Tuesday, October 30, 2012

10 Geek Skills to Master

The following is taken from ITWorld

Hey, you never know when you're gonna find yourself locked out of an important drawer, room, or box of magical secrets. While I certainly don't endorse breaking and entering, there are plenty of times when lock-picking could have legitimate personal value.

So what's the trick? Ultimately, it depends on what kind of lock you're eyeing. For typical home and office locks, all you need is a little practice and a lot of patience (and also a few special tools). Check out this in-depth guide at WikiHow to check the skill off your list. If you need to see to believe (or understand), this video can help:

But what if you forgot the combination to your gym locker? Fear not; you can get back to your stinky socks and rancid tank top in no time. Practice these steps in advance, and you'll be able to crack the Master Lock combo like a pro -- even while wearing nothing but a carefully placed towel.

Finally, for cars locks, things are a bit different; you'll need to learn a skill known as bumping to break into your vehicle without breaking the glass. Save this link to your to-do list -- and stay the hell away from my ride.

Be a human compass

Sure, you've got your smartphone and its fancy-schmancy GPS sorcery, but a true geek doesn't need Google to tell which way's which.

If you wear an analog watch, getting oriented during the day is a piece of cake: To figure out which way is south, just point your watch's hour hand at the sun. The halfway point between the hand and the 12 is the direction ye seek.

But what if you're watchless or in the dark? Good news, MacGyver: It turns out Mother Nature provides plenty of clues to help you find your way. Watch this video and watch your geek quotient go up.

(When it comes time to find the nearest Whataburger, you may still need your smartphone. The sun and stars can only do so much.)

Beat a lie detector

If George Costanza could do it, damn it, so can you. Strictly in the name of science, of course (or maybe hiding a secret obsession with Melrose Place).

The key to outsmarting a polygraph, according to the outstanding citizens who specialize in such matters, is understanding what the machine is actually measuring: your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. If you can keep those factors constant from the control questions (the easy ones used to establish your normal baseline reaction) to the potentially incriminating queries, you'll be in the clear -- and that's no fabrication.

You might think that the trick lies in learning to decrease your response to the stressful questions, but no: Polygraph professionals say the more important skill is being able to increase your response to the easy ones. When you hear a control question, you want to make your body freak out a bit -- by biting your tongue, for example, or, erm, flexing certain interior posterior muscles -- in order to skew the baseline measurements and throw everything out of whack.

Install a new hard drive

Old drive dying? Just need more space? Almost every computer user has run into some sort of hard drive crisis at some point. But with the right know-how, you don't need to run to the local Geek Squad (or Nerd Herd, even) every time a drive-related issue arises.

Installing a new hard drive is actually quite simple. And once you know how to do it, you'll wonder why you didn't learn sooner. Take a few minutes now and familiarize yourself with the basics, as shown in this video. Rest assured: The day will come when you'll be glad you did.

Laptops are slightly trickier to deal with than desktops, but they're still perfectly doable. Try Googling your specific laptop manufacturer and model to figure out where its drive is located and how to best access it, then move forward from there.

Securely wipe your data

Speaking of storage, when you want to get rid of certain data for good -- really get rid of it, so it can never be recovered by anyone -- a regular ol' system delete isn't enough.

What you need to do is securely wipe your drive, and the proper method is something every geek worth her salt should know. If that knowledge isn't already in your noggin, now's your chance to learn it; see these simple guides for PCs and Macs and prepare to celebrate your newfound skill set.

Break out of handcuffs

No true geek can be held by these

Source: Txspiked/Flickr

I'm not gonna ask why you're stuck in handcuffs in the first place -- hey, what you do in your personal time is your own private business -- but if/when the occasion comes that you need a key-free escape, a little extreme geek-knowledge will go a long way.

So go ahead: Learn the basics and research it even further if you want. Think of it as a liberating academic exercise; I promise I won't tell.

