Boycotting Comcast

This post started as a draft, sitting among 33 other drafts for a couple of months collecting dust in my WordPress dashboard (yes, I'm one of those type of bloggers). The original title of the post was "Sorry Speakeasy" and my intention was to finish writing the post after I canceled my Speakeasy Internet service at my house in Lowell and switched to Comcast. I was going to write about how awesome Comcast was because of their price, insane download speeds, and simplicity (generally no need to worry about old phone wires or paying for a separate land-line phone line, etc). I was going to write about how you can get basic cable TV plus high-speed Internet for less than the price of a single DSL line.

Well screw Comcast. Everything is different now. The title of this post has gone from "Sorry Speakeasy" to "Boycotting Comcast", and not without good reason. A few months ago I read in the news that Comcast was throttling BitTorrent traffic. Being someone who occasionally uses BitTorrent for legitimate reasons, I decided to run a few tests of my own. Sure enough, my entire cable connection crapped out for 20 minutes after downloading something over BitTorrent, sometimes to the point where a 56k dial-up connection would have been more responsive. A few weeks later I read an article about how Comcast was not only limiting BitTorrent traffic, but that it was using the same techniques communist China uses to monitor and control the Internet traffic for its 1.3 billion citizens. This was unacceptable, and from a legal standpoint, I believe entirely against the law (read HiThere's Slashdot comment here).

Speakeasy DSL has been nothing but good to me. They have awesome, educated technical service (much like LiquidWeb's technical service), and their prices are fairly decent. I had a Speakeasy OneLink DSL line at my house in Lowell, along with the $35 VOIP service, which is assigned my old cell number (the one I give out to everyone). I have it setup to forward all calls to my real cell number, so everyone can still reach me. If I ever want to stop receiving calls at that number and start using a new number, I can do it within a matter of minutes. After this ordeal with Comcast, I decided to transfer my OneLink DSL and VOIP service to my apartment in Cambridge. Sure enough, I was able to keep my 978 area code VOIP number, even though the service was in a 617 location.

I'm paying $56 a month for a 1.5/384 Speakeasy OneLink DSL line (which doesn't require a separate land-line!). I ran speed tests using both Speakeasy's speed test and and received identical results. Sure, its not nearly as fast as Comcast, but it is a consistent, never-fluctuating-just-because-I'm-using-some-suspicious-protocol speed:

Download Speed: 1312 kbps (164 KB/sec transfer rate)
Upload Speed: 326 kbps (40.8 KB/sec transfer rate)

Any time of the day (or night), regardless of how much of the bandwidth I've been using, that speed never changes. I've downloaded over 50GB of data over BitTorrent since the Speakeasy DSL line was installed and I haven't experienced any slowdowns at all. If I'm paying money for my Internet service, thats how it should be.

I'm officially boycotting Comcast, and since I don't watch TV, it's an easy thing for me to do.

Technical Support Patience

Why do people send a support email asking a question and then 10 minutes later call, using a telephone, to ask the same question? I can understand if the question was urgent or if the email was not responded to for a few hours, but 10 minutes?

Your question won't get answered any quicker by submitting it many times using different methods. If anything, it will slow down the process as it will become necessary to check every message to insure the question has not changed, and that you haven't submitted any additional information.

Machines providing bad service

I'm three months behind on mortgage payments to IndyMac Bank. It's not that I'm intentionally missing payments, but rather I simply don't have the money. I'm also behind on my other mortgage, with Wilshire Credit Corporation. Wilshire has called me several times over the past month, inquiring about payment. When I explained that I'm having trouble, and asked for an address to send my personal financial statement to, they provided it to me.

IndyMac on the other hand, doesn't have a human call me. No. Instead, they have a machine call me every few days:

"This is IndyMac Bank calling on an important matter. Please call us back at 1-800-781-7399, between the hours of 7:00am and 8:00pm, Eastern Standard Time.".

No repeating of the number, not even a "Thank you"! This morning when they called, I just happened to be near my computer and ran over to it to jot down the number. I promptly called them back, hoping to speak to a person who could give me an address where I could send my personal financial statement.

