Is Google’s Memorial Day Logo a Joke?

Is Google’s Memorial Day logo a joke, or is it a true representation of how Google feels toward the contribution of those Americans who gave their lives in defense of this country? While I understand that we have an international audience that may not feel as offended by such a trespass, I have to take a moment and expose Google for this pathetic display of tribute to the very men and women who gave them the opportunity to become the behemoth they are now. Take a moment and feast your eyes on the fascinating piece of work that Google decided to use as the front page tribute to Memorial Day, pictured below.

Memorial Day 2012

No my friends, your eyes do not deceive you. That is about a 50 pixel square that shows “Memorial Day 2012″ when you put your mouse over it. It doesn’t even take you anywhere when you click it! Just a pathetic graphic that you can barely make out at the bottom of the page. It looks like clip artwork a 3rd grader would do. So this begs the question, “what is the meaning of such a pitiful display?” Honestly, I can only make assumptions. As someone who tries to be logical, I try not to read into things that are not clearly stated. However, considering that the inventor of the zipper received a super cool doodle with an animated zipper running down the screen, it is hard not to come to the conclusion that Google’s regard for our fallen soldiers is less than its regard for a good working zipper!

Now let’s take a peek at Bing. Pictured below, you can see a screenshot of Bing’s tribute to Memorial Day.

Bing

When you click on certain areas of the picture, you are taken to a beautiful photo montage of Arlington National Cemetery. This seems a much more befitting tribute to our nation’s fallen than what was previously seen on Google’s page.

It wasn’t cappuccino sipping geeks who made this country free. It won’t be the Ivy League elite that keeps us free from tyranny in the future either. When we fail to teach the young the sacrifices of the past, we fail to protect them in the future from tyrants like Hitler. I wish more than anything that there were no need for guns and war, but the harsh reality is that there are evil people in this world. Even if you’re not American, but you are reading this in the context of freedom, take a moment and find out why it is that you are free to do so. More than likely you’ll discover that some brave group of souls sacrificed their very lives for a cause greater than themselves and for the love of theirthumb country and the people in it. Folks, that is what Memorial Day in America is all about!

Sleep Apnea Linked to Increased Cancer Risk

This is one of those articles that hits home on a very personal level for me. A New York Times article published May 20th, 2012 introduced two studies that show a possible correlation between sleep apnea and increased cancer risk.

CPAP Mask
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue surrounding the airway relaxes and collapses to obstruct the airway during sleep. Very often it will cause snoring and sometimes choking. The best way to diagnose sleep apnea is to do a sleep study. A few years ago my wife noticed that I would often stop breathing during the night and would gasp for air and make choking noises. I was completely unaware of my condition. I had a sleep study performed. They hooked me up to all kinds of probes to monitor my breathing, oxygen levels, and heart rate. In 2 hours I stopped breathing a total of 117 times. Needless to say, this is not ideal sleep.

Sleep apnea is an extremely dangerous condition. It has already been linked to increased hypertension and stroke. Now two studies are saying that it could lead to increased cancer risk. A Spanish study focused on low oxygen levels and how it might affect cancer risk. Of the thousands they studied, those whose oxygen levels were the lowest were most likely to receive a cancer diagnosis during the study period. A University of Wisconsin study found that people with moderate sleep apnea doubled the likelihood of death from cancer, while severe patients were more than four times likely to die from cancer.

There is still some debate about whether other factors such as weight and exercise could be other contributing factors to the cancer risk. However, coupled with the cardiovascular risks, sleep apnea is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly. Most of the time it is treated with a machine called CPAP (pictured above)  which means constant positive air pressure. You wear either a full face mask or a nose mask and it applies air pressure to keep your airway open while you sleep. It took me some getting used to it but now I find it is hard to sleep without it. A little aggravation to me is worth it compared to the negative affects of sleep apnea.

Mysterious Manta Rays’ Marvelous Journeys Revealed

Conservationists with the Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Exeter, and the Government of Mexico recently teamed up to study the migrations of Manta Rays using satellite telemetry. The studied revealed never before known secrets of these beautiful creatures. The study was published in the online journal Plos One.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Though these creatures can grow up to 25 ft and eerily resemble an underwater bat, they are completely harmless to humans. It is feared that these wonderful creatures are becoming endangered and have already been listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This particular study’s results were a little unsettling because it showed previously unknown data about the migration of this creature.

