Useful sites

Links to ESL stuff
Skype on a Mac, proxy settings are not possible, as they are on a PC :(
Authoxy setup guide
Windoze Docx
Mac stacks
Congo -
Useful stats

MacPGP set up -
PGP download other site
PGP other site for download
Recover vob files
Audacity label tutorial
Poetry (ballads)
Chinese article
Fusion anomaly - amazing site, you could spend hours there
No Nags - very extensive freeware site

Weather 4 Sally

Ditch your PC and live the shared apps life


  • Story Highlights
  • Is it necessary to actually own a PC now that they're so ubiquitous?
  • Portable devices and online forums mean a future free of PC-ownership possible
  • There are environmental pros and cons of portable applications

external image 1x1pixel.gifexternal image corner_dg_BL.gifexternal image corner_dg_TL.gif
(CNN) -- Do you think you will be using a personal computer for the rest of your life?

It might be too late to remove computers from our lives, but there's no need to be chained to a desk or even own a PC.

Replying "yes" to that might be vaguely depressing. How many cumulative hours will you spend hunched over a monitor? But then once personal computing and online communications have been installed into your life, they're hard to uninstall.
So let's refine the question: Will you own a personal computer for the rest of your life? Maybe it's too late to stop needing computers, but is it necessary to actually own one now that they're so ubiquitous?
The same question is being asked about automobiles.
Why own a car if you only need one occasionally? Car-sharing programs like Flexcar have spread rapidly in gridlocked cities from London and Los Angeles to Tokyo. With these programs you get access to fleets of cars located around the city. Many urbanites have happily ditched their own wheels in favor of such programs.
Computer-sharing is even easier. It requires no membership program. You simply use computers wherever you find them, either by keeping all your data online or on a USB flash drive that holds all your files, applications and settings.
Both approaches are becoming increasingly viable, and combined they're even more effective. But why bother?

Green shoots to sharing apps
Environmental concerns might come to mind. Witness the slum residents in India who face toxic exposure while recycling computer parts. Recent gatherings like the Greener Gadgets Conference in New York highlight the concerns.
Few consumers, though, are likely to sacrifice their gadgets just for the sake of being green.
"They may be buying expensive solar panels and hybrid cars, but I don't see them giving up their laptops and iMacs any time soon," says Michael Ann Strahilevitz, a marketing professor at Golden Gate University in San Francisco who studies consumer interest in green issues.
There are other reasons to not own a computer. If you're a road warrior lugging around a laptop all the time, you've surely dreamed of getting that monkey off your shoulder. Indeed the people who particularly love the idea of portable applications on a USB flash drive are not environmentalists, but road warriors plotting an escape from laptop bondage.
There's a whole ecosystem now of portable applications and online forums catering to these folks. And it's not just USB flash drives that can be used: iPods and cheap portable hard drives work just as well as long as they can plug into a USB port.
If you frequently have access to available computers, this approach can work -- and boost your green credentials.
"The idea of a system-and-apps-on-a-USB key is a green plus," notes Jeff Yang, a consultant with trend research firm Iconoculture. And, he adds, "that's where the iPod/iPhone is going. It'll end up being a complete lifestyle management device, not just a media platform."

The advantages to portable applications are real. All the settings and data associated with the applications stay on the drive, leaving no trace of your presence on a host computer. Many of these drives have finger-print identification built in, which improves security.
And everything associated with an application stays in a single folder, meaning you can back up your email -- and all its associated files and settings -- simply by copying that one folder to another drive. (For this reason some people are using portable apps on their desktop computers.)
The downside is that you always need other people's computers (and their USB ports) to be accessible wherever you are. Computers in Internet cafes, airports and libraries are options, but sometimes they're locked away inside a cabinet to prevent tampering, leaving you with only the keyboard and monitor.