After the initial annoying menu options, I choose the option to speak to a representative. It then tells me my account information has been located based on my phone number. How is that possible? My caller ID is blocked. I am then asked to enter the last four of my social security number for security purposes. I enter the numbers and am told to wait for the next representative. Then I hear this:

"I'm sorry, we're unable to take your call right now. Please try back later."

And the call drops!

So I wait 15 minutes and call back. This time, I don't even hear the friendly message telling me to call back. This time, after I'm told to hold, the call just drops!

The human element of directing traffic. Sucks.

I have nothing against police officers. In fact, I applaud them for their service to the community. But when they are given a detail to direct traffic for the increased volume of pedestrians, on an afternoon when the Lowell Spinners is playing at the Edward A. LeLacheur Park, they really need to use a little more of their intelligence.

The reason traffic in big cities doesn't come to a griding halt is because traffic and crosswalk lights control the flow of pedestrians and vehicles. Now imagine what would happen if all the crosswalk lights stopped traffic to let pedestrians cross, as long as there were pedestrians waiting to cross. In other words, pedestrians always had the right of way. It would be impossible to commute with a vehicle!

There I sat, in traffic, watching two police officers direct traffic. Wait, they weren't directing traffic. They were directing pedestrians. The same people walking on foot who I passed 1/2 a mile back were walking by me and allowed to cross the intersection in front of me. There was a 1/4 mile of traffic backed up in either direction. It wasn't like there was a constant flow of people crossing the road either. The police officers would see people about 30 seconds away and let them get to the intersection and cross. Then they would see more pedestrians and the pattern would continue.

Please. Traffic needs to move too. That 300lb person 200ft away from the intersection can wait 30 seconds to let 50 cars go by! 😑

All I can say is thank god humans don't direct traffic in all intersections.

Flush the Damn Urinal

Why do people use the damn urinal without flushing it? I mean seriously, I don't want to be breathing in the raunchy smell of old, richly yellow urine while I'm taking a piss. Its not that difficult to press the little lever on the urinal when you're done shaking off your stuff.

Please, flush the damn urinal! 😑

Man vs Wild and Survivorman

I wrote this in response to a post in a forum about how Man vs Wild is a hoax. I thought I'd post it here, since my rant of a reply became a lot longer than I anticipated.

The BBC canceled Man vs Wild in Europe. It's still going to play in the US.

The article about it being a hoax has been over played. It's not a hoax. True, the camera team assembled a life raft on the island before filming it to make sure it would actually float and be relatively safe (they floated out into an ocean with sharks, I would have done the same!).

The other thing that was overplayed is that he stayed in a hotel a couple of times while on one of the islands (they never said he stayed in the hotel instead of outside... he probably stayed in a hotel the first day they arrived before going out on the adventure). And even if he stayed in a hotel a few times, WHO CARES? Good for him. He could use a couple of comfortable trips. People love making up things and overplaying news when the details are not clear. Don't believe everything you read!

He states in the beginning of every show that "a camera crew will follow me". Obviously the camera crew has protective gear and tents. Where do you think they sleep when he sleeps in a tiny hole in the ground during a blizzard? Every time he starts a fire, he's using nothing but flint and his knife... even when its raining! I don't see him using matches or a lighter or showing us the fire without showing him lighting it!

The thing about Man vs Wild is that Bear Grylls can take risks that might be necessary in a survival situation, but that he would never do alone simply to get it on video. That's what makes Man vs Wild exciting.

On the other hand, Survivorman is unique in the way that he must carry all his camera equipment with him. Every single camera angle you see he had to setup beforehand. When you see an angle of him crossing a river, you know he had to cross it a second and third time just to get his camera back. It's also unique in the way that you know if something goes wrong, he really is alone (of course, if something went really wrong, you probably wouldn't be watching it on TV -- that's TV Reality).

If he doesn't reach his rendezvous point by the stated time, the crew has to come looking for him. Its very cool to know how alone he really is when you're watching him. But that's not exciting. He can't take great risks and show you cool things that you might need to do in a survival situation. He can't jump into a big pool of quicksand or risk hypothermia by crossing a frozen river, relying only on the pools of volcanic hot water he sees in the distance to keep him alive.