Scientists spent a few days off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula tagging the rays with satellite transmitters. The results were astonishing. The rays traveled 1100 Kilometers (over 600 miles) and stayed mostly within the territory of Mexico. Like whales, these rays swim with their mouths open so they can feed on plankton. The unsettling part of this study however, is that only 11% of the areas they swam were considered protected. In fact, they often swam in major shipping routes in the region. This means there is a strong chance they might come in contact with a ship and incur injury.

“Studies such as this one are critical in developing effective management of manta rays, which appear to be declining worldwide,” said Dr  Howard Rosenbaum, Director of WCS’s Ocean Giant Program. Hopefully this will provide much needed information about how we can protect these beautiful creatures and maybe educate the public about their migration patterns. Other dangers lurk for the manta rays. They are often cut up for shark bait and used for medicinal purposes. Education is key to protecting the manta rays. As more is learned about them and shared with the public at large, hopefully more can be done to protect their habitat and ensure their future.

Rare Microorganism is Man’s Remotest Relative

Researchers from the University of Oslo, Norway have discovered a protozoan that may represent a new branch on the tree of life. The tiny creature was discovered in the sludge at the bottom of a lake Ås, 30KM south of Oslo.

Microorganism
Microorganism Courtesy UiO/MERG

Identifying A Mystery

Researchers from the University of Oslo made many attempts to compare the organism’s DNA to databases worldwide, but an exact match could not be found. Associate professor, Kamran Shalchian-Tabrizi, head of the Microbial Evolution Research Group (MERG) at the University of Oslo said, “We have found an unknown branch of the tree of life that lives in this lake. It is unique! So far we know of no other group of organisms that descend from closer to the roots of the tree of life than this species.”

The protozoan didn’t quite fit the mold for any known type of life such fungus, alga, parasite, plant or animal. Life on our planet can be divided into two types of species, prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Prokaryotes are the simplest living things. An example of these would be bacteria. Eukaryotes represent all other life such as plants, animals, and even man. This protozoan is a Eukaryote and represents one of the oldest known life forms to exist on the planet. It is estimated that this organism evolved around a billion years ago. It exhibits characteristics of several eukaryote  groups. For instance, it has the same intracellular structure as excavates, but uses protuberances like amoebae to capture its food. This tells scientists that this organism may predate these groups and may show a glimpse into our primordial history.

Baiting the Hook

These little guys were not easy to find. They were hiding in the sludge at the bottom of the lake. Fortunately, they were hungry. Using a pipe to capture some of the sludge, Professor Dag Klaveness poured an algae mixture draw the little guys out. Once the protozoans began to feed on the mixture, he was able to use a pipette to capture them.

Interestingly this particular species is found nowhere else in the world. Why did such an ancient form of life survive in this area of the world? Very little is known about this protozoan. Researchers have determined that it likes to eat algae but have yet to discover if it has any predators of its own. They have also observed that it flourishes better as a loner.

For more information about this research, visit University of Oslo’s website at http://www.apollon.uio.no/english/articles/2012/microorganism.html.

 

Get Your Zip On with Today’s Google Doodle

When you do a Google search today, not only can you click buttons, but you can also play with a screen sized zipper! Google is honoring the inventor of the zipper, Gideon Sundback, with a special Google Doodle.

Zipper

The doodle sports a nifty design. The Google lettering looks embroidered and there is a large interactive zipper going down the middle of the page. You drag the zipper down and it will take you to information about the inventor.

Sundback
Courtesy of WikiMedia

Now to be fair, Sundback didn’t actually invent the concept of the zipper, however, he perfected previous work and is now considered the father of modern day zippers we use. Oddly enough, Sundback was an electrical engineer by trade. He was born in Sweden and studied engineering in Germany.  He emigrated to the U.S. in 1905.  He began his career at the famous Westinghouse but a year later took a job at Universal Fastener Company. From there he began working on perfecting the “separable fastener”. Pictured below, you can see part of the drawing he made for his patent.

Patent
Courtesy Wikimedia

Another interesting tidbit to note, is that Sundback didn’t call it a zipper. That term came about from B.F. Goodrich when they used his “separable fastener” in their boots. Another interesting fact to note is that zippers were not the common place for clothes. They were originally used in boots and tobacco pouches. The fashion industry didn’t catch on until around World War II.

