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USB Cell Phone Booster

I get a lot of calls at work asking if we sell “amplifiers” for people in low signal areas.  As a tech rep, I have to tell the customers that we do not and I cannot tell them about other companies that might.  Here, however, I can.  So, here is a device that advertises the ability to improve your cell signal by 2 – 3 bars.

Plug the device into an open USB port on your computer and place the antennae near a window. By comparing the signal strengths of the nearest towers, the micro-processor tunes to the correct channels.  Because it only amplifies the signal itself, it is carrier friendly.

Please note, however that you must have at least some signal for this device to work.  It can’t amplify what you don’t have in the first place.  If you are in a low coverage area and are only getting one bar of signal, this device promises to improve that to a usable strength.  This would be exceptionally good for people who insist on using a wireless data card on a desktop computer.

I have used a product similar to this that seemed to work well.  I haven’t seen any reviews for this particular device but this technology is getting better and seems to be pretty reliable now.  Cost for this device is $150 from www.getcellranger.com and they offer a 12v version at the same price.


Why Do We Use Microsoft Office When Open Office Is Free?

So I’m surfing the Internet when I run across an article that catches my eye, in which the author is asking why we continue to use Microsoft Office when Open Office is free.  Hmm…………….interesting. So I think about myself and what I use. You guessed it. I’m a Microsoft Office slave. But the question is why?

First I have tried Open Office and found it, for a lack of a better description, lacking. Not because Open Office is not a good software product. Overall it is. But Microsoft Office is an extremely polished software product. It is like comparing a Lexus to a Toyota. Both cars will get you where you want to go, it is just that the Lexus will get you there in a more comfortable environment. If that makes any sense at all.

According to the article, is states:

Most folks see data formats as an inside-baseball issue, because they work in all-Microsoft organizations where incompatibilities are rare. The only hangup, in that case, comes when Microsoft releases new software (Office 2007 being the latest example). Invariably, the data format’s been upgraded as well.

The new software reads your old files, but your old software can’t read the new files. There are workarounds, but the only sensible thing is for an organization to upgrade all at once. And an organization can’t wait too long to upgrade if it has to share files with other entities that have upgraded.

As for competitive software, it fares even worse, because Microsoft doesn’t release the details of its proprietary data formats to the developers of programs like OpenOffice. If the developers want their wares to read Microsoft files, they have to reverse-engineer the format.

This works to varying degrees. Simple word processing documents translate pretty well. Complex spreadsheets, with macros and formulas, may not translate at all or contain errors that aren’t obvious. About the time the competition has figured out all the ins and outs of translation, surprise, it’s time for another format upgrade.

So here is a question for you. Have you switched to Open Office? If so, how is it working for you.

Comments welcome.



ok have you ever wondered how you could get some really cool graphics or just have a really neat and original desktop back ground? Well you can. There is a program called Oxidixer for OS X Download Here. This is a program I use to generate cool desktop pics. To use it you first open the gene pool and fill the table. Click your favorites and then click toggle. Then click add to editor. Once in the editor you can change the colors as explained in the video or just go ahead and export. To export set the size a quality to at least 20 this should get you a pretty decent picture. I would suggest setting the file type to TIFF or JPEG. One thing not mentioned in the video os the breeder. This is located at the top of the page and can be used to breed specific pictures with each other. Please leave your comments on this screen cast and leave any ideas or things you need help with as well. Every comment you leave gets sent to me in a e-mail so what you leave does get read by me.

Jordan Hasay: A Glimpse of the Future

Jordan Hasay is part of the new wave. She is the one of the bright lights of track and field; and she is just sixteen years old. At five foot one inches with a long ponytail, she looks small when compared to her competitors. She runs beautifully; and she holds the national high school record for 1,500 meters:

link: High schooler a fan favorite

Here is Jordan’s record setting run for 1,500 meters:

She has a gorgeous stride. The form down that final stretch is wonderful. There is no head bob and she has a stellar run to her national high school record. And look at the joy... kudos to Jordan Hasay!

Catherine Forsythe

One Man vs. Scientology

I used to think that Scientology was one of many ‘religions’ made by men to fleece an unsuspecting public. After reading a piece that appeared last week in the Village Voice, I see I was right, but also wrong.

Scientology has got to be one of the most destructive things ever wrought by man against his fellow man.

The article, written by Tony Ortega, was to have been published 6 years ago, but for reasons explained in the article, was delayed until now. The article delineates a struggle of one man, over 30 years, against the fraud, coercion, and then intimidation from this entity that calls itself a church.

Not wanting to take anything away from the author, I would ask that you read it here, After you read this, you will be amazed, and hopefully forewarned about this dangerous sham.

Current Scientologists are more than welcome to reply, as I think hearing opposing views is good, and if you can add anything to the events of the story, that would be great. Others feel free also – I’m sure that I’m not the only one who is amazed by what I once thought was simply annoying, and finding the danger of it.

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AMD Rebounding – Radeon 4 Forces nVidia Price Cuts

All those who know about these things knew it could not last for long. AMD is a scrappy company that pulled itself up from being a second source for Intel chips to a powerhouse that had Intel worried for more than a few quarters. It was only the inertia of the market that has kept Intel in such a commanding lead in market penetration.

