If You Use Google Products or Services, Read This

Anyone who uses Google’s products or services, such as gmail, gtalk, google searches, etc should read this article at Ars.  It discusses how you can access your dashboard to see what information Google keeps on you, and you can opt out of various parts as needed.

As someone who reluctantly uses Google (my account on gmail is called “reluctantkirk” – doesn’t get more obvious than that) and who tries to keep my privacy intact as much as possible, I was a little disconcerted to see that I could go back and see an eternal history of Google searches and that somehow several friends have ended up as Google contacts when I didn’t intend them to (I don’t want to share their info with Google if it can be avoided).

That being said, the dashboard allows you to manage these things, delete history, remove contacts, etc.  Thank you Google for trying to make money without doing evil.

Hold Off On the Seasonal Flu Vaccine A Moment

There’s some evidence that suggests there may be reduced  immunity to H1N1 if you’ve received seasonal vaccines in the last couple of years.  Suddenly those innocuous little needle pricks don’t seem so purely helpful!  Note that everything is still unclear as the findings are only seen in Canada and the paper is not yet even peer-reviewed and published.  So just hold off until things get a little more clear.

Neat Vancouver Business Idea – Reusable Moving Boxes

I was just made aware of Frogbox: a neat business idea brewing in Vancouver – provide a service to people that includes reusable moving boxes, a dolley, and pick-up/delivery at your house.

They even have a sustainability-related conservation message/donation policy!

If you’re moving in Vancouver or Seattle, I’d suggest checking them out rather than looking around for old carboard boxes.  They’ve taken the sustainability idea all the way, including bio-diesel powered trucks to deliver and pickup the empty boxes.

Another Reason To Not Let The Youngin’s Watch TV

From the article:

Young children who spend more than two hours glued to the TV every day double their subsequent risk of developing asthma, indicates research published ahead of print in Thorax.

So let’s see … prolonged TV viewing is now associatd with asthma, obesity, diabetes, promiscuity and smoking.

A Good Yarn Improves With Age

In reading my daily dumb quotes calendar this morning I came across a brief story of Engineer Charles Steinmetz.  I’ll quote another site that has done a write up:

Here’s an interesting anecdote, as told by Charles M. Vest, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, during commencement on June 4th, 1999. “In the early years of this century, Steinmetz was brought to General Electric’s facilities in Schenectady, New York. GE had encountered a performance problem with one of their huge electrical generators and had been absolutely unable to correct it. Steinmetz, a genius in his understanding of electromagnetic phenomena, was brought in as a consultant – not a very common occurrence in those days, as it would be now. Steinmetz also found the problem difficult to diagnose, but for some days he closeted himself with the generator, its engineering drawings, paper and pencil. At the end of this period, he emerged, confident that he knew how to correct the problem. After he departed, GE’s engineers found a large “X” marked with chalk on the side of the generator casing. There also was a note instructing them to cut the casing open at that location and remove so many turns of wire from the stator. The generator would then function properly. And indeed it did. Steinmetz was asked what his fee would be. Having no idea in the world what was appropriate, he replied with the absolutely unheard of answer that his fee was $1000. Stunned, the GE bureaucracy then required him to submit a formally itemized invoice. They soon received it. It included two items: 1. Marking chalk “X” on side of generator: $1. 2. Knowing where to mark chalk “X”: $999.”

Now other sites have him asking for $10,000, while others have him simply pacing around the machines for a few moments and figuring it out.  I prefer the quoted version because it feels the most real to me.

A nice little story about the value of knowledge.  Note that he lived from 1865 to 1923.

Tom Waits Press Conference

Do you know Tom Waits? Great musician – a real artist – or is that artiste? What you might call an eclectic fellow, which some consider to be part of his genius.

Well, he’s starting a new tour and held an interesting press conference to make the announcement.

If you really feel like digging into his craft, NPR has a free streamed recording of a recent concert.  Well worth the 2.5 hours – seriously.  This one’s for you Kurt.