How Do You Relax?

It seems the last two weeks have been pretty hard on my health.  With the seemingly endless list of things to accomplish, my blood-pressure has shot through the roof.  Though, when I force myself to examine things rationally, there really isn't all that much I need to do.  It really just comes down to two things:

  • I have 4 weeks left with my current employer, so I need to finish everything there

  • I have no prospects for working in Japan, where I need to be in a short period of time

So suffice to say, with the highly elevated blood-pressure, the ability to think clearly has been lost.  Discussions with people at work have become incredibly difficult as I seem to be insanely defensive, despite the fact they're just saying "hello" in passing.  The slightest thing seems to destroy my ability to concentrate on work.  And, if that's not enough, the only way for me to accomplish anything of value while hammering out code is to have Xzibit or 50 Cent spittin' out some lyrics on my headphones, which only makes me seem even more anti-social than normal.  Not that there's anything wrong with that ....

Previously I could get around all of this by relaxing at home for an evening.  This would often involve reading a book, or watching some documentaries, or some repeat episodes of American Dad and Family Guy.  Daily Show and Colbert Report have been part of my daily unwind regimand for a long time now, and Dance Dance Revolution is a big part of my gaming (despite the fact that I'm white and almost 30), the physical exertions involved with that used to be a great stress relief.  But these things aren't working anymore.  If anything, my frustrations are only destroying the enjoyment of these passtimes.

So what do you do to relax when everything you enjoy just adds to the stress?

I've already cut back on the coffee, and I'm loathe to go back to food as the universal "feel good" solution.  There has to be something that doesn't involve pills or some weird philosophy (I'm looking at you, Scientology) to help me regain focus.  Maybe it's time to get back into golf ... only this time I won't destroy the clubs and toss them in the pond ....

Sudan and the UN Agree on Peacekeeping Plan

Two weeks after threatening to cut off the world's primary supply of gum arabic if the global community didn't lay off the situation in Darfur, it appears the Sudanese government has conceeded to some ground to the UN.

In the last four years, local rebels have taken up arms against the Sudanese government accusing it of decades worth of neglect.  Shortly thereafter, the pro-Sudanese militia (the janjaweed) was released to quell the usurption, which then led to the horrific events that have left upwards of 2.5 million people displaced, 200,000 dead, and countless innocents raped and otherwise scarred for life.

So, it was good news today when the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced some "positive conclusions" in an effort to resolve the conflicts.  These comments came after two days of highly charged meetings between the UN, AU and Sudanese government in Ethiopia.

This agreement marks the final phase of the three-stage UN plan to send troops to the embattled Darfur region, where a severely under-funded African Union force is already in place.  Since he committed to the plan last November, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir has delayed acceptance of the first two phases and has since backpeddled on his approval.  The most contentious arguments have revolved around the Sudanese president's demand that only African soldiers contribute to the new force.  The UN and AU have pledged to seek African troops initially, but has refused to limit the force to just those nations.

According to circulating media reports (a.k.a. hearsay) the intended force will consist of anywhere between 17,000 and 19,000 troops who are mostly, although not exclusively, from Africa.  Sudan has reportedly also agreed to allow upwards of 3,700 police into the country as proposed in the UN-AU plan, which had previously offered support from two African and two non-African nations.

I hope this is the beginning of the end for the unacceptable treatment of people in the country's Darfur region.  Arrest warrants were issued by the International Criminal Court for two Sudanese officials back in April.  Both Ahmad Harun, the minister of state for humanitarian (HAH!) affairs, and Ali Sushayb face 51 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.  While there is no earthly punishment fitting for allowing the wanton slaughter and rape of countless innocents, I hope the ICC can capture these two and bring them to justice.

That said, many more of the Sudanese government shouldn't be far behind....

72 Hours After ViralTags

I wasn't planning on writing this post until the weekend, but the results are about a hundred times better than I could have ever expected.

Three days ago, title=" - Can ViralTags Really Improve a Site's Rankings?">I took part in a simple site linking project started by Jimmy at FoundersCafe.  The idea behind this is that sites that have lots of links going to them are given higher page ranks in Google as well as Technorati.  On top of this, a person's Technorati Authority (the number of unique sites that link to the blog) will increase.

Before taking part in this second run of ViralTags, I had noticed that my Technorati ranking was going down.  The data goes as follows:

  • June 7 - 214,810 (24 Auth) 

  • June 8 - 217,655 (24 Auth)

  • June 9 - 223,292 (24 Auth)

Suffice to say, it wasn't very pretty.  Naturally, one way to create a popular site is to be an active member in the blogging community and consistently writing interesting and/or valuable content in order to bring lots of new and repeat readers ... but who has time for that?

