Brains for Christmas

Brains for Christmas (reprinted from the Metro Spirit, 12-20-12)

With everything going on this holiday season, I’m sure that most folk have forgotten that Friday, December 21st is the end of the world.  Now we don’t know how the world is going to come to an end.  Will it be an asteroid like the one that took out the dinosaurs?  How about a nuclear winter?  Alien invasion?  Hmmm, probably not.  Of course, I’m still holding fast to the belief that Augusta is going to be overrun in a Zombie Apocalypse originating either from the Savannah River Site or the basement of the Medical College.  (Likely, MCG)  Either way, I hope that you’ve been watching your Doomsday Prep’ers.

(Side note:  Have you noticed how many people are watching Duck Dynasty?  It’s been a topic of conversation at every Christmas party I’ve attended.  We all agree that when the zombies come, they are the one family that won’t have any problem adapting to the new world.  Heck, Si will fit right in.)

Here’s my favorite zombie gifts for Christmas.  Show some love and exchange gifts early.  Chances are the zombies will be here before Santa.

The first gift is sure to get everyone in the Christmas Apocalypse spirit, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies!: A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols.  This collection of Zombie melodies includes holiday classics such as I Saw Mommy Chewing Santa Claus and Deck the Halls with Parts of Wally.  While nothing in here will actually prepare you for the end of the world, you will certainly be in better spirits when it happens.  Better yet, on Amazon.com you can get this book of Zombie Christmas Carols bundled with The Zombie Night Before Christmas and Jack and Jill Went Up to Kill: A Book of Zombie Nursery Rhymes.  Remember to order overnight shipping…Saturday deliver will be too late.

Preparation for a Zombie Apocalypse begins first and foremost with The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead.  Published nearly a decade ago, this guide is still the “go to” book on how to survive the hordes of undead that may be stalking you right now.  The book starts with zombie physiology, then covers weapons, tactics, long-term strategy and finally presents an overview of historic zombie outbreaks.  The reference guide is incredibly thorough, and every course of action is analyzed in depth to ensure the reader understands the risks and benefits.  I hope you ordered it last year.  If not, don’t worry.  It’ll still be a great read of what you should have done.

One of the toughest struggles in a post-apocalyptic society is simply finding something to eat.  The food production infrastructure collapses just like everything else.  Supermarket shelves are cleaned out by survivors, and what is not taken eventually rots.  Hunting or farming present challenges due to the possibility of contamination.  Fortunately, Harcos Laboratories has developed processing techniques to extract nutrients from Zombie biology.  Zombie Blood Energy Potion promises four hours of energy derived from the extra strong green Zombie cells, and with Zombie Jerky, survivors can recycle the re-dead, undead into tasty teriyaki.  All 100% mutagen free!  Find these products and more at www.livingwithbloodlust.com/zombie.  (Hey, Zombies…How about them brains?)

The post-Zombie world will also suffer from a lack of electricity.  A study shows that within 24 hours of a zombie event most portions of the United States and Canada, aside from a rare island of service in a rural area near a hydroelectric source, would be without power.  Now the serious planners have already constructed survival bunkers in the outlying areas of Lincoln and Burke Counties, and those bunkers are stocked with at least a year’s supply of diesel.  However, many of the living will be trapped in population centers without power.  For these folk, devices like the American Red Cross AXIS TurboDyne Weather Alert Radio will be invaluable.  The hand-crank Turbodyne is a powerful direct power transfer device that will charge a cell phone.  Frankly, I’m not sure who you’re going to call once the horde descends upon you…but hey, at least you’ll have your iTunes.

So my friends, barring the end of the world, I wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday!  See you on the other side!  @gregory_a_baker

theClubhou.se

theClubhou.se (reprinted from the Metro Spirit 12-13-12)

Over the past couple of years, we’ve heard a great deal from community leaders about technology incubators and such.  Most of it has been just talk.  I guess our so-called leaders haven’t been able to figure out if they have the political capital to follow through.  Fortunately, in a free society, all it takes is an individual with a dream to make something happen.  Eric Parker is such an individual.

“The last two years of my life has been spent pursuing a dream of revitalizing downtown Augusta through the creation of a very broadly encompassing coworking space, inventor’s workshop, education center, and think tank…Together with the help of a great many contributors from our community, we are making that dream a reality at theClubhou.se

theClubhou.se opened its doors last Friday.  At the beginning level, theClubhou.se is a place where like-minded technologists can get together and share ideas.    The area provides resources, either natively or through other members, not typically found outside commercial environments.  Whether drafting, prototyping or other R&D, theClubhou.se accelerates the transition from conceptions to delivery.  Eric likes to think of the space as Leonardo Da Vinci’s Inventors Workshop re-imagined for the 21st century.

