All posts by Darrin Jenkins

Darrin is an IT manager for a large electrical contractor in Louisville KY. He is married and has 3 kids. He loves helping people with their technology needs. He runs a blog called Say Geek!

Do You Know Your Bacon Number?

If you lived through the mid 90s, you more than likely heard of, if not played, a popular game called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. You probably remember him for his famous role in the movie “Footloose”. In 1994, a group of college students got the idea to invent a game that sought to connect Kevin Bacon to any actor in 6 degrees or less. I remember some people were wicked serious about this game. As a matter of fact, the game ended becoming a board game. Now, it has made its mark on the web as Google has actually programmed Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon into its search engine.

Kevin Bacon

Playing the game on Google is very simple. In the search bar, type in “Bacon Number” and then an actor or actresses name. Below, you can see where I chose Prince and you can see that his “Bacon Number” is 3.

Prince's Bacon Number

Notice that there are 3 lines listed showing how Prince is associated with Kevin Bacon. I will go ahead and apologize to you in advance, as if you needed another time waster in your life. Unfortunately, this one can be pretty addictive.

The Guardian had a nice piece about Bacon and his attitude about the game. He thought it was negative at first. He thought it was some new way to poke fun at him, but apparently he ended up meeting the students that invented the game and even wrote the intro to their book. Kevin actually turned this whole thing into something very positive. He started a charitable website called http://sixdegrees.org. It is a social networking site that connects people to charities and even lets them start their own charitable campaigns. Kevin makes a personal statement on the “about” page of his website.

I want to thank those partners — and especially, I want to thank you, for making a difference in this small world.

All the best,
Kevin

Take a moment to play the game on Google, then swing over to the Six Degrees website and see if there is a cause near and dear to your heart.

Clara Schumann Google Doodle

Schumann Google Doodle
Screenshot of Clara Schumann Google Doodle

Today’s Google Doodle honors the 193rd birthday of Clara Schumann, a gifted virtuoso, composer, wife and mother, who overcame many adversities. Schumann is the picture of strength, passion, independence, and enduring love.

Early Life

Clara was born in Germany on September 13, 1819. Her father, Friedrich Wieck, was a theologian, but he made a living as a musician by trade. Her father and mother divorced when she was young and she was put into the custody of her father. He recognized her musical talents and built upon that throughout her childhood. By the time she was 11, she had made her first formal debut as a performer. Her father was extremely strict with her and had her tour all over Germany doing performances.

She had the rare ability to perform most piano works from memory. Her influences were Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, and most notably Robert Schumann. Schumann, who was 9 years older than Clara, left law school and took up residence with the Wieck family so he could study music with her father. A romance bloomed between she and Schumann which her father wanted no part of. In fact, he dropped Schumann as a student and sent Clara away to tour so she couldn’t see him. However, her love was strong and through messengers, she and Schumann never lost touch with each other. Without her father’s blessing, and essentially having to get permission to marry through a court order, Clara and Robert were wed one day before her 21st birthday.

Notable Woman

Schumann was a woman of notable character and strength. Shortly into their marriage, Robert had a mental breakdown and was plagued with mental illness the rest of his life. Because of these shortcomings, Clara became the main source of income and financial stability. She achieved this through teaching and performing. Robert was very supportive of her compositions, though it is only lately that her work has been recognized. In fact, Robert lamented that his mental illness, and the fact that they had 8 children, must have cut short many brilliant compositions that lived in her. Clara helped arrange many of Robert’s compositions and he was good to acknowledge such. Unfortunately, Robert’s mental illness landed him in an asylum for a couple of years. During this time Clara was not allowed to make contact with him and didn’t get to do so until shortly before his death. She was a widow at age 37.

There are many other stories that showed her strength and resolve, such as the time she defied a group of armed men, during the uprising in Dresden, to go into the city and rescue her children. She also raised many of her grandchildren because one of her daughters died and one of her sons was committed like his father. He too died in the asylum. Despite the difficulties that plagued her, Clara continued to perform and later teach until she passed away in 1896.

