Having A Unique Name Helps

I’ve been on a gene­a­lo­gical search for, what I reckon must be over six years now, inform­a­tion on my paternal grandfather.

My search has spanned the globe, via phone calls, the Inter­net, let­ters, flights and via all man­ner of friendly & help­ful folk, both offi­cial and unofficial.

I’ve had reli­gious organ­isa­tions help­ing me, the inter­na­tional Red Cross, mul­tiple national archives and records agen­cies assist­ing me.

I’ve tracked down towns through old pho­to­graphs, fol­low the faintest rumours from Africa to Europe and invest­ig­ated hunches, no mat­ter how small or obscure.

The trail’s altern­ated between hope­ful & warm to point­less & lifeless.

In six years I’ve learnt very little, and got­ten almost nowhere with my goal of obtain­ing my EU pass­port, but I have learnt one thing…

It really helps if you have an oddball surname!

As frus­trat­ing as it’s been for me, I can only ima­gine what gene­a­lo­gical enthu­si­asts go through when hunt­ing for someone with a name such as John Smith.

Enter name to search for: John Smith
Computing: [ ////////// ]
Output: "Mate, you're F*cked!"


Karaoke for Geeks

We’ve all been bored at some stage. We’ve all been REALLY bored at some stage.

I doubt any of you have ever been bored  enough to sit down and con­clude that what the world needs is a web­site filled with user-submitted videos of them­selves mim­icing modem hand­shakes (the sound your old modem made when dial­ing up to the ISP).


In true new school fash­ion how­ever, you can now sign up to the Face­book Page* and the Twit­ter feed*.

* Both were defunct at the time of writ­ing this although they are lis­ted on the site.

Feel­ing challenged?

Sub­mit your Bleeoo!!

Source: Pre­sur­fer

Do your Ethics Match your Morals?

Yes­ter­day I came across an online ad’ list­ing a copy of Mein Kampf for sale.

The seller described the book as a gift given to his grand­par­ents, per­haps ques­tion­ingly, as a wed­ding gift.

This got me think­ing… We’ll use the ubi­quit­ous and pro­voca­tional Nazi regime as our primary example here…

Much of the pre­ju­dice exper­i­enced in our life­time, a lot of it has been bred into it over gen­er­a­tions. This is the reason young people nowadays will, without flinch­ing, without thought and without fore­thought yell and lobby against any semb­lance of ration declar­ing an oppos­ing, altern­at­ive or open-ended view upon the Nazi regime.

Any­one want­ing to exam­ine the regime and its pre and post his­tory, its tac­tics and strategies or its ide­lo­gies is doomed from the start due to the over­whelm­ing wave of ignor­ant naysayers.

blah, blah, blah NAZI blah, blah, blah.” “ACK! NAZI! BAD, BADBAD!”

I’m fairly cer­tain most of you read­ing this (many less than than those who star­ted read­ing this; point in case) are already con­vinced I’m a Nazi and worthy of abol­ish­ment to some­where fiery.

So we’ve estab­lished that we’re deal­ing with a heated topic here, and that the gen­eral pop­u­lous is largely spew­ing place­boic vit­riol in response.

This begs the ques­tion: Can you eth­ic­ally make money out of some­thing you mor­ally oppose?

Nazi ‘col­lect­ibles’ (it’s not mem­or­ab­ilia!) are a huge global busi­ness with many thou­sands of col­lect­ors, all in vary­ing degrees.

Some, no doubt, are (per­son­ally and men­tally at least) fol­low­ers of the ori­ginal regime’s policies (Neo Nazis are some­thing else), some are gen­eral ‘war’ col­lect­ors, a por­tion are his­tory buffs and some are simply traders.

I would wager how­ever, that a size­able con­tin­gent of the above do not sup­port the Nazi regime. Whether that is as a res­ult of (hope­fully unbiased) edu­ca­tion lead­ing to that con­clu­sion or the gen­eral sub­ject­ive ignor­ance is another debate.

If you do not sup­port the Nazi regime, is it right­eous to trade and live off of the rem­nants of it?

If you need some other examples, think of Che Guevara’s image — prom­in­ently dis­played on everything from build­ings to T-shirts, from photo’ form to Andy War­hol–esque style.

Cam­ou­flage design cloth­ing when you are the first to protest against war?

Trad­ing in goods related to a film based on the his­tory of con­flict and human/human-inflicted animal suffering?

If you’re guilty of any of these, I’ve got news for you…


Don’t be evil — Be Anonymous

When you search Google,

and click on a link,

your search term is sent to that site,

along with your browser & com­puter info,

which can often uniquely identify you.

That’s creepy, but who cares about some ran­dom site?

Those sites usu­ally have third-party ads,

and those third-parties build pro­files about you,

and that’s why those ads fol­low you everywhere.

That’s creepy too, but who cares about some herpes ads?

