Tuesday, September 2, 2008
If you’re an iPhone user you’ll know why it’s such a knock-out device. It has email, browsing, calling, texting, and tons of other functions. Now with the addition of the App store, it has the potential to be much more than any prior incarnation. Here are a few great utility apps to turn your iPhone into a veritable Swiss army knife:
If you’ve ever been in a dark room and waved your iPhone around in order to see, you’ll understand the point of these two apps immediately. The iPhone’s screen can be pumped up to an eye-blistering brightness. The apps make the screen go white and turn it into a hand torch. There are more options on both apps though. You can choose a different color to display or even turn on a strobe light that’s perfect for any rave (myLite actually lets you wave your phone around to make the colors change).
A better app, called Light, used to actually max out the iPhone’s screen brightness, but unfortunately it was taken off the App Store for just that reason. These two other apps are the next best thing.
The last set of apps are great for finding your way around in the dark, but what if you’re lost in broad daylight? Well, with Compass, you can easily identify the cardinal directions.
Upon opening the app, it displays a compass rose with a patch of light running across it.
As the directions explain, simply get in the sun and lay the iPhone flat on a table. Placing your finger in the center of the compass will cast a shadow down one side of it. If you re-orient the shadow to line up with the “ray of light,” the compass on the iPhone will point to North. [Note: if you're below the equator, North and South are switched on the compass.]
“Measure twice, cut once.”
That old proverb is just as applicable in today’s digital world as it was when people first began measuring lumber for dwellings.
Ruler helps you make the best of your iPhone any time you need to get the length or width of a small object. The interface can be tuned to either Inches or Centimeters. Once set, your iPhone’s screen is laid out in tick marks for precise measurements.
Even better, there is a set of horizontal and vertical axes that allow you to mark your desired dimensions. There have been other, web-based rulers for the iPhone, but this App trumps them all. Definitely download this one…you’ll never know when you’re going to need it.
[Note: if you don't love this one, there is a similar ruler for longer measurements here.]
Moving into a new apartment and need to hang some pictures or posters? Dual Level will help you get the job done.
Place your iPhone on a flat surface to calibrate it (make sure that surface is already level with a “real” one). Press the calibrate button and you’re ready to go. Your phone will now be able to ensure anything you hang is just the way it needs to be.
I think if my dad had an iPhone, this would be the first App he’d download.
This last app is something you’ll never actually have to use…hopefully.
If Found creates an icon on your home screen with the words “If Found” displayed prominently under it. A single click brings up your address and contact information for anyone who finds your phone. The icon is a money sign and you can post a reward on the app if you would like.
Another feature is that it will set your information as your wallpaper so whenever your phone is locked it will display the info to the finder. This is the best option if you lock your phone with a password and still want to use the app.
A little bit of prior planning could save you a lot of money and data in the future. I suggest placing the icon on the front page of your home screen.
*Here’s a Bonus App*
With all of these utilities, don’t forget to have a bit of fun with your iPhone too! More Cowbell! is a neat way to personally re-live one of the greatest Saturday Night Live skits of all time. The app opens up to a picture of a cowbell and immediately plays Christopher Walken’s “I gotta have more cowbell” line.
Tapping the cowbell makes your iPhone sound just like the app’s namesake so you can play along to “Don’t Fear the Reaper” or any other song of your choosing. A new rev of the app has also added a “shake the iPhone” option in case you want to play it that way instead.
If you’ve somehow missed it in the past, here’s the video :
Got any other great utility apps you use all the time? Post them in the comments! Also, if there are any versions of these apps that you like better, let us know!
(By) Jimmy Rogers is a biology major at George Mason University and an avid freelance tech blogger. Check out his blog, Mason Tech Beat.
Posted by gjblass at 4:47 PM
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Tom Brady ran through agility drills and said he's ready to play in the New England Patriots' opener. Bill Belichick isn't ready to say that will happen.
Neither is much of a surprise.
It would be a big surprise if the record-setting quarterback, who had a right foot injury and missed all four exhibition games, doesn't start Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"If it's up to me, there's no question" Brady said Monday. "I've been getting progressively better over the past couple of weeks. I'm excited. I'm excited to start the year."
The secretive Belichick deflected a question about whether last season's NFL MVP would start Sunday.
"We will give you the injury report on Friday," he told reporters Monday. "We will give you the practice report after we practice."
Brady didn't want to anger a coach who tells his players not to reveal too much injury information. So he wouldn't estimate how close to 100 percent he was health-wise.
"I don't know," Brady said with a smile. "Coach hates percentages, so I usually don't give them. I have been yelled at more times with comments I make so I am laying off that one. Write that, so he reads that, too."
No matter the percentage, all signs point to Brady extending his playing streak to 128 games, third most in history among NFL quarterbacks. Only Brett Favre (275) and Peyton Manning (173) have longer streaks, and both are still going on.
And now the exhibition games are over.
"I felt like I could play all of them and I practiced the entire preseason, pretty much," Brady said. "The decision was made that, OK, Tom, you're not going to play, and I was fine with it."
A week ago, Brady said he would be ready for the Chiefs. Since then, he said, his foot has improved "quite a bit."
He also did everything the other quarterbacks, running backs and receivers did during the first 15 minutes of practice Monday that media members were allowed to observe. They stretched then jogged to the end zone for the agility drills.
The Patriots, with no proven backup, can't afford to be without Brady, who set an NFL record with 50 touchdown passes last season.
Matt Cassel, starting his fourth season as the No. 2 quarterback, couldn't lead the Patriots to a touchdown in 17 exhibition series. Kevin O'Connell, the Patriots third-round draft pick, is highly regarded but is just a rookie.
