Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ubuntu 11.04 (AKA Gnarly Gnat-Wall) has finally arrived

sudo make install sandwichOk, so maybe it's called Natty Narwhal. In any case, you can now get some Ubuntu 11.04 goodness here and then spend the rest of the day swearing at the lousy Unity Interface. Unless, of course, you happen to be running on old hardware without 3D acceleration, in which case, you will boot into good-old fashioned gnome. You can also get gnome from the log-in screen if you log out and select "classic" (as long as you are not using the ARM installation). New features include a spiffy, non-customizable, non-movable left-side launcher (similar to 'Docky'), a "Dashboard" that is a lot like the launcher app-screen in Android, and a notable absence of Open Office and Nautilus.

Although I wouldn't describe unity as a total disaster, You will certainly not find it on my desktop anytime soon. Installation was as smooth as always, and just needs a little clicky on the "install" icon. Also, if you happen to be running a recent Intel-based Toshiba Satellite and were wondering... No. The cpu fan will still not work without reverting to Grub legacy, hopping on one foot, and putting your tongue behind your head.
image is shared via xkdc (CC-BY-NC 2.5)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Half-Mile Long Web Page

long pageThat's right, this page is going to be requiring a lot of scrolling. In case you were not able to make it to Stinson Beach in 2004, Phrenopolis.com has a to-scale model of the solar system up on our very own internets. Starting here with the sun, let your fingers do the walking and get a feel for how big our little spot in the universe really is. Think you can make it to earth before your fingers permanently cramp into "the claw"? If not, you can also find earth here. We at the village are still patiently waiting for the scale-model of the 1235 other earth-like planets.

Monday, April 25, 2011

New Facebook "Send" Button Puts the Nose Back In Your Face

For all of those times when you've found that absolutely Likeable Tweet, but didn't want to go sharing it with just anybody... Facebook now offers the Send Button. That's right, you can now bring back fond memories of high-school cliques and have inside jokes with all your favourite friends! Funny though, I haven't seen a single like from any of my facebook friends all day... Hey wait a minute...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Translations for gas station coffee

House Blend- circa 1987. This brew is made from a large supply of coffee grounds that was present in the building when we purchased it.

Breakfast Blend - Same as house blend, however, someone on night-shift made a three-pointer during a rowdy game of do-nut ball. Don't mind the chunks...

Venezuelan Blend – Frank made this coffee. He says he's Latino.

Colombian Blend – Apparently, someone on night shift dumped their stash in this brew to avoid indictment during the last police raid.

Espresso Roast – We have no direct evidence this is actually coffee and not motor oil. All we know is it's been on the warming plate for several days.

High Rev. - A delicate blend of our Espresso Roast and Colombian coffees.

Cappuccino - Same as Espresso Roast, but we added a half pound of powdered creamer.
image via wpclipart.com

Samsung infuse 4G release date!

tricky Android logo hot dogging (Update May 15): The Samsung Infuse is Offically on sale at AT&T. Going rate there is 199.00, but you can get it 50 bucks cheaper if you buy through Amazon.com (with a new contract).
---

The lords of Google Alert have just informed me that the phone I was drooling over is on its way to Walmart in May! Sadly, it doesn't look like they slipped a dual core processor in there like I hoped they would and are sticking to their single core 1.2 GHz humming bird. Ah well... Oddly, while this news is on sites like "phandroid" and "Android Central", none of the major Tech Sites seem to have picked up the news yet. I do hope it does not turn out to be a false alarm, but reports are stating this news comes straight from a Walmart Circular. *Fingers Crossed* The Other specs and price for your reading pleasure:
$178.88 (presumably with a new 2-year contract)
Display
Type- Super AMOLED Plus capacitive touchscreen
Resolution- 480 x 800 pixels
Size - 4.5 inches
Tech- Gorilla Glass display, TouchWiz 3.0 UI
Data Capacity- 8 GB onboard, microSD up to 32GB
Wireless- GPRS, EDGE, 3G, HSDPA, HSUPA, WLAN, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n; DLNA
USB - microUSB
Camera -8 MP, 3264x2448 px, single LED flash
Video - 720p
Front-facing camera: 1.3 MP
OS - Android Froyo OS (v2.2)with update planned for 2.3 (yeah right, like Samsung would actually send an update)
CPU - 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor
We do find it a bit odd that no one has come forth with a review unit yet. Don't those things usually come out a month or so in advance?
specs source: Samsung and CES videos


