Monday, December 10, 2012

Must Have Free and Open Source Software

All of the applications are free to use, freeware or open-source. A couple of them have a trial period (you can still use the software after the trial has run out) or there's a purchasable version as well. I've also listed several similar applications (like Firefox and Chrome for browsers or Foxit Reader and Sumatra PDF for PDF readers) so that you can find your your own personal favorite. You don't need both, but it's nice to have something to chose from.

  • VLC - Open source video player.
  • Media Player Classic - Home Cinema - Light-weight media player for Windows. I personally like MPC-HC much better than VLC. Supports more codecs/formats and video looks better.
  • Combined Community Codec Pack - A simple playback pack for Windows with the goal of supporting the majority of video formats in use today. Must have if you watch certain tv-shows or anime.
  • Foobar 2000 - Extremely lightweight and customizable free audio player for Windows. Supports a wide array of different audio formats.
  • Audacity - Free, open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds.
  • Spotify - Listen to music for free.
  • Grooveshark - Listen to music and radio stations for free.
  • Firefox
  • Chrome
  • Waterfox - 64bit browser based upon the Mozilla Firefox source code.
  • Pale Moon - Open Source, full-featured, speed optimized browser based on the popular Firefox browser.
Extensions for browsers:
  • Reddit Enhancement Suite - Make surfing Reddit so much more enjoyable. Highly customizable and easy to set up.
  • Adblock Plus - Blocks annoying ads on webpages and in videos. Surf faster and safer.
  • Ghostery - Anti ad/tracking extension.
  • ProxTube - Circumvent blocked Youtube videos.
  • Speed Dial - Allows fast access to your most visited websites. Extremely useful if you visit or want to keep track off a lot of different websites.
  • NoScript - Open source add-on (for Firefox) which allows JavaScript, Java, Flash and other plugins to be executed only by trusted web sites of your choice.
  • ScriptNo - Similar to NoScript only for Chrome instead.
  • Search by Image for Google (Firefox) - Fast way to reverse search an image. Very handy if you're looking for a source, more information or if anyone posts "original content".
  • Search by Image for Google (Chrome)
System, cleaning and recovery:
  • CCleaner - A freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool.
  • Deffragler - Defragmentation software.
  • Recuva - File recovery software.
  • Speccy - Give you detailed statistics on every piece of hardware in your computer.
  • Skype - Call friends/family on their computers or phones.
  • Pidgin - Open source chat client which is compatible with several different chat networks.
  • Trillian - A fully featured, stand-alone chat client that supports several different chat networks.
  • HexChat - IRC chat program for both Linux and Windows.
Documents, images and graphics:
  • Foxit Reader - Free PDF reader.
  • Sumatra PDF - Free PDF reader.
  • Open Office - Open source personal productivity suite.
  • Libre Office - Open source personal productivity suite for Windows, Mac and Linux.
  • GIMP - Free image manipulation software.
  • IrfanView - The best freeware image/graphic viewer for Windows. Extremely lightweight and supports a wide arrange of different formats.
  • WinRAR - File archiver (You can still use the software after the trial period has run out).
  • 7-Zip - Open source file archiver.
File sharing:
  • uTorrent 2.2.1 - uTorrent became extremely bloated after they released version 3.0 and on. Version 2.2.1 has everything you need without using many resources or having any ads.
  • Transmission - Extremely lightweight BitTorrent client for Mac and Linux. There's an unofficial Windows version which you can get here:
  • Deluge - Lightweight, cross-platform BitTorrent client.
  • qBittorrent - Free, lightweight cross-platform BitTorrent client.
Online Storage:
  • Dropbox - Cloud storage.
  • Google Drive - Google's cloud storage solution similar to Dropbox.
  • Skydrive - Microsoft's cloud storage solution.
  • Steam - PC-game client for PC, Mac and Linux (Linux version is still in closed beta).
  • f.lux - Makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. Must have if you have problems with going to sleep or have problems with eyes or headaches.
  • Open Broadcaster Software - Free and open source software for media streaming.
  • Sublime Text 2 - A great text editor for code, markup and prose.
  • Notepad++ - Free source code editor and Notepad replacement that supports several languages.
  • Rainlendar - A lightweight customizable calendar.
  • Hamachi - A hosted VPN service that lets you create LAN-like networks. Very useful if you want to play older pc-games with friends.
  • Tunngle - A p2p VPN tool somewhat similar to Hamachi.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

If Programming Languages were Transportation

Language   TransportationComment
Muscle car
Old school, still pretty awesome
Get EXACTLY where you want to be
Complicated enough yet?
Like C++, but the landing is easier
Roller blades
Whip this out anywhere
Fast, comfortable and convenient
Vostok rocket
Amazingly futurist, and yet strangely outdated
A curiosity not fit for practical use
Flintstones car
Your grandparents thought it was obsolete
Fun but slow
Python for cool kids
Well TECHNICALLY it can go anywhere
slow, useless and outdated, but still awesome
Antique Bentley
Fond memories
Not hip, but practical
You're not anything special
At least the view is nicer
A vehicle that enables other vehicles!
In some places it's the only thing you'll see - and you'll only see it there
Astronaut suit
Will run ANYWHERE, but damned inconvenient to do anything with
Motorized wheelchair
hurr durr

Monday, October 29, 2012

Free Computer Games

Roleplaying games:
Online Multiplayer and MMO's:
Platformers and metroidvanias:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Must Have Free Computer Software

Here's the good free stuff (may want to look into F.lux as well):
The following can all be downloaded using Ninite - an easy downloading software that will download and update programs for you:
The free antivirus war popped up again. Basically, all of their success rates are very close together. Right now, I'm using avast! instead of avira. Honestly, as long as you don't go for something weird, any of the free AV programs will work.