For more information about this incredible woman’s life, and to see a list of her compositions, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clara_Schumann.

 

Beauty and the Beak, How an American Bald Eagle’s Life was Saved

It is one of those stomach turning stories showing the ignorance of mankind that turns into a heartwarming story showing the best of mankind. Meet Beauty, pictured below, an American Bald Eagle who was the unfortunate victim of the cruelty of man. She was rescued in Alaska by Janie Fink of the Raptor Chapter located in St. Maries, Idaho. Someone had shot the top part of her beak off and left her to die. The damage was so extensive that officials gave her no chance of survival. However, Ms. Fink refused to give up on her and the story that follows is amazing.

Beauty
Beauty,an American Bald Eagle, pictured with her damaged beak (Courtesy of Kinetic Engineering Group Portfolio)

Beauty’s damage basically crippled her. Her beak was broken all the way back to her sinus cavity. She was emaciated and couldn’t drink or eat on her own. In fact, the Raptor Chapter folks had to feed her with liquefied food through tubes in order to get her strong enough to eat more solid food. Her injury was so debilitating, they described it as trying to eat food with a single chopstick. Beauty’s luck however, was about to change. On a fateful day when Janie Fink was making a raptor presentation, she ended with the riveting story of Beauty. This story fell on the ear of Nate Calvin, a Mechanical Engineer and founder of Kinetic Engineering Group. It just so happened he had brought his daughters to see the raptors that day and he was compelled to help Beauty get a new chance at life. Against all odds, and many naysayers, Nate and his team used highly advanced CAD software, typically used for aerospace engineering, to develop a prosthetic beak. This was a very complicated design that was a first of its kind. With the help of Nate’s personal dentist, he was able to fit Beauty with a prosthetic beak that actually permitted her to drink water on her own again. See the embedded video below for more details.

[Video Link]

[Beauty and the Beak from Keith Bubach on Vimeo.

Beauty will probably never be able to live in the wild, but hopefully this prosthesis will allow her a second chance at life. If you would like to contribute to Beauty’s cause, you can make donations to the following:

The Raptor Chapter
PO Box 585 St. Maries, Idaho 83861
208.245.1367

Email: [email protected]

or

Make checks out to “Birds of Prey NW” and mail to:

Birds of Prey NW
PO Box 3507
Coeur d’Alene, ID 83816

You may also make donations online using PayPal or VISA/MC, click here.

For more information, visit Kinetic Engineering Group’s website or Birds of Prey Northwest’s website.

McAfee Reveals 2012’s Most Dangerous Celebrity

Emma Watson
2005 Fan Photo of Emma Watson (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

McAfee has posted its annual “Most Dangerous Celebrities List” for 2012 and has revealed a surprising result. The darling Emma Watson has bumped off previous winner, Heidi Klum, to capture the title of “Most Dangerous Celebrity” to search for on the Internet. Miss Watson is best known for her role as Hermione in the blockbuster Harry Potter films. A screenshot of McAfee’s webpage can be seen below. I believe they may have been a little surprised to see the sweetheart top this list, then again, they have probably seen a lot of crazy stuff researching Internet security.

Emma Watson Banner
Screenshot of McAfee’s Webpage

This is the sixth year that McAfee has undergone the task of researching pop culture icons on the web and assessing the risk they pose to web surfers. Cybercriminals seem to know who the hottest targets are on the web and they exploit celebrities’ popularity to seek dishonest gain. Emma was not the only dangerous search. There seemed to be some patterns. For instance, searching for female celebrities proved to be more dangerous. Only one man showed up in the top 20 of the list and that was Jimmy Kimmel. Latinas were also particularly hot search topics.

“In today’s celebrity culture, consumers expect to be able to go online to catch up with the latest photos, videos, tweets, and stories about their favorite celebrities. Due to the richness of the data and the high interaction, often times consumers forget the risks that they are taking by clicking on the links,” said Paula Greve, director of web security research at McAfee. “As the sophistication and expectations of consumers with respect to their online experience has increased, so has the level and ability to deliver malware either by malvertising, exploiting the user’s browser without their awareness, or masking malicious URLs behind shortened URLs.”

