dorm room stereo - my dad's dorm room in the early 80s

While an expensive stereo system will give you quality sound, not many students can afford the high price tags.

After all, setting up a dorm requires spending hundreds on shelving, a laptop, bedding, new clothes and maybe even a fancy new Casper mattress – depending on the hall.

But just because your stereo is on the bottom of your priority list, a limited budget doesn’t mean your dorm room should remain dull and boring.

There are several brands of stereo speakers that are super-affordable and will deliver exceptionally great sound quality.

Here are four that you should seriously consider. Read More →

funko pop star wars figure xmas gift

10 Awesome Christmas Gifts for the Nerd in your Life

Everyone’s got an inner nerd somewhere deep in themselves. Trying to find a gift for a nerd that perhaps shows his colors a little more on the surface than you, can be challenge. Trying to find the best Christmas gifts for geeks isn’t a difficult task though if you know where to look. This list of items are all available through Amazon and are all worth of geeking out over. Check it out. Read More →

DJI Phantom 3 Professional on ground outside

The consumer drone industry has come so far in such a short amount of time.

As governments try to grapple with the fast growing number of non-military UAVs, the competition between consumer drone manufacturers is intensifying.  Venture capital is pouring into new drone startups by the billions.

As different brands and models try their best to outdo each other, one particular model has emerged as an industry leader: the DJI Phantom 3 Professional.

DJI Phantom 3 Professional and controller

The Phantom 3 Professional (more detailed review + photos here) is in many ways a statement on where the future of drones is going.

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paternity court tv

The Rise of Direct-to-Consumer DNA Tests

While new scientific discoveries are made all the time, not many of them manage to find their way into the consumer market as quickly as DNA testing has.

Since scientists finished mapping the human genome and identifying specific genetic markers for heritable traits, a whole industry has exploded onto the scene to sell the technology directly to consumers.

In this article, I explain some of the reasons why this has been possible and some of the consumer applications of DNA testing.

Traditionally, one had to go to a medical professional in a hospital or clinic to get a DNA test done. In direct to consumer (DTC) DNA testing however, a person can completely bypass a medical professional and access DNA testing directly.

The biggest factor behind the rise of this phenomenon has been the rapid advancement of analytics technology in genetics. Today, a DNA test can reveal far more than it did a few years ago.

For example, DNA testing can show the genetic predisposition of an individual towards certain health conditions such as cancer. By taking a genetic test, I can also tell if I am at a higher risk of getting a heart attack because of my genes.

genetic disorders

A map of genetic disorders (CMAP courtesy IHMC.org)

Genetic testing can also reveal someone’s genealogy in surprising accuracy. The results of a genealogy DNA test can uncover ancestry going back several generations and even reveal the geographic location of those ancestors. In the process of sequencing the human genome, scientists discovered that different continental groups differ in genetic markers by as much as 4 to 9 percent. This discovery has made possible genealogy testing.

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cinco de mayonnaise

“Sink in De Mayo” (With Margaritas)

I’ve been at this government job for less than 2 years now, and last year I learned that my employer holds a Cinco De Mayo party every year they call, “Sink in De Mayo”.  Mayo – as in, mayonnaise.

The party has a truly gross theme, but it was a lot more fun than it sounds.

Basically, every dish at the party must contain or use mayonnaise in some way. And all the drinks are served in old (clean) mayonnaise jars. Stay with me here…

For some reason, I didn’t get the email until the day of the party, and it was being held in our office right after work! So I wasn’t exactly prepared.

But let me tell you, it was a lot of fun.

I moved to Colorado from rural Alabama, a place not exactly steeped in Mexican and Hispanic culture. So I learned a lot about Mexican food and drinks at this gathering. Cultural immersion by mayonnaise, if you will.

The Food (More Than 5 Types of Mayo)

I was surprised at the culinary prowess of my co-workers. My two favorite picks from the spread were Mexican street corn and Mexican coleslaw. Street corn is basically charred corn with a mayonnaise concoction drizzled over it. The mayo is mixed with enough spices and chili powder to put you on the streets of Mexico City.

mexican coleslaw and margaritas

Coleslaw is one of my favorite sides, so I couldn’t deny myself the opportunity to try this Mexican adaptation. It was everything I imagined it would be. I found myself sitting down with a heap of Mexican coleslaw and some carnitas (mexican pulled pork) on the side. The combination was enough to keep me locked in my seat until my plate was clean.

