Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

DIY home security systems. Whatzagoodone?

I've been looking at security systems on Amazon.com. Something we could install ourselves, and not have to pay monthly fees. This one looked like one of the better ones:


AAS-V700 Wireless Home Security Alarm System Kit DIY (R)
Product Features

* Comes with 3 horns which is essential for any alarm system (one outdoor for your neighbours to hear and two indoor for yourself)

* 99 Zone Display Wireless Security System (Supports an unlimited number of sensors per zone),provides the most extensive coverage.

* Two type passwords. administrative password allow to program and operate the system. user's password only allows to operating the system .

* Four types of defense zones that offers enhanced accuracy and alarm capacity: emergency, arm, home arm

* Auto-Dials up to 6 phone numbers when alarm is tripped w/redial ( plays personal recorded outgoing message). self monitoring. no monthly fees

Technical Details

* Comes with 3 horns which is essential for any alarm system (one outdoor for your neighbours to hear and two indoor for yourself)

* 99 Zone Display Wireless Security System (Supports an unlimited number of sensors per zone),provides the most extensive coverage.

* Two type passwords. administrative password allow to program and operate the system. user's password only allows to operating the system .

* Four types of defense zones that offers enhanced accuracy and alarm capacity: emergency, arm, home arm, door chime and specially engineered false-alarm preventing mechanism.

* Auto-Dials up to 6 phone numbers when alarm is tripped w/redial ( plays personal recorded outgoing message). self monitoring. no monthly fees

* Multiple sensors to meet your home and business security need. you can always add more sensors to your system.

* Phone Line Anti-Cut Monitoring (Alarm sounds if phone line is cut)

* Rechargeable Backup Battery (Built into the keypad/control panel)

* Programmable Entry Delay (0 to 30 minutes)

* Programmable Exit Delay (0 to 30 minutes)

* Programmable siren time(0 to 30 minutes)

* Audible or Silent Alarm Mode

* Power & Armed LED Light Indicators

* Zone LED Light Indicators

* Remote Access By Phone Features ( Arm, Disarm, Monitor Mode)

* Easy install, no professional required. no installation charge.

* Reset to Factory Settings

[...]

This brand has high ratings on Amazon. But then I saw this in the comments:
[...] The seller is rebating $20 to everyone who posts a 5 star rating. Not ethical. I have not considered the rebate when I posted a high rating - the product is worth the money.

I had noticed that a lot of the five star reviews did list complaints or criticisms, which made me wonder why they gave it 5 stars anyway. Now I know why.

So is it worth the money? Who knows. So far it sounds like the best thing I've looked at. But buying electronics is so tricky nowadays, you just have to wonder about the quality and if it's going to last.
     

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Will we end up wanting global warming?

Scientists predict rare 'hibernation' of sunspots
WASHINGTON (AFP) – For years, scientists have been predicting the Sun would by around 2012 move into solar maximum, a period of intense flares and sunspot activity, but lately a curious calm has suggested quite the opposite.

According to three studies released in the United States on Tuesday, experts believe the familiar sunspot cycle may be shutting down and heading toward a pattern of inactivity unseen since the 17th century.

The signs include a missing jet stream, fading spots, and slower activity near the poles, said experts from the National Solar Observatory and Air Force Research Laboratory.

"This is highly unusual and unexpected," said Frank Hill, associate director of the NSO's Solar Synoptic Network, as the findings of the three studies were presented at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Solar Physics Division in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

"But the fact that three completely different views of the Sun point in the same direction is a powerful indicator that the sunspot cycle may be going into hibernation."

Solar activity tends to rise and fall every 11 years or so. The solar maximum and solar minimum each mark about half the interval of the magnetic pole reversal on the Sun, which happens every 22 years.

Hill said the current cycle, number 24, "may be the last normal one for some time and the next one, cycle 25, may not happen for some time.

"This is important because the solar cycle causes space weather which affects modern technology and may contribute to climate change," he told reporters.

Experts are now probing whether this period of inactivity could be a second Maunder Minimum, which was a 70-year period when hardly any sunspots were observed between 1645-1715, a period known as the "Little Ice Age."

"If we are right, this could be the last solar maximum we'll see for a few decades. That would affect everything from space exploration to Earth's climate," said Hill. [...]

It sounds like guessing. And then it goes on to say that even if a "Little Ice Age" happens, we will still have to worry about Global Warming. Huh? Go figure.
     

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Are conditions like "Allergic Disease" and "Increased Intestinal Permeability" related?

At the very least, they may overlap:

Allergic Disease IS the Symptom
Allergic Disease, also called Atopic Disease, is a term used for any one of several allergic diseases that all share one thing in common, an inappropriate and hyperactive immune system response to common substances.

[...]