Entertainment is about risk and excitement, which is why Man vs Wild is more popular. Survivorman is more realistic, but who watches TV for realistic things? Anyone who believes a reality show, no matter what kind, is entirely unscripted really needs to get their head out of the dark area its in.

I personally like watching both, because the both have their good points. Man vs Wild is definitely more entertaining and if two new episodes of each were playing at the same time, I'd be watching Man vs Wild.

You can read more about these two shows on Wikipedia: Man vs Wild, Survivorman.

Bear Grylls is no wimp. If you read a little about him I'm sure you'll agree.

Here is the original BBC article I read about the hoax.

Minor Thunderbird Change Reduces my Productivity!

It's quite annoying when a new version of software is released and the programmers modify the menus, specifically the context menus. In Thunderbird 2.0, for example, they changed the context menu quite a bit from previous versions. I constantly use Thunderbird's context menu to "Mark Folder Read" and I used to instinctively know exactly how much to move my mouse after right clicking. Since they've changed the menu I have to stop and actually look at it.

Ignore the fact that the mouse is selecting "Empty Trash" in the following pictures. I couldn't find a picture of the old context menu showing Mark Folder Read selected.

Prior to Thunderbird 2.0:

Thunderbird 2.0:

Now really, why did it need to change that much? They only added two additional items! Talk about reducing productivity with minor changes to a commonly used GUI! Shipping Screw Up

A few weeks ago I ordered something from and had it shipped to my PO BOX address in Lowell. Whenever possible, I always use my PO BOX because I've had problems with people stealing packages left on the porch of my home address. When placing the order I selected the Express shipment method, filled out my PO BOX address and submitted the order. Everything went through and the form didn't complain that they cannot ship to PO BOXes, so naturally I assumed everything was cool.

Several days later, I discover not only was the package shipped UPS instead of USPS, but the package was delivered to one of my investment properties, 53 Ware Street. Ware Street!? My permanent address is on Cumberland RD, not Ware Street, and the Lowell Post Office is aware of that, so why the hell did they ship it to Ware Street? When I checked the UPS tracking, here's what it said:

MA, US 02/15/2007 9:39 P.M. DESTINATION SCAN

Attempting to obtain an address from WHERE? Did they just randomly pick one of houses I own in Lowell? What if I owned 30 houses? Obviously this whole thing could have been avoided by me going to the help section on and reading the section on Express shipping:

Can I ship Express to a P.O. Box?

Unfortunately, Express orders can not be shipped to P.O. boxes.

But why should I have to do that? The easiest thing to do would be to have the order form simply check if I'm choosing Express for the shipping method and refuse to accept a PO BOX address in the Ship To field. UPS can't be to blame simply because they were given a PO BOX address to ship to, which obviously they cannot do. They did their best to deliver the package. shouldn't have provided them a PO BOX address in the first place.

Seriously, basic error checking like this should always be implemented when you're running a website that claims to have "The best selection of calendars in the world".

Obviously not the best web programmers in the world.

Don't piss on my floor

I was asked a few weeks ago, by one of my tenants, to rent the vacant first floor apartment underneath them for their birthday party. I hesitated at first, because I know parties can mean lots of trouble, but I really needed the money. The carpets were going to be replaced anyway so I didn't care what they did to them. I only asked that the walls stay clean, that there's no trouble with the police, and that they don't cause any problems with the neighbors.

Also, with all the extra weight from the people attending the party I became worried about the stability of the floor joists for the first floor. I noticed a lot of extra cracking and sagging in the joists and walls after all the water damage a couple of weeks ago. So just to be safe I bought two heavy duty 8' temporary lolly columns and propped up the floor underneath the sagging spots.

When I came home tonight I found a leak coming from upstairs. It was coming from one of the drain pipes; one that I knew needed to be replaced but had been avoiding doing so for a long time. It was an old iron pipe that was rusted pretty badly, now badly enough allow water to leak through. I had a 1" pool of water on my basement floor, but luckily there was no additional water damage.