Watch the website for technology events at theClubhou.se.  And stop by anytime!  (816 Broad Street, across of Augusta Commons)

Tech Gifts – Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t sense the same frenzy for tech gadgets as we’ve seen in years past.  Don’t get me wrong…they are out there, no doubt.  The Wii U looks to be a nice follow-on to the Wii.  There’s the iPad mini along with 23 other versions of tablets.  But there is nothing that really re-defines the market…nothing that I can point to and say, “That changes everything.”

So here’s what I suggest…Bluetooth speakers.  As we all know, the native speakers on mobile devices are horrible.  At best, they perform as a lousy speakerphone.  You can’t blame the manufacturer…speakers which produce good acoustics require a little bit of space, and mobile device makers aren’t yet interested in trading battery life for sound quality.  External speakers connected via Bluetooth are designed to provide that hi-fi boost.

 Yes, I know…Bluetooth speakers have been around forever.  But they’ve always been overshadowed by the sexier gadgets.  So crank up Spotify, and make 2012 the year of the external speaker!

 Not buying it?  I knew it would be a tough sell.  How about trying one of these niche products?

  • GPS Pet Tracker – Never lose your puppy again with Tagg – The Pet Tracker.  The system uses GPS and wireless technology to track your pet’s location.  Receive a text alert when the break-out occurs and track the fugitive on your iPhone.  While not explicitly stated, it appears to be suitable for use on children under 14.  Available at the Apple Store for $99.95.
  • Key Chain Finder – Wherever you go, two items that you must keep close are your keys and your phone.  The ZOMM Wireless Leash now keeps a connection between the two.  Put the ZOMM dongle on your keys and create the Bluetooth connection with your phone.  If your phone and keys ever get separated, an alert will sound.  Never leave your girlfriend’s place without your phone again!  Available on Amazon.com for $46.
  • Retro Handset – This one is for the older folks that never quite got used to talking on a cell phone.  The Yoyo Bluetooth Retro Handset is an “old-school” telephone handset that connects to your cell phone via Bluetooth.  Add a bit of comfort to your calls.  Also, with a shrug of your shoulder, you can go hands free the old fashioned way!  Available on Amazon for $26.90 (bargain!)

 Until next time, I’m off the grid.  @gregory_a_baker

 

Hey CSRA Makers…

Hey, CSRA Makers…(Reprinted from the Metro Spirit 12/6/12)

Did you check out the Raspberry Pi article in this week’s Wired.com?  Augusta Tek’ers know all about Raspberry Pi.  We first wrote about it back in July, and since then, the $35 credit card size computer has continued to grow in popularity.  Originally developed to provide an educational experience for those interested in computers (i.e., “tinkering”), the Raspberry Pi is being adopted to provide the raw compute cycles for any smart device you can imagine.  Last month, Chris Williamson showed up at the Hack for Education with a half dozen of the devices to power the Hack.  A quick read of the Wired.com article (“8 Cool Raspberry Pi Projects for Diminutive Computing Fun”) provides a glimpse of what a little innovation can create.  Do you need a working video game console for the American Girl dollhouse?  Done.  You say you don’t like the breadboard look of the raw Raspberry Pi?  Well, why not create an enclosure with a 3-D printer.  Are you an artist looking to work a medium other than oils and watercolors?  Try Lightpainting using addressable RGB LEDs and a Raspberry Pi controller.  It’s a new medium with your imagination as your only limit.

Updating Privacy – An update to the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act is slowly making its way through Congress.  Last week a pro-privacy bill passed the Senate Judiciary committee that requires police to get a warrant before seizing your email, effectively extending current privacy rights for hard copy documents to electronic media.  (Current law and court precedence indicate that email and other personal data stored in the cloud can be seized in many cases without a warrant and without notification of the seizure). The law enforcement community strongly opposes the bill on the grounds that it will impede investigations.  In response, law enforcement groups are lobbying for provisions that would require Internet providers to store text messages for two years “just in case” they are needed.  I don’t know about you, but the idea of Verizon or Comcast creating a private database of all my communication for Richard Roundtree or Clay Whittle to sift through is just kind of creepy.

Season of Giving – This is the time of the year where we traditionally acknowledge the grace we’ve received and return that kindness to others, usually by providing gifts of value to those that are truly in need.  Unfortunately, this spirit is being lost in a political climate where so many demand an entitlement to the productivity of others.  While those on the left won’t say it directly, the message is clear.  When one has so much to start with, any assistance or gifts that are offered cannot be considered sincere.

While this type of argument plays well in politics, in reality, no government redistribution scheme will ever match the effectiveness of a voluntary sacrifice given in love.  If you’ve been blessed this year and would like to help others this season, please consider giving to your favorite charity or religious group.  If you don’t have a favorite, I work with the following groups.  Your gift will not be taken for granted, and it will go to help those that are truly in need.

Until next time, I’m off the grid.  @gregory_a_baker