Tackle Matt Light missed the first three exhibition games and guard Stephen Neal missed all four. So Belichick played it safe by not risking Brady's health with two starters missing from the offensive line.
After eight seasons in the NFL, Brady expects to make a smooth transition to playing in a game even without the exhibition contests, all of them losses.
"Throwing so many footballs over the course of my life, it's not like I need to learn how to throw a football or take a drop or make a read," Brady said. "All the plays that are in the playbook are ones that were put in when I was here, so I was a part of all those conversations.
"It's just a matter of going out and doing it at a faster speed," he said. "I've played in a lot of those games to know what that speed is and, hopefully, I'm prepared for it."
Besides, Randy Moss sat out all four exhibition games last year and still caught an NFL record 23 touchdown passes. And that was his first year with the Patriots.
"The whole team is ready for Tom to come back," Moss said Sunday. "He is the leader of this team. He does some great things out there on the field with the ball."
On Monday, Light sounded optimistic about Brady's return.
"The way he directs things out there is what puts us in the right position to make these plays," Light said. "So it's good to have him back."
That should happen on Sunday now that his injured foot has improved.
"I think we have moved past that," Brady said. "I was out there practicing yesterday and I am going out there to practice today. Hopefully, I will be practicing enough the rest of the week to give everybody enough confidence to know that I will be OK if I go out there."
Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Posted by gjblass at 4:39 PM
By Francine Maroukian
Why Beef is Aged, and How: Beef must be aged to allow natural enzymes to break down fibrous connective tissue that holds the muscle together. There are two ways to self-tenderize: · Dry aging: Expensive and time consuming. The beef is stored in temperature- and humidity-controlled coolers for up to six weeks. Moisture evaporates, improving texture and concentrating flavor. Between the evaporation and trimming of the thin coating of mold that develops, there's weight loss of up to 20 percent. · Wet aging: The beef is refrigerated in vacuum-sealed plastic and allowed to tenderize in its own juices. No evaporation means no moisture is lost. Less waste but also less concentrated taste.
Some Types of Beef You Should Know About: Rare "red" cattle (the same breed that produces Kobe beef) raised in Texas by HeartBrand Beef--the only herd outside of Japan. They started with eleven head of cattle, which have been guarded by armed Texas Rangers for the past fourteen years while the herd has grown to more than five thousand. (heartbrandbeef.com) · Grass-fed: Healthier but, some say, less flavorful than corn-fed. Raised in open pastures. Not necessarily organic. (Grain-finished cattle--which are switched from grass to grain for the last few weeks before slaughter--develop more marbling.) · Heritage: From rare heirloom breeds, pasture-raised on small farms without the hormones or pesticides used in conventional agribusiness. · Angus: Aberdeen-Angus is a pure breed found in the U. S., England, Scotland, and Ireland. Certified Angus Brand is a brand name and may or may not include meat from Aberdeen-Angus.
The Grades of Meat: Prime: What you want. Typically found only at fine butcher shops, its interlacing of intramuscular fat--like a cobweb--assures tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. · Choice: Pretty good. More affordable and accessible than prime, moderate marbling still yields juicy, flavorful cuts. · Select: You're on a plane.
Generally Important Point (Cooking): Cooking times in recipes are predicated on starting with meat that's not too cold. All steaks should be taken out of the refrigerator at least thirty minutes before cooking.
The Pan: Lodge, an American maker of high-quality cast-iron pans for more than a hundred years, preseasons pans in the factory (its "Logic" line). The 10.25- and 12-inch, with 2-inch depth, are most practical--any larger and, depending on the size of the steaks, the oil could run off to the sides (where there's no meat) and burn. · The pan must be hot enough to sear the meat on contact, to prevent surface moisture from creating steam, which can prevent browning. · While some chefs say the pan should be "smoking" before adding oil, most call for the intuitive "hot but not smoking." Basically, really goddamn hot.
A Note on Salt: When you salt meat before cooking, you need a lot--and a lot falls off--so standard coarse salt will do. After cooking is the time to use fine sea salt. It's pricey, but the large, crackly flakes are intense, so you don't need much.
How to Use Oil: Before the meat goes in, the skillet should be filmed with oil--it should coat the surface without pooling. (You can add it when the pan is cold or hot.) At the right temperature, the oil will shimmer and gently ripple, as if you dropped a pebble into a pond. It shouldn't spatter or smoke.
The Finish: Meat's temperature keeps rising after cooking. Remove steaks from the heat when a meat thermometer reads 115 to 125 degrees. Then wait. During the all-important resting period, the temperature will rise to the medium-rare range, 120 to 130 degrees. · Get a good thermometer, preferably with a digital probe and large readout, like the Super-Fast Thermapen (four seconds with 1 percent accuracy). It is a potentially life-changing device. (thermoworks.com) · Always start with a recipe's minimum cooking time. You can't cook a steak less. · If you don't have a thermometer and you don't want to cut into the meat, press the cartilage at the tip of your nose. That's what medium rare feels like.
Posted by gjblass at 4:35 PM
I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to fucking post Batman news now every week for the next three years until the new one comes out. A reader sent us this fan created poster from some forum boards (Super Hero Hype I think. I'm not gonna go look for it, but if that's where it came from, I gotta credit it.)
I wonder how long this took to do? I hate talented people. He probably has a tricked out MySpace page that makes all of ours look really crummy.
I know fans want The Riddler in the next installment, but why? He's been done before, as have Joker and Penguin. Let's gets a fresh villain up in this Batbitch. If Nolan does do an old school Batman villain, I hope he goes with Riddler. Beats Poison Ivy at least. Maybe the next villain could be Dalton from Road House? Naw, Patrick Swayze would kick his ass.
Here's the poster in all its fake glory. Props to the artist for a job well done.