Here are some more good ones:
  • CDBurnerXP - if you still burn CDs or DVDs, this is probably the best free option.
  • Inkscape - as close to Illustrator as you're going to get for free.
  • Paint.Net - GIMP pissing you off? Try this.
  • FileZilla - if you're using FTP at all, you want this.
  • wget - if you're comfortable with the command line, this is one of your best friends for downloading stuff.
  • Calibre Got a few ebooks? You probably want this.
  • HandBrake For all your DVD ripping needs.
  • Rootkit Revealer detecting them rootkits.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Good Single Player PC RPG Games

Some are new, some are old. All are good and/or great. I will leave it up to you to choose which ones you are willing to try.

NOTE: Placement does not indicate which one is better/worse, just the general time period the game is set in, when I remembered the game name and wrote it.

Set in some futuristic world
Set in some post-apocalyptic world
Set in the modern world
Set in some pre-modern world, after the invention of guns.
Set in some pre-modern world, before the invention of guns.
Have fun!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Change Schema assigned to a User in SQL Server 2008 R2

Yeah, I needed to do this the other day. When I restored a database, the users who came along with it came with their own schemas. I wanted them to be under the dbo schema.

Pretty easy to do. Open Query Analyzer and type:

Alter User With Default Schema = ;

database name = name of the database (duh)
user name = name of the user you want to change the schema for
schema name = name of the scheme you want to user to use

Do this for each user you want to change schema for. Sucks if it's a bunch!

Home Made Icepack, Home Made Heatpack

For those weekend warriors out there who might have overdone it....

Home Made Ice Pack
Got a boo-boo and need to ice it? We've all seen those gel cold packs you put in the freezer. Easier than ice becasue it stays pliable. Instead of buying one, make your own. Fill a ziplock bag with dish soap and freeze it! It remains pliable and cold for quite some time. Keep a couple in the freezer....

Home made Heat Pack
Looking for heat instead of cold? Fill a sock with rice and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute (or until it reaches the desired heat level). It holds heat incredibly well.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Breaking out of a Funk

Mant people often suffer from mild depression and felt detached and unenthusiastic. This is often just from stress, which causes the brain to protect itself and shut itself into it's own little, sad world.
Every suggestion here involves breaking out of that confine. Every suggestion requires a GREAT ACT OF WILL to get the ball rolling, which may require more or less effort, depending on how much juice you got at the time.

It is often tempting to let your brain and life coast and take the easiest route, but this route is easy because it is well-tread. What novelty and joy of discovery--what meaning--was there is likely long-ago used up. To find fresh meaning we have to do fresh things. We have to fearlessly cultivate new perspectives.

Perhaps you want the meaning first, and for your actions to follow that. The reverse must sometimes be necessary. Do something fresh you care nothing about, and let the meaning come from that.
  1. Act without expectation. Do stuff even if you don't want to and aren't feeling it. A friend just invited me to the batting cages-- an activity I had zero interest in. I went anyway and before long really got into the challenge of it. I've been thinking about it all week- this stupid, pointless activity- and fondly remembering how good it feels to get that perfect contact and watch it fly. Pull a Jim Carrey and be a Yes Man for a while. Give yourself time to get into things.
  2. Explore new topics. Watch documentaries, even if they seem boring on the outset. Human Life or Blue Planet or anything about space. Read. Meaning is not found in bite sized snippets. Meaning is found in webs of association, attachments and collusions. This requires in-depth exploration. A rain-forest from a plane might seem like one boring green expanse. Plunge in. I'll also recommend Grant Morrison's "The Filth". It's a graphic novel intended to cure just this. It is psychedellic, unsettling and completely awsome.
  3. Listen and ask questions. If people are starting to bore you, it is likely you're not having the right sort of conversations. Talk to the people you're close to (or random old dudes in coffee shops) and try and get them to reveal their motivations and hopes. Ask them what excites them and listen. This can backfire. Some people are terrible drains if they're in a negative mood. This is how you've probably been. People may not be talking to you about what excites them if they think you'll sap their enthusiasm with your "meh" attitude.
  4. Embrace your ennui. Read some Camus and Satre and revel in their understanding of the futility and pointlessness of existence. Sometimes when we can't escape melancholy or boredom, it is at least good to have a friend there.
  5. If it gets really bad, go talk to a therapist. There's a chance you have a mood disorder. I personally prefer psychologists over psychaiatrists as they're less prone to jamming pills down your throat.

Friday, August 03, 2012

What is Double Clutching?

Double clutching is a downshifting technique that promotes smoother transitions and lower transmission wear. It is useful for road racing, prolonging transmission life, and giving you an overall smoother ride.

In normal driving, with modern cars- you don't need to double clutch. When you shift, devices called "synchronizers" or "synchromesh" in your transmission help your shifting by matching the rotational speeds between meshing parts. Why do you need to match the speeds between transmission parts when you shift? Simple - they won't go together unless they're all traveling the exact same speed. Your synchros take care of this, so you don't have to worry about matching revs much in normal driving.

So the question now is why do you need to double clutch? It's useful in racing, it's required for non-synchro transmissions, and it's a damn cool racing skill to master. Think of your transmission as being separated into two functional halves. One half is connected to your engine, and the other half is connected to your wheels. The split between the two halves is right at your gears.