Seriously, though ....  The day after posting the ViralTags entry, my Technorati ranking had jumped up to 159,605 with an authority of 33.  The rest of the day (June 10) broke out like so:

  • 08:00 - 159,605 (33 Auth)

  • 12:00 - 130,048 (40 Auth)

  • 17:00 - 129,635 (48 Auth)

  • 20:00 - 89,162 (56 Auth)

w00t! for breaking 100,000.  Currently, Technorati has my ranking at 70,196 with an Authority of 74.  Hopefully it will keep on going.  That said, my Alexa ranking hasn't budged in the last three days, and Google will not be updating their PageRank values until August (which is when I'll actually be assigned a value).

If you haven't had a chance to take part in this great linking project, title=" - Can ViralTags Really Improve a Site's Rankings?">feel free to copy the source from my site.  Many thanks go out to Jimmy Huen at FoundersCafe for putting this together, and to Jon Lee for mentioning it!

Atlantis Might Need Some Orbital Repair

Atlantis Docked at ISSAfter a perfect lift-off on Friday, NASA now has some concerns over Altantis' heat shield.

In photos taken by the crew after reaching orbit, small exposed areas in the thermal blankets can be seen on the left side of the shuttle.  In one spot, the tear is 10 centimetres wide (4 inches) by 15 cm (6 inches).  Because this is on the fabric that stretches across one of the two rocket engines used for orbital manoeuvres, the area is not prone to problems with over-heating during re-entry.

For the moment, NASA does not believe this is going to be a problem, but they are investigating the matter to determine whether some repair work will need to be done before re-entry is attempted.  Should it become necessary, the crew is fully prepared with the tools and skills required.  Officials have stated that the fabric could be pinned back to the body, or cover the gap with some sort of plate.  The repair would likely be done during one of the currently planned spacewalks, scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Thermal blankets have come unstitched before without causing problems.  Discovery has had this issue in 2005 and 2006, and thermal tiles were lost in the same area where this blanket is on Atlantis on two of the earliest shuttle flights.  In all cases, the crew came home safely.

The shuttle was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Friday afternoon.  Engineers aren't sure whether this stitching on the thermal blanket came loose because it was hit by debris during take-off.  Several minutes into the flight, onboard cameras had caught an image of what appeared to be foam flaking off the external fuel tank (the big orange cylinder) just after the solid rocket boosters seperate from the shuttle.

It was damage to heat tiles caused by loose foam collisions that caused the loss of Columbia back in February

When Do You Write?

When do you write your blog entries?  Is it at work during a quiet moment?  Is it when you're stuck in traffic?  In the coffee shop?  Do you set aside some time every day to write out your thoughts on a subject?

For me, it's all of the above, though not all at one time.

Right now I'm stuck in traffic on No. 3 Rd in Richmond.  In the last 10 minutes, I've managed to gain 50 metres on my trek home from the mall.  Don't let the Google Map fool ya ... there's lots of construction going on thanks to the Canada Line extension of Translink's SkyTrain.

It's not often that I can write an entry in this fashion.  More often than not, I write notes throughout the day on my trusty iPaq 2210 and then convert those point-form scribbles and partially written sentences into the posts that have been seen on this site.  Quite often the entries are based on things I see in the paper, in stores, or from discussions that I've had during the day.

Of course, not everything gets put online, and approximately 90% of the scribbles get set aside in a "maybe later" pile.  Almost all of my entries are written and scheduled to be published at midnight (Pacific time), unless there is something that I TITLE=" - Wedding Date Set" HREF="" TARGET="_blank">just had to post right away.

So when do you write?  I've read several posts over the last few months about how popular bloggers manage their time, but never have I seen something from the rest of us.

Can ViralTags Really Improve A Site's Rankings?

I first heard about this from JonLee's site.  After a short little followup to FoundersCafe, I decided to give it a try.  After all ... if so many other people are doing it, why can't I?

This appears to be a rather simple scheme to build up a (potentially) massive amount of backlinks, though unique from some of the other methods that we've seen in the past.  What I really like about this method is that we can add our own anchor text to promote a site, which means there is no disadvantage to being at the top or bottom of the list.

========= Copy and Paste below this line ==========


1.) Copy and paste the matrix of “ViralTags” below courtesy of Founders Cafe (to support Jimmy’s quest of launching his own Internet Startup with a shoestring budget, please consider subscribing to his Full RSS Feed to see his triumps and struggles in real time).