I like how the face is blanked out. I was going to Photoshop a picture of Ricky Gervais' face, but thats just my own personal choice as who I'd like to see play the part. (I'm kidding. Maybe nothing is blanked out and it's Wesley Snipes.)
So who should the next Batman villain be? Comment below or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by gjblass at 4:34 PM
Award-winning short film shot with still camera. Over 2000 photographs were stitched together to form movement.
Posted by gjblass at 4:32 PM
WOODLAND HILLS, California — A Lamborghini apparently driven recklessly led to the death of its 30-year-old driver in a fiery freeway crash and the closing of the road for several hours. The 2:30 a.m. Saturday accident on California's 101 freeway saw the lime-green 2008 Lamborghini Murciélago crash through a guardrail and fall over the side of the freeway into a parking structure, where it burst into flames, local media reported.
The driver, a man from Calabasas, was pronounced dead on the scene. His name was not released at the time of the accident, pending notification of relatives. Witnesses cited by the Los Angeles Times and local television said the Lamborghini was spotted driving at high speed on the Ventura Freeway west of Topanga Canyon Boulevard just before the crash. At least one news report said there was some possibility, now under investigation, that the driver lost control when trying to avoid another accident on the highway.
It took six hours for workers to clear the completely burned-out wreckage from the scene, closing the freeway until about 8:45 a.m., the paper said.
What this means to you: A sobering reminder that speed and judgment must be inextricably linked. — Laura Sky Brown, Correspondent
Posted by Chismillionaire at 4:00 PM
Firefox is a fastest growing popular web browser. There are lots of ease provided by the firefox and this is the main reason for its popularity. There are lots of free download able extensions and add-ons available on the internet for firefox and there demands are increasing every day. In this post, I am listing down 9 Amazing Firefox Add-Ons That Will Save Your Time.
You are welcome to share if you know more amazing firefox add-ons that will save time which our readers/viewers may like.
It lets you save articles and webpages so you can read them later, even when you’re offline. Now the internet is your bitch. Firefox add-on
This add-on is so badass, that if search engines made a superhero movie, this would be the Batman. Basically, you get to search any website with sonar vision and see through all the links at once. Firefox add-on
So, you visited a website you’re not too proud of, but you don’t want to delete your cookies or you will lose your progress on Defend Your Castle. Well now you can have your cookie and eat it too. Firefox add-on
This is your childhood cardboard fort of Firefox add-ons. Absolutely useless, but very… very cool. Basically this shows you the estimated worth of most websites. Who knows how accurate and useful it really is, but hey, did you really think your cool fort could actually keep the girls out? Firefox add-on
This is the Drunk Uncle at the bar that won’t stop hitting on the ladies of Firefox add-ons. TryAgain will keep trying to load a webpage when the server is not found, and it won’t stop till it gets what it wants. Firefox add-on
IMDb suffers from Wikipedia syndrome. How many times have you started on Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and ended up on The Shining? Too many damn times. However, with this add-on you get to preview links on IMDb and see snip-bits of information without leaving the page. Wait, why doesn’t Wiki have this?
What’s your record? 20 tabs open at once? Well Aging tabs will help you realize your laziness by making unused tabs fade and change colors with age. Although, it would be cooler if they made the tabs blow up in a fiery explosion instead.
This is the ultimate tab collection, greatest hits volume, 0.3.6. It has such classics as duplicating tabs, controlling tab focus, tab clicking options, and many of your other favorite hits. And if you download in the next 15 minutes we will throw in “undo closed tabs and windows!” Firefox add-on
Preview how a webpage page looks like before you actually click on the link. So now you can see how unorganized, useless, and ugly the website is before you commit your precious time to it. Dating really needs a tool like this. Firefox add-on
You can also take a look at 5 must have firefox add-ons for social media addicts I found interesting on the other website.
Posted by gjblass at 3:08 PM
By Phakamisa Ndzamela
LUDZIDZINI ROYAL VILLAGE, Swaziland (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of bare-breasted virgins competed for Swaziland King Mswati III's eye on Monday in a traditional Reed Dance.
Walking through the dense crowds in a leopard skin loin cloth, Sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch was expected to choose his 14th wife.
Critics say Mswati, who has courted controversy for his lavish lifestyle while two thirds of his subjects live in poverty, sets a bad example by encouraging polygamy and teenage sex in a country where about 40 percent of adults live with HIV.
Some of the women did not seem to mind, hoping to escape from the southern African nation's hardships for the easy life.
"I came here to dance. I wish the king would have chosen me because it's nice at the king's place. The wives live a nice life," said Tenene Dlamini, 16, in a traditional brown skirt.
"Everything is done for them. They don't work. They earn."
The Reed Dance has been a big date on the Swaziland cultural calendar since Mswati began the ceremony in 1999.
But he may not be as relaxed this year among the throngs of young half-naked women.
Political groups seeking democratic reforms have become more active in a country where the opposition has been effectively banned since 1973 by royal decree.
They are critical of plans to hold next weekend's celebrations of the king's 40th birthday in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of Swaziland's independence from Britain.
Still, some of Swaziland's women came to the Ludzidzini Royal Village to show their admiration for the monarch.
"I respect the king and I respect my culture," said Nontobeko Sdidlamini, 16, carrying a shield made of animal skin and wearing an orange bracelet which read "Sex Can Wait".
Some said they would not want to be part of a polygamous arrangement with the king and were taking part in the ceremony to prove their virginity. Others fear they lost out.
"My sister is the king's tenth wife. I don't think he can choose me because he has already chosen my sister," said Zandisile Ntentesa, a 21-year-old prison employee.
The king, flanked by bodyguards with pistols and sticks, may face pressure from emboldened critics. But he can take comfort from the wealth which wins him tributes and songs at the reed ceremony.
