Archive for the ‘Websites’ Category

No more hide and seek.

November 4, 2007

Most people have many phone numbers these days, whether it’s the office, home, cell, etc.  Companies for many years have been trying to figure out a better solution for reaching a person than calling a list of phone numbers.  A company called Grand Central seems to have a good option.

After reading about this company in the newspaper many months ago, I signed up immediately.  Almost anything that sounds remotely useful and free, I am interested.  This company assigns a new phone number that automatically rings all of your possible phone numbers at the same time.  Whichever one you answer takes the call.

There are many other features that I like.  While the caller hears a ringing sound, you are given a few choices.  You can answer the call, send the call to voice mail, or listen in on the call as the caller leaves a message.  You can even cut in to the call during a message.  Once the caller leaves a message, the message gets mailed to your email address.  All the settings can easily be modified at Grand Central’s web site.

The biggest snag is that this product is in beta.  Who knows what the company will charge when it releases.  I would hate to give everyone a single number and find that in a few months or weeks I decide to give it all up.  Also Google has bought this little startup.  I have no idea how that will effect Grand Central.

November 3, 2006

LibraryThing is a social networking site for book collectors and bibliophiles. Once you open your free account (which requires divulging no personal data), you can catalog two hundred books for free. This process is so easy and fun that you could fill your free account in an afternoon. LibraryThing has a powerful search engine that is built on top of the Z39.50 protocol, which is an international search standard used by libraries and large retailers like Amazon. allows you to search from over sixty libraries, so no matter how obscure your title, you are likely to find it.

LibraryThing is more than just a book catalog. Once you find your title and optionally tag and rate it, LibraryThing will alert you to others in the system that own the same book. It will also recommend books to you based on matching your titles and tags with those of other users. Also, you can write your own review of any title, as well discuss books with other users, in complete anonymity.

For a lifetime membership and the ability to catalog an infinite number of books, LibraryThing charges individuals $25.00; a yearly membership costs $10.00.

Where do you go when you need a fast answer?

October 29, 2006

A few minutes ago my wife asked me how many ounces are in a pint?  How many are in a cup?

I never cook and seldom use weight measurements for anything – except when I blush at my morning weigh-ins – however my scale is digital and uses decimals.

Where did I go?

I went to

I typed in “how many ounces are in a cup” and the same question for a pint.  What was particularly interesting is the response:

 You can see it here, but I’ll describe it below:

The first thing it told me was the actual answer – not a list of confusing search results.  Then it gave me a very nice list of relevant websites.

I highly recommend for quick answers.  I usually try for more involved questions.  Google last.


brazen, balzy and bullish …

October 29, 2006

Yesterday I received an article frowarded from  An online news journal I had never heard of before.

The article, was quite brazen.  It was a civil analysis of the vigilante killing sprees that have recently started in Iraq.  The author characterized them as akin to the South American death squads.

 He also asserted that most modern democracies had death squads or vigilante reprisals as part of their transition from fascism/absolutism/communism/autocracy to modern democracy.  In the author’s view, such dark movements are civil society’s only practical response to implacable violence-pledged fanatics.

While the argument is compelling and quite brave, in principle I find it quite frightening.  It strikes me that there is little difference between the vigilante death squads and the squads of the various dictators (think Hitler, Idi Amin, etc…).  Perhaps the only difference is the timing of the group’s activities and their potential composition.  Can evil accomplish good goals?

While an uncomfortable topic, it certainly is a brave one to address.  Worthy of attention.

After reading the arcticle, I was certainly motivated to see who would publish such an article, hence my discovery of

It’s openly ideological – more to the free market than price controls, open societies rather than closed ones and a strong belief in the idea of progress.

Whether or not you agree with it, it is worth examining.