The web can be a dangerous place folks and it should never be assumed otherwise. For more information about the Top 10 Most Dangerous Celebrities, visit McAfee’s website at http://home.mcafee.com/root/landingpage.aspx?lpname=MDCeleb_SA&affid=0&culture=en-us&cid=81617.

How to Share Files in Windows 8

Windows 8 has the ability to share files between computers just like its predecessors. Unfortunately, the look of Windows 8 may make setting up files sharing a little difficult. Today, I would like to show you how you can easily share files using Windows 8.

First, position your mouse in the top right corner of the screen to bring out the charm bar. At the bottom of the charm bar there is an icon that looks like a little cog. This is the “Settings” icon. Click it and you will see the menu pictured below. Click the “Network” icon that you can see highlighted in red below.

Network Settings

Under the “Networks” menu, find your network and right-click it. You will see a menu that says “Turn sharing on or off”. Click this option.

Turn on Sharing

Click the option that says “Yes turn on sharing and connect to devices”.

Sharing

Now, find the tile on the main screen labeled “Desktop”. This will take you to the traditional desktop screen.

Desktop

Once you are in the desktop mode, go ahead and bring out the charm bar by positioning your mouse in the upper right corner of the screen. Choose the “Settings” icon and then choose “Control Panel” at the top of the screen. In the control panel window, you should see something similar to what I have pictured below. You will noticed I have highlighted a group and underlined an option that says “Choose homegroup and sharing options”. Let me give you a real quick overview of homegroup. Windows 7 and Windows 8 will allow you to share files using the homegroup feature. It is a very easy way to share files between computers without having to worry about user level permissions.

Homegroup

Pictured below, you can see the “Homegroup” screen. You have several options here. First, you can set what you want to share between computers. This is a real easy way to make an entertainment PC in your home because you can share movies and music with other devices in your house and stream them from your PC.

Homegroup

If you haven’t created the initial homegroup then instead of the picture above, you will see what is pictured below. At this point, you will want to click the “Create Homegroup” button and select what files you want to share. Then you will be able to see the options pictured above.

Create Homegroup

Once your group is created, you will also notice towards the bottom of the screen that there are other settings. One in particular I want to highlight is the option to “View or print the homegroup password.” Go ahead and click this option. Notice the long password at the top of the screen. This password is automatically generated for you by Windows 8. Even more cool, is they are nice enough to give you instructions at the bottom of the window so you know how to connect to shares on this computer. At this point you will want to write down the password generated by Windows 8.

Password

Now that we have the initial homegroup created, we need to join other computers to it. Please note, only Windows 7 and Windows 8 can do homegroups. In the example below, I went to my Windows 7 PC and clicked the homegroup options as previously shown above. Notice that my Windows 7 PC sensed a homegroup had been started on the network. At this point I clicked “Join Now” at the bottom of the screen.

Join Group

Remember that long password I showed you earlier? This is why you need it because when you click the “Join Now” button, you will be prompted for the password to join the homegroup.  At this point, you decide what files you want accessible on the other PC and voila!, you have a homegroup.

Here’s how you can share a file using homegroups. On the Windows 8 PC, create a folder on the desktop. I called mine “Home Budget”, but you can call it whatever you wish. Now, right-click that folder and choose the “Share With” option. Notice in the picture below, you have the option to share with the ‘Homegroup” and give them “view” rights or “View and edit” rights. If you don’t want people on the other computer to be able to change files on the Windows 8 computer, choose the “view” only option.

Share With

So now the big question becomes, “how do I get this file from the other computer?” What you are looking for is a path. The easiest way to get that path is to right-click the folder, just like we did above, and choose “Properties”. You will see the window pictured below. Click the “Sharing tab” and notice the network path that is listed.

Path

Now, go to your other computer, and click the “Start” menu. Where it says “search programs and files”, type the path that was shown to you on the properties menu exactly and hit “Enter”. This will take you directly to that folder.