Last month, Forbes magazine listed him as the 15th-richest monarch in the world. He was the only African on the list.
During the reed festivities, one of the king's wives drove up in a fancy BMW. Policemen told people to look the other way.
(Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Giles Elgood)
Posted by gjblass at 2:55 PM
The site provides the screenshot above, plus a set of demonstration videos that can’t actually be played because they have either been removed or set to private. We’ve uploaded the splash screens to these videos so you can at least get a fuzzy sense of what Chrome’s features look like.
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 2:38 PM
By Ewen Callaway
November's team's map, showing predicted locations for each of 1,387 individuals based on their DNA.
The genes of a European person can be enough to pinpoint their ancestry down to their home country, claim two new studies.
By reading single-letter DNA differences in the genomes of thousands of Europeans, researchers can tell a Finn from a Dane and a German from a Brit. In fact a visual genetic map mirrors the geopolitical map of the continent, right down to Italy's boot.
"It tells us that geography matters," says John Novembre, a population geneticist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who led one of the studies. Despite language, immigration and intermarriage, genetic differences between Europeans are almost entirely related to where they were born.
This, however, does not mean that the citizens of each European nation represent miniature races. "The genetic diversity in Europe is very low. There isn't really much," says Manfred Kayser, a geneticist at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands, who led the other study.
Kayser's and Novembre's teams uncovered the gene-geography pattern only by analysing hundreds of thousands of common gene variants called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across the genomes of people from about two dozen countries. SNPs are places in the genome where one person's DNA might read A, while another's T.
Though the teams worked independently, they used some of the same DNA samples, which were gathered by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline to help hunt for genes linked to drug side effects. The researchers recorded the results alongside the country of origin for each subject as well as that of their parents and grandparents when possible.
For each subject, the researchers decoded half a million SNPs. However, to get an overall assessment of the difference between any two genomes, the researchers used a mathematical trick that scrunched the hundreds of thousands of SNPs into two coordinates, with each person's genome represented by a point. The greater the distance between two points, the greater the difference in their genomes.
When both teams plotted thousands of genomes on a single graph along with their country of origin, a striking map of Europe emerged. Spanish and Portuguese genomes clustered "south-west" of French genomes, while Italian genomes jutted "south-east" of Swiss.
These cardinal directions are artificial, but the spatial relationships between genomes are not. In general, the closer together two people live, the more similar their DNA. The same is known to be true of animals .
The map was so accurate that when Novembre's team placed a geopolitical map over their genetic "map", half of the genomes landed within 310 kilometres of their country of origin, while 90% fell within 700 km.
Both teams found that southern Europeans boast more overall genetic diversity than Scandinavians, British and Irish.
"That makes perfect sense with the major migration waves that went into Europe," says Kayser, noting Homo sapien's European debut 35,000 years ago, post-ice age expansions 20,000 years ago, and movements propelled by the advent of farming 10,000 years ago. In each case, members of established southern populations struck north.
"A pattern in which genes mirror geography is essentially what you would expect from a history in which people moved slowly and mated mainly with their close neighbours," says Noah Rosenberg, a geneticist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Journal references: Nature (DOI: 10.1038/nature07331)
Current Biology (DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2008.07.049)
Posted by gjblass at 2:33 PM
I bet my cousin, Irving Kofsky, was the oldest man at Burning Man this year. But Andie Grace, a spokesperson for the festival who keeps track of such things at the annual, week-long circus in the Nevada desert, said there's no way to know. "Among the oldest participants I've ever had the pleasure to hang out with, one was actor Larry Hagman, who was born in September of '31," she said. "So your cousin has him beat." Easily. Irving was seven when J.R. Ewing was born.
"Do you think you're the oldest guy at Burning Man?" I ask him.
"Don't go there," he says sharply.
Irving, a physicist, is my hero. This is his second trip to Burning Man. His son, Lewis, who's made the trek from New York to the desert eight times, turned Irving on to the scene here and Irving liked what he saw. How could I resist tagging along, too, to gauge this pre-Depression Baby's reaction to one of the most unbridled examples of 21st century self expression and self indulgence? Techno-hippies, freaks, self-described "mutants," the pierced and the tattooed and the nude streamed past us on foot, on bicycles and in two-decker "art cars" festooned to look like pirate ships and space shuttles.
We were walking along the esplanade that rings the crunchy, white sand of the central playa, where 45,000 people materialize, suddenly, every August to construct huge metal sculptures, geodesic domes, mobile dragons that shoot real flames and other art installations that, well, wouldn't be possible anywhere else. Here in the Black Rock desert, a sandstorm caused a white out last Monday and again on Saturday, but on this day, it was clear and windless. Irving, bare-chested beneath a rainbow-colored vest, and a straw pith helmet festooned with a lei of red, purple, blue and yellow silk flowers, looked like he'd just arrived. Which, come to think of it, he had, after a two-day drive in a truck from his summer place in Montana.
We stop in front of a three-story statue composed entirely of bleached, animal bones. I am impressed, Not Irving. "What are we missing here?" he asks. "Art is supposed to inspire."
When I was a little boy, Irving was a man of mystery, like James Bond suavely passing through Miami International Airport. My grandmother and I greeted him as he came off a plane and we sat in a coffee shop, where he diagrammed an atom on a napkin and explained his job — nuclear physicist. Only years later did I learn that he was involved in Operation Dominic, as the U.S. detonated 105 nuclear explosions in the Pacific and he flew in an airplane trying to measure a bomb's electro-magnetic pulse. He hardly ever discussed it.
Could anything be more riveting than watching an atomic bomb explode? What could possibly trump seeing the sky, high above Johnston Island, turn into a man-made aurora borealis?