Your pro­file can also be sold,

and poten­tially show up in unwanted places,

like insur­ance, credit & back­ground checks.

But there’s more.

Remem­ber your searches?

Google also saves them.

Your saved searches can be leg­ally requested,

and then come back to bite you (hap­pens).

Or a bad Google employee could go snoop­ing (hap­pens).

Or Google could get hacked (hap­pens).

That’s why we don’t send your searches to other sites.

Or store any per­sonal inform­a­tion at all.

That’s our [DDG] pri­vacy policy in a nutshell.

So don’t get tracked when searching.

Use Duck­DuckGo instead.

Pri­vacy is just one of many reas­ons why it’s awesome.

That li’l excerpt is from Don’TrackUs, a promo’ site for the Duck­DuckGo search engine. If you weren’t aware of how these things work and thought that Googling and ‘Lik­ing’ all and sun­dry was good fun, I hope your eyes are a little wider now? 😉

At what stage does ‘Don’t be evil’ become being evil? I wonder…

DDG has a fant­astic approach to ‘clean’ search with an easy-to-read and detailed explan­a­tion of what’s on offer, why you need it and what it’s pro­tect­ing you from.

Stay­ing mostly anonym­ous requires a hol­istic approach though, so be sure to check out the neat-o Fire­fox add-ons on the DNT site and think before you click.


Green Art: Binh Danh

Binh Danh received his MFA from Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity in 2004 and has emerged as an artist of national import­ance with work that invest­ig­ates his Viet­namese her­it­age and our col­lect­ive memory of war, both in Viet Nam and Cambodia—work that, in his own words, deals with “mor­tal­ity, memory, his­tory, land­scape, justice, evid­ence, and spir­itu­al­ity.” His tech­nique incor­por­ates his inven­tion of the chloro­phyll print­ing pro­cess, in which pho­to­graphic images appear embed­ded in leaves through the action of pho­to­syn­thesis. His newer body of work focuses on the Daguerreotype process.

Binh Danh has been included in import­ant exhib­i­tions at museums across the coun­try, as well as the col­lec­tions of the Corcoran Art Gal­lery, The Phil­adelphia Museum of Art, the deYoung Museum, and the George East­man House, among many oth­ers. He received the 2010 Eureka Fel­low­ship from the Fleish­hacker Found­a­tion and is rep­res­en­ted by Haines Gal­lery in San Fran­cisco, CA and Lisa Sette Gal­lery in Scott­s­dale, AZ.

For those of you want the short and lay­man ver­sion, Binh has suc­ceeded in cre­at­ing picture-perfect art­works using flora as his substrate.

Photo neg­at­ives and the sub­strate are com­bined and left to develop in the sun over a num­ber of days.

Due to the tex­ture of the flora, an aver­age of four out of every five developed prints are dis­carded due to imperfections.

A num­ber of Binh’s prints have been pre­served in resin.

Now that’s push­ing art to the next level.

Visit Binh’s web­site at binhdanh.com

You can find his exhib­i­tion his­tory here.

The Grathio Gadgets

The title to this post could just as eas­ily have have been ‘Awe­some Gad­gets You Never Knew You Needed’.

Steve Hoe­fer is the epi­tome of a gad­get freak. The dif­fer­ence though, is that he cre­ates his own gad­gets — and often comes up with unusual solu­tions to passed-over prob­lems in the process.

Based in San Fran­cisco, Steve describes him­self as an “inventor and cre­at­ive prob­lem solver “.

In real­ity, that means he spends his time tinker­ing with all man­ner of inter­est­ing tech­no­logy, from game pro­gram­ming to cir­cuit board wiz­ardry and gen­eral tech’ fabrication.

You can get the full story on Gra­thio and Steve here.

Here are some of Steve’s fant­astic cre­ations and solutions:

1. The Book Light

* Make your own! Instruc­tions here.

2. Secret Knock Detect­ing Lock

* Make your own! Instruc­tions here.

3. Touch Screen Glove Mod’

This 5 minute hack solves a prob­lem of mod­ern elec­tron­ics: capa­cit­ive touch screens (like in the iPhone, iPad, and oth­ers) don’t work well with gloves. By simply sew­ing through the fin­ger­tip a few times with con­duct­ive thread you give the screen enough capa­cit­ance to detect your touch without hav­ing to take off your gloves.  (Or without hav­ing to use your nose, like I was doing when I got the inspir­a­tion for this mod.)  The con­duct­ive thread is great because it’s not unpleas­ant to touch, it won’t scratch the screen, and it’s non destruct­ive to most gloves.

This idea was so pop­u­lar that sev­eral mer­chants con­tac­ted me to let me know it was respons­ible for a spike in con­duct­ive thread sales and at least one opened up a new product line of con­duct­ive thread samplers for pro­jects just like this.

* Make your own! Instruc­tions here.