Start Menu

Another way you can access files is to go to your “Computer” window from the start menu, and look on the left side of the screen for “Homegroup”. Under it, you will see all the computers that are members of your homegroup listed, as pictured below.

homegroup list

All the files that were shared by default on the Windows 8 computer will be listed in the window to the right of the homegroup list.

I hope this tutorial helps you in getting files shared across your computers. As always, feel free to comment or email me any questions you may have.

Google Doodle Honors 46th Anniversary of Star Trek

Star Trek Doodle

Google commemorates 46 years of Star Trek with a really cool animated doodle today. I won’t give away all the secrets, but will say take a moment to move your mouse around the doodle and look for the highlighted areas. The doodle does a great job of capturing the drama, sound affects, and some of the corniness of Star Trek.

Star Trek was the brainchild of Gene Rodenberry, an American screenwriter and producer. It is hard to believe, due to the incredible popularity Star Trek enjoys today, but its beginnings did not go quite so smooth. In a sense, Star Trek was far ahead of its time both literally and figuratively. The original series only lasted from 1966 to 1969 and enjoyed meager ratings. It wasn’t until the 1970s that they began to enjoy a cult following and the reruns gained popularity. This eventually led to a whole new enterprise of movies and shows. Oddly enough, though nominated for several, Start Trek never received an Emmy award.

I know that my appreciation for Star Trek didn’t develop until I was much older. I was much more drawn to the light sabers and shootouts of Star Wars as a child. However, as I got older and had the chance to watch Star Trek again, I realized that the characters on the show were very good. There’s no doubt that Star Trek was more cerebral than many of the other science fiction shows of the 70s and 80s. I especially loved the spin-off shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.

The Star Trek series can teach us a lot today, I believe. While the theme of the show was to search space as “the final frontier”, I believe the show crossed a much more important frontier. The frontier I refer to is that of human understanding and tolerance. The crew of U.S.S. Enterprise set out to boldly explore and learn from other cultures. As they followed their prime directive, they didn’t seek to interfere with culture, but simply to learn from them. This put them in difficult predicaments at times just as it does for us here in the real life. I believe we would do well to honor the legacy of Star Trek by taking a moment to assess our view of the world around us and learn not only to tolerate people, but to respect them as well. In the words of Spock, I end with this wish for you to “live long and prosper”!

 

Editorial: Will Windows 8 Boost or Bust Office Productivity?

Windows 8 has opened up a whole new world of opportunities and speculation too. The pages of the Internet are completely flooded with new gadgets, tips, and speculation surrounding Microsoft’s newest operating system. I have to admit, I have mixed feelings about Microsoft’s prospects. In some ways, I feel like Microsoft represents the big bad corporate fat cat that tried every way it could to monopolize the software market. In other ways, I am really pulling for Microsoft to win on this one. Let’s face it, a lot of people make a lot of money because Microsoft developed a product they could support or develop apps for. With the U.S. economy in the tank, we desperately need a shot in the arm. As popular as Apple products are, how many people do you know who are making a great living off Apple products? I would wager that they are few and far between. Consumer oriented products are just not the boon to the economy in the long term that business oriented products are. I am sure Apple investors might disagree, but unless you have big bucks in the market, you’re probably not benefiting very much from Apple’s success.

Window 8 Logo

Now that I have had a chance to play with Windows 8 a little, I am starting to draw some of my own conclusions about it. I see that a lot of thought has been put into designing this OS, there are a lot of opportunities for both software and hardware makers, and I think this is going to be a royal nightmare for IT departments supporting business.

Thoughtful Design

Somewhere along the way, Microsoft started making assumptions that everyone was locked into their products and that consumers would hopelessly remain in the cycle of expensive software upgrades every few years. Unfortunately for Microsoft, they made a very decent OS when they made Windows XP. Windows XP simply worked. It worked fast as compared to Windows 2000. It was pretty simple to use. From an IT standpoint, it was very simple to administer on a domain. It wasn’t flawless, but it got the job done. This was a big problem for Microsoft because in order to keep the revenue stream alive, they decided it was time for everyone to jump to the latest and greatest OS. This is where Windows Vista entered the scene. Short of trying to sound insulting, Windows Vista was a poorly planned, poorly implemented flop. It was riddled with problems right out of the box. However, even it had been delivered in perfect working condition, it just didn’t offer anything upgrade worthy. As an IT manager, I would love to have had a Microsoft exec try to help me explain to my boss why I needed to upgrade 100 computers to Windows Vista because frankly, I saw no advantage whatsoever except for veiled threats that Microsoft would soon stop supporting Windows XP.

