Friday, May 9, 2008


I know, just what you need is another invite to some social application. You're thinking: "I'm on MySpace/Facebook, why do I need anything else?"

First off, those social networks are so 2006, secondly, they're tied down to your computer and logging in to the network.

Forget social networks, it's time for social applications. With the freedom I discovered by getting a mobile device that connects to the "interwebs" from anywhere (okay, there seems to be a dead spot in the middle of the Hussey Sound), I have gotten wrapped up in social applications. I know, it's a lot for all of you non-geeks out there to handle. But, trust me when I say that you'll be just as enthralled if you give it a shot. There are only two problems with these applications. One, there are a lot of different things to handle, I can find myself staying up until 1am checking all of my different services (like last night). Two, none of my friends are geek-ish enough to take part yet, so the whole social part of it is pretty one-sided for me right now.

That's why I introduce to you

This is a message posting/conversation site that is similar in a way to pownce or twitter. The difference is that it integrates all of the other social application that you use into one feed. So I, for example, have my blog, my digg, my flickr, my gmail status, my pandora, my picasa, my pownce, my linkedin and my twitter accounts all connected to friendfeed. When I update any one of those it will be posted on my friendfeed. Basically, if you join friendfeed and subscribe to me, you can eavesdrop on me all day long. On top of that, many of you already use a couple of these applications, so even if you never return to friendfeed, everyone else will still benefit from you making an account and connecting to your other services. (Other services include: Google reader, StumbleUpon, Jaiku, YouTube, iLike, Amazon Wishlists, Netflix queue, and others...35 total).

Once you are all set up, you will see a list of all updates to these applications in chronological order. Your friends not only catch up and keep up with what's new with you, but they can comment on anything and start conversations on each feed.

So, check it out. It's a much more up close and personalized way to stay connected than those networks that are infested with Fwd: surveys and single-flavored, re-skinned applications.

My friendfeed:

Friday, April 11, 2008

TechMaine Fund

I received this email today and thought I would pass it along to anyone who thinks having technology entrepreneurs in Maine is important:

Hi Cade,

Maine needs additional financing vehicles to attract new companies and ideas and to fund and retain our current entrepreneurs. We are entering the last days of Maine's current legislative session and one of the remaining bills is the TechMaine initiative for the creation of a private equity Venture Capital Fund of Funds to support Maine's technology entrepreneurs and grow Maine's economy. Maine can secure a competitive advantage in New England by implementing a Fund of Fund investment vehicle.

The legislation is titled:
LR 3568: An Act To Attract New Capital for Innovative Businesses through Equity Investment in Maine

WE NEED YOUR HELP ensuring this important legislation becomes enacted! We need you to take action and contact your legislators to let them know your support for this initiative. We've created a Website at to supply you additional information and help through the process of reaching out to your elected officials.

Contacting your legislator is vital! On most issues, legislators and other elected officials receive very little input from their constituents. This seems to be especially true of technological issues.

Being contacted by even just a few voters is often enough to mold or shift a legislator's stance on an issue, especially if they have not had much voter contact on that issue before. Every e-mail and call is important.

Please visit today, spread the word, and help create a new vehicle to grow Maine's economy!

Joe Kumiszcza

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How OneHut Burned Me

Two years ago I began working as a freelance Web designer. My intentions were not to make big bucks, but to help people and organizations out who could not afford to hire their own designer while gaining experience. Having little experience with Web hosts, I referred to the results of several Web host ranking Web sites. I thought I made a good choice when my research turned up OneHut, a very affordable host with average customer service and a non-WYSIWYG interface.

I was a fairly happy customer for several years. Customer service was not entirely responsive and when they did fix an issues, they were not very good at communicating that to me. But, I figured I got what I paid for.

Well, did I ever get it.

This past weekend all of the sites I manage went down, and did not come back. With the help from a friend and a little research I soon realized that OneHut went out of business without warning any of their customers. Not only have I lost all of the pages and assets to several sites (including over two years of work on my brother-in-law's Web site), but it appears that good ole OneHut registered my domains in what I am guess is their parent company's name. As a result I might not be able to transfer my clients' domain names.

Research uncovered this blog by another unhappy customer, this forum string on the Web site of the user interface OneHut used (the only feature with which I was content), these reviews from unhappy customers, and the Better Business Bureau's report on the company.

With little else to do, I decided to try to contact the company with which my domains were registered, That URL directed me to (with a little more research I discovered that these urls do as well:,, I spoke with customer service and they directed me to contact and said they will set me up with access to manage my domains (which is strange because names4ever directed me to After not hearing from them for four days, today I emailed customer support at retelling my tragic story and hoping for a little serious direction.

Now, I am no expert on the clientèle of Web hosts, but upon googling "ABACUS America scam" (ABACUS America being the company that owns names4ever, and apparently the names sake of and, I was returned a long list of escrow scam sites, all hosted by said ABACUS company. For some reason I don't think I will be getting any help from this company, and in the end its my clients and my reputation that will suffer.

Let this be a warning to all out there thinking of finding a cheap Web host. Go with a trusted name, it's worth the extra cost.