So today, when you find yourself with that overwhelming urge to go to the privy in a hurry, you can thank Mr. Sundback for making things just a little bit easier. Which makes me wonder; did he ever consider making an electric one?

Own a Piece of the Space Shuttle

If you’re a space nut like me, then you are going to love what I am about to tell you. You can now own a piece of history buy purchasing a thermal tile from the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Space Shuttle Tile
Image Courtesy of Space.com

Several retailers carry these cool collectibles. You can see an example pictured above. This particular tile was found at Space.com in their store section. It is a 1.65 inch square section cut from thermal tile material used in the Space Shuttle Columbia program. It comes with a nifty display case and certificate of authenticity.

Space shuttle tiles were an amazing invention. Lockheed Missiles and Space company were the first company to introduce the material. Because of the extreme heat generated by atmospheric reentry, something had to be done to insulate the aluminum construction of the shuttle or else it would fail. These thermal tiles were a great solution. They were very lightweight composed mostly of air, believe it or not. As a matter of fact, only 10% of the tile is composed of the insulating material which is silica fiber. Pictured below, you can see a breakdown of the tile with its components labeled.

Tile Diagram
Courtesy WikiPedia

Of course, for many of us, these tiles cause us to remember the Columbia disaster in which the thermal protection system failed on reentry due to damage done at launch. Space.com makes a point on their site that none of these tiles were a part of the destroyed shuttle. There is no doubt that the invention of these tiles were a significant reason the Space Shuttle program could achieve all it did. Lockheed has since developed material that can withstand more than 2 times the heat of the originals.

Guys Share Your Favs with Gentlemint

A lot of us are very familiar with popular pinning site “Pinterest”. It’s the perfect time waster and frankly, can be downright informative. However, with all the fashion and make up tips, home decorating, etc…, Pinterest can be a little on the feminine side. Guys you might want to check out a more masculine alternative. Gentlemint is a “manly social site” where guys can share things that guys like.

Logo

Gentlemint is the brainchild of two co-workers, Glen Stansberry and Brian McKinney. The two decided one day that they would build a “manly social site”. They decided just for fun that they would build a website to its completion in just one day. When the day was over they published Gentlemint.com and haven’t looked back since. Glen and I shared a few emails back and forth a while back and it sounds like they have a lot planned for the future. At the heart of it though, I believe the guys just wanted to do something manly and fun.

Main

Pictured above, you get a glimpse of what the Gentlemint screen looks like. It is very similar to Pinterest with the tiled pictures. When you click on the pictures you can save it to your Mint or share it on Twitter and Facebook. Clicking on the picture takes you out to the original website where the picture came from.

Sharing a website that you like is very easy to do. There is a link at the top of the website that says “Add to the Mint”.  When you click it, you will see the screen pictured below. You can either copy and past a URL into the link bar on the left, or you can use the “Mint it!” button by dragging it to your browser’s toolbar. When you see a page you want to share, just click the button and it starts the process for you.

Mint It

Gentlemint has a lot of potential and is a great place for guys to look at stuff they like. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t just a site with a bunch of bikini clad swimsuit models. As a matter of fact, I see more swimsuits on Pinterest than I do on Gentlemint. It really is a site where guys share some pretty cool stuff. Right now you have to request an invite to use the service. This isn’t about being exclusive as much as it is about managing growth. The site has grown so fast that the founders had to slow it down a little so they could keep up.

I look forward to future improvements for this “manly” site. Hopefully, they can get their revenue stream steady so they can keep growing. When you go to the site, be sure to check out their blog so you can keep up with what’s new. Happy minting!

How to Create a Custom Signature in Outlook 2010

Do you ever get emails from business associates that have really nice signatures at the bottom? They will often include a logo that will take you out to business’ website when you click it. You don’t have to be green with envy over these cool signatures. Creating a signature line in Outlook 2010 is extremely easy. In this post, I will show you how you can accomplish this in a few easy steps!

The first thing we need to do is click on the “File” tab in the upper left corner of Outlook. Once you are there, click the button labeled “Options”. See the arrow pointing in the picture below.

Options

When you click the “Options” button you will get a dialog box like the one pictured below. On the left side of the dialog box you need to click on the option that says “Mail”. Once you have clicked the “Mail” option, click the button on the right side of the page that says “Signatures”.