With the experience of the Vista debacle in their past, Microsoft seemed to take its time with the Windows 8 rollout and it shows. First of all, Windows 8 embraces a new age of technology based on tablets and smartphones. Though it is the nightmare of many IT security personnel, the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) movement has changed the way people interface with the company network. Employees are more than willing to go out and get the device of their choice and use it for company business. Of course, the consumer market cannot be ignored either. Microsoft recognized that Apple and Google were making a fortune in this area and that every day Microsoft didn’t have a product in that vertical was a day of missed opportunity. Microsoft also had to ensure that they got this OS right, or else suffer the same fate that Vista did. Windows 8 is definitely a tablet friendly operating system. The design is gorgeous and it is pretty intuitive as a touchscreen OS. It also doubles as a desktop operating system. By clicking the “Desktop” tile on the main screen, you can get to a more classic looking screen where you can setup shortcuts and pretty wallpapers. This dual personality, I believe, is going to make it the most flexible operating system on the market. I really don’t see how Android or IOS will be able to even compete against it unless they come up with something radical soon.

Google Celebrates Its 14th Birthday

It seems hard for me to fathom that Google turns 14 today. Google was officially incorporated on September 4, 1998 and the world has never been the same since. What started out so simply, as evidenced by the picture below, is now the driving force behind much of the web.

Google 1998
Google’s Beta Page 1998 (credit: Anakin101:Wikipedia)

Google started as a research project at Stanford University. Larry Page and Sergey Brin set out to develop a new page ranking technology that analyzed back links to webpages to score their importance. According to Wikipedia, because Page and Brin wanted to show that they were serving large amounts of data, they originally wanted to call the search engine “googol”. Googol is a large number represented with a 1 followed by a hundred zeroes. Somehow, through a misspelling the company became “Google” instead.

Google sure has come a long way since those early days of the web. I remember how impressed I was when I first used Google’s search engine. I was just blown away with how accurate the results were and with how many results were presented. It is obvious that I wasn’t the only one as the word “Google” actually became a verb to represent you were searching for something. Google grew exponentially and became the search engine of choice for most of the world. In 1999, Google came up with the genius idea to sell text-based ads on its website based on keywords. It was a great idea because it contextualized ad results to the consumer, but because they were text-based, they loaded quickly on the screen. For those of you who remember dial-up, speed was everything back then.

It’s hard to imagine a world without Google anymore. Since their initial IPO in 2004, Google has branched out to find new revenue streams and innovate in other areas. Their raging success has not been met without opposition, however. It seems they have been sued by every major player in the Internet industry for some reason or another. I guess that is the price for fame. Let’s just take a second and think about some of Google’s contributions to the world:

  1. Gmail – Google got into the webmail game in 2004. One of the biggest contributions it made to email was grouping messages into conversations instead of just listing messages as they came in. They also were the first to offer contextual ads based on content in your inbox. That was met with more than a little controversy.
  2. Adwords – Google has made a killing on pay-per-click and Adwords, but let’s face it, so have a lot of web sites. People participating in Google’s ad programs have prospered quite a bit.
  3. Chrome – Here is another September birthday. In September 2008, Chrome debuted as an alternative to Internet Explorer. Tabbed browsing and being able to search directly from the address bar were a couple of new offerings that Chrome made available. Though,  Firefox probably had tabbed browsing by then too. Chrome is a fast and secure alternative to Internet Explorer.
  4. Google Apps – There are so many apps, it’s hard to list them here. However, the main draw of Google apps is that you can create and share documents and spreadsheets on the web. They don’t require expensive desktop software to run and you don’t have to be tethered to your computer to use them.
  5. Android – As of this month, Android accounts for 52% marketshare of smartphones. The Android tablets and smartphones are simply dominating the market and giving Apple all the competition it wants.
  6. Google Doodles – How can I not mention the Google doodles? Google doodles started as a result of Page and Brin attending a festival and they redesigned the logo as sort of an “out of office” greeting. Their website http://www.google.com/doodles/about tells a lot about the history. I look forward to major birthdays and events when Google publishes their new doodles.

