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April 12, 2012

The Histomap: 4,000 Years of World History


From davidrumsey.com: "Rand McNally published amateur historian John B. Spark's  "The Histomap: 4,000 Years of World History" in 1931. This popular chart went through many editions. On the cover, Sparks states: "Clear, vivid and shorn of elaboration, Histomap holds you enthralled as you follow the curves of power down time's endless course. Here is the actual picture of the march of civilization from the mud huts of the ancients thru the monarchistic glamour of the middle ages to the living panorama of life in present day America."

[via Jane B. Kulow]

April 12, 2012 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Misfortune Cookies


"Fortunes* range from rude to insulting to mean to hilarious."


"10 cookies in each package, each with a different message."


[via MeWanty!]

*Like people

April 12, 2012 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Drop Dead Healthy" — A.J. Jacobs goes from flabby to fit


Full disclosure: I have never met A.J. Jacobs. I have spoken with him on the phone; we have had email correspondence; I have written an appendix to his new book (above).

You might ask, how did that come to be, joe?

And I would tell you that one or the other of us started corresponding about something or other to do with building a treadmill desk, and one thing led to another and before you know it, he'd put the arm on me to write an appendix — a quick-and-dirty guide to creating your own treadmill workspace on the fast and cheap — for his then-in-progress book.

Oh, yeah, he added, one more thing: I need it in a week.

No problema, said I, always happy to take on a project on a short deadline for no money now or ever in the future: there's a reason I coined the word TechnoDolt®™© (still not yet in common parlance but I'm working on it, believe me... but I digress) to describe myself.

Anyhow, he liked what I wrote and it's Appendix C in his book (screenshot from "Look inside the [Kindle] book" below).


On Tuesday of this week USA Today featured A.J. (no — I do not know what the initials stand for nor do I care, though I do recall that for a while there he left off the periods, i.e., "AJ," but that seems to have been a passing phase 'cause they're back but I've not restored them to his name in my address book for sentimental reasons.) — and his book in a front-page/above-the-fold story/interview by/with Bob Minzesheimer in its Life section, which piece gave me no end of delight.

My A.J. quote from the article: "I try to put myself in interesting situations. I have little shame, no dignity."

That's precisely why he and I get along so well.

I have long believed that "no shame + no pride = no limits."

Excerpts from the USA Today piece follow.


"My old body was a fixer-upper," he says at the gym, near his apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. His 26-month rehab project, chronicled in the book, taught him that "bodily perfection is a bit of a myth. Because you have huge biceps doesn't mean you're perfect."

The old Jacobs got winded playing hide-and-seek with his three sons (ages 8 to 5).

The new Jacobs can run a mile in less than seven minutes. (For readers keeping score, that's a bit slower than the world record for 80-year-olds).

The old Jacobs wasn't fat — at 5-foot-11 he weighed 172 pounds. But his stomach formed what he calls "a python-that-swallowed-a-goat type of body" [below].


That, he learned, "is the worst kind of fat" — visceral fat that surrounds the liver and other vital organs.

The new Jacobs [below], now 156.5 pounds, knows that the size of your waistline is one of the best predictors of heart disease. His dropped by 3 inches.


His "Project Health" began three years ago when he was hospitalized for three days with severe pneumonia.

His wife, Julia, who for years has worked out at a gym, nudged him about his expanding belly. She called him "Buddha" and warned him: "I don't want to be a widow at 45."

His at-home workplace was inspired by Mayo Clinic doctor James Levine, who thinks we should all have desks in front of treadmills. Jacobs jury-rigged his, joining what he says is a "small but loyal following of treadmill desk jockeys" who use terms like "deskercise" and "iPlod." Jacobs calculates he walked 1,200 miles while writing his book.


More? You want more A.J.? Who wouldn't?

Your wish is my demand: below, a video interview that accompanied the USA Today story.

April 12, 2012 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Laptop/iPad/iPhone Whiteboard


Turn your device into an erasable notepad.


"Custom-cut adhesive vinyl whiteboard, with Expo fine tip markers and accessories."


$5–$12 here.

[via MeWanty!]

April 12, 2012 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Caffeine Zone app "serves as intake-management consultant for Starbucks junkies"


Excerpts from Drake Bennett's February 23, 2012 Bloomberg Businessweek story about Caffeine Zone follow.

