Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wednesday Weekly Bits and Pieces - 23 October 2013

Before I even start, Storybundle has a new Thriller Bundle. I've written about these folks before. As far as I'm concerned, they are a good enough reason to buy an electronic reader. You have a bit less than three weeks to get this bundle. I just bought it, and I'll post reviews of the books when I finish them. Go check them out - and no, I don't get affiliate or commission fees!

There is news in the world, of course. Something happens somewhere every day, but you can catch most of them on your own.
Yeah, I really want this coin
There are only sparse details on the shooting in the Nevada middle school. You might think I'm nuts if I tell you I do think it is End Times and Evil is multiplying across the world, but that's where I am. Give me something that better fits the data. Until then, that's my opinion. (You can have your own; that's okay with me.)
In breaking news, police in Danvers, Massachusetts have a student in custody for killing a teacher also.
I still don't believe the government should take our guns from us, but there certainly should be tighter regulations to keep guns out of the hands of children. As Darling says, though, if they want guns they'll get them, even if they just take them from their parents. (Same with drugs, sad to say.)
Fierce wildfires still rage in Australia. I have relatives there, as do many of my friends. It even looks like a possible retirement location. After all, as one friend said, the Aussie government charges a 1.5% tax for healthcare that covers everyone in the country. (In comparison, the USA charges that and it covers those 65 and older.)
Obamacare has some hiccups in the startup. For those haters out there, of course it does! It's a huge program! Everything will get ironed out - the Health Care Act is here to stay. Would you please just accept that and we can move on? Surprisingly, the person in charge of implementing the Affordable Care Act says President Obama was not aware of all the issues. Things work differently in the government than in the private sector, don't they? I'd be fired. So would my boss.
I'm hoping another department of the government doesn't have the same startup issues, though. The newest warship in the US Navy is run entirely by Linux code. I think that's a good thing. That's the last place I'd want to see the Blue Screen of Death.
The software is key, but hardware is still important. IBM is working on a computer that runs on liquid. Oh, liquid-cooled computers have been around for years; ask any avid gamer. This one, though, is also powered by the liquid. They modeled it after the human brain. Yikes!
For you gamers out there who remember Zork, The Stanley Parable might interest you. I might even give it a try. It's only a few hours of game play, but it is unique so far. I'm sure it will spawn others like it, though.
In the Houston area, the school district released a bus safety video. No, really. You should take a look - it's pretty good.
Swedish doctors are claiming that "Butter, olive oil, heavy cream, and bacon are not harmful foods. Quite the opposite. Fat is the best thing for those who want to lose weight. And there are no connections between a high fat intake and cardiovascular disease.Really. We can eat what we want. Americans do that anyway. Now Sweden says you should!
The company making Soylent is getting a bunch of funding for their product.
I talked about Soylent before, but I don't dare give it a try for myself. That problem with Day Three might be an issue for me, especially at work. Ron Licata from Wired gave it a try. His review is short, but pretty good. He says he lost ten pounds, even though that's not the idea behind the food substitute.
I follow International Living and read their reviews of alternative countries to retire in (places I can actually afford). EscapeArtist, however, gives me a little different perspective on some of the countries. Good to have different viewpoints.
There is a Michigan couple doing the same research. They are just a bit younger and more adventurous than we are. I will certainly follow their adventures!
Matteo Spinelli has a fascinating blog. One of his more recent posts made me wish I was a cracker-jack programmer. I could finally be independent of location and commuting to the office.  It's a good read, though because it bucks the standard thinking of how to make a living programming. He does open source programming.
If you want to learn to program, Bento might be a good place to start!
I might have mentioned it before, but I just finished paying my last cell phone bill to AT&T. I like smart phones, don't get me wrong, but I'm tired of the cost. I might even look into this plan for $19/month. Might, I said. Don't hold me to it.
I'm pretty disappointed. DNA evidence shows that the Himalayan yeti is a bear. I still believe in unicorns, though.

I did finally receive my results from my DNA testing at and I was underwhelmed. They tell me I have 93% of my ancestry from Great Britain and 7% from Eastern Europe. Really? That's all I get? I know that my grandfather was some percentage Cherokee, so where does that fit in? I was hoping for some confirmation of Chippewa on my Elston family side, but it doesn't look like I'm getting that either. I posted a note to a genealogy special interest group I belong to and I'll see what they say.

Now you knew I'd have to add something about Apple™. After all, they had an event yesterday! I won't go into all the details myself, but I'll provide a whole bunch of links. Other reviewers did impeccable jobs. I'll sum it up this way, though.
The new Mac OS X is out. Called Mavericks, it's free for download now. We downloaded it last night and it looks amazing, even on our older iMac. Lifehacker gives some tips on how to tweak it so it's better. And if you want to put it on a USB, this is the method they say to use.
New MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops are available now. There weren't any monumental changes, but it's hard to improve on a good thing. They did drop the price a bit; that's welcome news.
If you're looking for a server, the new Mac Pro will be available in November. It's a lot of machine for three thousand dollars.
The iPad mini now has retina display, and it costs a bit more for it. They dropped the weight of the iPad to one pound (from about 1.4 pounds) and now call it the iPad Air. Price remains about the same. I think my iPad, Gen 4 is now a classic. The older iPad Mini is still available for $299. And the full-size, 2011 version iPad 2 is available for $399. Don't buy that. Spend a little more and get the newer version, or switch to one of the many competitors surfacing in the world (pun intended). Two of the big ones are Microsoft's Surface and Nokia's Lumia 2520. You can find the Surface 2 for $449 and the Surface Pro 2 for $899, while Nokia's Lumia 2520 is $499.

So, Apple didn't announce any watches, which is okay because after using it for a few months I decided to quit using my Pebble™ smart watch (blog post to come). No new Apple TV, but that's okay because the current one is really quite good.

Here we go with the links.
And Gizmodo (thanks for the live blog of the event, guys!) has an entire suite of reviews!

Though I don't agree with everything in this article, I have to agree on one thing: Stephen King's book  On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft is one of the finest books on writing I ever read. My youngest brother mentioned it to me years ago and said it was great.
Take a twisted love triangle. Toss in a child. Make up a story. Add some pictures. Now you have a short biography of one of the world's most intriguing writers: EE Cummings. And a beautiful book. Take a look at the article.

I think Darling and I will need a vacation soon. She is scheduled for surgery next week, so I might not post anything. We'll see. In the meantime, maybe I should look at some river cruises.

Thanks for reading! God bless you all!


  1. Come on, no Indian blood,,,anywhere? Grandma Elston always said one of her ancestors hooked up with an Indian Canada I think,,,,I think they are wrong,,,will have to do some more research,,,Grandma Minnies middle name was French,,,Foote...French Canadian,,and those guys married a lot of Indians....out trapping alone in the wilderness.....

  2. Yeah, I don't know Mary. Ancestry recently posted better results. Now it shows:
    Great Britain: 80%
    Europe West: 8%
    Europe East: 5%
    Ireland: 2%
    Iberian Peninsula: 2%
    Scandinavia: 2%
    Italy/Greece: <1%

    On a genealogy forum they told me this type of testing only does the Male or Female line, depending on your sex. So this is just me - my dad - his dad - his dad's dad , etc.
    The only way to get Mom would be to get Aunt Jan to do a test, and that still wouldn't get her Dad. I'm baffled by it all, frankly.
    I really wanted to confirm the Chippewa that Jen said we had in our lineage...
    We need to get Lee to do one. That still wouldn't catch the fabled Chippewa though...