Best Friend

Baseball diamonds are a left-hander’s best friend.

That’s because the game was designed to make a lefty the "Natural," according to David A. Peters, Ph.D., the McDonnell Douglas Professor of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis and uber baseball fan. Peters is a mechanical engineer who specializes in aircraft and helicopter engineering and has a different approach to viewing America’s Favorite Pastime.

First of all, some numbers.

"Ninety percent of the human population is right-handed, but in baseball 25 percent of the players, both pitchers, and hitters, are left-handed," said Peters, a devoted St. Louis Cardinal fan who attended "Stan the Man’s" last ball game at Sportsman’s Park in 1963. "There is a premium on lefthanders for a number of reasons. For starters, take seeing the ball.

"A right-handed batter facing a right-handed pitcher actually has to pick up the ball visually as it comes from behind his (the batter’s) left shoulder. The left-handed batter facing the right-handed pitcher has the ball coming to him, so he has a much clearer view of pitches."

Then, Peters says, consider the batter’s box. After a right-hander connects with a ball, his momentum spins him toward the third-base side and he must regroup to take even his first step toward first base. In contrast, the left-hander’s momentum carries him directly toward first.

"The left-handed batter has a five-foot advantage over the right-handed batter," says Peters. "And that means the lefty travels the 90 feet to first roughly one-sixth of a second faster than the righty. That translates to more base hits for the left-hander, whether singles or extra base hits because lefties are getting to the bases more quickly."

Even Jim Thome and Jason Giambi?

The left-handed pitcher generally is much more difficult to steal off, as, from his stretch, he peers directly at the runner; the right-hander must look over his shoulder and wheel to first base, giving the runner more of a warning of the pitcher’s intent.

Positions advantageous to southpaws are pitching, first base and right field. For the positions, the advantage is the favorable angles lefties get, enabling them to throw the ball more quickly across the diamond to second, third and home. One position a lefty rarely plays is catcher, for the obvious reason that it is difficult for a southpaw catcher to throw over so many right-hand batters.

"It wasn’t all that long ago when first basemen were predominantly left-handed and most right fielders were left-handed," Peters says. "That has changed, at least since the late sixties."

There’s even a bias toward the lefthander in ballpark design. Right field in most parks (just think of Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park) is usually shorter than left field because of the preponderance of right-handed hitters.

While traditional thinking holds that the right-handed batter has the advantage over the left-handed pitcher, because the breaking ball goes into the batter’s power threshold, it’s not always the case, says Peters. And it’s that familiarity thing again.

"Because only 10 percent of the population is left-handed, kids grow up and mature in baseball seeing a left-hander just 10 percent of the time they bat," he says. "So, it can be hard for both lefties and righties to face a southpaw. It’s why some left-handed batters look dreadful matched against a lefty."

Some batters don’t like facing southpaws because their ball is purported to have a natural movement away from a right-hander and into a lefty.

"There’s no scientific evidence to support this, but I wonder if lefties get that movement from learning to write in a right-hander’s world," Peters says.

[Tony Fitzpatrick @ Washington University in St. Louis]

Some people

I frequent a forum for a wrestling site out on the interweb. We have a user there who apparently thinks that he is some sort of tech god and his word is rule. There was a thread started about suggestions for a computer, and it boiled down recently into a “best way for non geeks to learn”. This other user seems to think that just by looking at podcast and YouTube videos that anyone and everyone should be able to dive in and work on their computer. He fails to see that there are some people that just can’t get up the courage to touch anything on an electronic device because they are fearful of damage to it. He/she assumes that just because he learned something and feel confident at it, everyone should.

Eh, I guess that is commonplace with some people. They tend to think, “if I can do this, anyone can.”  Sadly, I learned how to set up and run lights and sound for theatrical sound, so just by watching a video online or a podcast, he should be able to focus lights, get a great color mixture, cue the show in  the board, set up the speakers, wireless and wired mics and have everything sounding perfectly fine and then run the show and not make glaring mistakes. If he can do that his first show, I will eat my underwear.

Cholesterol Drugs for Eight Year Olds

This may be the medical model of the future. In an attempt to prevent future cardiac problems, cholesterol drugs are suggested for children as young as eight years old:

“…It is the strongest guidance ever given on the issue by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which released its new guidelines Monday. The academy also recommends low-fat milk for 1-year-olds and wider cholesterol testing.

Dr. Stephen Daniels, of the academy’s nutrition committee, says the new advice is based on mounting evidence showing that damage leading to heart disease, the nation’s leading killer, begins early in life.”

link: Cholesterol drugs recommended for some 8-year-olds

The long term use of cholesterol drugs, starting that early in childhood, is not known. The empirical data simply are not available. The safety is educated conjecture with the available data at hand.

A pharmaceutical solution may be fit the cultural zeitgeist better than exercise, diet and change in life style. These alternatives take time and far more effort than a medication solution. However, some people balk at beginning children on a preventative chemical regime as young as the second grade. The negative consequences may be realized in the future generations of these children.

Undoubtedly, this recommendation will have the full unbridled support. For the pharmaceutical industry, this medical approach could translate into billions of dollars of annual profits. Hopefully, parents will retain the choice in whether their child receive this preventative treatment.