I had been worried there would be another leak in the pipes above where I installed a 3' electric baseboard heater, so a few days ago I inquired with my dad about what would happen if water fell on it. As my dad and I suspected, nothing happen. Of course I wasn't taking any chances of being electrocuted by 240 volts and turned off the breaker as soon as I got there. After sucking up the water with my shopvac, I went to Home Depot and bought a couple of fittings, sawed off part of the iron pipe (went through two blades because I all I had were the blades for thinner metal) and replaced the remaining section with newer PVC piping. Then I discovered another leak -- this time coming through the ceiling tiles above my bed.

It was piss (yes, urine) -- dripping down onto my bed. I went upstairs to find a 4x6' section of the floor soaked with piss. Are these people fucking stupid? There's a working bathroom and two doors to go outside. Some people really have no respect for other peoples' property. I mean come on, its a fucking house.

I'm never doing that again.

Independent Thoughts
In the competitive carpet market, it’s a rare chance that you won’t find exactly what you want. If you are shopping around to buy carpet of casual look with the flecks of colors then you need to go for berber carpet. People who want durable and long life carpet flooring mostly show their interest in georgia carpet

Show me the errors!

It took me forever to figure out why the hell including a specific class file in one of my PHP scripts was causing the script to output nothing -- besides a blank white page. I finally figured out that PHP must be hiding errors and as soon as I added the following line to the top of my script, the error was obvious (a single character error, no doubt):

ini_set('display_errors', '1');

I was testing on a webhost I had never used before, so I wrongly assumed it was a problem with my code causing the blank output.

Verizon's Ultimate Call Forwarding service allows you to remotely enable/disable call forwarding, as well as change the number to which calls will be forwarded. When you call the automated system to activate call forwarding, there are several other options you can select, such as "Forward after no answer" and "Forward when busy". Those features are extras, for which you need to pay an additional monthly fee. The only feature enabled on account I was configuring is the basic call forwarding, which explicitly forwards all calls. Why then, am I able to select, configure, and enable the other features?

"To enable Forward after no answer, press 1"
"Please enter the number you wish to forward your calls to"
"Please hold while we process your request..."
"Please hold while we process your request..."
"Please hold while we process your request..."
"Forward after no answer has been enabled."

No it hasn't! The damn automated system says its been enabled, when in fact configuring and enabling this feature does absolutely nothing! So much for an intelligent system. It should tell me I don't have that feature enabled, not allow me to configure and enable it.

OfficeMax gets away with typographical pricing error

On New Years Eve, I was browsing digg and pressing refresh on the main page. Suddenly there was a new post, about a Verbatim 4GB USB Drive from OfficeMax for $17.98. I quickly ordered 10 of them for $180 from their website. A few days later, I receive this email:

Dear OfficeMax Customer,

This is to advise you that item 21168308 - Verbatim 4GB USB Drive has been canceled from your order due to an inadvertent typographical pricing error on our website. According to the Terms of Use on, OfficeMax does not have to honor a price that is a typographical error. We apologize for the inconvenience.

If you have additional questions, please contact a customer service representative at 1-877-OFFICEMAX.

What bull! Lots of other people are pretty pissed too. This shows you what companies can get away with when they make a typo in an online advertisement. They can simply remove the online ad and claim that any evidence you have was simply created on your computer. I'm not saying this is what they do, but they could -- which is why they probably feel they have the power to cancel thousands of orders based on an online typo.

Why I won't install IE7

IE7 needs Service Pack 2.

Service Pack 2 does horrible things to a computer. For example, I have two computers with the same exact hardware specs. Same services running. The SP2 computer runs MUCH slower than the SP1 computer. I'm not just talking about network speed (I know about the TCP connection limitation in SP2 (from 65k connections down to 10 connections! (and I know about the tcpip.sys hack to fix it)). I'm talking about launching programs, opening my computer, etc. All are much slower with SP2.

So, unless someone can find me an IE7 that runs with SP1, I won't be installing it. Besides, Firefox does everything I need on a daily basis, and IE6 is there for backup, in case there's some stupid ASP site that I need to view that just wont work right in Firefox (damn non-standardization!).