Get around Web content restrictions

Web content filters don't have to be full-stops in your Internet browsing adventures. With an arsenal of geek knowledge at your fingertips, a blocked website -- at a public computer in a library, school, or workplace, for instance -- will be little more than a minor speed bump in your path.

There are several ways to get around content restrictions. The simplest is to use a proxy server to bypass the filter altogether; you can find a user-friendly list of free and available proxies at the aptly named Proxy.org.

If you really want to get serious, you can look into virtual private networks (VPNs) or DNS redirectors. Just remember: If content is being blocked, that probably means the owner of your network doesn't want you looking at it and -- go figure -- may become quite cross if he discovers that you're breaking the rules.

A true geek's phone

Source: patrick h. lauke/Flickr

In other words, proceed at your own risk, homie -- and for the love of children, make sure your computer's volume is turned down.

Root an Android phone

As a platform, Android is like a candy store for geeks: It's chock-full of options for customization and just begging to be tweaked and modified.

There's plenty you can do with the platform as it ships, but if you really want to get down and dirty, rooting is the path to explore. Rooting an Android phone gives you access to administrator-level permissions, which in turn allows you to do all sorts of fun stuff to your device. Most notably, you can install a custom ROM -- a whole new version of the operating system created by third-party enthusiasts and typically jam-packed with advanced capabilities and extra features.

Rooting isn't for the faint of heart (and it might void your manufacturer's warranty -- be sure to read the fine print before making the leap). For a geek, though, it's an experience worth having at least once.

You can find ample resources for rooting most popular phones; if it's something you're ready to pursue, start by Googling "root" along with your phone's name, and it shouldn't take you long to get going.

Get around your computer using nothing but a keyboard

Hotkeys are tremendous time-savers (and great ways to blow the minds of nongeeks, too). Learn the hotkeys built into your OS of choice, then take things a step further and learn app-specific hotkeys for the programs you use the most.

If you really want to get geeky, grab Autohotkey, a free program for Windows users. It lets you set up custom hotkeys for practically any function imaginable.

So long, mousey.

7 days using only keyboard shortcuts: No mouse, no trackpad, no problem?

Set up a home entertainment system

This video provides some background for a simple home entertainment setup:

But in practice, you'll probably be connecting various disparate systems together. If you can start from scratch, figure out what cables you need, and get everything running in under an hour with minimal cursing, congratulations: You are officially geek-certified.

You are also officially going to be getting tech support calls from the rest of your family for the rest of your life -- and that, my friends, is the surest sign of solid geekdom.

__Source: ITWorld

The difference between someone who is dangerous, and someone who is helpless, is that the dangerous person has mastered more skills of a profound nature.

Some of the skills listed above are also taught in The Dangerous Child Method of education and child-rearing. Remember: It is never too late to have a dangerous childhood.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Welcome to Stockton, California: Prepare to Die

Like many other California cities, the cost of pensions, pay, and benefit packages is bankrupting Stockton, California. The city cannot afford to hire new police officers, because all the money is going to pay for the pensions and benefits of old police officers and other municipal employees -- current and retired.

Murder, rape, and robbery are becoming the new normal in Stockton, something of a preview of coming attraction to other Calfornia cities who find themselves in the same fiscal boat.

In Stockton, California, which declared bankruptcy earlier this year, your chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime such as murder, rape, robbery or assault are 1 in 70, which is nearly four times higher than the national average.

Your chances of being the victim of a property crime are even more likely, with 1 in every 17 residents of the city facing the prospect of having their house broken into or car stolen this year.

This is what happens when a city, county, state or federal government can no longer pay its bills and is forced to lay off workers. In the case of Stockton, the city has cut tens of millions of dollars from their budget, mostly targeting law enforcement and other essential services. _Stockton's Woe
In fact, in cities across the "blue zone" of the US, municipal workers' unions have enough power to bankrupt cities, and force the same type of hardship on their citizens.

Detroit, Michigan, is the true forerunner of municipal decay. And as you might guess, the municipal workers' unions of Detroit stand front and centre to blame for the downfall of motown, motor city.