2.) Substitute the Host Tag and one of the “Viral Tags” in the matrix with your anchor text of choice with your blog’s URL. Please keep anchor text to a max of 3 words to keep the matrix size manageable.

3.) When you get a ping back from someone that has your link in one of their “Viral Tags”, practice good karma by copying his/her Host Tag’s anchor text (automatically the associated link will also be copied) and paste it over one of your “Viral Tags” below.

4.) Encourage and invite your readers to do the same and soon this can grow virally.

Host Tag: Jason's Random Thoughts

International City Travel | Asian Celebrity News | One Million Shirts | Tech at Hand | Rich Minx | Internet Marketing Austria | Ageless Beauty | Web 2.0 Tutorials | Technology Music Life | infokarir jobs | Manila Mom | Link Love | Blogging Money Secret | Internet Startup Blog | Web Design Blog | Daily Life Technology | Make Money Blogging | Steve’s Tech Blog | Agloco Internet Marketing | Daily Bulls Investing | Tech Gadgets Stocks | Affiliate Program | Computer Seventy-Five | Learn about e-Learning | Tech Hack Ramblings | Jack Book | Screen Writer Guy | Overseas Filipino Worker | ViralTags | Startup Entrepreneur Money | ViralTags | ViralTags | Earn Money Online | Really Smart Guy | Earn Income Online | Day Mind Xpression | Entrepreneurship Internet Web | Make Money Blogging | Create a Blog | Pie Hole | start a blog | Make Money Blogging | Marketing Made Simple | Tech Startups Web2.0 | Music Videos | ViralTags | Build Rankings Fast | Mrs Sparrow | Hot Buzz | Weight Loss | Really Funny Jokes | Best of Blogs | Heroin Addiction Codependence | Internet Marketing German | German - USA | Domain Development Blogs | Sundhed og Helbred | Giving Link Love | Business Blog Web | Photoshop Tutorials | Anitokid Chronikos | Klapkids Chronikos | esofthub’s web finds| Everything iPod | Jason’s Random Thoughts | Fun Web Development | Monetize Your Blog | Yung Silent Whisper | Stratz’s Blog | My Journey | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | Blogging for Money | Wealth Blog | ViralTags | Gadgets & Technology | Make Money Home | ViralTags | The Broken Bow | ViralTags | ViralTags | Fanatic Space | Cheezmizan with Chuva | Catepol | Wolly’s Weblog | Profitable Productive Blogging | Cat on my Head | Bloggointestinale | 2012 Movies | iMod | Lorad Zarcon | Instruzioni | Sid05 Weblog | Bayle | Random Access Life | Mario’s Weblog | Acchiappasogni | Dietro e a Casa | Make Money Online | Anchor Text | Alex 2000 | My Life | Personal Finance | Tech Blog | Business Twins | Pixie Tail | Gold Rushing’s Blog | Trade CDs | Business Chats | Paid to Blog | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | Mariuca’s Perfume Gallery | Make Money Online | JLS Cisco Networking | Humor Jokes | Mik3 | Web2.0 Founder Interviews | Political Social Media | Revellian | Making Money Online | GoldyWorld Fun | Static Thinkbox | Malaysian Stocks Inc. | Investing Women Online | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | ViralTags | Huma B~ Post | Caribbean Travel Blog | Jehzlau Concepts | Nonsense & Tears | Time Clock Software | SEO">">SEO Blog | Anything and Everything | Father of One | Web Comic Artist | Justice Investmets | Terrible Horrible Evil | Russian Jokes Videos | Personal Development Blog |Music Videos | title=", Technology for Humans">Technology for Humans | HUMA B~ | Social Media | Good Jokes | Webtools | Karlana's Blog - My Life | Sexy Celebrity | MAXFORAS |

Important: Once I get a ping back from you (I promise to do the best I can), I will add your anchor text and the associated link you designate as “Host Tag” here, replacing one of the “ViralTags” from the matrix above. As more and more bloggers copy and paste this matrix, the more backlinks you will have with your anchor text. If everybody who copy and paste from your blog does the same, pretty soon this will spread and go viral. So, the sooner you participate, the more links with anchor text you will receive.

======== Copy and Paste from Above this line ========

I'm really curious to see what this does for our Technorati rankings.

Why the SPF 45 Minimum?

Is it just me, or is sun-block cream really big business?  Until five years ago, SPF 15 was recommended if a person was going to spend more than half an hour in direct sunlight.  For a while it was 30 ... now we're being told that SPF 45 lotion should be the minimum we use for protection from our sun's UV rays.