People who have atopic diseases tend to say that their disease is genetic. While this is partly true, diseases are only INFLUENCED by genetics, The environment controls the outcome of how those genetics are expressed.

You may have a PREDISPOSITION to have these allergic diseases, but that does not mean that everyone who has the genes gets the disease. In fact, much recent research has been focusing on substances called nuclear receptors. These receptors attach to specific areas on DNA strands and act as messengers that tell the genes what is going on in the body. When specific deficiencies of enzymes or nutrients are present then the genes will 'turn on' other genes in response to the 'problem'.

The genes that get turned on can cause various things to happen in the body: inflammation and increased hormonal activity are examples of what can happen depending upon the situation. If you begin to understand this way of thinking, allergic diseases become SYMPTOMS of imbalance in the body and not a disease in and of themselves. When you have flare-ups, it is the body’s way of informing you that you have imbalance from overload of Environmental Toxins or improper nutrition for your genetics.

This allows you to have control over whether you experience symptoms or not. Allergy relief drugs become a way to get temporary allergy symptom relief when you are miserable, but they are NOT a lifelong commitment. [...]

So it's suggesting that imbalance can cause the body's failure to properly deal with ordinary substances. For instance, if the cell wall of the small intestine isn't able to do it's job optimally, as this next article claims:

Is Increased Intestinal Permeability
Making You Sick?
[...] Your small intestine is literally one cell thick and is the only barrier between the food that you eat and your bloodstream!!

These cells, called intestinal villi, are packed tightly together and are designed to absorb nutrients from your food and send it directly into the neighboring bloodstream that it is only one cell away from.

But this ultra thin barrier doesn’t just protect you from pathogens in your food, but from your food itself!!

It is ESSENTIAL that food particles do not get into your bloodstream. I know that it seems silly to think that food even COULD get into your bloodstream- yet that is EXACTLY what happens with Increased Intestinal Permeability!

[...]

You see, anytime that you get severely stressed, your intestinal tract becomes inflamed- and when inflammation occurs, the intestinal cells that are usually packed tightly together- begin to swell.

Under normal conditions, the Adrenal Glands produce a stress hormone called cortisol that decreases this inflammation and all is well again.

But if you are under severe stress for months or years- you get divorced, your mother dies, you’re working 80 hour workweeks in a job that you hate- the Adrenal Glands will Begin to Get Fatigued and won't be as effective at reducing the inflammation.

This constant swelling will eventually damage the cells and small gaps will form in between their usual 'tight junctions'.

Once this happens, those tiny gaps and inflammation prevent you from absorbing nutrients AND allow pathogens from your food and tiny undigested food particles into your bloodstream!! And that becomes a HUGE PROBLEM as you will soon see.

[...]

When Increased Intestinal Permeability allows food or pathogens into your bloodstream, your immune system gets activated in order to fight off the “invader”.

In the case of a pathogen, this is GREAT- as the next infection will be fought off easier. However, in the case of food particles, this is NOT a good situation. Your body recognizes that food particle as the enemy.

And each time you eat that food, the Immune System continually mounts a stronger and stronger response to that invader.

This is What Causes Food allergies- usually to milk, wheat, corn or soy- and is often the 'trigger' for Gluten Sensitivity- which is a HUGE undiagnosed health problem!

Some people are more aware that the food that they are eating is making them ill and they avoid those foods, but these food reactions can take hours or days to really be felt.

By that time, all you know is that you don’t feel well, but you don’t associate it with the food you ate 2 days ago! And if you eat that food nearly every day, then all you know is that you are always feeling tired and unwell.

This sets up a self perpetuating cycle because these food particles and pathogens cause you MORE STRESS which makes your Leaky Gut Syndrome even worse, which allows MORE food particles to pass through, which makes you allergic to even MORE foods....

[...]

The liver, when it’s healthy, is able to use it’s own immune system to take care of any pathogens or food particles that have escaped- and dispatch them without too much trouble. But when Increased Intestinal Permeability becomes the normal situation- the liver gets bogged down processing all of the excess junk that is coming at it. Your liver can only do so much! When it gets overloaded, it begins to store Environmental Toxins from your food, water, air and home products -in your fat so that it can ‘get to it later’.

If Leaky gut is the problem, then later never comes. When the liver gets REALLY overloaded, some of these molecules begin to get into your general circulation- and this is where the problem gets REALLY messy. Your entire immune system gets involved and goes into overdrive.

[...]

When the immune system begins to be activated on such a large scale and on such a constant basis, it's almost a sure thing that you will have some sort of chronic illness.

Everyone reacts differently to this, but it’s likely that you’ll be feeling pretty bad and will have been to the doctor a few times for your ‘disease symptoms’ that are really just symptoms of Increased Intestinal Permeability and liver toxicity.