Keeping your life online
In those cases, having all your stuff online might be useful.
A startup service called Jooce gives you a private online desktop where you can keep all your files and folders. It was created partly for the developing world, where it's not uncommon for an entire village to share a single cell phone.
With Jooce, hundreds of people can have their own profiles on a single computer. Any computer becomes your computer. The idea also works for people in the developed world who hop from one Internet cafe to another.
Bigger players offer Web-based software and folder space as well. See the Google Apps suite, for instance. The most obvious drawback with such services is that you can't always get online. (Security and limited capabilities are also concerns.)
And, unlike owning a flash drive in lieu of a personal computer, using such services are not necessarily any greener.
"They shift the power drain from the consumer end back to enormous server farms that have become incredible energy-sucks," notes Yang. "And you still need a computer to access them."
Another way to avoid PC ownership is to recognize that you might already have two: your PDA is the other one.
Many of today's PDAs trounce the desktop computers of old in both speed and memory, and pocket versions of common software is available for them. Attach a foldable keyboard and you've got a nice little computer -- with a screen that's way too small.
But this too is being worked on. Micro-projectors that can project your screen onto any flat wall might soon be readily available.
In the meantime products like the Redfly Mobile Companion take another approach. The Redfly has the shape of a laptop computer, but the processor and the applications are all on your PDA, which connects via a USB cable.
The device is basically an empty shell that adds a laptop-like screen and keyboard -- and even USB slots -- to your PDA.
Of course PC sales are in no imminent danger. Most people, if given the choice, would quite sensibly opt for their own PC. Research firm IDC projects strong PC sales growth worldwide for the next few years.
Still, it's nice to know that a future is taking shape where owning a computer, like owning a car, is not completely necessary -- even if using one is.

Hide/unhide files in MacOS


Writing prompts

1. If I could become invisible...
51.The happiest moment of my life.
2.This is my father’s/ mother’s job.
52.My accomplishments.
3. Reasons why people lie.
53.Why I like animals.
4.Reasons for going to church.
54.My favorite movie.
5.These are the reasons why I don’t go to church.
55.My favorite television show.
6.The meaning of “freedom”.
56.My fondest school memory.
7.I will tell you a story that is only half true.
57.The person that I admire.
8.Why do nations wage wars?
58.The most interesting person that I have ever met.
9.There will be peace on earth only when...
59.The biggest mess that I ever got myself into.
10.I have something to tell you teacher.
60.My fondest childhood memory.
11.Did you know that...
61.This is my hobby.
12.The scariest thing that ever happened to me.
62.My biggest goal in life.
13.I once had a scary dream.
63.Things are not going well for me right now.
14.The strangest dream I ever had.
64.My parents.
15.I believe in God.
65.My religion.
16.I don’t believe in God because...
66.My first flight.
17.The meaning of Christmas.
67.I like..., and these are the reasons why.
18.Hockey is my life.
68.I very much dislike..., because...
19.I get scared when...
69.My life as a citizen of a new country.
20.I wish that I could...
70.What I think about vandalism, drugs and smoking.
21.I am happy when...
71. Ways in which troubled kids can be helped.
22.I am sad when...
72.Reasons why people argue.
23.The things that get me upset.
73.The best book that I ever read.
24.My favorite subject.
74.This book was really bad.
25.My least favorite subject.
75.I often get frustrated.
26.I just can’t seem to get along with anyone
76.Dear teacher, I would like to ask you some questions.
27. The things that bug me.
77.Dear teacher, there is something that you need to know.
28.Why is it that...?
78.When I turn 16.
29.This is my family.
79.When I become an adult this is what I will be like.
30.When I grow up.
80.My future wife.
31.Our most interesting substitute teacher.
81.My future husband.
32.My most embarrassing moment.
82.If I could change the world I would do
the following.
33.I watch too much television
83.My wish.
34.The most interesting place that I have ever visited.
84.The present that I would like to receive.
35.What I would do if I were rich.
85.Qualities that I look for in a friend.
36.My three wishes.
86.The greatest summer ever.
37.What I think about gambling.
87.The greatest vacation ever.
38.My best friend.
88.I like cars.
39.Friendship is...
89.My favorite and least liked foods.
40.Why I think friendships are important.
90.I have a disability.
41.This is my home.
91.When I take a long look in the mirror this is what I see.
42.I play a musical instrument.
92.What I would like to do when I get older.
43.My experience at the hospital.
93.How the problem of hunger can be solved.
44.Things that I like about our school.
94.The problem of crime can be eliminated by...
45.Things that I don’t like about our school.
95.If I could live anywhere in the world it would be...
46.This is my favorite sport.
96.Music is an important part of my life.
47.I would like to tell you about my class.
97.Why are so many people selfish, greedy and unfriendly?
48.These are some things that I do very well.
98.Things that I like doing.
49.The proudest moment of my life.
99.The things that really bother me.
50.The saddest moment of my life.
100.My favorite music group

