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August 21, 2010

Blast from the past: Mr. Stupid's First Rule of Life


It originally appeared here on January 10, 2006.

Since then, time has passed but not much else has changed.


Mr. Stupid's First Rule of Life

That would be me — one of my many identities. The rule: "Anytime anything that's supposed to do something doesn't, check to make sure it's plugged in." The First Corollary: "If it's battery–powered, put in new batteries." These two seemingly for–the–brain–dead–only statements will suffice to solve about 80% of equipment–related problems. The corollary certainly fixed my Bluetooth mouse just now; it's been losing contact and intermittently not working for days but it shaped right up once I changed the batteries.

Other useful principles and sayings:

• 80% of success in business is a result of returning all phone calls the same day. You don't have to talk to anyone; in fact, I often wait till after business hours to return a call I might've responded to earlier simply because for one reason or another I don't want to talk to that person just then. I leave a voice message saying I returned their call of earlier today; that's sufficient to buy a delay until tomorrow or later. Obviously, this rule is a specialized case of the Woody Allen 80% rule re: life.

• When someone tells you that you must do something immediately that requires some of your money, and if you don't do it now you'll lose the chance to take part, always, Always, ALWAYS say "no thank you." You will never see your money again with 99+% of such investment "opportunities."

• People who ask you to give them a break on price always cause more trouble than those who pay full freight without quibbling.

August 21, 2010 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Speed Dial Padlock ends lock stress


"What's my combination?

Forget about the combination — what is the frequency?




"This lock can be opened one-handed without looking."

Can your lock do that?

Didn't think so.

"This new take on the combination lock is based on a sequence of up, down, left and right clicks, so it's really quick to open."

"Stickers let you add letters, numbers, colors, shapes or symbols to customize your dial."


August 21, 2010 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Voicemail — Episode 2: A Visit to the dark side


Yesterday's account of my bumbling journey through AT&T's voicemail wilderness occasioned two particularly instructive comments, which follow.

The first was from Mark Bernay of Phone Trips, who wrote:


There actually is a legitimate security reason why the default of voicemail is to make you enter a password. That's because the voicemail system doesn't have any special way of identifying that it is YOU calling, other than the standard caller ID system.

The system sees YOUR cell phone number as the caller ID calling in. A call to voicemail is a regular phone call to a regular phone number that is well-known, even if you are able to dial some abbreviated code instead of the complete phone number to retrieve your voicemail.

The problem is that caller ID can be faked, and is actually quite easy for non-technodolts nowadays to do it using very little equipment and free software. I can do it from my home, for example. So if I fake my caller ID to be your cellphone number, and then I call into the phone number of your voicemail system, then the system will think I am you and will let me listen to your messages. But if you had to enter a password, then I would be blocked. The phone companies know that caller ID can be faked, and that's why they encourage the use of a password.

In the real world, this probably isn't something you need to worry about, because it isn't well known by the general public how to do this, and someone would need to know your cellphone number.

If you would like me to demonstrate this, and you trust me enough to give me any phone number you have that has the caller ID feature, I can call that number and fake the caller ID to be any number you like.


The second comment came from foofdawg who wrote, "Unfortunately, a friend of mine uses this trick [bypassing the password] on his girlfriend's cell phone to listen to her messages...."

August 21, 2010 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Blossoming Vase


Made from vinyl, they fold flat for transport and take shape when filled with water.

11"H x 6"Ø.

Two for $25.

[via Phaedra Brown]

August 21, 2010 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Icarus Dreams of Joseph Cornell — by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

2222222WHITESPACE 20h x 119w

 WHITESPACE 20h x 119w

 WHITESPACE 20h x 119w


 WHITESPACE 20h x 119w

 WHITESPACE 20h x 119w

August 21, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

Hint: requires no batteries.

Another: requires no electricity.

Wanna go wild?

Me too.

Not solar-powered.

August 21, 2010 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bluebrain: Year One

preview of Noah Hutton's 10-year-film-in-the-making chronicling the progress of the Blue Brain ProjectHenry Markram's attempt to reverse-engineer a human brain.

August 21, 2010 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rainbow Chopsticks


Makes it easy to find your plate.

Lacquered and reusable.

12 pair: $30.

August 21, 2010 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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