Catherine Forsythe

Firefox Is Still The Safest Browser According To Study

No sooner did I do an article about Internet Explorer I spot this study which was completed over an 18th month period, establishing Firefox as the most secure. But what is interesting is the reason why Firefox is most secure. It is because users are more inclined to update the browser with the latest fixes and patches. In fact, Firefox will auto fix itself. The articles states the problem as:

Profit motivated cyber-criminals have rapidly adopted Web browser exploitation as a key vector for malware installation. Due to the methodology of exploiting Web browser vulnerabilities and the unpredictable browsing patterns of typical users, for widespread infection of vulnerable hosts the criminals must seed a mix of popular and high-traffic websites, or incentivize users through email spam, with URLs directing potential victims to Web servers hosting their malicious content. The former method is commonly known as drive-by download, where drive-by refers to the fact that Web browsers must initially navigate to a malicious page and download refers to the covertly downloaded and executed malware – typically trojans. As popularity of this attack vector has blossomed, there have been frequent reports of hundreds of thousands of Web sites succumbing to mass-defacement [1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] – where the defacement often consists of an embedded iframe. These iframes typically inlcude content from servers hosting malicious JavaScript code designed to exploit vulnerabilities accessible through the user’s Web browser and subsequently to initiate a drive-by malware download. These mass-defacements cause once-benign sites to turn against their visitors. Even pages owned by institutions like the United Nations (un.org), the UK government (.gov.uk) and many others have succumbed to such attacks. In 2007, Google uncovered more than three million malicious Web addresses (URLs) that initiate drive-by downloads [9]. 

According to the study, which is quite lengthy and very in depth, Microsoft seems to have trouble fixing their browser. This leaves IE users at risk. Strange. One would expect IE to also have a built in fix and patch ability. Maybe this is the price they paid for having IE incorporated with Windows.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.


Opera Fixes A Security Flaw

Opera has released an upgraded version: 9.51. This version addresses security and stability issues:

link: Opera Release Notes

link: Opera

With this patch, Opera will require that the browser be shut down and then the download will be installed. The restart of the browser may not take the user back to the exact pages that were opened previously. Therefore, take note of where you are, prior to closing and installing this download.

For those who haven’t tried Opera, it is well worth a trial. Personally, comparing IE 7, the latest Firefox and Opera, I find that Opera is the fastest and it is the least demanding on the computer resources – at least for my desktop and laptop.

Catherine Forsythe

Stolen Data Is Alive And Well On Google

Over at SF Gate they have an interesting story about data theft that is worth taking a look at. Seems that the victim had software on her computer that was monitoring every move she made. So when she was online in April, purchasing airline tickets, checking on a car loan from Wells Fargo and taking a CNN poll, little did she know that her personal information was being stolen. It wasn’t until the data showed up on a computer in Malaysia, that more information also surfaced about the ID theft.

According to the article it states:

But it was, and months after authorities were alerted to the breach and disabled the server in Malaysia where her data were being stored, the information was still available online – in a Google search.

The woman, who asked not to be named, was shocked to receive a call from a Chronicle reporter asking if she recognized the personal information, which had been crawled and stored by Google as Google caches all unprotected data it finds on the Web.

“Google seems so friendly,” she said. “I don’t understand why they don’t do a better job protecting our data.”

Google spokesman Michael Kirkland said that in general, the search engine doesn’t remove cached data, which disappears automatically at some point after its source is taken down. Google expects Webmasters to remove problem content themselves and provides tools to help them do it.  “Google, like all search engines, is a reflection of the content and information that’s available on the Internet,” he said. “We actively work to keep users informed on how they can stay safe online.”

In this case, however, Google did remove the cached pages, but it took the company two tries to delete them.

Such incidents of data theft have become so common that some cybercrime trackers have given up on contacting Internet users to let them know their personal information has been exposed.

This is kind of scary. There are other stories presented in which others also have become victims of keyloggers and having their identity stolen. One victim also taught classes in identity theft and had his ID stolen. It doesn’t seem that any of us are safe.

Comments welcome.


Spore creature creator boring?

So after Chris went and did a video on Spore Creature Creator I decided I would go and try the free trial of the web. So I downloaded it and played for about an hour or two. I even let my brother play some. I made two Spores and my brother made one. I found that despite the fact that I thought it would be boring I found it to be really cool. You know it even kept me entertained for an hour. I was really impressed. It was really easy to use and funny to make all these creatures. I thought I would give a review and show off some of my vids so here they are.

My Brothers Spore

My Spore

So I like spore. I can't wait for the actual game to come out. I give it 6 of 10. I give it this because it is really laid back. Not for the intense gamer. Really casual. But it does give you something entertaining to do with your time. I will also do a review on the game when it comes out. So expect that coming your way. Also feel free to leave you comments on your spore; I will not put you as spam if you leave your spore youtube link.

World of Warcraft: It’s Powerful Stuff

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have played WoW since launch. My tastes for the game have changed very much over time. Two years ago, I was a hardcore Molten Core raider in a giant guild. One year ago, I was a Burning Crusade 5 man dungeon tank expert in a smaller guild. This past year, however, I have become a Battleground / Arena / Daily Questing multi-boxer in a “friends only” guild. All three scenarios are very different, but I must say, all are equally addicting.

The main reason I decided to write this post is because as I was having a conversation about gaming with some friends, I noticed I had mentioned that I did not turn on my Xbox the whole entire length of my past 9 day vacation at home. What also struck me, is that I was actually about to make a note to myself to make a point to play some Xbox and Steam (TF2). I don’t game for crazy hours. But the time I do game right now, I spend playing WoW. I certainly go through phases as well. When it’s a WoW phase though, all other games get a special kind of neglect I have never experienced before, a special place in the backseat if you will.

Question is. Has there ever been a game that had this kind of power over you for this sustained amount of time? (going on 4 years for me).