The Drinks Were Awesome

I was hesitant about drinking from old mayonnaise jars. They were clean, of course, but the first few sips I swear I could catch a whiff of lingering mayo (or maybe it was the mayonnaise inspired foods around me). But once I got the first drink in me, I forgot all about the smell of mayonnaise.

My employer had long ago sprung for a margarita machine to make his ‘Sinkin in De Mayo’ party complete. It was one of those big, silvery beauties that I had dreamed of owning when I lived in my bachelor pad in Alabama.

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Adderall pills

Due to what appears to be an alarming loss of concentration in our society, a sharply rising number of people are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

ADHD brainThe prescription drug Adderall, also known as “addies” or “smarties”, was designed specifically to help ADHD sufferers regain their focus and stay alert. It does this very well, with few side effects for people who really need the drug.

Due to its ability to improve concentration and increase energy levels, Adderall is also widely abused by high school and university students as a “study drug” for all-night cram sessions.

Adderall is also popular among athletes as a way to keep them concentrated and energetic when training & during games.

Read More →

apple watch

Is The New Apple Watch A Lemon?

Many probably wonder what Steve Jobs is thinking right now about the future of Apple (RIP).

Late last year, Tim Cook announced what he and Apple investors thought would be an innovative huge hit in today’s market for tech wearables, the Apple Watch.

The fact is, though, the media is not impressed. Lukewarm would best describe the reception from most. Here are a few of the most prominent media takes on the new watch.

PC Mag: Why I Won’t Be Buying an Apple Watch

This article explains that a watch just needs to be a watch. We have phones, tablets and laptops to carry us into the world of the web. We do not need a watch doing the same thing. We need a watch to tell us what time it is.

It also points out that the watch is not waterproof, yet it costs $350 which is more expensive than the iPhone 6. You need the iPhone 6 to use the Apple Watch, so the accessory is more expensive than the more functional, base device.

Marketwatch: 3 Good Reasons Not to Buy the Apple Watch

The author makes a few great points. She notes there will be many kinks which will all need to be worked out, so a person would be wise in waiting. Second, as PC Mag noted, $350 is just too high, when you can buy the iPhone 6 cheaper. Lastly, it is an accessory. You don’t have to have the Apple Watch. There are necessities and accessories, and the Apple Watch is the latter.

Mashable: Why I Won’t Buy an Apple Watch

Read More →

antivirus

Antivirus programs don’t work like you think they do.

antivirus programs

Do you understand what you’re buying?

The software companies won’t always tell you this, but there are three big gaps in antivirus (AV) protection that you probably don’t want to know about – but you really should.

The reality is, antivirus software is just the icing on the cake when it comes to protecting yourself from nefarious types who want to steal your identity, your credit cards and the right to access your hard drive.

Read More →

web hosting

Have you ever had a light bulb moment, where an excellent idea for a website pops into your head – and all you needed was a place to host it, cheap?

You probably went to Google as a next step and typed in “free web hosting” or something along those lines. I know I have.

The path from getting your idea on paper to launching your own web site is riddled with potential pitfalls. To save you time and frustration, here’s what I learned in most recent my quest to find the best possible web hosting service for this blog.

The first few results in any online search for a web host are usually some sort of a free web hosting service. Free web hosting services operate on the principle of giving you something until you commit. In exchange, they impose a lot of restrictions. Usually, those restrictions come in the form of limiting your bandwidth, adding advertisements all over your pages and in general, treating you like a low priority customer.

Read More →

hair drug testing

Beat The Unbeatable Hair Drug Test

OK, so this post is a little off-topic, but I find it interesting.

At my job, employee drug testing is a very serious matter. We build apps for the US government, after all.

My primary employer does random drug tests all the time, especially for contractors like me.

Last Wednesday, my team lost a really good programmer over a failed hair drug test.

I was talking to my friend Tom when he told me that several other contractors he knows for a fact are smoking pot outside of work, but they didn’t get caught on the same test. For the next 15 minutes, he introduced me to the “black art” of methods that pot smokers use to cheat the newest infallible drug test, the hair follicle test.

Now, I do not do drugs of any kind (honestly, really), but I did find it fascinating that people have figured out how to cheat what should be a foolproof, onsite test like a hair sample.

Here are the 4 ways my fellow contractors are apparently using to beat the hair drug test (or so they say):

  1. shave your body free of hair (ref: http://hairfollicledrugtest.info)
  2. get around the test  (ref: http://www.wikihow.com/Pass-a-Hair-Follicle-Drug-Test)
  3. using special detox shampoos
  4. vinegar home rinse

People Are Crafty

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