This just barely scratches the surface of all the contributions that Google has made to our world. Perhaps most notable is their commitment to their unofficial motto “Don’t Be Evil”. In a way, I believe the existence of Google has kept others in the industry honest. At the very least, they have busted up the Microsoft monopoly on the web. Hopefully, Google will continue to embrace a culture of doing good in our world and will achieve success for many years to come!

One Half Million Mile Solar Filament Observed

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has observed an incredible whip-like filament extending high above the sun’s surface. Pictured below, the filament measures one half million miles long. To put that in perspective, the earth’s circumference at the equator is approximately 25,000 miles.

Whip
Credit: NASA/SDO

A solar filament is tethered to the sun’s photosphere and jets out towards the corona. It is a cooler material and thus the contrast can be observed. Below, you can see a video from NASA’s SDO which shows the incredible phenomenon.

[Video Link]

The Solar Dynamics Observatory was launched back in February of 2010. Since the time of its launch, the SDO has brought back stunning video and photos of never seen before views of our Sun.  According to NASA the purpose of the SDO is as follows:

The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) will be taking a closer look at the Sun, the source of all Space Weather. Space Weather affects not only our lives here on Earth, but the Earth itself, and everything outside its atmosphere (astronauts and satellites out in space and even the other planets).

Space weather is a serious issue for astronauts and satellite developers. Because we enjoy the benefits of being surrounded by Earth’s atmosphere, we only have to worry about little things sunburns and using sunscreen. Outside the confines of our atmosphere though is a much larger danger. Extreme radiation coming from the Sun’s surface can be perilous to our astronauts, so getting a better understanding of this is critical for their safety. Communications satellites are not exempt from solar related problems either.

For more information about the SDO mission, visit NASA’s website at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sdo/main/index.html.

Adding Mail Accounts to Windows 8 Mail

Windows 8 has a nice mail client built into the operating system. Setting it up to work with multiple accounts is pretty easy too. One thing you might remember is that you can use your Hotmail account as your Windows 8 security account. This is pretty nice. If you do this, then your Hotmail/Outlook.com account will already be setup automatically for you after you get Windows 8 installed. Today, I would like to show you how you can add a mail account to Windows 8. In particular, I will show you how to set up your Gmail account on Windows 8 Mail.

First, you need to find the tile on the main start screen labeled “Mail”. See the picture below.

Mail Tile

Next, you need to put your mouse in the top right corner of the screen to reveal the “Charm Bar”. On the “Charm Bar”, find the “Settings” icon.

Settings

At the top of the “Settings” window, you will see an option that says “Accounts”,pictured below. Click “Accounts”.

Accounts

Now, you’ll be given a list of account types that you can configure for Windows 8 Mail. If you look at the picture below, you will see it has the major account types like Hotmail, Gmail, Exchange, and then “Other Account”.

Account Types

For this tutorial, I am picking the “Google Connect” option, which will allow me to import my Gmail account on here. Believe it or not, it is incredibly simple to integrate this Windows 8 with Gmail. Pictured below, you can see all of the information it asks for when building an account. If you use Gmail contacts or calendars, you can include them as well.

Gmail

Once you hit “Connect”, you’re in business. Pictured below, you can see that the mail client grabbed all of my folders from my Gmail account. Notice in the bottom left corner of the picture, that I have highlighted the area that shows both accounts I have on the Windows 8 machine. All I have to do to switch between them is click the name of the account and it will show me mail from that account.

Mail Inbox

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. As you can see it is pretty easy to setup mail accounts in Windows 8. As always, if you have any questions please feel free to comment or email me and I will try to help you the best I can.