Let's say you're driving down the street in 5th gear. Assume that your gearing is 1:1 all the way though, just for simplicity's sake. Your engine is turning 3000rpm, and so are all the parts in your transmission. You want to downshift to get higher up in your powerband to pass someone, so you mash the clutch pedal, shift to 4th gear, then lift off the clutch pedal. If your 4th gear ratio is twice what your 5th is, your engine is now spinning at 6000rpm (along with the "engine half" of the transmission) while the "driveshaft half" of your transmission is still spinning at 3000rpm. Your car is still moving at the same speed, but you're higher up in your engine's powerband. Now you have more power to pass the person in front of you.

What normally happens when you downshift and don't match revs? You feel the car lurch some while the transmission forces the engine to a higher rev level. The synchros grip against each other to match the gear speeds, the gears mesh, and when your clutch grips it pushes the engine higher... and you feel the rough transition.

To smooth this out, you can raise the rev level of your engine and the "engine half" of the transmission so the synchros have less work to do, and so your transmission isn't pushing the engine around.

How do I double clutch? I never thought you'd ask.
  1. Push clutch pedal down
  2. Shift to neutral
  3. Lift clutch pedal up
  4. Tap the gas to raise engine speed
  5. Push clutch pedal down
  6. Shift into lower gear
  7. Lift clutch pedal up
You just double-clutched!


Thursday, August 02, 2012

Going off to College Dorm Room Essentials

Basic essentials:

  • Bed sheets -- Get 2 sets. Trust me, you'll need 2. Dorm beds are usually twin XL (unless your building hasn't been renovated recently, then it might be standard twin) but double-check with the school's website.
  • Pillows -- These are almost never provided. Bring your own.
  • Towels -- Bring at least 2 for the shower, 1 hand towel, and 1 dish towel.
  • Mattress pad -- Usually the mattress you have is hard and uncomfortable (it's designed to not harbor bedbugs easily). Add a pad to it, and you'll sleep a lot better, especially when your neighbors decide to blast loud music through the walls.
  • Clothes -- Take about a week's worth minimum, plus something you'd wear to a job interview and gym clothes. Also be sure everything that needs to be hung has a hanger for it. You want to fill the washer to capacity on wash day; otherwise, you'll be wasting money. Don't forget to bring laundry detergent, etc. If you expect to attend a lot of formal functions (e.g. if you want to join a fraternity) also bring an iron and ironing board.
  • Toiletries -- You'll inevitably go through everything you bring, except possibly an electric or straight razor. But it's important to have it right from the start. Don't forget: tooth brush, toothpaste, hand soap, shower soap, shampoo, shower shoes, razor, shaving cream. If your dorm is the old style with communal bathrooms, also bring something to carry these things. If it's the newer suite-style or the fancier apartment-style, also bring toilet paper and a plunger.
  • Cleaning supplies -- You need something for glass, something with ammonia, and something with bleach (but of course, never mix the two). Don't forget the sponge and toilet paper, and perhaps a rag (inexperienced drinkers + lots of booze = people throwing up everywhere). If you have a private bathroom, also bring a brush and cleaner for the toilet.
  • Storage space -- Most dorms provide a desk and a dresser. This is usually not enough storage space. Bring a couple crates to begin with, then buy more storage space as you need it.
  • First aid kit -- Invariably, you'll get a cut or a small scrape at some point. It's important that you can take care of the problem yourself. The RA can't do much except call an ambulance, which will cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

School essentials:

  • Computer -- Even if it's not a listed requirement by your school, bring a computer. Also install a basic antivirus program (Windows Security Essentials is usually good enough) because most technology departments require them.
  • Cable lock for your computer -- If it's a new/high-end computer, especially if it's a Mac, you'll need it to prevent your computer from being stolen.
  • Computer peripherals -- Think about them, and determine what you need. I had a printer, headphones, and a mouse. If you have a printer, don't forget paper and ink.
  • Headphones -- I list these separately because they're especially important in a dorm, where you might want/need to listen to something on your computer without creating a lot of noise. Even if you don't listen to music or you have a portable MP3 player, there may still be course-related materials with audio. If you use loud speakers, your roommate/neighbors will hate you, and you may even get in trouble with the RA/police.
  • Pens and pencils -- You'll need both of these to take the exams, which are still on paper for most classes. Multiple choice usually requires #2 or darker pencil, while essay questions require pen.
  • Notebook paper and binders -- There will always be at least one class where you can't take notes on your computer. If you're a science/engineering major, there will be many. Some professors have banned computers in class after seeing too many students on Facebook.


Read your dorm's rules before you buy or bring anything related to cooking. Many of them ban certain appliances. Others provide appliances, and bringing them will just leave you with a lot of junk you won't use.
  • Refrigerator -- Although you'll probably have a meal plan, at some point, you'll want something to eat when the dining hall is closed. Some of it will have to go in the refrigerator. Consider buying a refrigerator with a lock -- an RA is more likely to ask you to open it, but your roommate won't be able to raid it while you're away.
  • Microwave oven -- Get a small one; there's usually a power limit. And understand how it works; you don't want to do something with it that will bring the RA to your room.
  • Rice cooker -- If it's allowed, it'll make rice cooking easy and worry-free.
  • Plates, bowls -- Make sure these are unbreakable. There will always be someone who will knock them to the ground.
  • Utensils -- Knives may be prohibited. But either way, it's better to have reusable utensils than to always use disposable ones.
  • Tupperware -- Use these to save unfinished portions of food for later.
  • Coffee maker -- Dining hall coffee costs only marginally less than Starbucks. Why not see if you can get a free coffee maker for your dorm room?
  • Tea kettle -- More likely to be banned than the coffee maker, but more versatile.

