While toying around with research for various game ideas I stumbled across the Nasa pages, especially the Blue Marble and World Wind projects. The Blue Marble is an incredibly detailed set of texture maps of the earth. Stitched together from thousands of satellite images, color corrected and deskewed it's the result of obscene amounts of work I'm sure ;-) Available free of charge. World Wind is an open source project that uses the Blue Marble texture as a basemap for a full 3D rotating globe. But it doesn't stop there: Through this 3D globe interface you have access to 20TB (that's terabyte as in 1000 Gigabytes!) of satellite imagery and data. Meaning you can zoom way in and the program will download missing datasets from the central Nasa servers. Combined with live weather data, height maps, place names and video overlays it's a very powerful and fun tool. Big brother is watching you!
An article on MSNBC about coming home for Christmas and fix your parents' computers. All too true. There's something seriously wrong with technology... Apple is on the right track fixing the usability problems, I have to give them that - and I hate the company. Anyway, I myself have been wasting hours toying around with technology lately. Set up my own webserver and remote shell access to my computer at home. The whole setup was up and running relatively soon, though I didn't realize it because my stupid router doesn't support loopback. Meaning the webserver was working properly as expected but I wouldn't know because it wasn't reachable under it's domain name from inside my LAN. Solution? Either buy a new router or do as I do now: use a free proxy server. Get this: I'm accessing the web server running on my computer through a proxy server in southern Thailand. sick Why am I doing this you wonder? Well... wait and see ;-)
according to "The Sect of Homokaasu" website, which, incidentially, is also the home of the "Kill everyone project". Quite tasteless actually - but then again, I like that kind of humor and killed a couple myself };-> Because of that total harddisc crash (a RAID system no less!) while I have been away cycling all my mp3 music collection was lost. I'm currently in the process of re-ripping all the CDs. I'm currently at ~60GBs again. This time I've switched to Ogg Vorbis as my audio format. Unlike mp3 it's unemcumbered by software patents while at the same time offering better audio quality with better compression rates. It's not as ubiquitous as mp3s yet, but it's getting there with some hardware players (DvD players, portable players etc) already supporting it. During the ripping and cataloguing of all those CDs I've stumbled across these two very cool websites: Musicplasma is a very artsy website that lets you visually navigate through a network of bands where close proximity between two nodes indicates musical similarity. (read: if you enter your favourite band as a starting point you'll get bands that are musically alike) AudioScrobbler comes as a plugin for your favourite music player and monitors your playing choices. What you get in return is a list of "musical neighbours" of people also using the service with similar musical tastes like your own. Kinda like Amazons "people who bought X also bought Y" service - only better ;-) It also produces a list of recommondations after you've used it for a while. Very good! And it's also open, meaning everyone has access to their database and code.
Firefox and AdBlock with one of these filters. This gives you the bare minimum of a reasonable secure, fully featured browser with efficient popup and advertisement blocking. Next you want Thunderbird for your email, newsgroup and RSS feed needs. Forget about it's built in spam filtering though and head straight over to spambayes. This is the single best personal anti spam solution I've tested. Of course all this is pointless if you are running on one of the "swiss cheese" OSes, so as a Windows user at least upgrade to XPsp2. It's built in one way firewall plus your routers firewall protection plus a software firewall like Kerio should keep most intruders out of the system. You also want a couple of utility web sites, two particularly useful ones are bugmenot, which bypasses annoying but mandatory one time registrations, and mailinator for the times bugmenot fails and you actually have to give out an email address. For completeness and because everyone thinks you need one include AntiVir and Avg as your antivirus solution. I just do a scheduled nightly scan with these and turn off their realtime protection features because I find them terribly annoying and slowing down my system (life file system watch while compiling anyone?). They find at least a dozen virii and trojans per day but all of these sitting harmlessly in my spam email attachment folder and getting deleted no fuss. There are more tools I use and recommend, but these should give you an enjoyable online experience. Also, while this is a white-list of things I recommend, the black-list of things not to install is far far far longer. As a rule of thumb I try to stick with free open source software wherever possible and am very careful around file sharing tools and software from "evil" companies that try to lock you into their philosophy and try to talk you into installing far more than you originally asked for. Most important of all tools: common sense, a brain and the ability and willingness to read. It amazes me time and time again just how fucking stupid some people seem to be falling for the most naiive of traps and scams. BTW, I wonder how long the war between spammers, advertisers and users can continue the way it does currently. I remember back in the days I signed a petition for a commercial free internet, which would be absolutely laughable today. Today's reality has half of the internet financed by advertisements. Which puts me in a sweet spot because with my tools I don't see any of the annoying website banners and almost no spam mails at all. At the same time Joe average user isn't interested or educated enough to defend himself against the flood and thus pays for the ad sponsored services I'm benefiting from as well. Thank you Joe! I wouldn't want to live without my free search engines, free emails accounts, free message boards and blog services... Now imagine the anti ad tools getting better, easier to use and ubiquitous. Suddenly ads as a revenue stream and financial model are gone. Oh oh.
the german magazine Der Spiegel runs an article about US Americans pretending to be Canadians because they are ashamed of their own country's politics and don't wanna face embarassing questions about Bush when travelling. I thought that was really funny - and sad really. Here's the article. For english readers the same from the times . How did that graphical joke about Canada and the US go? A map of both countries and Canada saying: "We are bigger and we are on top - in prison you'd be our bitch." BuschnicK, proud to be Canadian ;-) ey