The differences in the Sun Protection Factors are often misunderstood.  SPF 15 will filter out just a bit more than 93% of all UVB sunlight, whereas an SPF 30 will filter out 97%.  So SPF 30 is not "twice as strong" as SPF 15, rather, it will only allow half as much UVB penetration.

Though despite all the warnings we've heard, many of us go without adequate coats of the slippery goop.  I've avoided the stuff pretty well over the last decade, only occasionally being forced to apply mixtures of titanium-dioxide and zinc oxide to my skin.  But after hearing the recommendation for SPF 45 products for this summer, I started asking myself "has the ozone depleted further?"  Oddly enough, no.  In fact, the ozone layer has been on the mend for quite some time, albeit slowly.  Many sources believe it will be several decades yet before we're naturally protected with pre-1970 levels.  Antarctica is the last continent on earth without protection from the sun.

Thinking that the amount of pollution we eject into the atmosphere might offer some protection, I investigated the matter but found no real data to say our greenhouse effect was doing us a favor by obstructing some of these potentially dangerous rays.  Perhaps Dr. Roger Angel's title=" - Blocking the Sun for $100 Billion a Year">proposed sunshade could act as an artificial buffer ....

2007 is a low point in the Sun's Solar Cycle so the planet will have less chance of being hit by coronal mass ejections, and though the Earth's magnetic field is gearing down to switch polarity for the first time in 780,000 years, it plays little role in UVB protection (but a much bigger role on protecting us from everything else the sun belts out).

So why the SPF 45 minimum?

I've searched through some of the sunscreen manufacturer sites as well as some dermatologist pages, but can't find anything aside from doom and gloom stories about the potential damage to DNA with prolonged exposure to short-wave UVB radiation.  While the concerns for genetic damages leading to various forms of cancer is certainly an issue, could this be just another ploy to scare us into buying the (moderately) more expensive product?

Wireless Power Comes Closer to Reality

The cordless cord is a little closer to becoming a reality now that researchers in the US have successfully tested a mechanism to deliver power to devices without the need for wires.  In the journal Science, the expiramental system was used to power a 60w light bulb two meters away from the power source.  Dubbed "WiTricity", these phsyics exploits could be used to charge several devices and notebooks.

According to Professor Sir John Pendry of the Imperial College of London, "there is nothing in this that would have prevented them inventing this 10 or 20 years ago."  One of the reasons this wasn't invented back in the 90's is the lack of wired devices.  Now, before mentioning all the things we used to plug in to our TV sets and the newly popular computer systems, the number of portable devices requiring power were much fewer than we see today.  It seems that everyone today has their own cell phone, iPod, PDA or other portable electronic device that requires a nightly charge.

The experimental setup involved two 60 cm diameter copper coils, a transmitter attached to a power source, and a receiver placed 2 meters away and attached to a light bulb.  Measurements showed that energy could be transferred with 40% efficiency across the gap, and the bulb would even glow when obstructions such as wood or metal were placed in the way.

What's really cool is that this system makes use of resonance, a phenomenon that causes an object to vibrate when energy of a certain frequency is applied.  When two or more objects have the same resonance, they exchange energy without having an effect on their surrounding environment.

In this setup, both coils were made to resonate at 10 MHz, allowing a couple of "tails" of energy to flow between them.  Using these low frequency electromagnetic waves, which are about 30m long, also has a safety advantage.  Typically when transmitters operate at higher frequencies like 2.4 GHz, then it radiates a mixture of magnetic and electric fields.  This is in part because the wavelenth is much shorter than the 10 MHz spectrum, and is a characteristic of what is known as the "far field".  At a distance of less than one wavelength the field is almost entirely magnetic.

Bodies respond strongly to electric fields, but does not respond to magnetic fields.  As far as western science is concerned, we have zero response to magnetic fields in terms of the amount of power absorbed.  This results in a low-to-nil health risk for humans and other animals.

Wireless power transfer is hardly a new idea.  19th century physicist Nikola Tesla experimented with long-range wireless energy transfer.  His most ambitious attempt was a 29m high aerial known as Wardenclyffe Tower in New York, which failed when he ran out of money.

Eyes on Darfur

Amnesty has launched a website showing recent satellite images of Sudan's war-torn Darfur region, allowing internet users to monitor some of the more high-risk areas for signs of violence.

Ariela Blatter, a director at Amnesty International USA, says they're "hoping that by shining a light, that we will deter the abuse from ever happening."  Let's hope she's right.