Useful things to have:

  • Carpet -- Be sure it's approximately the size of your room. The floors are usually hard and cold.
  • Vacuum cleaner -- If you have a carpet or the room comes with it, you'll need it to clean the carpet.
  • Furniture -- Look for small, easily folded furniture such as butterfly chairs and futons. Be aware that many types of lamps are not allowed.
  • Spare bulbs -- Only for the lamps you bring. Dorms usually replace the bulbs for fixtures they provide.
  • Posters -- The dorm walls are usually bare at best and prison-like at worst. Try to avoid posters that are pornographic (this is usually a turn-off to the women) or feature booze/weed (this will put you at odds with any RA who walks into your room). Remember that people who enter your room will judge you based on your choice of posters, so choose wisely.
  • Sticky hooks -- For hanging things. Screws, nails, and even tacks are usually not allowed (and some walls won't accept them at all).
  • Reusable adhesive -- For hanging posters; see above.
  • Condoms -- Better have them when you need them than need them and not have them.
  • Fan -- If the air in your room is hot, stale, or has a smell you don't want in your room, you'll need a fan to blow it out the window.
  • Air freshener -- House plants usually don't last long in a dorm, but you'll still need to prevent the air from getting stale. It's also important to cover smells when the fan isn't enough.
  • TV -- If you like having people over, the room with the TV usually becomes the hang-out spot. But be careful not to get distracted from college life (studying, partying) by the TV.
  • Game console -- Multiplayer games are another great way to turn your dorm room into a hangout spot.
  • Speakers -- When you want to play music to everyone in the room, you'll need speakers to do it.

Things not to bring:

  • Any booze or drugs -- If your roommate turns out to be "straight edge" and you have these things, you might start the year by getting in trouble. Wait until you've met your roommate before you buy any. Same with shot glasses and red cups.
  • Large pieces -- It's a lot harder to hide a 3 foot bong than it is to hide a small pipe, pack of papers, or portable vaporizer.
  • Any appliance banned by the dorm rules -- These are also usually hard to hide.
  • Anything expensive -- These often get stolen.
  • Addictive video games -- Many people miss out on the college experience because they were too drawn into their MMORPGs to live it.
by LurkinGrue

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

On Joining the Military

Pretty much matches my thoughts:

A friend recently asked me what I would tell a young man thinking about enlisting in the military. (He had in mind his son.) I would tell him this, which I wish someone had told me:
Kid, you are being suckered. You are being used. You need to think carefully before signing that enlistment contract.

First, notice that the men who want to send you to die were draft-dodgers. President Bush was of military age during Vietnam, but he sat out the war in the Air National Guard. The Guard was then a common way of avoiding combat. Bush could do it because he was a rich kid who went to Yale, and his family had connections.

He dodged, but he wants you to go.

Vice President Cheney, also of military age during Vietnam, also didn’t go. Why? When asked by the press, he said, “I had other priorities.” In other words, he was too important to risk his precious self overseas. He dodged, but wants you to go.

If you take the time to investigate, you will always find this pattern. The rich and influential avoid combat. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton do not send young men to Iraq. The editors at magazines that support the war, National Review for example, didn’t fight. They are happy to let you go, though. The reason for the All Volunteer military was to let the smart and rich avoid service and instead send kids from middle-class and blue-collar families. It works.

In talking to recruiters, you need to understand what you are up against. You are probably nineteen or twenty years old, full of piss and vinegar as we used to say, just starting to know the world. Which means that you don’t yet know it. (Do you know, for example, what countries border Iraq?)

You are up against a government that hires high-powered ad agencies and psychologists to figure out how to lure you into the military. Over many years they have done surveys and studies on the weaknesses of young males to find out what will get them to join. They know that young men, the ones that are worth anything anyway, want to prove themselves, want adventure, want to show what they can do. Everything a recruiter does is carefully calculated to play on this. They go to recruiting school to learn how.

“The Few. The Proud.” You don’t think that came out of the Marine Corps, do you? These phrases—“An Army of One,” “Be All You Can Be"--come from ad agencies in New York. Nobody in those ad agencies, I promise you, was ever in the Marine Corps. New York sells the military the way it sells soap. It has no interest in you at all.

Recruiters know exactly what they are doing. They are manly, which appeals to gutsy young guys who don’t want to be mall rats. They are confident. They have a physical fitness, a clean-cut appearance that looks good compared to all those wussy lawyers in business suits. They invite you to come into a man’s world. They promise you college funds. (Check and see how many actually ever get those funds. Read the small print.)

And of course the military is a man’s world, and it is an adventure, and it does beat being a mall rat—until they put you in combat. Driving a tank beats stocking parts in the local NAPA outlet—until they put you in combat. Days on the rifle range, running the bars of San Diego far from home and parents, going across the border into Mexico—all of this appeals powerfully to a young man. It did to me. It beats hell out of getting some silly associate degree in biz-admin at the community college.

Until they put you in combat. Then it’s too late. You can’t change your mind. They send you to jail for a long time if you do.

Combat is not the adventure you think it is. Know what happens when an RPG hits a tank? Nothing good. The cherry juice—hydraulic fluid that turns the turret—can vaporize and then blow. I saw the results in the Naval Support Activity hospital in Danang in 1967. A tank has a crew of four. Two burned to death, screaming as they tried to get out. The other two were scalded pink, under a plastic sheet that was always foggy with serum evaporating from burns where the skin had sloughed off. They probably lived. Know what burn scars look like?