Mail Tab

You should now see a dialog that allows you to create a new signature. Take a moment to look at the picture below. Let’s explore some of the options available to us. Notice that you can have multiple signatures. In this example, I created the Techie Buzz signature by clicking the button labeled “New”. To the right of that signature you have the option to assign that signature to an account. Remember Outlook has the ability to handle multiple email accounts. It also gives you the ability to assign separate signatures to those accounts as well.

At the bottom of the window, you will notice a blank area. This is where you type the information you would like included in your signature. I decided to include my name, email address, and our company logo. To add a logo, you first need to have an image file saved on your computer. In the picture below, you will see highlighted in red the image button. Click this button.

Image

You will get the dialog box pictured below. Navigate to the folder on your computer that contains the image you want to include in your signature. Then click the picture and click the “Insert” button to insert it into your signature line.

Pic

Now that you have your logo inserted, you can add a hyperlink to it so that when someone clicks it, they are directed to your website. To do this, find the “Hyperlink” button highlighted in red in the picture below.

Signature Window

You will now see the following dialog box, pictured below. At the top you will see the “Text to display” box. What this means is when people put their mouse over the logo, they will get a little description. You can make this say pretty much anything you want. At the bottom of the window, you will see the “Address” box. Type the website address you want the link to go to, then click OK.

Hyperlink Window

Now that you have your information typed and your logo inserted, I would like to warn you about one more pitfall. By default, the font color is set to “Automatic”. Most of the time this will appear black. The problem however, is if you want your signature font to stay a consistent color, you have to set it because the “Automatic” setting will use the default font of any email you reply to. Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you hit reply on an email that your words are typed in blue? The same will happen to your signature unless you specify something other than “Automatic”. Picture below, I have highlighted my name and clicked the “Font Color” dropdown menu. This is where you need to go to set your signature’s color.

Font

Once you have followed all these steps, you need to specify on the right side of the window whether you want to use your new signature just for new messages or whether you want to include them in replies as well. Click “OK” at the bottom and you’re all set. When you open a new message to send to someone you will have a nice ready made signature at the bottom of your message. Good luck and if you have any questions about this tutorial feel free to comment.

Is the Internet Making You Fat?

Recently I was introduced to an interesting infographic by one of my colleagues here on Techie Buzz. This graphic, which I have embedded below, seeks to answer the question, “Does the Internet Make You Fat?” The graphic was posted on http://www.usbundles.com and was provided by http://www.centurylinkquote.com/. I found it to be informative, a little disturbing, and somewhat entertaining as well. Take a moment to look at the graphic below.

Does the Internet Make You Fat?
Courtesy http://www.centurylinkquote.com/

I certainly can’t guarantee the science behind this, but it does provide some food for thought. While the internet may not necessarily be making you fat, more and more research shows that sitting for long periods of time is not good for your body. As a matter of fact, some studies have shown that even people who workout regularly, but sit most of the day are still considered inactive. So what’s a geek to do? The answer is fairly simple. Be more active. Stand when you talk on the phone. Every hour make it a point to get out of your chair and walk. A few articles I have read even suggested using an exercise ball instead of a chair to sit on.

The internet is a great source of knowledge and can be used a good resource for health information. Just don’t over do it on the sitting. Now, can someone pass me the ice cream please?  :)

 

 

Introducing the World’s First Chocolate Printer

Chocoholics your world is about to get even better. A company called “Choc Edge” has introduced a new chocolate printer called the “Choc Creator” which seeks to “revolutionise chocolate making for a creative, pleasurable and healthy consumption experience”.

Choc Creator
Courtesy Chocedge.com

This incredible device eliminates the need for the meticulous hands of a pastry chef. It allows the creator to print 3 dimensional confections simply at the press of a button. The 3-D printer is much like others that would utilize materials like metal to make shapes. An open source 3-D software controls the print head which is basically a syringe. The syringe can be changed during the printing process to utilize different types of chocolates. Below, you can see the printer in action.

[Video Link]

 

The printer is a result of research done at the University of Exeter. Dr Liang Hao led the research and eventually founded the Choc Edge company.

This new printer comes with a pretty hefty price tag with a retail price of £2,888 (more than $4500U.S.). Right now they have an interesting promotion set up on their Ebay site. They are auctioning 10 printers with a 2% income reward deal to go along with the purchase. If you are one of the lucky 10 to win an auction, you will get a 2% share of profit from the sale of all “Choc Creators” sold during the first year. The first auction ends on April 20th.

If you would like to learn more about this product, visit the Choc Edge website at http://www.chocedge.com/.