Articles, Page 23 of 208

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20 Jul 11

Stockpile Your Bacon

If only getting bacon were as easy as pushing a button. Commodity items like barrels of oil are often used by economists to make forecasts because supply and demand estimates against tangible substances is much easier. Pork bellies are another commodity indicator often used as a predictor on food prices and livestock supplies. Currently at an all-time high of $4.77 a pound, pork bellies are expected to exceed $6 a pound in only a matter of months leading many to joke about stockpiling bacon to continue eating tasty sandwiches. Bacon has always been a popular staple food but the recent skyrocketing in pork belly prices has been attributed to bacon’s peculiar rise in Internet sourced trends like the receive bacon icons, the bacon explosion and subsequently Denny’s meatspace advertising campaign for Baconalia.

18 Jul 11

Clinton's 14 Proposals

One of the more memorable slogans from former President Bill Clinton’s ‘92 campaign was "It’s the economy stupid." In a recent publishing of his in Newsweek, he outlines fourteen of his own recommendations for simple initiatives to get the economy moving along again. Many of them center around energy conservation as a way of saving both businesses and consumers utility money while helping the environment. Others focus on incentives to business like speedy approvals, loans and job-training for unskilled laborers. I personally found it interesting that in #9 he lauds the TARP bailouts and stimulus that “saved us from a second Great Depression” and being directly responsible for saving jobs and industry … the interesting part being that it was a Bush Administration strategy that was lambasted pretty hard at the time.

16 Jul 11

Google+ - Jeers Or Cheers?

Not too long ago, people began scrambling for exclusive access to Google’s beta social networking tool – Google+. Already, many are hailing the system for it’s simplicity (no games, poking, quizes, etc.) and adherence to privacy first. Google’s last forays into social networking flopped pretty hard, Buzz and Wave were hardly successful ventures. But the beta version of Google+ allegedly has 10 million users already with many hoping to get an invite. Did Google create the Facebook killer or are those users too firmly embedded to leave?

16 Jul 11

Debt Crisis

Political leaders from both parties have been forced into budget talks for days by President Obama. Each is steadfastly holding to their alleged constituent pledges and seem to be absolutely defiant to making any concessions to the other side. Democrats refuse to budge on curtailing entitlement programs. Republicans are adamant about not allowing tax increases. The President refuses to allow Congress to sweep the matter under the rug with another debt ceiling increase. CNN has a nice summary of the various proposals currently at play. What is the proper mix of acquiescence towards achieving a real solution?

10 Jul 11

The Pentagon and Slave Labor in U.S. Prisons

Most of us seem to be happy for felons to have a miserable time in Prison, but is it OK for them to be used as slaves to make other Americans rich? Sure, it is a good idea to make them earn their keep and not be on a holiday paid for by the tax payers. But!!

Is it acceptable to suspend all the normal industrial safety requirements in relation to people who are being compulsorily kept in our care. There is only one reason why this is being done: because it is cheaper that way.

It is in the nature of the beast that sometimes capitalism gets out of control and citizens have to stand up to it and demand to be treated reasonably. Our prisoners are in no position to do that, so this can be exploited by the unethical people who run many of our major corporations.

06 Jul 11

The Advantage of Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity is a big thing where I work. Every year employees attend workshops designed to instill an appreciation for it (along with its buddy, inclusiveness). I’ve always thought of myself as being fully onboard with the whole D&I thing, but I saw a poster today on my way in today that made me wonder.

As you can see in the image to the right, the poster attempts to convince the viewer of the value of diversity by comparing a typical, multi-faceted pocketknife with one that only only has corkscrews. Now, I know the idea is to show that having various tools at your disposal is generally more useful than only having one, but the analogy breaks down quickly if you think about it.

05 Jul 11

Advice To Yourself

If you had the ability to go back and spend only five minutes with your 18 year-old self, what would you advise? And do you think your younger counterpart would listen?

01 Jul 11

19 Most Hated Companies

Results from another American Customer Satisfaction Index are in. Not too surprisingly, the 19 most hated companies include banks, airlines, Internet providers and AT&T. What was rather interesting was that Facebook, with it’s 500 million active users, ranked number 10. For a company that produces and offers nothing, that’s an impressive feat to be despised more than some banks and the Internet smeared AT&T. It pretty much required being an airline to be worse than Facebook in customer’s eyes.

24 Jun 11

C++ Continues to Reign

C++ continues to reign as one of the fastest computer languages. A recent study performed by Google (pdf) benched C++, Java, Scala and its own programming language Go and came to the typical conclusion that C++ was the fastest although the most painful.

