Typing Game

I was stumbling when I ran into this typing game on Zannah’s blog. Since it reminded me of the typing game I learned how to type with, so I gave it a try. It wasn’t nearly as fun as the one I learned on, but it was fun to remember what it was like. I will say that some people must have played for a very long time to get to those scores!

Now they’ll know if you read their e-mail (USAToday)

DidTheyReadIt is a service that allows you to track the email you sent out. According to the website, you can tell whether people opened your email, how long it was open, etc.

Their website does not explain how they are able to do this, and I’m a little sceptical about how it could work. Is my system going to send an email back to them without me knowing it? I don’t think so! So what (and how) are they monitoring?

I’m not sure if this is scary or not, but it’s definitely annoying. If it’s doable and it becomes standard, I think you’ll find people setting up their email to automatically open on arrival.

I think it’s worth pointing out that in order to use their service, you have to send all of your email through them. Their Subscription Agreement says those emails will be “confidential in accordance with generally accepted standards of electronic mail usage” – what are “generally accepted standards”?

They have a free trial. If anybody tries it out, I’d be interested in learning how it works.


Slashdotters discussed this. According to them, DidTheyReadIt embeds a small image in your email. When the user opens their email, the email client downloads the image from the DidTheyReadIt website, and they know the message has been opened. This wouldn’t be the most reliable of tools.

Image downloading can be turned off in most email clients.

iPod Mini

I finally got an iPod mini!
And I didn’t pay $400-$1000 for it on eBay. I took the advice of a friend of mine who is also an Apple employee. He told me to call the Apple Store because they occasionally get them in stock. (The wait is 6 weeks from Apple online.) So I called the Apple store every morning, and sure enough, yesterday they got some in.
I now have several audio books and about 3 days worth of music on it. (Meaning if I played my music continuously, it would be three days before I had to listen to a song a second time.)
The controls took some getting used to, but once I figured it out, I couldn’t imagine why I hadn’t been able to figure it out right away!
I’m very happy with my new toy.

Bionic Ears

I’m beginning to really like Wired. I bought the paper copy before a nine hour plane ride the other day and I read it cover to cover. I remember when it first came out and my mom bought me the first couple of editions. I really enjoyed the magazine then as well but somehow lost track of it in the meantime until friends started sending me pointers to articles on Wired.com.

In the May edition of Wired there’s an article about bionic ears. Two women who are deaf (due to tumors in their auditory nerves) had external microphones wired directly to nerve tissue in their brain stem. The article says it worked for one of them (no details given) and they are going to continue with the next group of 25 patients. The work was done by the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles.

Hotspot Finder – Wireless Hotspots – Worldwide Hotspot Directory

Wired News has a cool website, a hotspot finder.  Go to http://wired.jiwire.com/index.htm and type in your address or zip code and it will list all of the nearest wireless spots and information about them including costs.

‘Laser vision’ offers new insights

There’s an interesting discussion on Slashdot about this article, Laser vision offers new insights. This technology could revolutionize how we use computers. From what I read, it makes wearable computers much more of a reality. You can see the computer screen (or any other display) hanging in the air in front of you. There are a LOT of science fiction stories that use that technology.

Speaking of wearable technology, I think Peter Hamilton is one of the best science fiction authors when it comes to imagining how biotech might change our lives. There’s a quote from one of the reviewers on Amazon that says I “wish I lived in Hamilton’s imagination.” Sometimes you really feel that when you are reading his books.

Market Map

Smart Money has a really cool tool. Go to Smart Money, click on Maps, and select “Market Map”. A window with a lot of different sized squares and rectangles will pop up. Each square or rectangle represents a different stock. The relative size of the square corresponds to the stock’s market share. The color corresponds to the price, green is up. The map is continuously updated to reflect current prices.

This tool allows you to quickly see what the market is doing at a glance and to see how any one particular stock may or may not be acting with the market as a whole.

Dogs can too understand people

Anyone who has ever had a dog knows that they can understand you. An article in last week’s Economist, 2/21/04 "Sensitive souls", describes an experiment that proves it. Brian Hare from Harvard University did an experiment where he put food under one of two inverted cups. A human then sat behind the cups and indicated the cup with the food, either by pointing, looking, or tapping. Dogs always got the food. Chimpanzees and wolves didn’t do any better than chance. He even tried it with dogs with little human contact. Dogs could read the human experimenter’s facial expression and figure out which cup the food was under.

So dogs can read your facial expression, and within reason, figure out what you’re trying to tell them. But then anybody with a dog knew that.

Although my experience has been that they can understand lots of words. They just get left behind in the grammar arena. Telling a dog that someone is not coming after you’ve told them they are coming, is impossible.

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