Saudi Arabia bans all things red ahead of Valentine's Day

  • Story Highlights
  • Saudi Arabia has banned red gift items like red roses until after Valentine's Day
  • Islamic conservatives consider the celebration of such a holiday a sin
  • Celebration seen as encouraging immoral relations between the unmarried
external image 1x1pixel.gifexternal image corner_dg_TL.gif
(CNN) -- Saudi Arabia has asked florists and gift shops to remove all red items until after Valentine's Day, calling the celebration of such a holiday a sin, local media reported Monday.
With a ban on red gift items over Valentine's Day in Saudi Arabia, a black market in red roses has flowered.
"As Muslims we shouldn't celebrate a non-Muslim celebration, especially this one that encourages immoral relations between unmarried men and women, " Sheikh Khaled Al-Dossari, a scholar in Islamic studies, told the Saudi Gazette, an English-language newspaper.
Every year, officials with the conservative Muslim kingdom's Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice clamp down on shops a few days before February 14, instructing them to remove red roses, red wrapping paper, gift boxes and teddy bears. On the eve of the holiday, they raid stores and seize symbols of love.
The virtue and vice squad is a police force of several thousand charged with, among other things, enforcing dress codes and segregating the sexes. Saudi Arabia, which follows a strict interpretation of Islam called Wahhabism, punishes unrelated women and men who mingle in public.
Ahmed Al-Omran, a university student in Riyadh, told CNN that the government decision will give the international media another reason to make fun of the Saudis "but I think that we got used to that by now."
"I think what they are doing is ridiculous," said Al-Omran, who maintains the blog 'Saudi Jeans.' "What the conservatives in this country need to learn is something called 'tolerance.' If they don't see the permissibility of celebrating such an occasion, then fine -- they should not celebrate it. But they have to know they have no right to impose their point of view on others."
Because of the ban on red roses, a black market has flowered ahead of Valentine's Day. Roses that normally go for five Saudi riyal ($1.30) fetch up to 30 riyal ($8) on February 14, the Saudi Gazette said.
"Sometimes we deliver the bouquets in the middle of the night or early morning, to avoid suspicion," one florist told the paper.
Saudi Arabia has often come under criticism for its treatment of women, most recently in a United Nations report that blasted the kingdom for widespread discrimination. Under Saudi law, women are subject to numerous restrictions, including a prohibition against driving and a requirement that they get a man's permission to travel or have surgery.

FBI wants palm prints, eye scans, tattoo mapping

From Kelli Arena and Carol Cratty
Date 04/02/08

CLARKSBURG, West Virginia (CNN) -- The FBI is gearing up to create a massive computer database of people's physical characteristics, all part of an effort the bureau says to better identify criminals and terrorists.