As usual, my cousin Irving swats aside my questions as if they were pesky mosquitoes. "It was disgusting," he says. "A terrible waste of time. We learned nothing."
Now, across the desert, a giant explosion of flame sends up a rubbery puff of soot-black smoke, and a diaphanous form slowly takes shape: A perfect smoke ring. Framed against the deep blue sky it hangs lazily above the playa — one of hundreds that an attendee known as "the smoke ring guy" will crank out this week. It's typical of the science-heavy art here: Burning Man is where the right brain meets the left brain, where technologists use science to create art.
Suddenly, Irving and I find ourselves surrounded. A mob of people dressed as bunnies — hundreds of them, maybe thousands, with bunny noses and bunny ears and buck, bunny teeth. They swarm the esplanade, carrying picket signs ("The only good human is at the end of a key chain.") The lead bunny is yelling through a megaphone, inciting the crowd, and we are engulfed in a bunny stampede, the annual Billion Bunny March.
We can't move and are frozen to the spot. One bunny pulls a wagon with a boom box that blares "Little Bunny Foo Foo," and a bunny brass band, with a tuba and trombone, marches by. I glance at my cousin and see the light sparkling from his eyes. "See?" says the oldest man at Burning Man. At last he'd found his inspiration. "This is the kind of thing you could never explain."
Posted by gjblass at 2:31 PM
We've got 10 secrets that your bank doesn't want you to know. But branches aren't just about convenience; they're a bank's primary sales floor. Brochures for services as varied as retirement accounts and home loans are on display, and everyone from the teller on up is trained to make a sale. That's because in the current low-interest-rate climate, it's harder to generate revenue from interest alone. Many players in the industry have been trying to boost fee- and service-based income, so if a teller sees you have a mortgage, he might suggest you meet with a loan officer to discuss a home-equity loan. Says Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com, "The more products a customer has with a bank, the more likely he is to stay with that bank."
1. "Our branches are there to sell you, not serve you." In the late 1990s bank branches were considered outmoded relics soon to be replaced by ATMs and Internet banking. But just the opposite happened: In 1998 there were 89,000 bank branches in the U.S.; by 2007 there were 97,000. Why? The industry realized consumer banking was profitable and that despite the predictions of Silicon Valley wonks, the main criterion consumers use in choosing a bank is proximity, says SNL Financial analyst Jennifer Payne.
Click here to read more | digg story
But branches aren't just about convenience; they're a bank's primary sales floor. Brochures for services as varied as retirement accounts and home loans are on display, and everyone from the teller on up is trained to make a sale. That's because in the current low-interest-rate climate, it's harder to generate revenue from interest alone. Many players in the industry have been trying to boost fee- and service-based income, so if a teller sees you have a mortgage, he might suggest you meet with a loan officer to discuss a home-equity loan. Says Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com, "The more products a customer has with a bank, the more likely he is to stay with that bank."
Posted by gjblass at 2:24 PM
The Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch next month (October 8th), carrying new instruments, batteries and gyroscopes to the Hubble Space Telescope. This will be the final servicing mission to Hubble, the 30th flight of the 23-year old Atlantis, and one of the final 10 flights of the Space Shuttle program, which will be retired in 2010. Even though Shuttle launches may seem to have become commonplace, their preparation and execution is still a months-long process, requiring the work and diligence of thousands to make sure the aging, complex systems are all in perfect condition for launch. Here are some photos of the ongoing preparations for the launch of this mission, STS-125, some of the people involved in making it work, and the crew, who will assume the risks to help keep Hubble alive.
Click here (23 photos total)
Posted by gjblass at 2:21 PM
- Back in 2006, Oscar Diös heard there was a dead Boeing 747-200 built in 1976 on one of the runways at Arlanda Airport, the largest international airport in Sweden, north of Stockholm. It was once owned by a Swedish company called Transjet, who used it to fly muslim pilgrims to Mecca, as well as doing charter flights around the world until it was grounded for "organizational problems" in 2002. The noble Jumbo was in a bad state, but Oscar saw the possibilities right away. Probably after way too many glasses of akvavit that day, Diös thought he had the perfect idea: to buy the 747 and convert it into a low-cost hotel.
I was getting ready to expand my hostel business in 2006 when I heard about an old wreck of an aircraft for sale at Arlanda. Since I had for a long time wanted to establish my business at Arlanda I didn’t hesitate for a second when this opportunity struck.
It may seem like a weird thought, but being a modest owner of the hostel Uppsala Vandrarhem och Hotell, in Uppsala, Oscar knew how expensive it is to actually find a terrain near a busy airport like Arlanda, and then actually build an entire hotel from scratch.
That's why, when he learnt about the dead Jumbo, Oscar only saw cheap space for rooms and decided it was time to continue his inexpensive hotel business right there. He thought that, being the busiest, largest international airport in his country, there was going to be a lot of clients looking for cheap accommodation.
However, at the end it wasn't that easy. There was a long way from buying the airplane to finally setting up the hostel. First he needed to get the OK from the authorities of Sigtuna, the town that controls the terrains in which the Arlanda Airport is based. He had the perfect pitch for them: it was going to be a unique landmark, he thought. He wanted to place it right at the entrance of the airport itself, on top of a concrete foundation with the landing gear tied to two steel cradles. The authorities heard the story and, surprisingly enough, they agreed to approve the plan and granted him the necessary permissions.