Internet Archaeology

So today I went to show my apartments to a prospective tenant. The appointment was for 7pm, so it was already dark. Come to find out, the electric company turned off the electricity for two of the three vacant units. I called the electric company a month ago and asked them to put the meters in my name. I told them the tenants had been evicted and I didn't want them to turn the electricity off because I would be doing renovations. So I called them again today and asked why the hell they were off. Apparently, they had no record of me calling in and asking to have the meters put in my name. Grrr, I hate incompetence, especially in companies or those who provide a service.

I had coffee with my boss today and due to uncontrollable circumstances, I'm probably not going to be hired full-time in January 2007, which means I won't be moving to Cambridge in January. I'm still moving, it just won't be when I expected. Instead, it might be sometime early February or even March of 2007. We'll see.

While searching the web for something today, I came across The Original new.gif Tribute Page. It's pretty simple: Back when the web was just getting started, Matt Libby decided to create a tiny GIF image, about the same height as a line of text, which he could use to mark things on a web page that were new. The tiny GIF took off and is probably the most used image in the history of the web. Pretty cool stuff. I almost felt like an Internet archaeologist, discovering a lost piece of Internet history. It reminds me of how quickly sites like Google, Yahoo, Flickr, MySpace, etc., have become common-place names for todays generation of Internet users and how only 8 years ago, most of those sites didn't even exist.

In the opposite direction, towards the future, I read on Slashdot about how Windows Vista is apparently going to use IPv6 to create unique domain names for each Windows Vista computer, to make it easier for computers to share files. I can only imagine the number of viruses that will crop up to utilize this feature. The good thing is that Microsoft may very well be the company that helps kick-start the push towards the whole Internet using IPv6 over IPv4. I'm just happy that I'm moving away from regular computer support and more towards software engineering. I have a bad feeling that Windows Vista is going to be a huge headache when it comes to support.

Also on Slashdot, I read about a guide to camping out on console launch day. I thought it was funny how the author of the guide mentions that he's not crazy compared to the fans who lined up a year in advance for the Star Wars prequels. I'm a Star Wars fan and I'll admit, I lined up to watch Star Wars 1 when it first came to the theater. The line to get into the movie theater started inside the theater in the hallway, and backed out the theater entrance and halfway around the building outside. πŸ™‚

Rebates and PO Boxes

I'm sure everyone has filled out rebates. You've probably also had an experience where you never received your rebate back in the mail. Have you ever put down your PO Box as the address to insure the safest arrival of your rebate check? If you have, you probably never received the rebate at all! All rebate forms specifically note that you cannot use your PO Box as a return address. Why?

Well the only reason that makes sense to me is if the rebate companies are intentionally hoping a certain percentage of the rebates never arrive at their destination and therefore are not cashed. Since they are checks, not money orders, the funds remain in the company's bank account until the check is cashed or deposited. They always put a short expire date (90 days) on the checks, so they know if the check has not cleared after 90 days they can consider that money theirs again. Genius.

Whatever they can do to keep their money!

Cannot Register for an ADC account with an Apple email address?!

I visited Apple's developer website to download Xcode, the Apple Developers package that includes all the software you need to compile applications yourself. I was trying to download Putty for OSX using DarwinPorts, however it requires the OSX development tools to be installed. Before downloading Xcode you are required to register for a free ADC account. Since I have a .Mac account, I used my .Mac email address. At the end of the registration I was told to click the link in the confirmation email.

Fifteen minutes go by and I don't receive any confirmation email in my .Mac inbox. This is an Apple Developers site -- you would think sending the confirmation email to an Apple email account would be instant! I tried sending the email to my Yahoo account and within seconds the confirmation email arrived.

Bay State Marathon Traffic

Did anyone else get stuck in this? I left home around noon time to grab a coffee in Drum Hill (Chelmsford), fully aware there was a marathon going on today. However, this wasn't like most of the marathons I see happening along the boulevard and in Lowell. Starting from the Aiken St bridge, going towards Nashua along the VFW Highway, they closed all the bridges going into Lowell (and Chelmsford). They allowed traffic out of Lowell and onto VFW Highway, but not in the other direction. So I decided to drive all the way towards Nashua, hop on RT3 and get off the exit for Chelmsford. As I neared the RT113 bridge in Tyngsborough, the noticed the traffic was backed up for two miles. And knowing how messed up the lights at that intersection are, there was no way I was going to wait in that traffic. So I turned around, went all the way back through the traffic I had already been through, took a couple of back roads to avoid some of it, went past my house, then took the bridge into downtown Lowell. There was some traffic that way too, but it wasn't nearly as bad.