Friday, March 14, 2008


On the Sword and Laser forum for the current cyberpunk novel Neuromancer by William Gibson, a question was brought up about the reason for using product brand names in the novel. Many found this to detract from the story, and here was my response:

There is the possibility that Gibson was saying something about branding and our culture by purposely mentioning them. Needless to say, it's a pretty bleak (if not interesting) portrayal of the world. People spending more time out of reality than in it, and when they're in reality, they are busy killing each other or taking enough drugs to forget about it (sounds pretty close to the truth to me). People are unhappy with themselves to the point of grafting machinery into their bodies in order to overcome their inadequacies. To me, in a future like this...I mean, like that...branding holds a lot of weight.

This is not distracting to me, I think it strengthens the setting. More distracting (and not Gibson's fault) are the lopsided technologies. Like using a magnetic strip to open doors, and having a hard-lined phone. Again, Gibson has done the best he could at foreseeing technology trends, but in this day and age a lot of it feels awkward.

To wrap up, the decision of using true to life names (beyond just brand names, such as celebrity names, city names, etc) comes down to whether or not you want the plot to be timeless. By creating artifacts in a story, you have the chance of making it more relevant, but run the risk of the story becoming inconsequential. To this point, science fiction typically is not timeless since technology often progresses beyond what authors can dream up. This can make brand names more helpful than hurtful as it creates a mental connection to plot and atmosphere of the story.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Google Calendar

Google Calendar has a new-to-me feature of being able to sync with Microsoft Outlook.

You can choose to sync both ways, Outlook appointments to Google Calendar, or Google events to Outlook Calendar. You can also choose how many minutes should pass between syncs. I tried it out (syncing Google Calendar with Outlook appointments), and was disappointed to find that it only synced with appointments that I had created, not ones that I have been invited to and accepted. So, I quickly uninstalled it. Though I wouldn't suggest using the sync application, a good feature that I did discover (not in any way connected with the sync application) is that if you invite your Gmail account to an appointment while setting it up, it will automatically add the event to your Google Calendar.

Find out more about Google Calendar Sync

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

There and Back Again...or Not

The AP announced today that the Tolkien Trust and HarperCollins are suing New Line over the Lord of the Rings trilogy movies that were released in 2001, 2002, 2003. The Tolkien Trust was only paid $62,500 instead of the contracted 7.5% of gross revenue. If my trusty calculator works properly, 7.5% of $6 billion (worldwide gross revenue) is roughly $450 million. The Tolkein Trust's suit is for $150 million, an unlisted amount in punitive damages and the termination of any rights that New Line may have over Tolkien works.

The Tolkien Trust is a registered charity organization in the United Kingdom established by the Tolkien estate. They have given nearly $8 million to charitable causes in the past five years. Up to this point they have tried to settle the conflict out of court to no avail. A successful court battle will certainly put a lot of food on hobbitses' plates around the UK.

A side effect of the lawsuit is that it might put an end to the production of The Hobbit, which was slated to be filmed in 2010. It's a pity that fans of the book and Peter Jackson's silver screen adaptations will lose out as well. I wonder if New Line will be pulling the Hobbit announcement off their home page?

Read the AP article >

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

American Gods

Neil Gaiman's American Gods is a unique fantasy presented in modern times. The concept is that all of the gods that throughout history people have brought brought to America exist physically as well as metaphysically. These old gods have slowly been displaced by people worshiping the modern gods of TV, Internet, et al. Things are coming to a head and the unlikely ex-convict character Shadow takes the readers along for the ride.

I was very much looking forward to American Gods after reading all of the hype on it but felt let down. It's not an issue with the writing, which I enjoyed, but the plot and characters. Gaiman certainly shows diversity and creativity, but to what point?

I have put thought into Shadow as a character and come to believe that he was written flatly in order to believably accept all of the hurdles that were thrown at him. But, in the end this left me not very invested in the main character of the story, and feeling like he was a gimmick. All the the supporting characters seemed to share personalities as well: Mr. World/Town/Stone/Wood/etc. were but many instances of one character; the modern gods seemed to have the same haughty and vehement attitude; the old gods the same resistive, ostrich-head-in-the-sand mentality. With the differences in the origination of each god, I expected more diversity in their character as well.

The plot was all over the place which made me feel overwhelmed and wondering what the point was. Every conflict seemed to, ironically, be resolved with a deus ex machina. I guess one could accept this since most of the characters were gods, but I prescribe to the idea that if a gun is fired in act three, it should be on the mantle-piece in act one.

I have yet to complete the book, so my impressions may change (not likely considering how others came away from the book), but I currently feel like I do upon finishing a half-hour sitcom: mildly entertained and regretting the time I wasted. For those who enjoy Gaiman's writing, I would suggest Christopher Moore. I had the same impression from his writing: entertaining, witty and very unique in plot.

Adapted from one of my posts on The Sword and Laser.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Next Generation of Solar Cell

Conventional solar cells are expensive to produce and inefficient. They are produced with silicon and exotic materials which attempt to boost their effectiveness. In truth, the typical solar cell captures only about 20% of the potential solar energy and, obviously, are completely ineffective after the sun has set.