Nearly everyone was discounting the latest chip from the ATi division of AMD, the 4000 series. Oh, they knew it would be a value leader, but they had no idea how far up the pricing ladder that value would climb. They also had no idea that the 4000, after some initial testing, would pull a couple of rungs from the nVidia ladder.

Last week, Tom’s Hardware Guide cautioned expectant buyers of the new GT200 series of nVidia offerings to hold back for a week or so, as the price cuts are coming. The AMD/ATi product has proven so formidable that the resellers who were hot to get hands on the first GT200s are now requesting pricing modifications, downward, that is. Also, some that went in a stocked heavily are looking for some sort of price protection on their early purchases.

The cuts will be modest on the GT260 series, but substantial on the GT280 series cards.  This is great news for the customers of nVidia, but it also signals the return of ATi/AMD into real competition. Now, there are probably more than a few that were going to line up for the GT280, and are now awaiting first testing of the twin processor offering from AMD.

full article

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U.S. settles with anthrax mailings subject for $5.82 million

L.A. Times article:

The former Army scientist who was the prime suspect in the deadly 2001 anthrax mailings agreed Friday to take $5.82 million from the government to settle his claim that the Justice Department and the FBI invaded his privacy and ruined his career.

Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, 54, who was called a “person of interest” in the case by then-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft in 2002, said that label and repeated leaks of investigative details to the media damaged his reputation.

For months in the anxious atmosphere after Sept. 11, Hatfill was subjected to 24-hour surveillance and was widely identified as the leading suspect in the nation’s first bioterrorism attack. However, he was never arrested or charged and a federal judge presiding over his lawsuit said recently that there “is not a scintilla of evidence” linking him to the mailings.

Former federal prosecutors knowledgeable about the investigation said the government payout to Hatfill signified that, in all likelihood, he would never be charged.

A spokesman for the Justice Department said the anthrax case “remains among the department’s highest law enforcement priorities.” Brian Roehrkasse also said in a statement that by agreeing to settle the lawsuit, the government “does not admit to any violation of the Privacy Act and continues to deny all liability in connection with Dr. Hatfill’s claims.”

The settlement calls for an immediate $2.82-million payment to Hatfill. Beginning in 2009, the government will pay Hatfill an annuity of $150,000 a year for 20 years, according to court papers.

Another lawyer for Hatfill, Mark A. Grannis, said Friday: “If anybody in the country really knew what it was like to be Steven Hatfill for the past six years, nobody would trade places with him.” Grannis faulted “a handful of credulous reporters,” who he said published or broadcast government leaks of “gossip, speculation and misinformation.”

The lawsuit was filed in August 2003, but U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton delayed permitting Hatfill’s lawyers to question FBI and Justice officials or news reporters for two more years. The government contended that the depositions of agents and FBI leaders could interfere with the investigation.

At that hearing, Walton ordered attorneys for the government and for Hatfill to try to settle the case. On Feb. 19, he signaled that he saw the government’s pursuit of Hatfill as questionable. The judge had reviewed four still-secret FBI memos about the status of the anthrax investigation.

“There is not a scintilla of evidence that would indicate that Dr. Hatfill had anything to do with this,” Walton said.

Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.), whose district includes Princeton, where anthrax spores were recovered from a mailbox, said the government’s payout to Hatfill confirmed that the investigation “was botched from the very beginning.”

“The FBI did a poor job of collecting evidence, and then inappropriately focused on one individual as a suspect for too long, developing an erroneous ‘theory of the case’ that has led to this very expensive dead end,” Holt said in a statement.

We just don’t seem to be doing very well in our expensive and protracted “War on Terrorism”. Saddam was captured through the efforts on troops on the ground, not as the result of all our intelligence and hardware. Osama is still at large. The government is being forced by the courts to deal with the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay when it seems they’d rather just leave them there and forget about them.

On every front in this “war” the government appears to be inept and unable to properly prosecute those it holds responsible, in the few cases where they even have suspects. They’ve made no inroads in their stated goal to make the world a safer place. If there really is a War on Terror, we’re losing it.

StickIt: A Free Reminder Notes Program

StickIt is a free notes program that is a very well written application. It is versatile and replaces what ‘real-life’ sticky notes do, with far less clutter. The notes will be saved even after a reboot, can be made to remain on top to serve as an immediate reminder, can be different colours…

link: StickIt

Mike Singer did an excellent job with this program. And it can be used on Vista, too. This program is offered free to the internet community but don’t forget that Mike has a donation link on that download page.

Catherine Forsythe

The Aussies Get Mad At AVG Authors

Seems that the normally carefree people of Australia get really worked up when you mess with their internet access.

from whatsnextintech

Whirlpool, Australia’s largest technology forum recently was posting up prominent orange banners on there home page warning people of AVG’s LinkScanner Bots and its actions as a Malicious program to website owners and hosts, causing heavy loads on servers, a quote from Whirlpool is as follows.