I basically spent 1 hour in traffic, in Lowell. There should have been signs, several days prior to the marathon, which announced which bridges would be closed to traffic. Instead, the signs simply said "Expect Significant Delays". That isn't very helpful if they don't inform you how to avoid the "significant delays"!

Large E-Mail Attachments

I click the "Send and Receive" button on my email client and expect it pause for a second or two and respond by either displaying the new messages or tell me that there are no new messages. Instead, I press the button and wait, and wait, and wait... "Has my email client frozen? Did my Internet connection die? Is there a problem with my mail server?" I press stop, and then "Send and Receive". Same thing. I open my web browser and type -- it loads fine. OK, so my Internet connection is fine. Then why the hell... Oh, that's why. Someone sent me an email with a huge file attachment and the computer was just taking a long time to download it.

I don't understand why people think they can send a 10MB file attachment through the email. Sure, you can do it and the email client probably won't complain unless the mail server rejects it for it's size or times out before the upload is finished. With the advent of webmail clients, large file attachments are no problem. The file attachment is simply displayed as a link that allows you to download the attachment at will. When you open an email through a webmail application, the email content is displayed and the file attachment remains on the server, no big-file-downloading necessary. However, for those of us who still use email clients, such as myself, big file attachments can be very annoying.

So what's a good solution to this problem? Obviously if you need to send a big file through the email, then you need to get it sent one way or another. The best solution is to upload the file somewhere and then provide a link to the file in your email. If you already have a website hosted somewhere, you can probably upload the file to your website using an FTP client. If you don't know how to do that, then it would be easier to upload the file using a file upload service such as allows you to upload a file without even registering for their service. The file can be as large as 60MB, and you can upload an unlimited number of files. If you use the non-registration method of uploading a file, you will be provided with a link to the file after it has been uploaded. You can paste this link in your email, or send it to your friends/co-workers through an Instant Message. The file will automatically be deleted from if there is no download activity for 30 days. With the non-registration method of uploading files, the only way to retrieve links to previous file uploads is to use their "Recover my links" feature, which is based on the IP address of the person who uploaded the file. If you have a broadband connection, chances are that your IP address will remain the same for quite awhile (forever, if you have a static IP). If your IP address matches the IP address you had when you uploaded the file, then the link to that file will be displayed. Ingenious way of recovering something that was submitted without registration. πŸ™‚

To summarize, if an email file attachment is going to be over 1MB, please upload the file and insert a link to the file in your email! For people with purely webmail clients, it saves space. For those with real email clients, it saves time and the headaches of waiting!

Deadly Food

What would happen if the makers of popular cleaning chemicals modified their products in such a way so that the chemicals tasted, and smelled, just like food? What if bleach smelled, and tasted, like cotton candy? Activists and health organizations would go crazy. Children and pets who don't know any better would get sick and start dying from chemical ingestion. You're probably thinking, "What a crazy thing to even suggest!".

Well, lets see: scientific studies have shown that it's a scientific fact that soda, donuts, cheese burgers, and other unnatural and unhealthy so called "foods", will kill you over time. Yet the better tasting and more appealing the food companies make their "products", the more money they make! The foods are shown to eventually lead to obesity and death and yet it's totally legal and OK for them to market and sell them!

Did you know that the food companies aren't even required to run any kind of trials to test the safety of a new food or product? The foods available on the market today are more dangerous for you than the chemicals and drugs in a pharmacy! Ingredients in foods should be as carefully inspected as chemicals are in new drugs and overly unhealthy foods should be outlawed.

I saw a box of donuts this morning. I wasn't offered any, but that's because everyone already knows I'll simply smile and say "No thank you.", turning away with my feeling of health and motivation still 100% intact. Then I thought, "How much would I need to be paid to eat a single donut?" $10? $25? $50? $100? I finally settled on $150, no less. Call me crazy? Well that's what the extra one hour of intense running, required to burn those calories, is worth to me.