A group from the National Idaho Laboratory is attempting to change that. Their new solar cell design is made up of tiny spiraling antennas printed on a thin film. Each "nanoantenna" is about 1/25 the thickness of a human hair, and made up of common materials. The result is a thin, flexible and cheap solar cell that is 80% effective and can collect energy for hours after sunset.

The solar cells collect energy through resonance, the same way a television antenna picks up a signal. The difference is that the nanoantennae is designed on a scale to capture infrared waves. The key is that as the Earth heats up, it gives off infrared waves which can be collected by the antennae for several hours after sundown. Collecting energy from both the sun and the Earth is the key to its effectiveness.

The only hurdles that the group has left is perfecting the design of the cells and developing a way to convert the energy into a form that is usable. The energy produced by the solar cells is AC and fluctuates 10,000 billion times a second. This is much too often for typical appliances which run off of AC that fluctuates 60 times per second. The only perceivable way of collecting the energy is to develop a rectifier that can handle the fluctuations and turn it into DC which could be used to charge batteries.

Read more on the Idaho National Laboratory Web site.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Only 37,000 Years Will Tell

AP reported today that an asteroid, "2007 TU24" which is between 500 feet and 2,000 feet long, will pass by Earth at around 300,000 miles away. Though this sounds like a large distance to us puny humans, if you look at it on a galactic scale, that is a near miss—1.4 times the distance of the moon from the Earth. As a matter of fact, an asteroid of that size passes near Earth every 5 years, and strikes Earth once in about every 37,000 years. Luckily, no known asteroid of 2007 TU24's size or larger is expected to pass this close to Earth again until 2027.

Supposedly the asteroid will be viewable in dark and clear skies with amateur telescopes of 3 inch apertures or larger, so keep your eyes to the sky on January 29th at 08:33 UT.

For more information, read this Discovery News article.
See an interactive illustration.

Another asteroid is projected to pass Mercury the following (Earth) day. This one is to pass within 16,000 miles of the inner-most planet. Early models showed a 1 in 25 chance of Mercury being struck by the asteroid but now the odds are 1 in 10,000.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Greener Gadgets

Friday, February 1st, 2008, CEA, inhabitat and other partners are sponsoring the first Greener Gadgets Conference at McGraw-Hill Conference Center in New York City. The intent of the conference is to bring visibility to designing for sustainability, product life cycle management, take-back and recycling programs, energy efficiency, greener materials, and green lifestyle and product marketing. The conference will also showcase a prototype green office and exhibits from leading green technology companies.

Engadget is giving away 5 tickets to the sold out conference. You can register here, but Engadget claims that they are going to verify that you can actually attend before giving away the tickets. So, make sure the date and place is doable before signing up. The deadline is this Sunday, the 27th.

Join me in signing up, we could all use a little more knowledge when it comes to going green.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

WiFi Everywhere?

According to an Ars Technica article today, American Airlines is adding WiFi Internet access to their transcontinental flights. This will be achieved by three antennas attached to the plane that receive the signal from nearly 100 cellular towers across the United States. The signal will then be evenly dispersed through the plane's cabin by access points installed on the cabin's ceiling. The service is expected to cost ticker holders $10.

This kind of news makes me feel warm all over. There is nothing more depressing than being unable to access the Internet when you're sitting around doing nothing. Although it has been years since I have regularly flown, I am very familiar with WiFi withdrawal. Now, if only Casco Bay Lines would get on the ball an install a similar service for commuters.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

WTT Epic Loot for Cold Cash

As the popularity and demand for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) continues to skyrocket, interesting niches have come about along with some interesting issues. One of the largest of these new niches is the abundance of auction houses and stores for purchasing virtual gear, gold, or leveled players. With this virtual economy come issues that spread beyond the game. Mainly cheats, exploits and phishing. But, as the new book Exploiting Online Games points out, players are going out of their way to covertly make money off of the game software itself. This is certainly nothing new, but it is getting to point of becoming serious as developers don't have he infrastructure in places to pick gamers that are using exploits or bots out of the crowd of millions. It appears that the infrastructure that allows gamers' PCs to connect to a persistent world hosted on a server is also the source of this conundrum.

For more information, read this Security Focus article.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Lit to Split

When I began this blog, I never considered addressing the audience with an aside. My intentions were to be as formal as possible while hopefully invoking some thoughts in the readers and providing interesting links to more information. Yet, lately I have been silent in my blogging and wanted to let the readers know I haven't given up.

Christmas was closely followed by finals for me which took away my free time. In my career as an amateur writer I have stuck closely to the idea of writing everyday for ten minutes. Even if it is the same word over and over again (what a great blog that would make), it is important to keep on writing. That was part of the point of LiTechSci; to write a little everyday and keeping it within my greatest interests to make that easier.

So, going forward I am going to try to stick to that mentality. But, in order to do that my posts are going to be briefer to help make the frequency more possible. My focus will be to bring up an interesting subject, give my take, and post links that give further information. Enjoy.