“As a website that is featured heavily in many Google Australia search results, Whirlpool (Australia’s largest technology forum) has been particularly affected by AVG’s LinkScanner. We’ve seen a traffic increase as much as 12 hits per second from these bots. So we’ve actively and loudly campaigned against this move by AVG, encouraging all users of AVG 8.0 to uninstall the product. The discussion starts here. And AVG’s backing down is posted here.”

AVG promptly responded.

“‘As promised, I am letting you know that the latest update for AVG Free edition has addressed and rectified the issue that [Whirlpool] have brought to our attention. This update has now been released to users and has also been built into the latest installation package for AVG Free.’ — Peter Cameron, Managing Director, AVG Australia.”

Many places were complaining, and I saw a couple of places where the authors defended their stance. It seems that the pressure got to be too great, because the last thing a software author wants is his software taken off machines.

Most machines that had used version 8.0 have had the update installed as a download during the signatures update, but should you not have gotten updated, you can force the update – so as to not be offensive to the rest of the internet.

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Large Hadron Collider – Will It End The World?

There is a small possibility it could happen. Of course, there is about the same chance that ‘W’ will wake up and see the error of his ways, and beg forgiveness from the nation he has shafted for the last seven and a half years.

Now that we have that over with, it is interesting to know that there are many people who have tried vigorously to get the LHC project shut down. I don’t think Enrico Fermi had this much trouble, when he built the atomic pile under the grandstands at the University of Chicago. But then that was ostensibly a secret, and the LHC has gotten a lot of press.

from whatsnextintech.com

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is about to be turned on in a little over a day now, and we will soon find out whether or not it will open up a black hole an swallow our beloved Earth along with a large chunk of our solar system with it. For all those that haven’t heard of the LHC or its doomsday theories I am serious. Some people are even trying to take it through the courts and stop its activation until more safety tests have been completed.  An excerpt from lhcdefence.org, a website dedicated to trying to stop the LHC experiments is as follows:

scientists concede that there is a real possibility of creating destructive theoretical anomalies such as miniature black holes, strangelets and deSitter space transitions. These events have the potential to fundamentally alter matter and destroy our planet.”

However it fails to say the number of those scientists, which is a pretty small number. So below is a list of the most commonly asked questions about the Large Hadron Collider and there answers compiled here.


What is the LHC, or Large Hadron Collider?

The Large Hadron Collider is a particle accelerator complex spanning the border between Switzerland and France near Geneva. LHC will smash together opposing beams of either protons or lead ions inside a massive circular accelerator.

Will the LHC form a black hole or end the world?

Short answer, No the Large Hadron Collider will not destroy the world. Here is an excellent excerpt from the CERN website describing how this is not possible

“Speculations about microscopic black holes at the LHC refer to particles produced in the collisions of pairs of protons, each of which has an energy comparable to that of a mosquito in flight. Astronomical black holes are much heavier than anything that could be produced at the LHC.

According to the well-established properties of gravity, described by Einstein’s relativity, it is impossible for microscopic black holes to be produced at the LHC. There are, however, some speculative theories that predict the production of such particles at the LHC. All these theories predict that these particles would disintegrate immediately. Black holes, therefore, would have no time to start accreting matter and to cause macroscopic effects.
Although stable microscopic black holes are not expected in theory, study of the consequences of their production by cosmic rays shows that they would be harmless.”[Source: CERN]

What is the purpose of the Large Hadron Collider?

The LHC was built to help scientists answer unresolved questions in particle physics and to recreate the conditions just after the big bang. It is theorized that when activated it will produce the elusive Higgs Boson. The Higgs Boson will help us better understand the origins of the universe, Which is what the LHC is all about, it’s about solving the mysteries physicists and scientists alike have been plagued with for centuries.

“Only experimental data using the higher energies reached by the LHC can push knowledge forward, challenging those who seek confirmation of established knowledge, and those who dare to dream beyond the paradigm.”[Source:CERN]

For a live countdown until LHC is activated, you can find one at lhcountdown

I have been following this project since the first we hear of the idea to build an LHC. I have been fascinated with nuclear physics since I was about 8 and I was given ‘The How and Why Book of The Atom’. This stuff is the study of what makes up the universe at the very smallest level. It tells us about interactions that seem ridiculous to most people, yet have to be accounted for in the realm of the exceedingly small. (Just try explaining the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle to anyone who has no grounding in physics – they look at you like you’re putting them on, or have gone mad.)

As I write this, I am trying to check the countdown timer, but I keep getting 503 errors, which usually means there are too many hits. It means that lots of people are interested in this type of research, although probably few from this country. We, as a nation, seem to have lost our love of learning. That was shown when our own Super Collider project was cancelled. It was underway in Texas, and then funding dried up – it just was not important enough.

What a pity. Quest for knowledge is what got this nation as far as it has come. Also, science doesn’t fare as well in school as it once did. It makes it harder to compete in the world, and one reason why so many companies cry out for those extra H-1B visas.

More tomorrow. Or maybe not. (g)

Quote of the day:

Character is what you have left when you’ve lost everything you can lose. – Evan Esar

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