(Update) 2011-05-03: Samsung has announced a press event with AT&T on May 5... That's in two days! Maybe we'll actually get some official news...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Physical Therapy is Fun

I can understand if you are wondering why there is a picture of President George W. Bush on the left, when the title clearly indicates this discussion should have something to do with physical therapy (PT). The reason is quite simple. Listening to Mr. Bush give a speech is the closest approximation I could think of to describe my experience so far. Consider it for a second... you sit there watching him talk. He's our president, so silently you're rooting for him. But deep down you know it simply can't go well. It's just a matter of time before he asks Americans to put more food on their family and urges OB-GYNs everywhere to practice more love with their patients. You cringe in agony half-way through every sentence, because yep, he messed that one up too.

Physical therapy is like that. Don't be fooled by the name. PT is derived from the two english words, "Therapy" and "Physical". Therapy- meaning treatment by some remedial, rehabilitating, or curative process,1 - and physical - meaning characterized by, or liking rough physical contact or strenuous physical activity.2 And therein lies the problem. These two words go together about as well as double-fudge chocolate ice-cream and anchovies. A typical PT session goes something like this:
Therapist: How does doing that feel?
Me: Not too bad.
Therapist: Oh? Ok, let's try this.
Me: You want me to put my foot behind my head?
Therapist: Only as far as you're comfortable with.
Me: It feels good on the ground.
Therapist: Let's just try.
Me: I'm stuck!
Therapist: Great! Let's do three sets of 15!
Me: ... You do realize it's my shoulder that hurts, right?
Therapist: Everything's connected. Remember, stop if you feel pain.
Me: I've lost all feeling in my lower extremities, and I'm pretty sure my big toe is lodged in my left ear.
Therapist: Maybe you're not ready for this yet, but we're definitely making progress!
What I have learned though, is there are two types of muscles: The kind physical therapists think exist, which look like lean, flexible rubber-bands, and the kind that actually exist, which look more like shriveled strips of bacon fried in an trash incinerator. Also, any time the phrases "this might hurt" and "for your own good" come up, your body is about to do something that defies the general laws of physics. Considering those laws were developed purely to enable people to have access to apples without stretching up to get them, I have decided all physical therapists are actually sadist antagonists from another dimension. In fact, since the presence of other dimensions are supported by the string theory (which i once heard has something to do with rubber bands), this actually makes some sense.

The mural of the story? Fool me once, shame on... shame on... you can't get fool by an OB-GYN.
photo via Susan Sterner, The White House (US-PD)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wierd Al Shut Down By Lady Ga-Ga

lady gagaAfter insisting she actually hear the finished version of what would be her new hit single parody, Ms. GaGa decided she wouldn't give the go ahead after all. Poor Al writes about it here, and for posterity, posts the song up on youtube. We at the village have now decided we don't like Lady GaGa so much... but then, I think we were actually born that way.

[Update]: According to new news, the whole "she doesn't like my song thing" was all the fault of a sneaky little manager who never even bothered to inform Ms. GaGo that there was a parody to consider. But we at the village press know that it was simply a case of poor foresight on Lady Gaga's part. She just didn't consider or realize what the public fallout would be, and after a quick conference, it was decided that the poor little manager would take the fall before things got out of hand.

Though we like it, sometimes technology doesn't work

If any person that happens by this site happens to know why, every time I add a link via Blogger's "new post", the interface also adds the text "http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif" somewhere in that post... please let me know.

In related news, see here for a better understanding of why the English language is so complicated.

Is Blogging a Phase?

If you take a look over there at our archives, it may look like The Village is a relatively new site -A fresh space on the internets, if you will. But five years ago, before some chinesse guy snatched our domain name out from under us, this very space was a thriving weblog. We were around back when blogs were described as "hybrid online sites that blend news, gossip and opinion" and even remember when Google bought "Blogger". Well, what happened then?

Drum-roll...

We simply stopped writing. And after recently ransoming my old template off of its forgotten servers, I've discovered that nearly every other site that I used to follow has done the same thing. Oh, there are still a few out there with recent updates. But most have either been laying dormant for years or are missing altogether.

