Friday, December 23, 2005

Computing on Two Feet - Robots Arrive

Many of us have seen the little iRobot vacuum (it now has a brother that will wash your floor, see here ) but neither of these useful gadget robots look very human in form, nothing like the robots we've come to love (or hate) in the movies. Most of what we've seen there, however, is fiction, someone's imagination showing what the future might hold. Well, the future is a lot closer than you think. Honda has introduced a new generation of its humanoid robot Asimo (named for the famous science fiction writer Isaac Asimov). Take a look at the December 2005 clip labeled "Press Conference" toward the middle of the page you will find here.

NOTE - When you go to the above site and click on the Press Conference link, wait till the film clip view screen appears then find the pause button below it (two vertical bars) and click on it. Wait until the progress bar fills all the way to the right and then click the pause control again to start the movie. You will be amazed!

But wait, you say, robots may be able to get around on two legs like us now, but they can't really think, can they? They aren't "self aware" are they? Check out this article.

The future is closer than you think.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Avoiding Spam When You Can

Do you hate junk eMails (Spam)? Do you ever wonder how the spammers get your eMail address? Here are some clues:

  • You go to one of the free sites on the Web that will send an electronic greeting card for FREE. To send it, you obviously give them the eMail address of the person(s) you want to send it to. They will also ask for your eMail address. Guess who you have just given those eMail address to.... drum roll please..... a company that collects verified, bona fide, currently working eMail addresses and sells them to Spammers! So you thought it was free, did you. If it sounds too good to be true....

  • Someone forwards you a Really Great Joke. Its so funny that you immediatly click "Forward" and fill in the names of many of the folks in your personal address book. Guess who found/wrote the joke and put it initially on the 'net.... you guessed it, the same folks who run the "free" greeting card site (or their first cousins). Many folks, when forwarding something like this, list all their friends on the "To:" address line. As a result, all of the eMail addresses that you send it to have ALL OF THE ADDRESSES YOU SENT IT TO listed! The spammers then sit back and have their computers locate this kind of forward circulating on the 'net. When they find it, they "harvest" the eMail addresses it has collected from all the folks who have forwarded. But wait, you REALLY like to send some of these jokes to your friends, right? You can avoid some of the trouble by addressing each of your friends on the Blind Carbon Copy (Bcc) line instead of the To: line. If you send them this way, then each copy has only the address of the single individual it went to.
Now, how about some reader input. If you have some additional information about keeping your eMail address out of the hands of the spammers, please step up and add it as a comment (see below) to this blog entry. Thanks for sharing!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Getting to a Human on the 800 Line!

Here's a little extension to the "What Can I Do With This Computer" theme: Here's an Information Access coup if I ever saw one: Have you ever been frustrated by a company's 800 line because you need to talk to a human and just can't break through? Here's a link to a list of corporate and government 800 numbers and the "seceret code" you need to break through to a human:

NOTE: The list can be used by printing it off and leaving it near the phone BUT since it is activly being updated it can be more useful if you check it online. If you use it online, you will see the new updates AND you can use the many hotlinks in the list. As an example, scroll down to PayPal and click on the hotlink. My computer is never turned off; instant access to information like this is one of the many reasons why.

Here's another link, to an article in Network World about the above list: