Routine Order

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Order Pizza from the Command Line

March 8th, 2007 · No Comments

Pizza Party is a command line tool for linux for, hold your breath, ordering pizza from the command line!

Pizza Party has many features to make ordering pizza easy:
* Can order pizza with only a few keystrokes.
* Can save pizza preferences.
* Can use batch files for ordering many pizzas.
* Has easy to use flags for ordering different toppings.
* Runs on most UNIX-like operating systems.
* Supports most currently popular topings like “mushrooms”, and “pepperoni”!
* Unattended / background operation.
* Pizza Party is distributed under the GNU General Public License.

If there is a wierder piece of software, I have not seen it. I swear! It remembers your toppings-preferences, for gosh’s sake!

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Otto Frank’s Letters

March 6th, 2007 · No Comments

Otto Frank—who survived the Holocaust by living out Auschwitz—was trying to save his wife Edith, his mother-in-law Rosa Hollander and his daughters Margot and Anne. The 80 letters how his effort to get out of Holland, and how he failed in doing that. These letters were just released and became common knowledge.

Otto Frank

Had he got out, Anne Frank, his daughter, might not have written her diaries.

No one writes letters anymore – emails are always to the point and never substantial. The art of writing letters, and documenting one’s own life via letters, is almost dead. One could say blogs are a replacement, but really, who puts their private thoughts, feelings and fears on a blog. Most, like me, just write about what they find interesting, not whats going on in their own lives. Blogs have almost replaced collections of letters as a way to look into particular periods in history and their effect on individuals. I remember reading quite a few highly linked-to Iraqi blogs, and Israeli blogs.

via Time

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Girls of Engineering – Sexy & Smart or Just Plain Stupid?

March 4th, 2007 · No Comments

The girls of engineering calendar was produced with current and past engineering students from the University of Illinois posing in ridiculous poses – none of which are really nude, but all of which are supposed to be sexy.

Girls of Engineering

You can buy the calendar for only $12.95 – I am wondering who’d want to. You can also see a slideshow with about 44 pics in it.

How brain dead does one have to be to realize that reinforcing sexual stereotypes does not unmake the stereotype? We all know some girls are engineers, some girls are sexy, and some sexy girls are engineers. Having revealing photos of the small minority displayed in a calendar does not magically convey the image that all sexy girls are engineers, or that all girl engieers are sexy.

Women in Engineering don’t have to be sexy to be good. They only have to be smart. The calendar, if anything, will reduce the few sexy & smart girls in engineering to fancy sexual objects. Quite the achievement for equality of the sexes in engineering education!

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Interview with George Burke – BookSwim’s Owner

March 2nd, 2007 · No Comments

We’ll explode in year 2 as we revolutionize the way America reads.

Joe Wikert interviews George Burke, who owns, or works for BookSwim. I had written about Bookswim (Bookswim: Netflix for Books) earlier. This interview puts some things straight – like how they plan to fix the problem of super heavy books and their postage. The solution is that they won’t stock textbooks, or catalogs, or any other backbreakers. They also will be shipping media mail, so service might be slow. $15 for a 3-books-out-at-a-time service seems okay to me. Also, it seems like they will offer readers the ability to own the books they rent at a discounted price. So will they end up being a used-books seller more than a Netflix-like lending service?

George says they are white-knucking and late-nighting for a March 2007 release – which is not that far away. I, honestly can’t wait to try it. Then again, I’d probably rent three books and keep them forever, the kind of busy I am right now…

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All the Countries in the World are in Debt

March 2nd, 2007 · No Comments

As I was driving home yesterday, I heard something on NPR about how America’s national debt is blossoming — it was just a sentence or a phrase in a newscast, but it got me thinking.

Today, I looked up the statistics for the External Debt of Nations. My hypothesis, made while driving the car, was that no nation would be free of debt. It was just a knee-jerk, instantaneous hypothesis. By this I mean that not much thought went into it.

I was wrong. There are nations free of debt. Brunei, Norway, Leichtenstein, Palau, Jersey in the Channel Islands and Cyprus are the nation-states that are free of debt. Thats it. Period. All other countries have huge amounts of external debt, and no one seems to be in a hurry to pay off their debts. I expect that the effective interest rates on these debts vary, with poorer nations paying higher interest rates, and the rich paying lower effective interest rates. So if one were to calculate and tabulate effective or net interest rates for countries’ external debt, that would reflect the “richness” of a nation.

Two questions buzz in my mind:

  1. If all countries are in debt, how can there be any truly “rich” countries? The existence of debt implies a negative negative net worth, doesn’t it?
  2. Why don’t groups of countries work together to minimize their debts? For example, if Germany owes the UK $10 billion, and UK owes France $12 billion, why don’t they work together to take UK out of the equation by saying Germany effectively owes France $22 billion?