Now while it's possible that my departure from the web triggered a cataclyismic (cataclysimic?...5 years has not improved my spelling) caused a lot of people such levels of depression that they couldn't go on, even the village idiot finds that hard to believe. So I'm left wondering what the alternatives are... Did all of my old blog buddies, like myself, get too busy to keep it going? Did life simply pull our interests elsewhere? I'll freely admit I wouldn't be back to posting content if it had not been for my wife recently starting her own weblog for the sake of her buisness.

As a hypothesis, the above seems to be a likely possibility. Life is busy and creating original content takes time. But I'll pose an observation made while clicking on the ole "next blog" button up there: Most of the out-of-date weblogs I've encountered (where the last update was more than a year ago) had a solid run that was 3-6 years long. So is it possible that blogging is nothing more than a "phase" for many of us? I kind of doubt it, but hey, as a scientist I am supposed to be making observations. Never-mind the fact that frequently referring to myself in the plural is likely to lend some skepticism to my credibility....

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Staying on Top of Your Mental Health

With the recent news of Catherine Zeta-Jone's diagnosis of bipolar disorder, we are reminded that no one is exempt from the dangers of mental illness. It is somewhat sad that is takes a celebrity to get the media focused mental health, but we'll take what we can get. According to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, in a given year, approximately one quarter (25%) of adults in the united states suffer from a diagnosable mental illness. However, between 2004-2008, only around 13% of adults have actually been receiving treatment. If you've been feeling down lately, make like that magnet over there and talk to someone! Need more information on how to stay on top of your mental health? My favorite Waco psychologist has a recent post on bipolar disorder as well as a lot of other resources on how professional help can help.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Super Mario Bluegrass

Combining two of the things I love most, The Cleverly's have put together the Italian Masterpiece you see embedded below. And quite honestly, I think this is the way Luigi would have wanted it...


Thursday, April 14, 2011

And I'll Huffington and Puffington and Blow Your Blogs Down

Another site stands swallowed by Arianna Huffington in the recent merger between AOL and Huffington Post. Switched may now count itself among the ranks of sites such as Engadget, Mapquest, Techcrunch, and Moviefone that have been or will be consolidated into AOL's rebranding efforts. For the time being, a farewell post from Switched Writer Thomas Houston is here. We'll see if it stays up. And yes, sure,I can read the big sign at the top saying they are moving... but as Eric Snider explains, it won't be the same.

In related news, after finding out AOL had actually been paying their free-lance writers, a few folks who had been free-blogging it decided it was high time to file a lawsuit. The Village Counsel can't help but love this quote:
"On the call this morning, Tasini vowed to make Huffington a pariah in the progressive community”

image via freeclipartnow.com

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Amazon.com may get a bit more pricey

It would seem those days of tax-free internet shopping are in jeopardy again. Senator Dick Durbin (Democrat, Illinois), the same Dick Durbin that wants to help us lower the tax burden for middle class families, is preparing legislation for adding sales tax to all internet purchases. While I'm not necessarily against the idea, it certainly will make buying things on line less appealing when we have to pay tax as well as shipping. Of course, if the price of gas keeps going up, extra sales tax may just be a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of driving to the nearest store... In any case, it's best to buy those special items now!

The village editorial note: This review from amazon on uranium ore is simply priceless gold:
"I purchased this product 4.47 Billion Years ago and when I opened it today, it was half empty."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

50 years in space


It's been 50 years since Universal Studios filmed Yuri Gargarin became the first man in space. Head over to Google.com and click today's google doodle to learn more!

Stress Relief is About More Than Banging Your Head on a Wall

The Candid Counselor recently highlighted a study that revealed college students are experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety now more than ever. Judging by the amount of goggle traffic resulting from searches similar to "stressed out college students," this is a rather hot topic. However, it's a fair bet that whoever stumbled upon that article already knew college students were stressed. More likely, you were looking for ways to deal with that stress. Well, no need to stress about it any more. In a new article, Dr. Becker offers tips on how to deal with stress and anxiety in the high-demand environment that we call higher education. Head on over and give it a read yourself, then breathe easy, because, as it turns out, breathing easy can actually help!

image via 1photos.com

Dress-up now includes adding a bra

If you thought your baby girl was growing up too fast, it turns out you might be right. USA Today reports on a study in Pediatrics that shows approximately 15% of American girls are now starting puberty by age 7. This age represents almost a 100% increase among white adolescent females when compared to a similar study in 1997. Although a specific reason for this increase is not known, Sandra Steingraber offers several possibilites including obesity, prematurity, genetics, environmental chemicals, TV, and stress.