The recruiters won’t tell you this. They know, but they won’t tell you. Ever seen a guy who just took a round through the face? He’s a bloody mess with his eyes gone, nasty hole where his nose was, funny white cartilage things sticking out of dripping meat. Suppose he’ll ever have another girlfriend? Not freaking likely. He’ll spend the next fifty years as a horror in some forsaken VA hospital.

But the recruiters won’t tell you this. They want you to think that it’s an adventure.

Other things happen that, depending on your head, may or may not bother you. Iraq means combat in cities. Ordinary people live there. You pop a grenade through a window, or hit a building with a burst from the Chain gun, or maybe put a tank round through it. Then you find the little girl with her bowels hanging out, not quite dead yet, with her mother screaming over what’s left. You’d be surprised how much blood a small kid has.

You get to live with that picture for the rest of your life. And you will live with it. The recruiter will tell you that it doesn’t happen, that it’s the exception, that I’m a commy journalist. Believe him if you want. Believe him now, while you can. When you get back, you’ll believe me.

A lot of things in America aren’t what they used to be. The military is one of them. The army didn’t always use girl soldiers to torture prisoners. For that they had specialists in the intelligence agencies. You won’t get assigned torture duty, almost certainly, because the Army got caught. Ask your recruiter about it, just to be sure.

Don’t expect thanks from a grateful nation. Somebody might buy you a drink in a bar. That’s about all you get. Many will regard you as a criminal or a fool.

Wars seem important at the time, but they usually aren’t. Five years later, they are history. About sixty thousand GIs died in Vietnam. We lost. Nothing happened. It was a stupid war for nothing. Today the guys who lost faces and legs and internal organs back then are just freaks. Nobody gives a damn about them, and nobody will give a damn about you. A war is a politician’s toy, but your wheelchair is forever. If you want adventure, try the fishing fleet in Alaska.

Think about it.


Edit: I've a bit to add. The military can be a very good experience. But if you are seriously considering joining, don't join the Army or Marines. These are the guys fredoneverything is talking about. If you absolutely have to go into one of these services, try to get a support position.

The Air Force or Navy is a better bet with a much lower risk of danger. Or the Coast Guard. Although the Coast Guard does get deployed to protect foreign ports. They also run drug interdiction along our coasts. They do the mission every day.

Join and learn a skill. Marching around and shooting a gun is not a skill. Mechanic is a skill; planes or cars or helicopters. Fix Generators or jet engines. Learn how to load a plane. Civil engineering is a skill. Air Traffic control is a skill. Fixing communications equipment is a skill. Insalling network stuff is a skill.

If you're going to do it, do it smart. Use the military for your goals and do your best to prevent them from using you for theirs.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Complete Guide to Rechargable Batteries

There are different types of batteries used in electronics, such as lead acid, nickel-base, and lithium ion. Each battery is different in some way, and so that means we have to treat/charge them differently. Let's talk about three of them that are quite common.

Lead acid batteries are mainly found in vehicles like cars, golf carts, and the like. Nickel-based (aka Nickel-Cadmium) can be found in small electronics/toys and other equipment. Lithium ion is probably the most common, which you'll usually find in laptop batteries, phones, etc.

First charge
  • Lead acid: The battery should be fully charge. Apply a top-off charge before using.
  • Nickel-based: Charge the battery 14-16 hours before the first use.
  • Lithium Ion: Apply a top-off charge before the first use.
Full vs. partial charge
  • Lead acid: You must always give this battery a full charge, as a partial charge can create sulfation.
  • Nickel-base: A partial charge is good.
  • Lithium Ion: A partial charge is actually better than full charge.
Full discharge
  • Lead acid: A deep discharge can damage the battery.
  • Nickel-base: Apply scheduled discharges only to prevent the battery from retaining memory.
  • Lithium Ion: A deep discharge can damage the battery.
Battery calibration (for making sure the battery measurement is accurate)
  • Lead acid: Not applicable.
  • Nickel-base: Apply a discharge/charge when the fuel gauge becomes inaccurate. Repeat every 1-3 months.
  • Lithium Ion: Apply a discharge/charge when the fuel gauge becomes inaccurate. Repeat every 1-3 months.
Device on / use while charging
  • Lead acid: It’s okay to have device on when charging.
  • Nickel-base: It’s always best to turn the device off during a charge, since a parasitic load can either alter full-charge detection, overcharge the battery, and/or cause mini-cycles.
  • Lithium Ion: It’s always best to turn the device off during a charge, since a parasitic load can either alter full-charge detection, overcharge the battery, and/or cause mini-cycles.
Unplugging when fully charged
  • Lead acid: This depends on the charger. If the charger has correct float voltage, then it’s fine.
  • Nickel-base: Always remove your device after a few days in the charger.
  • Lithium Ion: This is unnecessary, because the charger turns off.
  • Lead acid: It creates a slow charge from 32-113 degrees Fahrenheit / fast charge from 41-113 degrees Fahrenheit / the threshold is lowered above 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Nickel-base: It creates a slow charge from 32-113 degrees Fahrenheit / fast charge from 41-113 degrees Fahrenheit / the battery will not fully charge when it’s hot.
  • Lithium Ion: Do not charge below freezing. Do not charge when above 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Letting the battery run out before charging extends battery life (not necessary for lead acid/lithium ion batteries, but only occasional full discharges for nickel based ones)
  • Uncharged batteries become damaged over time
  • For lithium ion batteries, it's best not to have the battery level too low too often.
  • Leaving a device plugged in is bad for the battery (this is only bad for nickel-based batteries.)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Simple Explanation of Existentialism

There is the general sense that if you look at life, really just look at what's available to your senses and your intellect, you start to get this uncanny feeling that something weird is going on. Events aren't connected. Not every choice you make has a meaningful consequence.