The FBI wants to use eye scans, combined with other data, to help identify suspects.
external image corner_wire_BL.gif
But it's an issue that raises major privacy concerns -- what one civil liberties expert says should concern all Americans.
The bureau is expected to announce in coming days the awarding of a $1 billion, 10-year contract to help create the database that will compile an array of biometric information -- from palm prints to eye scans.
Kimberly Del Greco, the FBI's Biometric Services section chief, said adding to the database is "important to protect the borders to keep the terrorists out, protect our citizens, our neighbors, our children so they can have good jobs, and have a safe country to live in."
But it's unnerving to privacy experts.
"It's the beginning of the surveillance society where you can be tracked anywhere, any time and all your movements, and eventually all your activities will be tracked and noted and correlated," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Technology and Liberty Project.
The FBI already has 55 million sets of fingerprints on file. In coming years, the bureau wants to compare palm prints, scars and tattoos, iris eye patterns, and facial shapes. The idea is to combine various pieces of biometric information to positively identify a potential suspect.
A lot will depend on how quickly technology is perfected, according to Thomas Bush, the FBI official in charge of the Clarksburg, West Virginia, facility where the FBI houses its current fingerprint database.
"Fingerprints will still be the big player," Bush, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division, told CNN.
But he added, "Whatever the biometric that comes down the road, we need to be able to plug that in and play."
First up, he said, are palm prints. The FBI has already begun collecting images and hopes to soon use these as an additional means of making identifications. Countries that are already using such images find 20 percent of their positive matches come from latent palm prints left at crime scenes, the FBI's Bush said.
The FBI has also started collecting mug shots and pictures of scars and tattoos. These images are being stored for now as the technology is fine-tuned. All of the FBI's biometric data is stored on computers 30-feet underground in the Clarksburg facility.
In addition, the FBI could soon start comparing people's eyes -- specifically the iris, or the colored part of an eye -- as part of its new biometrics program called Next Generation Identification.
Nearby, at West Virginia University's Center for Identification Technology Research, researchers are already testing some of these technologies that will ultimately be used by the FBI.
"The best increase in accuracy will come from fusing different biometrics together," said Bojan Cukic, the co-director of the center.
But while law enforcement officials are excited about the possibilities of these new technologies, privacy advocates are upset the FBI will be collecting so much personal information.

Don't Miss

"People who don't think mistakes are going to be made I don't think fly enough," said Steinhardt.
He said thousands of mistakes have been made with the use of the so-called no-fly lists at airports -- and that giving law enforcement widespread data collection techniques should cause major privacy alarms.
"There are real consequences to people," Steinhardt said.
You don't have to be a criminal or a terrorist to be checked against the database. More than 55 percent of the checks the FBI runs involve criminal background checks for people applying for sensitive jobs in government or jobs working with vulnerable people such as children and the elderly, according to the FBI.
The FBI says it hasn't been saving the fingerprints for those checks, but that may change. The FBI plans a so-called "rap-back" service in which an employer could ask the FBI to keep the prints for an employee on file and let the employer know if the person ever has a brush with the law. The FBI says it will first have to clear hurdles with state privacy laws, and people would have to sign waivers allowing their information to be kept.
Critics say people are being forced to give up too much personal information. But Lawrence Hornak, the co-director of the research center at West Virginia University, said it could actually enhance people's privacy.
"It allows you to project your identity as being you," said Hornak. "And it allows people to avoid identity theft, things of that nature."

There remains the question of how reliable these new biometric technologies will be. A 2006 German study looking at facial recognition in a crowded train station found successful matches could be made 60 percent of the time during the day. But when lighting conditions worsened at night, the results shrank to a success rate of 10 to 20 percent.
As work on these technologies continues, researchers are quick to admit what's proven to be the most accurate so far. "Iris technology is perceived today, together with fingerprints, to be the most accurate," said Cukic.
But in the future all kinds of methods may be employed. Some researchers are looking at the way people walk as a possible additional means of identification.

The FBI says it will protect all this personal data and only collect information on criminals and those seeking sensitive jobs.

The ACLU's Steinhardt doesn't believe it will stop there.
"This had started out being a program to track or identify criminals," he said. "Now we're talking about large swaths of the population -- workers, volunteers in youth programs. Eventually, it's going to be everybody."