The original study By Dr. Frank Biro and colleagues is here (even though USA Today makes no effort to, you know, actually cite it or anything) and is worth a read if you didn't happen to see it last year when it was published. Despite the "sensational" job USA Today does at reporting this news, they did forget to mention the weaknesses the study's authors point out, which includes low recruitment rate, recruitment at only 3 sites across the US, and baseline differences in maturation that were site specific. What this means is that the study should not be taken as a "nationally representative sample", but rather impetus for a more comprehensive study. I'll also note that a possible cause that Sandra Steingraber and Liz Szabo forgot to mention was differences in diet. But hey, it's not like anyone expects a reporter to actually read the study they are reporting on...
image via 1photos.com

Friday, April 8, 2011

Broken Breaking News!

And itÅ› official, the US government will not dissapear into an abismal black hole. Adjourning at nearly 7 minutes till 1:00 AM ET, congress has passed a temporary measure to keep the US running till next thursday. So we can all rest at ease, our favorite .gov sites will keep on putting out content.

Crazy is as Naked Does

If you're gonna take an AK-47 and gun down a swat bot, you might as well do it naked. If ever there was an article destined for the Naked News, this is it. On the bright side, this means one less crazy Florida driver to deal with...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Internet!


April 7, 1969 marks the date the first request for comments (RFC) was published by what eventually became the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). This publication is considered by many to be the ideological birth of the internet as we know it today. If you find this interesting, you may want to go over and take a look at the publication yourself. Or you could just revel in the text-based imagery below...


Image captured from http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1

Gnome 3 Is Out


After nearly three years of development, the release of gnome three is official. Say goodbye to the days of the old boring gnome, and say hello to the new exciting 3.0.

Representing a drastic departure from 2.X, Gnome 3 brings a lot of new features including a redesigned upper panel, a new menu-system, task management based on 'activities' and more. While the new design may put off a lot of loyal Gnome users (including myself), there does appear to be some potential.

Hopefully over lunch I'll get a chance to Install Gnome 3 and provide instructions, some screenshots, and a quick GBO review.

(update)

For installing Gnome3 in Ubuntu 10.10, I found it works fine to follow the instructions posted here (along with installing libusb-1.0-0-dev). But, as I describe below, installing this in a virtual machine is fairly non-functional. It may be best to wait for your distribution to package it before you do a full install to your system even though from my VM, it doesn't look like the new dependencies required have damaged anything else. Now on to the review!

(click images to enlarge)

On booting, you're greeted with minimal fuss. A simple panel drapes across the top screen providing you with time, date, some notification icons and an "activity" button over in the top left.


Moving your mouse cursor to the "activities" button brings up the highlight of Gnome3. A handy place to manage windows, workspaces, and menus. By default, you are first brought to the windows tab. At the far left is a dock that can hold and launch specified programs. Open instances of programs not on the dock will be automagically added and stay put until the window is closed. If one instance of a program is open, clicking on its icon in the dock will switch to that program. Right clicking an icon on the dock will bring up a context window with the ability to select between multiple instances of the program if several are open and a few other options. While you can switch between windows using the dock, you can also just switch by clicking the thumbnail of the window in the center screen. At the far right of the windows tab is the workspace switcher. There are two workspaces by default, and more are added as you fill empty ones with programs. The multiple workspaces provides a useful way to organize your applications and streamline your workflow.


The applications tab, accessed via the Activities item and clicking "applications", is dead simple. Categories are listed on the far right, and large selectable icons hang in the center of the console. Scrolling with your mouse or arrow keys quickly navigates through the different menu categories.


Another handy feature of the Applications screen is the search bar in the top right. Typing a search term automatically populates the screen with the most relevant programs and settings as you type. As an added bonus, you can quickly launch your search on the web via google or wikipedia (buttons located bottom center).

The Good: Gnome 3 is clean, pretty, and probably more intuitive for new users. The left side dock is fairly sleek (much more so than with ubuntu's "unity" interface) and easy to use, with an iterface that should be familiar to Windows 7 users. Unlike the days of old, navigating through menu options no longer involves hunting through an awkwardly structured tree menu trying to figure out where everything is at. Perhaps taking design cues from current mobile platforms like iOS and Windows 7, menu options are logically grouped and displayed all at once. Even better, you can search for what you want and see items from menus and programs pop up into your application screen. Web integration for google and wikipedia are also accessible during a search to quickly launch your search on the web.