We all seem to be very alone within ourselves, even when we're with other people, we can never really commune with them in a way that's really satisfying. Try looking straight into someone's eyes. If you really stare, what you find is that you can't look straight into their mind/soul/consciousness. Instead you start to notice these layers; you looking at them, them looking at you, you noticing them looking at you, them noticing you noticing them looking at you, you noticing that you've noticed them noticing you looking at them.... Anyway your bodies can touch, your gazes can meet, you can be as close as you want, but you'll always be two separate people trying to make sense of each other.

When you're alone what you notice is that if you look at the objects around you, start to see that these objects hold no inherent meaning.

When you really look at things and try to see them for what they are, you get the sense that the world around you is just this grey muck of indifference. The materials and objects around you don't care about you or your life. Your car won't try to keep working because it likes you, it's just a hunk of metal machined by humans that will run until it doesn't run, and that's that. It won't remember your birthday, it won't wait to break down until a convenient time for you, it will just break when it breaks and that can be any time at all.

But when you look at your car, you don't see a hunk of metal slowly falling back into a state of nature, you see a lot more. That's because the car has meaning to you, meaning which you assign to it yourself. You can be reminded of how excited you were when you first got it, you might think of kissing a pretty girl in the back seat, you might be comforted by the way it smells or be reminded of memories when you see the little scratches on the bumper from that time you hit that sign. Your consciousness assembles the sum of your experience with this car and puts it in a special place in your mind: This car isn't just a thing, it is something to you.

And that's really the trick of it. The person you love is someone to you, and you are someone to them. The person that you are for them is different than the person you are to yourself.

And who are you to yourself?

To yourself, you are something other than what you are. Yes, your identity, too, is assembled by your consciousness as a way of making your experiences and actions continuous and meaningful, not because you are that way on any essential level, but because that's what your brain does. It generates meaning.

What does that imply? Whatever god you prefer is generated by you and whatever community you worship with as a means of experiencing continuity in life and (perhaps vainly) through death. However a person seems to be, in your opinion, is generally not the way they really are, but the way you make sense of their behavior. Your opinions of objects, events, people, and society are all generated by your brain in order to make sense of them in a way that is continuous and comprehensible.

So what does it all mean? Here's where it gets better: it means whatever you want!

You have the power to change your opinions, choose your beliefs, and alter the meaning of your entire world. The old adage is that 'a depressed man lives in a depressed world'. In an existential sense, this is quite literal. The world around you doesn't have an opinion as to whether it ought to be depressed or happy, there are only blades of grass which sway when you blow on them, and a breeze which sways you along with the grass.

And so if you really get into existentialism, your mind becomes a paintbrush, and you can paint over the grey muck with whatever is most pleasing to you. You can make a world that is beautiful, one that is logical, one that smacks of a divine presence, one that is quirky and random, one that is fun, whatever you want!

You might seek to strip away all the irrelevant and invented meanings in your life in the hopes of seeing just how weird, random, and indifferent the world really is. This choice is open to you, but be careful. Your brain is built to generate meaning, and if you try to arrive at some true sense of what the world actually is outside of your version of it, you might get a little freaked.

Instead, maybe listen to a fellow like Camus and try to find a way to make it work for you. Or not, it's your choice after all, and that's the fun!

Original Reddit post by ThisisDangeruss

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Poor People and Ridiculous Fashion Statements

When you're poor, there's a lot of shame that comes with that. Trying to look NOT poor is important to you. There are easy ways that poor people can work to make themselves look not poor- many of these methods develop into trends, which ironically becomes a signifier of poorness rather than a mask of it. But I digress.

When you're poor, the way you cover up poorness has to be visual and extroverted. You're living in a shit neighborhood, or in the projects, or in a trailer park. You can't make that look good, so looking good for you is outside the home. You make your clothes and your car look good. So, the hats- People like wearing hats. That's the start of it. But how do you designate a nice hat from a not nice hat? Most baseball caps get the tags ripped off, the stickers removed, and people bend the bill to make it fit more naturally. What does that mean? The hat is worn-in. It's used, even if only used by you. A hat that still has the manufacturer sticker and a perfectly level bill? That's a hat that was bought new. And you keep it in that condition as long as possible to SHOW people that you bought it new. Damage the hat or remove the holographic-stamped, custom stickers? Maybe you bought the hat at Salvation Army, or Good Will, or it's a hand-me-down or a hand out. But a perfect, straight-from-the-rack untouched hat? That's a SIGNIFIER that you're able to buy a hat.

I know it's hard to understand, but it's a pretty deeply engrained cultural statement. Why did Elvis wear white clothes? Because he was poor as shit growing up and he wanted to show people he could wear something white and expensive and not be worried about stains. Gets stained? Buy a new one. Wearing white shows you're rich. It's why Elvis wore white, it's why yuppies wore khakis rather than jeans, it's why Don Draper's costume designer gave his a pale trenchcoat rather than a dark one early on, it's why rich people have "white (clothing) parties"... And for that matter, it's why Johnny Cash wore black.

The white clothing thing is an old trend of showing affluence, used both by the rich and by the poor who wish to look rich. The hat thing is a new trend. Maybe it'll stay, maybe it'll go. Poor men who became rich- especially rappers- keep wearing their hats that way. As such, middle class and upper class youth copy it. So maybe it'll become engrained as a symbol of wealth. Or maybe it'll fall away. Pristine Air Jordans have been a symbol of wealth amongst poor communities for 20 years now, and who'd have thought that would last?