The hotel itself was also a challenge. It wasn't going to be as easy as to install a few beds, provide clean linens, and sell curry kyckling macka, small beer cans, lousy pot coffee, and peanut bags at the airplane's second level cafeteria. The Boeing 747-200 interior—with 450 seats—needed to be completely dismantled and sanitized. Then, it needed to be insulated, divided into 25 rooms (each of them 6 square meters, with 3 meters high ceilings), and completely rewired. It also needed new plumbing, bathrooms, sanitation, and a new climate control system, since the windows on planes are fixed and can't be opened. And to finish it all, the whole result had to adhere to the strict construction policies of Sweden.At the end, and after a two year odyssey, he did it: the Jumbo Hostel—as Oscar called his creation—has been towed to its final destination this summer, and bookings will start in December. All in the name of inexpensive accommodation, pilots and stewardesses sex fantasies, and crazy Swedish landmarks. Pass the akvavit Oscar, next time I go to that part of the world, I'll be checking in.
Posted by gjblass at 1:47 PM
Posted by gjblass at 1:41 PM
The Dark Knight keeps surprising us... first, it was the movie itself. Now, some products related to the epic are getting some attention. Hollywood have always got some good merchandising for their movie, specially when the subject is Action Figures.
Action Figures have always been a big PART of our lives. Not our lives? Well, at least MY life. But if you can relate to that, than you'll probably get all jumpy when you get to see this sweet Joker action figure. Different from the first TDK action figures featuring the regular Joker outfit, this one features the Bank Robber version of our favorite villain.
Update: I forgot to post the picture where it shows all the accessories... there is also an extra head, so that's why his expression and hair change. ;)
Posted by gjblass at 1:39 PM
There is a certain thrill to cracking a code. The 300,000-word journal of Charles Wesley, the co-founder of the Methodist movement, which was written in an obscure shorthand, has been solved and the diary transcribed. It has taken nine years. Many other secret diaries are often used to express feelings that no-one else was meant to understand.
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 1:37 PM
Ever had a neopolitan milkshake from McDonald’s?
One where they layer the chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla flavors in the same cup, creating a thick, icy, slow-moving light-brown-swirls-with-pink-flecks taste sensation? Yeah, my friend Chad was a regular customer of those. Of course, when he was working at McDonald’s he got sick of the regular menu pretty quickly and started tinkering in the back like a mad scientist with his coworkers, developing exotic, unstable, and unpredictable meal creations with the ingredients on hand. Yes, there were failed attempts, like the Chicken McNugget Flurry, but sometimes they struck gold and created a new off-the-menu line extension. I guess this is fairly common, because there are reports of online McDonald’s employee communities, where insider recipes such as the McBrushetta and McPancakeBatterFunnelCakes are shared.
Now, my world opened up when I first realized with Chad that you could order off-the-menu at fast food restaurants. Since that time I’ve learned about a few other secret options around. Like for instance:
• Wendy’s - The Grand Slam. If the single, double, or triple hamburgers at Wendy’s just don’t cut it for you, just go all out and order the massive four-patty grand slam. Also known as the Classic Quadruple or The Meat Cube.
• Starbucks - The Red Eye. A cup of coffee with a shot of espresso dumped in. Now, I’m not a huge coffee drinker, but apparently you can even upgrade this to two shots which is called a Black Eye. I presume upgrading to three shots is called a Jumpy, Unblinking Eye.
• Most Fish & Chip places - Batter Bits. I knew a girl who was all over these. She’d lean in and guiltily ask in a hushed whisper and the guy behind the counter would nod slowly and hand over a wet, greasy paper bag full of all the batter drippings that fell into the oil by accident. Yeah, this is the bottom of the barrel of off-the-menu stylings. It ain’t always pretty out there.
• In-N-Out Burger - Animal Style Hamburger. The well-known ‘secret menu‘ at In-N-Out features this heavenly gem — their regular burger patty cooked in mustard, then topped with extra pickles, extra spread, and grilled onions. Yessir, In-N-Out will whip anything up — including messy Animal Style Fries or even a 100×100 order (100 patties and 100 slices of dee-licious cheese.)
• Subway - The Pizza Sub. Apparently this one’s like sasquatch. There are scattered sightings everywhere and a few grainy videos that may have been tampered with. Another favorite from Subway, though not technically a menu item, is simply ‘the old cut’, where they dig a trench in your bread instead of just slicing it, leading to better cold cut and veggie distribution. Also known for causing The Wing Effect, where your bologna hangs out the sides of your sandwich for some tasty pre-nibbles.
• McDonald’s - Big Mac with Quarter Pounder patties. One last McDonald’s fixture — the ol’ bun-heavy Big Mac surgically altered to become a meat-heavy Big Mac with Quarter Pounder patties instead. Now you’re much less likely to get that dreaded All-Bun first bite.
• Starbucks - The Short Cup. Even though the smallest size on the Starbucks menu is a ‘Tall’, they do offer a secret ‘Short’ size behind the counter. Perfect for that between-coffee-breaks coffee.
Now, I’m only one man, so I’m sure there are hundreds of great off-the-menu gems that I’ve never heard of or know about. But that’s the beauty! There are all these little surprises just waiting to be discovered. What possible fast-food mouth love will we discover next?
Ordering off the menu at fast food restaurants is a great deal. Maybe you’re the loyal customer looking for that new taste. Maybe you have strict dietary restrictions so it’s either off-the-menu or no-menu-at-all. Or maybe you’re just a grumpy guy who makes flippant off-the-menu requests with a deep scowl and a foot-stomp.
But whatever the case, whatever your background, whatever your taste, I think we can all agree that it sure is nice getting a little something special for lunch now and then.
Posted by gjblass at 12:52 PM
ScienceDaily (Sep. 1, 2008) — Scientists at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, are set to explore the world's deepest undersea volcanoes and find out what lives in a 'lost world' five kilometres beneath the Caribbean.
The team of researchers led by Dr Jon Copley has been awarded £462,000 by the Natural Environment Research Council to explore the Cayman Trough, which lies between Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. This rift in the Caribbean seafloor plunges to a depth of more than 5000 metres below sea level. It contains the world's deepest chain of undersea volcanoes, which have yet to be explored.