Some of the problems that different people get are:

* Neurologic conditions like: autism, depression, schizophrenia

* Pain conditions like: Symptoms of Fibromyalgia, migraines, osteoarthritis

* General problems like: Chronic fatigue, multiple chemical sensitivity

* Gastrointestinal problems like: IBS, Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease, Diverticulitis

* Skin problems like: Eczema and psoriasis

* Chronic infections: Urinary Tract Infections, Yeast Infections, Sinus Infections, Colds and Flu

* Autoimmune Disorders like: Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus


Sound like you or someone that you know?? [...]

Follow the links, for suggestions on how to deal with these problems.


Also see:

What Causes Food Allergies?
You Might Be Surprised...


Treating Atopic Dermatitis

     

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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Windows 8 and your office furniture

You might have to upgrade your desk:

What Windows 8 Needs Is Some New Furniture
[...] One of the defining features of the Windows 8 interface is that it is uniquely suited for manipulating and interacting via touch. As natural as touch gestures might be for the Windows 8 operating system, it is not natural to reach up to tap the monitor sitting on your desk.

I should know. I already have a touchscreen monitor that I connect my laptop to when I am sitting at my desk. It is an Acer T230H 23-inch monitor. I thought that it would be really cool to be able to interact with Windows 7 via touch, but the reality is that is highly impractical. I tried it for a while, but my shoulders get tired pretty quick when holding my arm out straight in front of me for extended periods to tap and swipe the screen.

I realize that beneath the veneer of flashy tiles, and the revamped 'Zune-esque' user interface, the traditional Windows operating system I am used to exists somewhere. Yes, it is possible to navigate Windows 8 with a mouse and keyboard, and the touchscreen interface is not a requirement. But, I would rather be able to use touch gestures as well.

What Windows 8 needs is a desk where the monitor lays down instead of standing up on top of the desk. But, a completely flat monitor would also be a pain ergonomically--both in terms of the viewing angle and strain on your neck, and in terms of having to reach out across it to tap and swipe.

But, if the monitor were lying at a slight angle--with the base essentially making contact with the top of the keyboard, it would be in a good position for viewing, and in a reasonable position for working with the touchscreen interface. [...]

I would expect that there is going to be a market for new monitor stands, that position the old monitors at an angle more conducive to touch mode operation.

I've noticed that many of the newest Linux desktops have been adopting the "tile" theme for their icons, and emphasizing their compatibility with touch-screens. It's part of the general push for computer operating systems to become compatible with tablets and smart phones, which rely on touch screens.

I guess touch screens may become the next Big Thing. And a "mouse" may one day go back to being just a rodent.


Related link:

Windows 8 aims for tablets and more
     

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Fossil Fuels: They've only just begun

I posted earlier about Peak Oil/increased-demand theory , causing shortages. But the following article from Salon.com changes all of that. It maintains that solar and wind power are endangered, not fossil fuels, which are in fact poised to really start to kick in:

Everything you've heard about fossil fuels may be wrong
The future of energy is not what you think it is
[...] it appears that the prophets of an age of renewable energy following Peak Oil got things backwards. We may be living in the era of Peak Renewables, which will be followed by a very long Age of Fossil Fuels that has only just begun.

Thanks to shale oil and natural gas, and new technologies that not only make them more easily available world-wide, but make them a cleaner alternative to coal. Read the whole thing, it's very thorough. It explains it's premise in detail, and presents a very compelling case. Gosh and Golly. Whodathunkit?
     

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Preparing for the Rapture in the I.T. world

This was written in anticipation of Harold Camping's May 21st prediction, but could easily be recycled for the next prediction by anyone. Hilarious advice:



10 Things IT Groups Need to Know About The End of the World
[...]

7. Avoid disruption.

At 5:45 p.m. Saturday, invite all the Christians on staff to pray in a conference room or auditorium. That way you minimize the network and systems disruption, not to mention the drama, when they all vanish.

6. Review all software licenses.

Make sure they don't expire immediately before or after The Rapture.

Despite being employees of West Coast companies, your Cisco or Microsoft reps might be among the missing (possibly less likely with Apple). Afterward, you might be able to push for a Rapture Discount on new software and hardware.

5. Install mobile device management software.

With an application like MobileIron, you can shut down and lock, and later locate, any cellphones left behind by Raptured staff. Otherwise you could be hit with huge data charges if the phones were on and online when their users were taken. And make sure they're all equipped with bumpers so when they hit the desk or the pavement they won't break.

4. Postpone the upgrade to Windows 7.

You could save money (fewer users) and avoid disruptions (missing tech support staff) by waiting until after The Rapture to move to Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system.

