Archives for the month of: March, 2010
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Dimitar Kerin has a very promising career. Unfortunately, it's as a fake, online farmer and not as a city councilman anymore. Mr. Kerin's penchant for plowing his pixelated plantation has gotten him booted from the Plovdiv City Council in Bulgaria. It seems that he continued to farm away even after council members were warned not to use their city-issued laptops for games, even a game as boring as Farmville.**

So much for the argument that Farmville is stupid because there are no consequences… [Slashdot]

**Yes, I still play. No, I don't know why.

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Please go to the Wpromote blog and check out the latest edition of the Tues News: 3/30 (Google in Hot Water Edition), my weekly feature on current news in search marketing. Thanks!

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Today was the first day in court for Frank and Jamie McCourt, the owners of my Los Angeles Dodgers. As the season approaches and fans try to reconcile the proposition that the historic franchise will soon be reduced to a shadow of its former self as a result of these divorce proceedings, the bickering continues between the former power couple. How bad is it? Well, let’s put it this way, Jamie McCourt is insisting on alimony payments of $1 million/month. That’s more than Andre Ethier is getting and he hit 31 home runs last year! Jamie, to the best of my knowledge, hit zero home runs and spent the majority of her time cheating on her husband with her limo driver. I’m not here to assign blame, I just have to question California’s divorce laws which seem poised to ruin a team that means the world to so many Angelenos while, at the same time, reward a person who desecrated the sanctity of her marriage. Now, for all I know, Frank’s a big cheat too, and deserves what’s coming to him. No one can know for sure. It’s all quite tawdry and I feel a bit scummy for even commenting on it. One thing’s for certain, though: this won’t go well for the Dodgers or their fans. [NPR]

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I love Mint.com, it's one of the only things I link to permanently on my site. See? You can see it there to the right.

What most impresses me about Mint is that it's probably the best budgeting/personal finance software out there. On top of that, it's totally free! I recommend it to anyone I come in contact with who hasn't tried it. Most who do are immediately hooked. It turns keeping track of your finances into an obsession, in a good way! Most of us could stand to be more observant of the comings and goings of our cash.

The biggest concern using a service like Mint is that you are putting a bevy of very private information in one place and trusting a faceless company not to misuse it. These are usernames, passwords, stats and figures that you probably wouldn't give to your sister or brother but are giving to Mint! When you think about that, it seems like a huge risk and–don't kid yourself–it is. The only reason that I trust Mint with my info is because it would be disastrous for them if my information were ever compromised. I'm not sure that that's good critical thinking on my part but I enjoy the service so much that I'm willing to take on the risk.

Then, Mint pulls stuff like this. Basically, they take their user data and compile it into an aggregate to make a cool infographic that generates traffic and publicity for them. As a piece of linkbait, this is great, however, it also reminds me how much trust I'm putting into Mint. What are they doing with my data over there? Well, making linkbait, for starters. So far, I'm not that worried; I just wonder if Mint takes into account how nervous they make their users when they display information like this publicly when they are creating an infographic like this in an effort to drum up interest.

There are two sides to every coin and, right now, Mint is seeing both sides of all my coins. So please, Mint, be careful with my data. Don't let today's infographic turn into tomorrow's sharing-my-info-with-the-IRS. Not that I have anything to hide, of course… [Mint.com]

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Please go to the Wpromote blog and check out the latest edition of the Tues News: 3/23 (Them’s Fightin’ Words Edition), my weekly feature on current news in search marketing. Thanks!

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Over the past couple of weeks, scientists have basically claimed that the decades old questions of what killed the dinosaurs and what led to their original rise to power have been solved, at least, superficially.

The short answer is that dinosaurs were killed by an asteroid and rose to power via volcanic activity.

Whenever scientists say that they are “sure” of anything, take it with a grain of salt. It’s true that the major events that impacted the rise and fall of the age of dinosaurs were intense volcanism and the collision of Earth with a giant space rock, respectively, but that doesn’t mean that we now know everything. If that’s confusing, just think about how much we know about gravity. We know that gravity is real and that it makes apples hit the ground once they’ve fallen from their branches, however, what we don’t know about gravity literally could fill the universe. It does, really: we still don’t know much about intergalactic gravitation! So, when scientists say that an asteroid killed the dinosaurs or that volcanism helped bring them to power, take it to mean about as much as “gravity makes apples fall downward.” In my opinion, there is still a lot more to the mystery of dinosaurs and that’s one of the reasons that dinosaurs are so interesting!

As a non-scientist who happens to find science interesting, something that seems very intriguing about the rise and fall of the dinosaurs is the inverse effects that the extinction events had on crocodilian animals. To very poorly sum up the articles I linked to above, they cover three major extinction events:

1. The asteroid impact of the Triassic

2. The volcanism caused by the splitting of Pangaea that represented the shift from the Triassic into the Jurassic

3. The asteroid impact that ended the Cretaceous

If you were to draw a graph representing how dinosaurs and crocodiles fared through these three events, it wouldn’t look like this but it will because I lack graphic design skills:

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As you can see, crocodilians love asteroids and dinosaurs hate ’em! On the flip side, the volcanism that led to the dinosaurs came at the expense of the dominance of crocodilians. The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs didn’t have nearly such a drastic effect on crocs. So, scientists may believe that they “know” these things to be true but the question is still “why?” Why is it that despite being thought to physiologically very similar in many ways, dinos and crocs took such different paths after extinction-level events? That’s the real mystery. [Wired.com, Discovery]

PS: I should note that my graph is not only terrible but also inaccurate in a couple of ways. For example, it sort of implies that crocs were nowhere during the age of dinosaurs but they were, just not to the extent that dinos were. It also sort of implies that crocs took over the planet once dinos went extinct whereas any decent evolutionary biologist knows that Earth was inherited by rats that evolved into woolly mammoths that evolved into monkeys that evolved into humans, duh! Sorry if my crappy graph obscured this truism.

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Poor Barry Allen. First, DC gave him a silly looking costume, then Apple excludes him from the iPad. [Gizmodo]

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"I have the power! Aye, the quickening that empowers me! I feel everything! I know… I know everything! I am everything!:" –Connor MacLeod

I'm just assuming that if immortal jellyfish could speak, they'd constantly be quoting The Highlander.

This jellyfish, called turritopsis nutricula, has the ability to grow old and then Benjamin Button itself back to youth and then back again. It does this, maybe, forever. So, the next time you're worried about what's becoming of health care in the United States, just schedule a trip to the Carribean and try to steal the jellies power by lopping off its top part with a Scottish claymore. By my calculations, that could make you immortal. [Yahoo Green]

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I’m not sure why this seems to make sense but it just does. I mean, maybe you could just choose any dog breed and any typeface and it would work; maybe it wouldn’t. I’m just a little bummed that there were no beagles included. That’s why I did my own! See below and let me know if you think it worked. [Neatorama]

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Full disclosure, this handsome lad is not my Bixby.

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Please go to the Wpromote blog and check out the latest edition of the Tues News: 3/16 (Twitter in Transition Edition), my weekly feature on current news in search marketing. Thanks!