The researchers are planning two expeditions over the next three years using the UK's newest research ship, RRS James Cook. From the ship, the team will send the UK's remotely-operated vehicle Isis and a new British robot submarine called Autosub6000 into the abyss.
The team will look for new geological features and new species of marine life in the rift on the seafloor. Geologist Dr Bramley Murton will use a whale-friendly sonar system to map the undersea volcanoes in unprecedented detail to understand their formation. At the same time, oceanographer Dr Kate Stansfield will study the deep ocean currents in the Cayman Trough for the first time and geochemist Dr Doug Connelly will hunt for volcanic vents on the ocean floor. These volcanic vents are home to exotic deep-sea creatures that will be studied by marine biologists Dr Jon Copley and Professor Paul Tyler.
"The Cayman Trough may be a 'lost world' that will give us the missing piece in a global puzzle of deep-sea life," says Dr Copley, a lecturer with the University of Southampton’s School of Ocean and Earth Science. Volcanic vents in the Atlantic are home to swarms of blind shrimp and beds of unusual mussels. But similar deep-sea vents in the eastern Pacific are inhabited by bizarre metre-long tubeworms. The researchers hope to find out whether creatures living in the Cayman Trough are related to those in the Pacific or the Atlantic – or completely different to both.
Before North and South America joined three million years ago, there was a deep water passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic. This means that the undersea volcanoes of the Cayman Trough could harbour a 'missing link' between deep-sea life in the two oceans. Finding out just what lives in the rift will help scientists understand patterns of marine life around the world.
"The deep ocean is the largest ecosystem on our planet, so we need to understand its patterns of life," says Dr Copley. "Deep-sea exploration has also given us new cancer treatments and better fibre-optic cables for the internet, both thanks to deep-sea creatures."
Working at depths of more than five kilometres will take the UK's deep-diving vehicles close to their limits. Isis is the UK’s deepest diving remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) reaching depths of 6,500 metres. The team will control Isis from their research ship to film the ocean floor and collect samples with its robotic arms.
Autosub6000, a new unmanned undersea vehicle built in Southampton, can dive to 6000 metres deep. Autosub6000 is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) – a robot submarine that can carry out missions on its own, without being remote-controlled. The team will launch Autosub6000 from their ship to survey the area and hunt for volcanic vents on the ocean floor.
"These undersea volcanoes lie within British seabed territory recognised by the United Nations," says Dr Copley. "We now have the technology to explore them." The public will be able to follow the progress of the expeditions through web pages updated from the ship. The team will also invite a school teacher to join them and share the scientific adventure with classrooms around the world.
Posted by gjblass at 12:40 PM
It’s no secret: animals are out to kill us. While we spend hundreds of billions of dollars fighting the terrorist threat overseas, animal sleeper cells are biding their time, developing strange and fabulous powers far beyond those of man. Hawks sharpening their talons. Giant squids flexing their suckers. Dolphins waggling their prehensile penises. And leading the brigade, a very special cat that knows when you’re going to die. And that’s only the tip of the furry iceberg.
So, as a public service, we’ve decided to profile some of the world’s most superpowered creatures. As far as we know, none of them are on the Endangered Species list. Though with the help of fear mongering articles like this, and some generous gun control legislation, we can change all that. If we don’t, it just may be us humans living in protected enclosures and spending our days watching pornography to encourage mating behavior like nature’s loser, the Panda.
The Power: Atomic Climbing
How It Works: When they’re not using their British accents to hawk car insurance, geckos spend their time scurrying up surfaces with the ease of a machine specifically designed to do the same. But this isn’t just some snail-class gooey shit climbing we’re talking about here. Every square millimeter of a gecko’s footpads contains 14,000 tiny hairs, called setae, each of which branches into around 500 little tiny “spatulae” so small that they are below the wavelength of visible light. Using these invisible, atomic micromicromicrofibers, geckos are able to harness van der Waals interactions on a molecular level, sticking to almost every known surface outside of Teflon. Their grip is so strong, if it used all of its gripping power at once, a single adult gecko could hold aloft 290 lbs. At this point, it’s important to note that our brave men and women in uniform almost all weigh under 290 lbs., making them prime targets for roving bands of gecko hurl-squads.
Spirit Animal Of: Spider-Man, The Human Fly, Dan Osmond
Additional Powers: Can lick their own eyeballs, and expel feces when threatened.
Our Only Defense, Should They Rise Against Us: Outfit our soldiers with the latest in Teflon bodysuit technology.
The Power: Energy Blasts
How It Works: A number of animal species are able to project ink, foul-smelling chemicals, or feces from their bodies. But in these cases, there is little to fear beyond stained clothing, a tomato sauce bath, or social ostracism. The bombardier beetle, however, takes bodily expulsion to a new threat level by harnessing the power of chemical reactions to release a boiling, exploding liquid from its body up to seventy times per encounter. In short, it shits napalm. We don’t even need to explain what kind of threat this poses to our citizens and toilet paper industry alike.
Spirit Animal Of: Me after a night of Tijuana-style Jalapeño Dogs.
Additional Powers: Starred in a children’s book that purports to disprove the Theory of Evolution.
Our Only Defense, Should They Rise Against Us: Spiking the beetle’s natural food source with boxes upon boxes of Gas-X.