We find that in regards to performance, C++ wins out by a large margin. However, it also required the most extensive tuning efforts, many of which were done at a level of sophistication that would not be available to the average programmer.

Perhaps the newly accepted C++0x revisions by the ISO C++ Committee will address the implementation difficulties with the first major revision to the language in over a decade. C++0x is getting a substantial upgrade to incorporate the most popular of new paradigms such that it’s creator, Bjarne Stroustrup, described it as feeling like a new language.

21 Jun 11

Are Drones Hostile?

It’s been over 60 days since commencing the attacks on Libya in support of Resolution 1973. Skeptics were already wondering what the point of it all was when the operation began considering the same uprisings and violence were occurring in other states across the region. But now the skeptics can really begin bashing into the Obama Administration’s intent considering his decision to “opt out” of adhering to the 1973 War Powers Resolution. In a nutshell, “Section 4(a)(1) requires the President to report to Congress any introduction of U.S. forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities. When such a report is submitted, or is required to be submitted, section 5(b) requires that the use of forces must be terminated within 60 to 90 days unless Congress authorizes such use or extends the time period.” This little legal requirement was deftly sidestepped by determining that American drone activity was not hostile and therefore exempt from the rule. The President chose the White House legal team’s opinion over the legal recommendations from the Pentagon and Justice Department to continue operations in Libya.

14 Jun 11

Uniform Sanity ... No More Beret and Less Velcro

It only took a decade … but the Army has finally taken a common sense approach to some of it’s soldier’s loudest uniform grievances. With Army directive 2011-11, the regulation on uniform appearance has been modified such that the contested black berets are no longer part of the ACU (the camouflage uniform). Soldiers have been annoyed by the ridiculous tan-line across the forehead, the idiocy of carrying multiple pieces of headgear for dirty functions (motorpool, work details, etc) and its lack of utility use in rain, sunshine or heat. Furthermore, most of the annoying velcro patches and pin on badges from the ACU may be now replaced with sew on patches.

11 Jun 11

Wind Powered Car Outpaces Wind

I came across a pretty interesting article in Wired Magazine the other day. The crux of the story surrounds whether or not it is possible to construct a vehicle, powered only by the wind, that can outrun a balloon propelled by the same wind. It’s solution was based on the fact that a sail will generate thrust like an airplane wing (a fact alluded to by gnifyus in the Mythbusters: Self Propelled Sailboat discussion). Personally, I didn’t know that it was true that a sailboat tacking in the wind could actually go faster than the wind (so long as it’s travel vector is not parallel to the wind). Anyway, this guy Rick Cavallaro decided to adapt the tacking method onto a vehicle that could travel dead downwind, powered only by the wind and go faster than the wind. The key was visualizing the sail in a different way, until you realized the required motion was that of a propellor. The following images are described well in the original Wired story.

11 Jun 11

Sarah Palin Steps On Her Poncho ... Again

While it’s true that many people botch up their memory of history now and then, Sarah Palin’s historical gaffe in Boston went a little deeper. For those that don’t know, she essentially recounted the significance of Paul Revere’s ride:

He who warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells, and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.

Okay, so let’s assume it was an honest mistake that most third graders could identify and correct. She goes on to insist she wasn’t wrong and her fanatical fan base even went so far as to edit Wikipedia to alter history in order to make her appear correct. Uh huh. [Embedded videos below]:

07 Jun 11

Exploding Cupcakes

The terrorists at large have been teaching each other tradecraft through a quarterly magazine published on-line called Inspire. Kudos to the British GCHQ for managing to replace an article on bomb making techniques with a recipe for cupcakes. James Brandon of the Quilliam Foundation against extremism posits, “A recipe for cupcakes is better than a recipe for bombs, but it would been more productive if they had put up counter-arguments to al-Qaida.” It is somewhat curious that they chose cupcakes instead of altering the bomb procedure to blow up the maker or render them completely inert.

06 Jun 11

GPU Password Cracking

Many of the OmniNerds here remember subverting every password the USMA Goldcoats ever put on the network a decade ago in the era of weak LanMan hashes. Overtime, I’m assuming they finally got smart and started using at least NTLMv2 hashes or did whenever Microsoft stopped supported LanMan by default. Anyway, I digress. Just as tools used to target the easily broken LanMan hashes, the NTLM hashes are falling quickly thanks to cracking tools employing the power of GPUs. Standard video card GPUs can now break 7 character, mixed-case, random-character passwords in as little as 7 hours and increasing to 9 characters extends the break time to still manageable 48 days. It gets even faster if you’re willing to spend a few bucks and feed a GPU cluster in the cloud.

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