It costs me hours of strenuous physical work to burn extra calories, but it costs me nothing to reject unhealthy food. Thats the way I see it whenever I'm presented with an unhealthy choice.

Don't eat something unhealthy and then ask yourself 15 minutes later "Why did I eat that? It was so unhealthy for me!". Ask yourself "Do I want to eat this?" before you eat it. Create the habit of reading how many calories are in something BEFORE you put it in your mouth, not 10 minutes later.

Eat healthy and don't be a hypocrite. It's your body, and it's your life.

Thirty seconds to spare

A picture of the guys I work with at Aerva.

From left to right: me, Rafael, Nick, John, and David.

I missed my 9:40pm train by 2 minutes because for some reason the subway took extra time at each of its stops. So I had to wait around for an hour until the 10:40pm train came in. While I was waiting, I decided to take a few pictures using my water bottle and a twig as a tripod to hold the camera still (low light required a slower shutter speed, 1-2 seconds).

I then almost missed my 10:40pm train! Since I had walked so far down the walkway to take those pictures, I didn't realize how long it would take me to get back. I stepped on the train with 30 seconds to spare, literally.

I subscribe to a magazine called NewScientist, which is published on a weekly basis. You can imagine how quickly they pile up if I don't read them regularly. While on the ride into work today (on the train), I managed to read half of this week's issue and on the ride back, I read the second half. NewScientist writes about tons of interesting information, on everything from biology to astronomy to computers!

From this week's NewScientist magazine, a few subjects I'll comment on:

Using a new tool called Africa@home, people can use their computer's processing power to help calculate ways to find a cure for malaria. Although Africa@home isn't currently accepting anymore PC volunteers, you can check out this site for more cool projects that allow you to use your computer's processing power for more than browsin' the web.

While sleeping, sharing the bed with a partner actually makes men more stupid. Women, on the other hand, sleep more deeply and feel more refreshed. Studies showed that men who shared the night with someone (regardless of whether or not they had sex) actually woke up and scored worse in simple cognitive tests. Lack of sleep also effects men more than it effects women. Hmmmm. Married men = sharing bed 7 days a week, 365 days a year......

Global warming is melting huge ice sheets, which no doubt will create new, shorter routes for ships. This also means that as ships start traveling closer and closer to the poles, their effect on global warming will increase. The atmosphere is more fragile near the poles, and changes there are felt globally. New pathways will probably be open by the year 2050 and studies show the new routes would cause ozone levels to triple.

The damn pharmaceutical companies are using their power and money to "create" new conditions and syndromes that don't even exist. They use the media and brainwash unsuspecting people everywhere. ADD? Fake. High cholesterol? Way over played. Aging male syndrome? Fake. Sisi syndrome, an alleged form of depression? Created by SmithKline Beecham (which is now GlaxoSmithKline) in attempt to market and sell a "cure" for it. Five years later, skeptical researchers published their findings: no proof the condition ever existed. People are constantly hammered with drug commercials, doctors suggesting possible conditions they may have, friends and coworkers passing information about diagnosis of a particular problem. The bottom line is: we're all actually a lot healthier than we may think. Of course, exercise and eating right can go a long way to extending our life and overall living condition.

And lastly, scientist have found what they call a hypervelocity star. It's a star traveling at a much higher speed than any other star, usually 3 - 6 times as fast. How does a star begin moving so quickly? Well, the direction the stars seem to be coming from is the center of the milky way galaxy. Scientist are already theorizing that there's a big black hole at the center of our galaxy and the stars, instead of being sucked into the black hole, are slingshot around the edge of the black hole and out into space. The extreme gravity of the black hole causes the star to pickup enormous speed. But now here's the puzzling part: they found stars that were a mere 25 million years old, an infant in the life of a star. They already know that star's cannot form close to a black hole because the intense gravitational pull would tear apart any star beginning to form. My theory? The hypervelocity stars are actually being flung out from inside the black hole. And where are they coming from? Another black hole, somewhere else in the universe, that swallowed the star. Maybe black holes are portals or gateway's to other areas of the universe, or maybe even other dimensions. Maybe what gets sucked into one black hole comes out the other end of another black hole, on the opposite side of the universe.