The Power: Electrolocation
How It Works: Count your senses. If you’re fortunate, you’ve got one hand raised, five fingers splayed in sensorial triumph. If you’re less fortunate, a birth defect or lathe accident has knocked you down to three or four, or else you got your fingers chopped off in a bar fight. But if you’re a Platypus, you get to raise six fingers, all presumably snapped from the hands of girl scouts and dangling from a malevolent bill. Platapi are monotremes (the only other monotreme is the echidna, who we already know are after our Chaos Emeralds), a type of mammal endowed with the sixth sense of electroreception, the ability to sense electric fields generated by muscular contraction. That means they can sense your directional location if you so much as move a muscle. Even a blind, deaf Platypus with no sense of smell knows right where you are, and he and his echidna friends are on their way. With tire irons. And they’re angry drunk.
Spirit Animal Of: Daredevil, Radar O’Reilly, the raptors from the kitchen scene of Jurassic Park.
Additional Powers: Venemous talons on each foot, egg-laying, and the cruel mockery of all evolutionary and natural law.
Our Only Defense, Should They Rise Against Us: Convince them that their “protected habitat” is a Faraday Cage.
The Power: Superspeed
How It Works: Hummingbirds do everything fast. They’ve got the fastest metabolism of any animal other than insects, their heart rate can get up to 1,260 beats per minute, and they can flap their wings up to 70 times a second. One can only imagine the horrifying speed with which they’d fire shoulder-mounted rockets at our school buses. This incredible speed makes the Hummingbird the only animal capable of hovering in midair, and even flying backwards. The only device we have that can match them in aerial agility is the helicopter, and that’s got nothing on them for nectar-drinking ability. If terrorists ever decide to design and manufacture Hummingbird pistols, we’re going to be in for mobile, whirling vortices of sheer bullet.
Spirit Animal Of: This guy.
Additional Powers: A bifurcated tongue, the ability to hibernate in times of food shortage, and the observed ability to fly over 500 miles without stopping to sleep or eat.
Our Only Defense, Should They Rise Against Us: Because of their speed, hummingbirds need to eat up to five times their own body weight in nectar per day. Destroy the flowers, and we’ve got these bastards on the run.
The Power: Sharpshooting
How It Works: The archerfish of India and Polynesia feed primarily on insects. Only, unlike normal, International Law-abiding fish, they don’t just wait for a bug to fly into the water and drown. The archerfish uses a specially-shaped lower jaw to shoot a jet of water up to fifteen feet long to knock insects out of overhanging branches. They are such skilled marksman that they can routinely shoot and kill an insect six feet above the surface of the water, while compensating for light refraction. Which is all well and good when they’re only shooting at bugs; let the animals wipe each other out, we say. But how long can we allow our children to cavort and play on the branches overhanging Polynesian rivers before we lose one to these deadly snipers?
Spirit Animal Of: Leon from The Professional, Simo Hayha, Robin of Loxley
Additional Powers: Enough PR to get two U.S. submarines named after them.
Our Only Defense, Should They Rise Against Us: Polluting some of the world’s rivers might fuzzy up their aim a bit. Get on it.
The Power: Agility
How It Works: Your average house cat is already fairly threatening: claws, the evil eye, and an internal “righting mechanism” that guarantees that no matter how high a building you drop them off of, the best you’re going to get is four broken kitty legs. Enter the ring-tailed cat, probably shimmying backwards down a pipe. The ring-tail cat has taken “cat-like agility” to an absurd degree, routinely performing cartwheels on narrow branches in order to change direction, rotating their feet up to 180 degrees, and climbing up cervices in rock by ricochet-jumping back and forth between each side. That’s right; they can’t just out-agile us, they’ve got to rub it in our faces too. Word has it the Russians are busy recruiting ring-taileds for their 2012 floor gymnastics team. All that, and the evil eye is strong as ever.
Spirit Animal Of: Altair from Assassin’s Creed, Sam Fischer, Shawn Johnson
Additional Powers: The ring-tailed cat is omnivorous. Now, we don’t want to frighten anyone unduly, but did you know that the literal translation of omnivorous is “eats everything?”
Our Only Defense, Should They Rise Against Us: A nation-wide pole-greasing campaign.
The Power: Post-Mortem Impregnation
How It Works: Even a carpet bombing of the sea floor may not be enough to wipe these things out for good (although it’s not a bad start). Some particularly stubborn anglerfish species are able to procreate even from beyond the watery grave. The males of the species, when they find a female, will proceed with foreplay in the manner any of us would: by biting into her skin, then secreting an enzyme that dissolves his lips and part of her body, permanently attaching himself to her in the form of a decaying food tube. At the other end of the tube are the gonads, primed to release their precious payload at the woman’s discretion. That’s the human equivalent of stapling your nuts to an ex-girlfriend, on the premise that “she might need them later.”
Spirit Animal Of: Every needy boyfriend who ever “accidentally” left something at your apartment so he could drop by to pick it up.
Additional Powers: Bioluminescent head-lures, extreme resistance to undersea water pressure, camouflage.
Our Only Defense, Should They Rise Against Us: An abundant supply of morning after pills.
The Power: Every fucking thing
How It Works: The Octopus may very well be the biggest threat to national security since brown people. They’re the most intelligent invertebrate in the world, can detach their arms, spray ink, move in perfect cadence with underwater currents, squeeze through any space larger than a quarter, and change color to blend in with their surroundings. Due to the inordinate number of superhuman powers they were granted, current biological studies assert that they may, in fact, be God.
Spirit Animal Of: Mr. Fantastic, Captain Marvel (the shitty one), Dr. Zoidberg
Additional Powers: Not that they need any, but researchers now believe that some octopi are capable of walking on land on two legs, while disguising themselves as a coconut. So the next time you’re going to make piña coladas, blend first and ask questions later.
Our Only Defense, Should They Rise Against Us: If the octopi are attacking, there’s really not a whole lot we can do. The best plan would be to nuke the Earth to hell and start over. There’s a good chance the radioactive mutants spawned in the apocalypse won’t be as powerful or weird looking, anyway.
Posted by gjblass at 12:31 PM