Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Quote of the Week

With all of the ridiculous legislation that education is facing in the United States, I cannot foresee this country turning out many more great thinkers.  If we do, they will be privately educated where those institutions have the ability to truly challenge students' thinking.

The aim of public education is not to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States... and that is its aim everywhere else.
 -H.L. Mencken
This actually makes me think of an anecdote from a teacher.  When one of her students failed to complete his homework consistently, she phoned the child's mother.  She explained the situation that this young pupil was failing to complete assignments and she was seeking the mother's help in getting the work finished.  The mother in turn called the principal to complain that the teacher was harassing her and that her child did not have to do homework if he did not want to!

When the teacher had the student in class again, the student remarked that he wasn't doing the homework but he knew she would pass anyway.  Why?  He brought up that the teacher will not get a raise unless her students pass the class (welcome to Indiana!).  Her response?  "I don't care, I'm leaving after this year."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quote of the Week

I love deadlines, especially the whooshing sound they make as they go by.  
-Douglas Adams
Who isn't this relevant to?  Sometimes we just can't meet deadlines or follow through with our promises.  Its time to fret about this less and move on.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Favorite Android Launcher

Part of buying an Android smartphone is, at least partially, accepting whatever modifications the manufacturer has made to the Android operating system.  However, if you don't care for their modified version, you can change a lot of the appearance through different launchers.  A launcher on Android is the homescreen(s) and app drawer as well as theme capability and included widgets.

After reading an article about doing some spring cleanup on my phone, I decided to really trim it down with a different launcher.  I own an HTC Droid Incredible 2 and the HTC Sense UI is a bit plain.  I had tried different launchers on my old Droid 2 Global and thought I'd try them again.  I was glad I did.

After looking through the numerous options (I've estimated at least three or four dozen different launchers), I settled on Go Launcher Ex.  Why?  Customization.  I wanted to select how many home screens I truly need, I like the ability to delete apps from the app drawer (iPhone style) and the ability to create folders on the home screen by putting one app on another.  Go Launcher also has available numerous different themes, some even free.

There are numerous other reasons to like Go Launcher as well.  I'm a big fan of the iPhone style app folders that open inline with the other apps.  It makes it quicker and easier to open the app you want as well as close the folder.  It truly is as simple as dragging on app onto another on any homescreen.

While I am on a widget diet, there are some helpful widgets made by Go that matches the Go Launcher quite well.  I installed the Go Power Master app and widget to watch my battery life.  It also makes it easy to kill running apps and switch between power modes to extend your battery life.

You can go to the Go Dev Team homepage or their blog to see more and download the apk files to install Go Launcher, Go Power Master, or any of their other great useful tools.  Google Play Store also has the apps, of course.

I want to know, what's your favorite Android launcher?  Leave me a note in the comments.

Quote of the Week

Go live your life folks.  Get off the computer and embrace the world.


Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover 
- Mark Twain

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Quote of the Week

This week my quote is much more than a quote, its a decent excerpt from Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler.  I find it especially relevant with all the lies we hear during election season.

The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, because the vast masses of a nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad (there is more ignorance than evil). 
The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them more easy victims of a big lie than a small one, because they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell big ones.
Such a form of lying would never enter their heads. They would never credit others with the possibility of such great impudence as the complete reversal of facts. Even explanations would long leave them in doubt and hesitation, and any trifling reason would dispose them to accept a thing as true. 
Something therefore always remains and sticks from the most imprudent of lies, a fact which all bodies and individuals concerned in the art of lying in this world know only too well, and therefore they stop at nothing to achieve this end. 
- Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)

Chickens Are In The Coop

Checking out the perches.
We finally moved the chickens from their indoor abode to their comfortable new setting outside.  I had a couple final touches to do on Saturday but they're moved for now.  Unfortunately...  We have some reconstruction to do on it.  We're actually going to make it taller.  So in the mean time, I'm putting up fence for the chickens' run and they can scratch around there while we make final adjustments one day.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What to Feed the Chickens

Since taking on a flock of chickens, I've been pretty curious just what I can feed my birds.  Sure, there's store bought feed but I want the strong healthy yolks and solid whites of a farm yard chicken egg.  While I intend on letting my chickens free range under my supervision, I have still been curious how to supplement their diet.

One of my favorite chicken sites, BackYard Chickens, had just the answer.  I won't list everything on the site but the simpler formula is won't not to feed your chickens: no candy/sugar, no salty stuff, no green potato peels (some sites simply say no peels at all), no dry beans, no avocado, and no citrus.  There's tons of veggies and fruit that chickens simply love.  Meal worms and scratch grains help too.

Torrent Protection



*UPDATE*

This has become, by far, the most popular post on my site.  Thank you for all of the interest.  In the time since I originally wrote this in 2007, the BitTorrent and Peer to Peer landscape has changed substantially.  PeerGuardian is no longer considered safe.  MoBlock does not work either.  For your own personal protection, I would recommend purchasing a VPN service or consider switching to newsgroups.  

PictureBitTorrent is under constant attack by governments, ISPs, and private industry groups.  Many want to shut down this invaluable tool completely.  ISPs have been throttling torrents slowing down your progress.  They don't recognize the advantages it carries allowing large groups to share data for free and/or open source software, indie artists, and other copyleft material.  Its tremendously easier downloading Linux or free indie artists now than it was ten years ago.

Unfortunately, it may be necessary to protect yourself when using BitTorrent.  Governments track users and private groups try infiltrating torrents.  My advice?  Use a combination of IP blocking and encryption.

Phoenix Lab’s PeerGuardian offers IP blocking.  This is an open source program built for Windows and designed to protect individuals from snooping governments and anti-P2P groups.  This will actually run on Windows 98 through 7 and Mac OS X 10.4.9 and later.

If you’re a Linux user like me, Phoenix Labs recommends MoBlock.   By default, they offer Tarballs but you can add their repo to your Debian based system by hitting up their Sourceforge page.  The SF DEB file supports Ubuntu 11.04 Natty.

The other part of protecting yourself is encrypting your torrents.  Most BitTorrent programs include an option for encryption.  Usually this is located under the options or preference menus.  TorrentFreak has a how-to for Azureus, Bitcomet, and uTorrent.

Why is all this so important?  As much as 25% of connected peers on major torrents can be anti-P2P agencies.  These groups work to pollute torrents with junk.  In turn,  you end up downloading a lot more than you need to.  By using MoBlock or PeerGuardian you can block these groups and help protect your personal privacy.  

I absolutely do not advocate nor condone the distribution of illegal material through BitTorrent or any other peer to peer file sharing systems.  I'm an open source advocate who believes the free sharing of knowledge will advance our civilization rapidly.  The free sharing of private property will just land you in jail or at least in court.