I am an irregular coffee drinker. I don't need it to get up in the morning, but I do need it after a rough night or a heavy lunch. I am also, though, an irregular sleeper. Some nights I find myself wide awake at 3 a.m. Could it have been that last cup of coffee? Should I have had tea instead? Would that have been enough to get me through the afternoon?

Well, now, as they say, there's an app for that: Caffeine Zone, based on research on the "pharmacokinetics of caffeine." You enter how much coffee or tea you’ve had, when you had it, and how quickly you drank it, and the app sends you an alert when you might need another cup to keep you sharp. It also warns you when the coffee you’re about to have might keep you up at night. On a graph, it maps the amount of caffeine in your body against color-coded zones corresponding to the compound’s metabolic effects.

One of the lessons Caffeine Zone teaches is that the first coffee of the day should be the biggest, and drunk the fastest for a big bump. The rest of the day's doses should be smaller and ingested more slowly to stay in that optimum range. It's trajectory management: Launch rocket, achieve desired altitude, maintain orbit with tweaks.


Wrote Frank Ritter, the Penn State cognitive scientist who thought up the app: "

Caffeine Zone is an iPhone app that monitors, predicts, and displays a user's caffeine level in real-time based on a pharmacokinetic model and the user's input of when they consume caffeine.

Caffeine Zone users can enter their caffeine consumption and the app generates a line chart of predicted caffeine level for the next 24 hours. It also shows a cognitive active zone, an area of level where most people will feel active, and sleep zone, an area of caffeine level where most people will be able to sleep. These values are adjustable. These zones can be changed to represent individual differences.

It runs on the iPhone and the iPod Touch so it is highly portable and easy to use. It runs on the iPad as well.


The app is free, the way we like it.

App screenshots appear above.

April 12, 2012 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Giant Inflatable Boxing Gloves


From the website:



Just fill with air and use.

Tough PVC construction for rugged play.

Ideal for kids' recreational and home use.

Safe and protective gloves for kids of all ages.

Super-lightweight inflatable gloves fit snugly over youth hands.

Each fully-inflated glove measures 20" x 16" for fun all-around play.



[via MeWanty!]

April 12, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

World's first wine from outer space now on sale


From a story in Tuesday's Washington Post:


"Ian Hutcheon owns Tremonte Vineyard near his astronomical observatory, Centro Astronomico Tagua Tague, in Chile. Combining his two passions, he says, he put a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite, bought from an American collector, in a barrel where his cabernet sauvignon was aging."


"He's holding the space relic in the two photos above; below, a sample of the wine is heated for a lab test. The wine, Meteorito [top photo], is on sale at the observatory."


Apply within.

[via io9 and thedrinksbusiness.com]

April 12, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SurfEasy "Plug-in Privacy" Flash Drive

Screen Shot 2012-04-11 at 1.29.09 PM

The long and the short of it from Edward C. Baig's USA Today review:

• $59.99 one-time purchase comes with 2GB of encryption. Premium encryption plans start at $5 month.

Pro: Simple USB drive [top] lets you browse privately from any PC or Mac. Potentially lets you access off-limit sites.

Con: A pro can be a con — it can potentially let you access off-limit sites. Holder design won't appeal to all. Doesn't safeguard entire computer, just activities through SurfEasy browser.

Excerpts from Baig's review follow.

You're frequently in front of someone else's computer. But whether surfing at an airport, library, or client's office, you surely don't want the next person using the machine to know who you ogled on Facebook or which politician you read up on.

A USB drive by SurfEasy promises "plug-in privacy" when you browse the Internet from any public or third-party PC or Mac. The SurfEasy drive launches a password-protected browser that encrypts your cyberactivity without leaving any traces. No Web history, bookmarks, passwords or other personal information remain on the local computer. It's as if you were never there.

Instead, all that information is stored on the USB key. If you plug the drive into another computer — and enter the password you signed up with the first time you plugged SurfEasy into a USB port — you can access your surfing history, plus stored bookmarks and Web passwords.

Local searches are kept private. SurfEasy uses your Internet Protocol (IP) address to determine your whereabouts, but only tells Google for search purposes the city you're in, not your specific IP address. SurfEasy's own IP addresses are in the U.S.; international locations are coming.

Employers and parents may not appreciate one other feature. The drive can help you bypass firewalls and other off-limit sites.

There's nothing complicated about SurfEasy's set-up: Just insert the drive. Inserted properly, a blue light appears. You click an icon to launch the browser.

Video demo below.


April 12, 2012 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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