The Bad: Window and "activity" management is a bit annoying, as you constantly have to navigate up to the left top corner of your screen (or else fall on the "super" key) to switch between programs and launch new ones. It can honestly make a fellow a bit sea-sick. Also, much like docky (with gnome-do), there is no preview on mouse hover when multiple instances of a program are open, requiring that you right click to select the window you want or else hunt for it among open window thumbnails. Finally, although this may just be due to the limited time I have spent with the desktop environment, there really did not appear to be many options available for customization. Personalization of linux environments is ranked as pretty important among many if not most users, and the lack of it in Gnome 3 could be quite a put off. Also, Gnome 3 looks to be more of a resource hog than it's predecessors, making it difficult to run on older hardware.

The Ugly: Gnome 3 requires a full 3d accelerated environment. This brought my virtual machine (VM) to a screeching halt and required booting from a live-gnome CD to test the system out for a workable user experience. The need for full 3d composting is likely to cause a lot of problems down the road for new installations as 3D acceleration on NVidia and ATI graphics cards are notorious for causing problems with Linux owing to the proprietary nature of their drivers. As a final note, there does not seem to be any way to have "unmaximized" windows, making it dificult to quickly switch back and forth between two projects or even view two things as once.

Want to try gnome three out? Follow the instructions linked above for Ubuntu, or try it out on any computer (without changing a thing on your hard drive) by downloading and burning the live iso to CD here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Their Second Choice was "Naughty Newt"

narwhal_US-PD
Despite what you may think, "Natty Narwhal" is not the name of Dave Barry's latest rock band. It is in fact a neat and tidy whale. Oh, it's also the name of Cannonical's latest release of their popular linux operating system. That's right, Ubuntu 11.04 Beta is out and it is time to say goodbye to Gnome.
"Unity is now the default Ubuntu desktop session. The Unity has
many new features, including drag and drop re-ordering of launcher
icons, full keyboard navigation support, launcher activation through
keyboard shortcuts, right-click context menu quick-list and switching
between running applications." (link)
Although I'm not thrilled with the new interface, there is at least for the moment the option to install the Classic Gnome during setup. If you find any of this a bit confusing and you want to learn more about the free operating system Ubuntu, go here.

Shhhh... Don't Tell Anyone; There's Crack in that Burger!

Eating is one of the things I enjoy love, and a new study out of Yale University suggests why. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, researchers measured neural response during anticipation and receipt of food for 48 participants. Although this study was used previously to evaluate our tendency towards overeating, the current work compiles data to compare results to individuals with a history of substance abuse and alcoholism. Of particular note, it was observed that the reward-seeking and pleasure-center regions of the brain activated by food cravings was very similar to the regions observed previously for individuals craving their favorite drugs.

Put simply, food is addictive.

So the next time you see me chowing down on a Big Mac and breaking my diet, don't blame me. I'm just an addict. And if you don't see me around for a while, don't worry, I'm probably just in rehab.

Monday, April 4, 2011

"The time to relax is when you don't have time for it."

-Sydney J. Harris
too-much-stress
According to a survey published by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD), severe mental health issues are becoming a bigger problem for America's college students. Dr. Becker gives some insight as to why anxiety and depression were among the greatest concerns.

In preparation for 2012, NASA gives us 1235 alternative choices

alien life on planetsNo, this is not an Eye-Chart designed by a super devious eye doctor. It's actually a visualization of the 1,235 candidate planets discovered by the Kepler telescope during it's first 4 months of observation. The big round orbs in the picture are scaled representations of the star, while the little black dots represent the planet(s) of interest. Of those planets discovered, there are 5 that appear to be in the appropriate temperature range and a "habitable zone" to sustain life as we understand it. In NASA's press release, they include a white paper describing the work in detail. As an aside, you really have to wonder how much they were sweating after finding 1,234 planets... because who would have believed that? There must have been a collective sigh of relief after coming across that very last one.

Even though I'm a month and a few days late with this news, keep in mind there's still plenty of time to pick out your favorite one before the world ends next march. I've got dibs on number 527.