11.30.2005 | Thinking about a new PC this Christmas?

This year there's no way to go but Apple, at least if you believe the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg. Not only does Apple's Tiger operating system already have the features that Microsoft is promising for Windows next year, but it is more secure, easier to use, better integrated, and all-around hassle-free. These are all the same reasons I got my Powerbook earlier this summer. And combined with Apple's student discounts of up to $200, Apple can be the affordable choice for even the most budget-minded student.

But Tiger isn't just better because it's more secure. It has one feature in particular that Windows just doesn't have, and may not even have in its next version, due out this time this year. It's called Exposé, and it allows you to see all the windows you have open within any one program, or in all programs at once. And as this Apple pro tip of the week shows you, you can even use the feature while videos are playing, and the videos will continue to play.

No other computer offers this robust set of features, and none is as much of a joy to use. I will continue to be glad I got an Apple at least until the end of 2006, and possibly beyond. You should consider getting one too.

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The real-life 'Day After Tomorrow'

For those of you who didn't see the 2004 movie, The Day After Tomorrow is a dramatic fictional account of what might happen if global warming causes the Gulf Stream current, which carries warm water from the Gulf of Mexico to the North Atlantic, ever to fail. In such a scenario, the world enters a second ice age because the warm water that had kept the North Atlantic climate moderate gives way to the cold arctic. Some have dismissed the notion as science fiction, and it may be, but scientists have now found that the waters of the Gulf Stream current have slowed by about 30 percent, leading us down a path of unknown consequences. (And yes, this is due to global warming that is happening, but the Bush administration continues to refuse to do anything about.)

Critics have said that average temperatures in Europe have gone up, but the increase can be attributed to overall global warming due to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the UK, whose climate is most directly affected by the Gulf Stream, has just had an unseasonably cold winter. The misnomer of "global warming" makes people forget that climate change can cause not just warmer average temperatures, but greater extremes between the temperatures. As the average temperature increases, the extremes will increase as well.

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The end of Blackberry?

It just doesn't seem fair. While NTP certainly deserves damages for Blackberry's alleged infringement, it just doesn't seem fair that millions of customers will have to suffer as the result of enforcement of patent law. Many other cases have been settled out of court. Even in this case, where a punishment must be rendered, why not levy Blackberry with a fine or force it to pay royalties to the patent holder?

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11.29.2005 | Best Firefox promotion ever

Found this in a Google image search. The caption says: "Firefox is the free web browser that offers greater privacy and prevents pop-ups, spyware and viruses."

The Web can be a dangerous place. Be careful out there.

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Firefox 1.5 unleashed

New browser, new Web site. Mozilla.com officially launched today, the online home of the newly formed Mozilla Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the non-profit foundation that first spawned its namesake browsing suite and now the browser that goes by the Firefox name. Key to Firefox's success has been its corporate branding, and with today's launch of Mozilla.com the open-source organization takes it a step further by making themselves more accessible to the public with a dot-com address. Go them.

Meanwhile, you should really download the latest version of the Mozilla Firefox browser. It's faster and better than ever, with built-in support for some surprising features, all with still under a 5 MB download for Windows users. If you're still using IE, which still goes basically unchanged since 2000, it's time to try something new.

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Tropical Storm Epsilon

Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta... Epsilon. We are now up to the 26th named storm on record this season, still the busiest ever since the naming conventions had to switch to Greek letters for the pure reason we ran out of names. That, and it's 70 degrees outside right now a couple of days before December. If this isn't global warming I'd like to know what is.

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11.28.2005 | GOP's culture of corruption: latest dispatch

A Republican congressman from California has "resigned in disgrace" after admitting to accepting $2.4 million in bribes to influence Congress in favor of certain defense contractors. In addition to recalling President Eisenhower's warnings about the military-industrial complex, it's just another in a long line of GOP scandals that have emerged from the party's misplaced sense of self-confidence and, in some cases, outright arrogance.

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It's beautiful outside

It's cloudy and overcast, but I can't help but notice the beauty of the individually formed clouds of different shades of gray as they drift by my window. The sun must be partially out, since the bottoms of the clouds appear gray as they fade up to white towards the top.

I'm sitting here in a lounge area of the VCU Student Commons, and someone is playing the piano next door. It's nice to be able to sit here and relax for a bit. I've also had some time to catch up on my Internet presence at Spread Firefox and elsewhere. It helps me remember what being online is all about: connecting with other people. And I get to enjoy a view of nature and the sound of music to boot. I just wish I had a digital camera to share the experience.

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11.24.2005 | Fun



If this doesn't make you dance, laugh and/or smile at at least one point in the video, then I don't know what will (RealPlayer required).

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11.23.2005 | I'm allergic to Global Warming

We all could be in the next few decades if current trends continue – this Space.com/LiveScience article explains why.

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11.22.2005 | Lugz to Apple: 'Cease and Desist'

Seen that new Apple ad with Eminem lately? It might have looked familiar for a reason:

Lugz (2002)Apple (2005)

Plagiarism? You be the judge. I love Apple, but it does seem like their ad agency used the Lugz commercial as a jumping off point for theirs. I remember the ad seemed familiar when I saw it, but I couldn't quite place it. This definitely explains it. But then again, who's going to confuse an iPod ad with an ad for shoes? Apple's ad clearly follows the silhouette covnention used in previous ads, and there enough differences that copyright may not be an issue. Still, it shows that when people use ideas they should try to ask permission first.

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11.21.2005 | Songs stuck in my head right now

Hung Up
Madonna
Confessions on a Dance Floor

Excerpt:
Every little thing that you say or do
I'm hung up, I'm hung up on you
Waiting for your call, baby, night and day
I'm fed up, I'm tired of waiting on you


Romeo
Basement Jaxx
Rooty

Excerpt:
You keep on givin' me the hold up
You know I wish you'd make your mind up
'Cause when we're gettin' on it's so-so
You used to be my Romeo

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New major

So as it turns out, I've been taking so many upper-level French classes to get my minor (you don't benefit from placing further ahead early on, as I did with my Grade 4 AP transfer credit) that after this year I'm only 9 credits away from a degree in French. That means if I took all French courses next semester, I could graduate a full year early (wow). So instead of spending time on internships and becoming a news reporter for two semesters (which means I'd have to give up my position writing opinions at the school paper), I'm going to switch majors and just finish up my French degree. I still intend to double major, but I'm switching the concentration of my international studies portion from Western European studies to international relations. As it turns out, area studies focuses on anthropoly, a subject I know very little about, whereas intl. rel. will let me take all the politics-related classes I desire, and with a world focus to boot.

I don't know how I feel about being a French major. I never wanted to be one, and I don't know what I would do with a French degree. I had always wanted a degree that gave me credit for being able to write, along with a touch of design experience. I've gotten all this from working on my school paper, but I don't know if it would be enough for a prospective employer if, say, I wanted to design their company newsletter. Or as one opening at the American Red Cross offered, to become speechwriter for the organization's president.

But as much as I want to get a degree that gives me credit for writing, I feel that journalism is too much "do" and not enough study. An English degree on the other hand, at least at VCU, requires too much reading. I'm more interested in the mechanics of lanugage – the grammar, the usage... the subjunctive mood. So maybe a French degree is more appropriate after all in that it reflects my interest in linguistics in general. Still, I'm not happy about all the anti-French sentiment out there since the Iraq war. But then again, most people now believe Iraq was a mistake anyway (but will they ever forgive the French?). No matter, if no one likes a French degree here in the U.S., who knows? I might actually be able to use it in France...

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