What we are seeing is the doom of cities -- from Obama's Chicago to Detroit to inner city Philadelphia. Murders, flash mobs, out of control gang violence, and fat cat wealthy unions able to control elections and determine who gets elected to oversee their contracts.

Government officials on all levels are stuck. They are overloaded with debt and have no more money to spend. The only option is to start cutting services like law enforcement, emergency medical response, public food and homelessness support, and other social services like rental assistance. The effect of this collapse of government services is rising crime across the entire spectrum of criminal activity including murder, theft and organized attacks like flash mobs. This is more than likely coming to a town near you in short order, no matter where in the United States you live. _shtfplan
The comments following the article linked above are also interesting.

Private citizens are being forced to come together to form citizen's vigilance groups, militias, and armed neighborhood watch posses. This is what comes from the US electing a president who is viscerally antagonistic to the private economic sector and the non-governmental economy.

If Obama is re-elected, expect the situation to grow even worse. Much worse.

A newbies' guide to UAVs -- fly your own security drone to monitor the mean streets around your gated community.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Novel Anti-Zombie Shelter Ideal for Deserts and Polar Regions

The novel anti-zombie shelter pictured below incorporates a number of features which should help protect you and your loved ones in the event of a zombie apocalypse.
The staircase retracts -- much like a drawbridge -- whenever zombies approach across the sand or ice. In addition, if zombies somehow make their way inside, the individual segments can rotate. This allows you to trap and isolate zombies inside particular segments. The rotating segments can also confuse zombies into thinking they are going the wrong way, causing them to reverse directions until exhauste, finally falling through special trap doors to the icy sands below.

Although not well portrayed in the image, the leg supports are capable of moving independently -- like the legs of a millipede -- propelling you and your shelter across the arid sands from oasis to oasis. The shelter is easily able to outpace a shambling zombie horde, as long as its energy packs are kept charged.

Finally, the shelter is able to safely submerge itself, hidden under sand, ice, earth, or water -- in the event of a mega-zombie outbreak.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Swiss Survivors Huddle In Hobbit Holes to Escape Zombies

They said that Switzerland would be the last nation on Earth to fall to the zombie apocalypse. They said that because of the natural geographic boundaries that separate the Swiss from everyone else. But little by little, zombies have been seen infiltrating the mountain redoubt, causing Swiss survivalist to devise a fallback plan: Hobbit Hole housing.
The Earth Houses are so called because they're designed to reside within their environment, blending into the natural contours of the land rather than merely set down on top of it. They're also covered with clumps of earth, which makes a lot of sense in terms of insulation, though such a design will clearly not fit in with everybody's aesthetic sensibilities.

Because of the way the houses are built into the land, no one would spot the estate who wasn't actively looking for it.

The plot of land the Earth Houses are built on covers 4,000 square meters (43,055 sq ft), with each individual house covering between 60 meters squared (646 sq ft) and 200 meters squared (2,153 sq ft). There are three houses consisting of three rooms, one house of four rooms, one of five rooms, three of six rooms, and one of seven rooms. _Gizmag
The zombie-escape houses are surrounded by conventional houses, which are likely to attract zombies by their very conventionality. While their neighbors are being eaten by the horde, the survivors can hide out in relative comfort, waiting for the zombie masses to move on to more obvious targets.

Should any zombies stumble across the survivalist hidey holes by mistake, they are likely to stumble straightaway into the central pond -- where their loud thrashing about in the water will attract the attention of survivors. A quick double tap to the head should eliminate the immediate problem, and prevent the zombie's loud struggles from attracting others of its kind.

Finally, the dispatched zombie will be dried and ground into powder, to be used as zombie repellant. The repellant is liberally poured around the perimeter of the surival estate -- well away from the residences. This ring of protection is replenished after every heavy rain or snowfall.

A few additional projects -- such as a deep moat filled with zombie-eating sharks, and a 20 foot tall solid wall topped by a high voltage electrified fence -- should provide additional protection.

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