Enough to get you thinking, I hope.

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Buy Viagra From Google!!

March 1st, 2007 · No Comments

Go to Yahoo.co.uk and search for “Buy Viagra”.

So Yahoo! UK thinks Google sells viagra. Another possible explanation is that Google is the secret hand behind all the Viagra spam we get everyday – all part of a secret conspiracy to set up a new operation where Google provides you with the drugs, regardless of geographical location, for a low, low price :)

Look at the fifth result. Wonder what the heck broke, and how.

Google Viagra

This was so good, I had to save the result.

First seen at the digital point forum.

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World’s first Internet Election in Estonia

February 28th, 2007 · No Comments

Estonia is all set to be the first country in the world to allow voters to vote over the Internet in a public general election! The system was tested recently where people could “vote” to choose the king of the forest from among 10 animals. They did not disclose the results, so we don’t know who the King is. :)

Interestingly, this small Nordic nation seems to be secure in its faith in technology:

The security angle of voting via the Internet has not raised many worries. “E-voting is not so difficult to think about here. We are used to using the Internet for business and for almost 10 years we have been using the Internet for banking,” he said.

Compare this to the US, where the diebold voting machines have caused enough problems and doubts repeatedly. I guess it is just a matter of trusting the provider – but then again, how much can you trust a company or organization that provides the internet-voting service? Just as much as you can trust the election officials in an “offline” election, I suppose. The distinguishing difference is that, offline, more people are involved in the voting and counting processes, so it is more difficult to game the system.

Estonia set for world’s first Internet election – Yahoo! News

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How to Blog Anonymously and Independently on the Cheap

February 26th, 2007 · 3 Comments

This blog is anonymous. You might want to know why, and more importantly, how.

I did have another blog which is way more popular, and older, and respected. I still blog there, but increasingly this is my “preferred blog”.

Anonymous Blogger
Photo Credit: Anonymous Blogger by zivpu

Fear of getting fired is not the only reason why someone would want to blog anonymously.
I wanted an anonymous blog because:

  1. Anonymity sets me free to write about whatever I want
  2. I don’t have to stop a thought in its tracks because of fear of blowing good relationships with other people – bloggers and people I know in real life. I can write however I want.
  3. My dad and a lot of relatives read my other blog
  4. My boss once brought up something I wrote on my other blog, and wanted me to delete it. So what you write on your blog affects work and I don’t like that
  5. I don’t want stuff I wrote in the past to turn up in google searches for my name – thus affecting future relationships and deals.

Now that we have the “why” out of the way, lets get into the details of how to blog anonymously, on the cheap. We ignore fee blog hosts like blogger and wordpress.com since you lose a little bit of your independence when you sign up for a hosted blog, and that is not acceptable to us ;)

There is a guide by the electronic frontier foundation about how to blog anonymously. In fact, that was the first guide I referred to when I was thinking of starting this new blog. It provides a list of tips on how to remain anonymous. It is worth a read. However, I was really disappointed in one thing – the link for registering a domain name anonymously does not work! The link points to https://www.onlinepolicy.org/forms/opg-domain-create.shtml which returns a “404: Not found” page. So much for an easy to follow guide. Earlier today, the subject of anonymous blogging came up again in conversation, and I decided to document how I made this blog anonymous.

After the EFF article, I searched and ended up at ask.metafilter.com. There were a couple of posts there, but none of the suggestions were cheap. So I did some more research and ended up with my perfect solution. Read on for details…

Keep reading →

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You Can’t Whistle In a Space Suit

February 26th, 2007 · No Comments

ABC News: Whistle While You Work? Not in Space

“You can’t whistle because the air pressure in the suit is only 4.3 pounds per square inch, and normal atmospheric pressure is 14.7 psi, so there are not enough air molecules blowing by your lips to make a sound.”

Now, suddenly, I don’t want to go to space anymore!

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Buy Item Confiscated at Airports on eBay

February 24th, 2007 · No Comments

What happens to those scissors, lighters and the occasional machete confiscated at US airports?

A few of the items go for sale on ebay, a short while later. The Pennsylvania State Agency for Surplus Property sorts out the lighters from the rest and puts them for sale on ebay. Yes, the items are sold very cheap, and in large quantities. 10 pounds of nail clippers, anyone? Maybe 10 pounds of Money Clips, or Pocket knives instead?

ebay junk

I read the news at Yahoo! News: Confiscated airline carry-on items become big sellers on eBay. I was curious enough to try and find out the listing for the PA SASP – which sells the surplus items. So here it is: Items for Sale by the PA State Surplus.

They should really combine the items into a package, and try selling that — a package that woud have one each of a lighter, scissors, moneyclip, plier, screwdriver, nail clipper, pocket knife, etc. I mean, who in their right minds would want 10 pounds of Silver-Toned Pocket Knives?

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