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Sunday, October 30, 2005


Ever tried searching for the word "failure" on Google?
If you haven't, when you do, click on "I'm feeling lucky"

AFTER you tried it, see why .

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Worst Jobs in Science

Popular Science magazine has pubished a list of The Worst Jobs in Science which includes 10 jobs from Orangutan-Pee Collector to Human Lab Rat. ;-)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The 6th Friday of the month: Getting rid of telemarketers!

I finally found a way to deal with these telemarketers by following . Here's a modified version based on my own experience:

1. Check caller ID and watch out for "Private Name", "Unavailable" and numbers starting with toll-free area codes (800,866,877...) then:
- Either let the voice mail take the call (on the rare occasion that it's a bank or something important they will leave a message)
- Or if you really have to answer, answer with a very firm and angry "Hello!"

2. Remember they usually ask for [Mr. or Mrs. You Last Name]
- Respond with "Whom may I say is calling?". They freak out: "It's just a courtesy call, nothing important, we could call at a better time".
- Tell them "[he/she] is not available". (Use your own gender, they can make a good guess it's you but there's nothing they can do about it!)
- optionally you could ask if they want to leave a message (which of course they never will).

3. Then they'll say "What would the best time to call [him/her]"
- Respond: "the 6th Friday of any month."
-> You won't believe it but this actually works! Once on the phone with you they don't actually think so they'll apologize, thank you and hang up. It's only after they write a memo to call you back that they realized you were messing with them! For better results say "the 5th Friday of the month" unless the month you're currently in does in fact have 5 Fridays.

* If you feel bad for those minimum-waged part-timers doing this, remember that they usually get paid per conversation and you just had a conversation with them ;-)

* Do not call list: I still don't know if this works in Canada, I read once the the do not call list in Canada doesn't work so well. In the US you should say "Please put me on your do not call list" and legally they shouldn't call you back. Saying "Take my number off your list" or "Do not call back" or anything that doesn't mention the do not call list just WON'T WORK!

Source: Wikihow (Which has more articles besides the one I used in dealing with telemarketers).

Tech: How Einstein managed his inbox

According to MSNBC: How Einstein managed his inbox a study shows that the way Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin managed their mail is very similar to the way we manager our email. The article particularly interests me because once I studied tens of papers on the comparison of organizing printed and digital photos.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Thursday, October 13, 2005

21st Century: Today vs. the future of 20th Century!

Remember SiFi movies and stories about the future: "the 21st century"? From god knows when (the oldest I can think of are Jules Verne's books) until just before year 2000 with movies like "End of Days" (released late 1999) writers and story tellers have published their visions of the 21st Century. In fact, it wasn't only the fiction tellers but also scientists like Vannevar Bush have published their detailed visions.

Now that we are five years in the 21st Century, don't you wonder what those theories were? Tales of Future Past is one of the good places to look!

BTW, and speaking of Jules Verne, did you know his books are available online in his website?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Photo: Mother-in-Law

I noticed the message written on this bill in Iran and brought it with me to put it on the web.
The message reads (in Persian): "خدایا از دست مادر زن هم باید بکشیم"
in English: "Oh God, now I have to put up with the mother-in-law as well."
Poor guy!?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Tech: Should it be illegal to "borrow" WiFi?

My short answer is No!

I for one do not assign an encryption key to my wireless router (they're easily crackable anyway), instead monitor the router and if I feel someone is abusing I block their computer's MAC address. Because I believe sharing works! Specially when telecom companies charge unreasonably high amount for WiFi access, not to mention the fact that they usually charge by the hour (say you want to check your email for 5 minutes, then you've got to pay the cost of 1 hour access which is around $8).

There have been so many situations where I needed wireless internet access to do something small yet urgent. In fact this very post is brought to you by my neighbor's wireless since my DSL connection is down (read my previous post)! It is very crucial for me to check my email for voice-mails (I switched to VoIP so my home phone is also down) and job-related emails. If it wasn't because of my neighbor's WiFi, I would have committed suicide by now. A few months ago I was in Vienna for 5 days and I used a neighbor's WiFi to do the usual stuff and send a back-up of my pictures to my server in Canada.

If using other people's wireless internet helps me so much why not let them use mine too? A "piggy-backer" using the usual stuff like email is not a concern for your bandwidth usage, even for someone with a heavy load (take myself: 5 computers one of which is an always on web server and now my VoIP gateway uses the same DSL line for phone calls) and I bet most people don't even use %10 of their band-width (got get some statistics on that) so why not share?

If we all shared our WiFi then we'd all have free WiFi access anywhere. Just like file-sharing except no one's getting hurt here.

There is downside however. Even though someone who is using your internet once is most probably not going to abuse your bandwidth, there can be other potential risks of abuse. For example they can use your Internet access to do something illegal anonymously (to be more precise, under your IP address). But - last time I checked - in Canada the law the wouldn't allow telecom companies to disclose your information, so at worst case you might need some explaining for the telecom company (to stop them from canceling your server for abuse).

With the new WiMAX technology with much larger range, we don't need to be near a router and we can take our high speed connection on go. WiMAX is like cellular network for high speed internet. It is already being used in some areas and will be in the general market very soon (in a few months). In fact in theory (that is in a real world without corporate pressure) municipal governments could provide WiMAX for free and in fact some have already planed this. WiMAX is meant to work with WiFi not to replace it, nevertheless, probably in a few months no one's going to talk about stealing WiFi anyway.

This article on includes a few comments from lawyers about the legal matters of WiFi access in the US and it is what encouraged me to wire this. Otherwise I'd just wait for WiFi :-)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

One day without the Internet!

Yesterday I lost my Internet connection in the morning and I was without it all day. I managed to do my usual stuff online via the neighbor's WiFi (I had to sit out side to get a signal but it happened to be an excellent weather). Then I managed to make a chicken BBQ marinate, a full course meal and even a desert. I practiced more Piano lessons than usual and yet I even managed to watch the 2-hour premier of "Invasion" that I'd recorded.
Today's my 2nd day without the Internet and I've even managed to update my blog yet I don't think I've spend 1 hour in total online!
So maybe, just maybe, spending so many hours a day on the net, specially for kids and teens, is not any better than the often criticized "too much" television, even though you can usually get more useful things done by wasting your time on the net instead of the TV!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Cool things you can do with Google Search

  • Dictionary: try "define:word", "define:LCBO" or "define:e.g."
  • Calculator: and not just the basic operations: you can get sin, square root (sqrt) an even choose: see all operations
  • Currency conversion: e.g. 1 USD in CAD
  • Movies: try "movie:Corpse Bride"
  • Try numbers like tracking numbers, barcodes, area codes etc.
  • Ask Google factual questions like "population of Iran" (This hasn't work too great for me, although you will get your answer whether it's Google answering your question or just a related web site!)

  • Most Google services (maps, groups, etc) are also integrated into web search.
  • For a full up-to-date list bookmark Google Help : Search Features.

Saturday, October 01, 2005