Orignal post by adam_frankenstein

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rocks, Pebbles and Sand

A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks right to the top, rocks about 2" in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full?

They agreed it was. So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them in to the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The students laughed. He asked his students again if the jar was full? They agreed yes, it was.

The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. “Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this is your life.

“The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children — anything that is so important to you that if it were lost, you would be nearly destroyed.

“The pebbles are the other things in life that matter, but on a smaller scale. The pebbles represent things like your job, your house, your car.

“The sand is everything else. The small stuff. If you put the sand or the pebbles into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks. The same goes for your life.

"If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, material things, you will never have room for the things that are truly most important. Pay attention to the things that are critical in your life. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal. Take care of the rocks first - the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just pebbles and sand.”

Original post by McMonocle

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Future Danger of Overwhelming Student Loan Debt

Yeah maybe they theoretically don't look so bad from an extremely short-sighted balance sheet point of view, but they will completely destroy capitalism as we know it.

Since the mid/late 80s a generation has been brainwashed with TV and other forms of constant commercialized media into believing that self-actualization comes from consumption, fitting in and having more than others. We have also been brainwashed into believing we must go to college to be successful (that is, good) people. Now we can say this is the fault of the parents, or its the fault of the corporations or whatever. Doesn't matter. Point is, this is what is happening.

We have reached a structural employment crisis. There are not enough jobs. We can deduce statistically that those with college degrees are likely to do better, given extremely broad aggregate measures. While college can be highly helpful for some people, it isn't meant for everywhere. The promised jobs don't exist. We don't need 10,000 PHDs in every obscure social science, there is no known way to employ these people productively in existing businesses.

You may ask why? Why is it that we don't know how to use these people in society? Why don't the jobs exist?

Because our generation has been trained to be law-accepting, servile, submissive and rule-loving. We have had creativity, empathy and patience trained out of us. Initially this was viewed as good. Marketers thought they were creating perfect consumers, who would continue buying things forever. It was perfect monopoly capitalism: installing the idea of unique brands in children at ages as early as possible and making them believe only those brands could bring them joy. Perfect consumers.

What these idiots forgot is that CONSUMPTION ALONE DOES NOT MAKE AN ECONOMY WORK. They didn't train a creative productive workforce! They trained consumers! This is a huge part of why the economy is dying.

For the last 10 years, corporations tried to just hand jobs to otherwise useless idiots who only knew how to consume. Guess what? A corporation where all the grunt work is done by barely thinking consumeristic dolts, where the management is done by idiot consumption-side, short-sighted managers, has led to a crisis of productivity.

We find ourselves in a state where an entire generation has been psychologically trained that 'consumption = happiness' but that generation is also massively un- and underemployed. That is to say, our economic system has found no productive use for consumers.

The college loan crisis is the last hurrah of the system. As droves of trained idiot consumers begin to realize they are morons, they seek out education so that they may gain employment, so that they may continue to consume.

This is seen by the old idiot monopolists as a marketing opportunity. The monopolists planned for a wave of lifelong consumers. They sell us college degrees even though they know that 6-7/10 of us still aren't going to get a job we're qualified for. They didn't plan for a wave of lifelong wage earners.

They have no idea what to do with us BECAUSE THEY ASSUMED WE WOULD ALWAYS HAVE MONEY TO SPEND. Dunno how you're able to do much spending without any income. Such is the idiocy of mainstream 'keynesianism' and 'job creating' economic policies. Nothing grows by consumption alone, not in biology, not in physics, not in human economic interactions. There must be some transformative production of a new useful thing!

Well, ok, I'm wrong, there is one thing that grows by consumption alone with no creative production. CANCER.

The student loan bubble is the last gimmick, the last joke before everything comes falling down and a new social order is implemented. Our generation is realizing we have been lied to our entire lives. Consumerism brings you only despair, uselessness and mental disorders. To modify George Carlin's saying, we are finding that the American Dream is actually the American Nightmare. There are no jobs because none of these marketers know anything about economics, they just figured the money would come from somewhere.

We will realize we need to make our own economy, seperate and apart from these short-sighted psycopaths who have literally manipulated the thinking of much of our generation from birth. We will wake up from the American Nightmare. We will realize that it makes no sense to go 60,000 dollars in debt for nothing. Nothing but a pat on the back from our loan-shark financial rapists, thanking you for selling yourself into debt-slavery. Remember kids, student loan debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy! Your wages will be garnished for the rest of your life!

We will stop going to college, we will drop out and make our own society. It is quite possible this transition will be extremely violent, though it does not have to be. Either way, when students begin en masse simply refusing to enroll, refusing to make loan payments or simply refusing to pay money they don't have for a service they don't need, the student loan bubble will collapse, and it will probably be the death-nell in modern Anglo-American globalist crony capitalism, as the shock waves emenating from the collapse of the student debt market will be at least as financially devastating as the collapse of home mortgages. Its likely it will be even worse (for the current order), as our generation will begin a widespread all-out revolt against consumerism, not by choice but by necessity, as we will be the new underclass if we do not pull ourselves up by our own boot-straps.

I think the way forward is co-ops, permaculture, and sustainable energy. We have to show these yahoos that globalist monopolistic capitalism is not responsive to true social desires. Its not good enough for us. We can do better.

Original Reddit post


Happiness isn't about having things or not having things, and its not about things being better then than they are now or will be later. Its about being happy. Right now. You have to be happy. If you look around, there is plenty to be happy about, we just stop looking is all.
We get all hopped up on instant fixes like alcohol or video games or drugs or the never ending novelty of the Intenet. After a while the old fixes, a lovingly crafted film, learning a new math concept, the act of drawing or playing the guitar, or cooking a nice meal don't work as good as the new fast ones. They take a lot longer and require effort and we stop. Our brain has an easier fix.