Eyes on Darfur is a website that offers clearer, more up-to-date photos of various high-risk locations in Darfur.  No other conflict-torn country has ever had this level of public documentation available for the world and while it may not deter power hungry villians, this will give billions of us the opportunity to voice concerns with our governments.  Sudan has threatened to cut off the supply of gum arabic (a key ingredient to things like soda) to the world if we continue to insist they're ignoring to the genocide, mass rapings and forceful evictions that go on in that area.  I think we can all agree that going without a bottle of Pepsi on a hot summer's day is a small price to pay to bring this issue to light.

The images are made by commercial satellites rented by Amnesty International and are as current as one day old.  For the moment, Amnesty is not able to post live photographs.

Blatter said the images will allow users, as well as analysts, to determine whether a villiage is about to be attacked or has already been subject to violence.

More than 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur, Sudan, since militants began battling the army and a government-backed militia (the Janjaweed) in March 2003.  Estimates of at least 2.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes and live in refugee camps.

It's important that Sudanese and international leaders around the world know that the online world can see what's happening in Darfur.  Blatter noted that there is a button on the website that allows users to directly alert the U.S. government about which villiages they are watching.  It's the hope that by having people watch Darfur, Sudan and the international community will feel pressured to bring about change.

"The picture is worth a thousand words, but it's important that it's carried by a million voices," she said.

I couldn't agree more.

What Is the Significance of Six?

This could be the "big unanswerable question" for future generations as they look to the heavens.

The universe was a pretty simple and static place a century ago when Einstein was first heard of.  Common wisdom at the time had it that all creation consisted of an island of stars and nebulae known as the Milky Way, and we were surrounded by infinite nothingness.

We now know space contains countless other galaxies rushing away from one another as a result of, what could be, the big bang.  We like to think we're pretty smart, and that many of life's hard questions are being answered, but our ancestors may have no way of finding out about the Big Bang or the expanding universe.

According to a paper by Laurence Krauss and Robert J. Scherrer, in another hundred billion years the only galaxies left visible in the sky will be the half-dozen bound together gravitationally in what's known as the Local Group.  What's more, is that this cluster of galaxies (which we're part) will likely not expand any further and collapse into a large starry ball.

Without being able to see galaxies flying away, future astronomers will not know if the universe is expanding and will instead think the universe is much as we imagined it 100 years ago.  According to the paper written by the authors, "obervers in our 'island universe' will be fundamentally incapable of determining the true nature of the universe."

Sad news, indeed.  Anyone who enjoys science fiction may have grown up with the idea that as we learn more about the universe, we learn more about ourselves.  Instead, what we see here is that no matter how advanced a civilization might become, they my never know the true scale of the universe.

Worse than that, it makes you wonder what we should think about what we've already learned.  If future generations (albeit several billion generations from now) may create incorrect theories of the universe, whose to say that our is correct?

“There may be fundamentally important things that determine the universe that we can’t see,” Dr. Krauss said in an interview. “You can have right physics, but the evidence at hand could lead to the wrong conclusion. The same thing could be happening today.”

As with everything in physics recently, this is the direct result of dark energy's effect on the universe.  This is the theoretical force that is accelerating the cosmic expansion which seperates the galaxies at an ever increasing rate of speed.  The cosmological constant is the fundamental reason for this expansion.

So, according to this constant, as the universe expands there is more space.  The more space, the more force is being exerted on the galaxies, pushing them faster and faster away from us.  As the approach the speed of light (which would be an interesting thought experiment), the galaxies will disappear from our skies.  Thier ever lengthening wavelengths dimmed to the point where normal background radiation from our own galaxy blocks them out completely.

If the models play out, in the very distant future, this ever-expanding dark energy will absorb all the life from our universe.  Though luckily, and I use the term loosely, future generations of astronomers will never learn this bit of information.  Instead, they'll wonder why the universe consists of only six galaxies.  Like Einstein, they may worry instead that their galaxy could collapse into a ultra-massive black hole and propose some kind of cosmic repulsion to prevent it, but they will have no idea to know if this is correct.

Naturally, we don't really need to know about dark energy to see that the universe is expanding.  Hubble proved the universe was expanding long before we ever knew about this elusive property.  Eventually, the galaxies will just be too far away to be seen under current means, setting the stage for cosmic ignorance.

For the moment, we have some 100,000,000 years or so to record our observations of the universe, and to develop the technologies required to help us learn more about the wonderful gift of existence.  For the moment, we don't know what we don't know.  But we'll learn and, hopefully, record it for future generations.

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