3. Block all internal video transmissions and external streaming for 48 hours.

Let's face it, if you're in a telepresence conference and people start blinking out, it's bound to be disconcerting. Plus, you just know YouTube is going to be flooded with video clips of people's family, friends, acquaintances, or worse, themselves, poofing into thin air. The UnRaptured won't be able to stop themselves from clicking on the links, and the video traffic will bring your network to its knees. [...]

Isn't it nice to know someone's thought about all the practical follow-up details? Read the whole thing for more advice. The author knows his topic rather well.


Related Link:

Finding God Through Open Source
     

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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Born Yesterday...

Actually, it was the day before yesterday. And "hatched" might be a more accurate description.


There were four chicks in this batch. In the next photo, you can see #4 peaking out from under mama's wing:


I put the eggs under the hen on Mother's Day. They hatched on Memorial Day. So I guess you could say they are Holiday Chicks.


Here they are basking in the setting sun. In a day or two, I will let them outside so mom can teach them to forage.


The hen is not their biological mother. She is a Bantam-Cochen mix. The chicks are hybrids of two larger breeds: Leghorn mother, Americana father. Leghorns make lousy mothers though, so I put the eggs under the best broody hen I had at the time.

They are going to grow much larger than this hen. She has quite a task ahead of her. Fortunately, she's quite tough. ;-)
     

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NASA's Space Shuttle Program Winds Down; What is likely to replace our space fleet?

Next-to-last space shuttle flight lands on Earth
[...] Launch managers marveled Wednesday over how good Endeavour still looks.

"It looks like it's ready to go do another mission," Kelly noted. He said he'd fly the space shuttle every couple months if he could — heck, every week if possible. "But it's 30 years old ... and we've got to grow and adapt and build new things."

Atlantis will remain at Kennedy Space Center as a tourist stop, following one last supply run to the space station. Liftoff is set for July 8.

Discovery, the fleet leader, returned from its final voyage in March. Its next stop is a Smithsonian Institution hangar outside Washington.

Moving Atlantis to the launch pad as Endeavour landed helped temper the sadness so many are feeling with one mission remaining, officials said. Thousands of more layoffs loom once the shuttle program ends.

"It's been a heck of a month in the last four hours," observed launch manager Mike Moses, "and I think we've used up our overtime budget for the entire month."

NASA is leaving the Earth-to-orbit business behind to focus on expeditions to asteroids and Mars. Private companies hope to pick up the slack for cargo and crew hauls to the space station. But it will be a while following Atlantis' upcoming flight — at least three years by one business' estimate, five to seven years by Kelly's — before astronauts ride on American rockets again.

Until then, Americans will continue hitching rides aboard Russian Soyuz capsules at the cost of tens of millions of dollars a seat.

"We're in the process of transition now, and it's going to be awkward," Atlantis astronaut Rex Walheim said. "But we'll get to the other side and we'll have new vehicles.

"I really do have to say, though, it's going to be really hard to beat a vehicle that is so beautiful and majestic as that one is," he said as Atlantis rolled to the pad behind him. "I mean, how can you beat that? An airplane sitting on the side of a rocket. It's absolutely stunning."

I read elsewhere, that Endeavor was designed to fly a total of 100 missions. Retiring it at 25 seems premature, and in many ways, a waste of money. So why are they retiring it?

1. Safety issues. Since the Challenger and Columbia deaths, there have been a lot of safety concerns about continuing to use the shuttles. Dangers inherent in the design, that are not easily managed.

2. The cost of launching, and maintenance. The vehicle's themselves may be paid for, but their continued maintenance, and the cost of launching them safely, is quite expensive.

NASA was working on a new transport vehicle, the Orion Spacecraft, but that got scrapped by Obama when he scrubbed the Constellation Program.

Recently there has been talk of restoring the part of the Constellation Program that would finish building the Orion, so the US would at least have a spacecraft. There is some sense in that, since billions have already been spent on it. But it will be years before it's ready.

Obama has suggested that the private sector should step in to fill the transport gap. I suspect he says that because he's not that interested in the space program, and wants their budget money for entitlement spending.

Money spend on NASA's budget was only a fraction of what's spent on entitlements; see this graph. Entitlement spending, and even the interest on our debt, is way, WAY more than NASA's budget. And at least the NASA spending created jobs, and spin-off technologies that could be used in the private sector. We at least got something back for our money.

Still, I agree with the President that the private sector should be more involved in space transportation, and some good may come out of Obama's decision. Some private companies are already striving to fill the gap, and my favorite, Spacex, has already come quite far in doing so. Competition in the free market often creates better, and more cost-effective, alternatives. So perhaps it will ultimately benefit The Future of American Manned Space Flight.

We shall see.


The "Dragon" spacecraft, by Spacex

     

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