Suddenly that inspiration doesn't "hit" and we jump on the computer for a few hours or weeks. We do what we have to at a job so we can come home and get high on whatever gets us high. We get a six pack and see what's on TV. We get another philly cheesesteak even though that gut keeps growing. Whatever it takes to get that burst of happy. We consume. because then we get our fix and we can sludge through another shitty day getting shit on by someone who was just like you, but they've had the blinders on so long they forgot altogether.

Truth is you have to fight for what makes you happy. Fight against yourself and how easy it is today to have everything. Fight the animal inside saying feed me, please me, listen to ME... and remember the real you. The one with dreams and goals. Realize that just because you can play games and watch movies and eat hot pockets doesn't mean you should.

Realize that the best things take work. And just being happy is the hardest thing of all. You have to know yourself. To do that you need to take a good, long, honest look at yourself and your choices.

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Purpose of Work

The purpose of work, believe it or not, is not to make a living. Its to keep you busy.

When you don't work, you think you will be happy, but in reality your mind becomes free to dwell on trivial things and you slowly, imperceptibly grow to become dissatisfied with life. Small things begin to feel like big things. The simple pleasures you used to enjoy in small proportions begin to lose their potency because now you have the money and time to indulge them in unlimited quantities. You begin to enjoy things less.

Ultimately you will have to go back to work to engage your mind and to keep yourself busy. Very few people can just do nothing and be happy. And those who can do so, I suspect, are either holy men, or feeble-minded.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

War on Terror vs War on Communism

Nothing is so irretrievably lost to a society as the sense of fear it felt about a grave danger that was subsequently coped with. -- George Will.

Reddit's demographic skews young, and people here don't often have the experience to be able to compare the modern "war on terror" to the "war on communism." The truth of the matter is that the war on terror is largely a peripheral concern in the United States, to a degree that Americans between, say, 1950 and 1989 would have loved to have. (As an aside, this is not to say that terrorism wasn't happening during the exact same period -- airplane hijackings in particular were relatively common during this forty-year period, and the thought process that developed on how to handle them played its own sad role on 9/11 -- just that it didn't filter to American cultural consciousness in a way that the "Soviet threat" did.) Yes, you see it on the nightly news, and yes, comedians make jokes about it and it informs both public and foreign policy -- but not to anywhere near the extent that communism did.

What the Americans saw: The USSR was, for at least a portion of its history, an aggressively expansionist and often foul-tempered entity with a largely opaque political process, a history of "disappearing" dissidents, and a united cadre of communist nations to back it up. Or at least, that was the American political establishment's experience with it. With the opening of the Soviet archives, we know a lot more now about the disagreements and infighting behind the scenes, and that what we thought of as being an unstoppable and belligerent empire was anything but. The Soviets didn't really want to go to war any more than we did (of course, exceptions existed on both sides), and each nation thought of the other as having all its ducks in a row and a united set of allies. Nope. Disagreements between the Soviets and Chinese over what to do about North Korea are pretty representative of stuff the Americans didn't know. It turns out the Soviets were no fools about what Kim il-Sung was up to and that they spent a lot of time trying to rein the crazy in. It didn't work and they sorely regretted having put him (and others around the world) in power, in much the same way that the Americans came to regret having supported their own batch of crazies in the interests of countering communism.

Not as crazy as it looks: This all looks insane with the benefit of 20+ years' worth of hindsight, but -- the more you study the era and how politicians on both side acted and why they did, the more you start to understand that, given the insanity of the time itself, just about all parties involved were actually behaving pretty rationally. The Soviets and Americans both behaved in a manner that made perfect sense for how their nations saw the world and their place in it. Or, to put it another way, look at the game theory governing mutual assured destruction. The idea of mass war with nuclear weapons is insane, but how people thought through it, and in essence, designed a system to prevent it, was actually pretty smart. Also smart was how quickly people on both sides recognized that the world was changing. I love to cite this article from 1989 as an example of the almost creepy prescience with which the U.S. military accurately predicted what it'd be doing today.

The Cold War's effect on the American perspective:
  • Think about a forty year national nightmare with Soviet spies in the American nuclear program, nuclear weapons being moved to Cuba and within easy range of the continental United States (probably the closest the two countries came to all-out war before Khrushchev blinked), the "space race," and dick-swinging contests over Olympic athletes and scientific and cultural accomplishments.
  • Think about Dead Hand and the rivers of ink spilled by commenters, academics, and polemicists for forty years about the potential for a Soviet-American War and what it would look like.
  • Think about the German army's bald admission that it existed largely for the purpose of slowing the Soviet tank advance in the event of an invasion of western Europe.
It was something rather more all-consuming than the current "war on terror." The modern CIA owes its existence to the USSR, as do generations of American politicians and policymakers. Condoleeza Rice, for example, is fluent in Russian, as are many in the State Department around her age. There's been a mass scramble to reorient the CIA around Chinese, Dari, Pashto, and Arabic lately. Hint, hint.

The world as a whole is safer and less violent than it's ever been, to a degree I think very few people truly appreciate. And if you want my honest opinion, future historians will see the modern "war on terror" as an inevitable development of the post-colonial world. They, too, will be writing in a period where that threat has passed and people are largely insensible to why it informed politics and culture the way it did. We are already starting to forget why the Cold War was as scary as it was.

Original comment by Cenodoxus