My work blog: You suck
If you’re a regular reader of Insider, you may have seen some disparaging comments about bloggers in this space. Not about bloggers so much, but the format itself. But then again, many people who write blogs aren’t all that bright. They forget that if you write some haranguing blog entry about how your boss is a twit and your co-workers are mouth-breathing Neanderthals, the aforementioned twits and Neanderthals may discover these comments and take a measure of offence. The Internet is public, folks. People read it. Don’t ask me why, they just do. According to this article, about 40 per cent of people who keep a blog have written something nasty about the people they work with. To elaborate:

“Employees can’t seem to resist the temptation to rant about their work frustrations on their blogs, failing to recognize how public they really are. Since blogs are still relatively new, (researcher) Croner reasons that employees are treating them with the same informality and rash decision-making as e-mail when it was first introduced to the masses in the 90s.”

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Phony keys
If someone asked you to keep your cell phone away from your car keys, could you actually do it? Would you remember not to shove them in the same pocket? If you’re even slightly unsure as to the answer, Insider would suggest you not buy a Nissan any time soon. This report on Engadget suggests that Nissan Altima keys can be erased through proximity to a cell phone.
“In a rather bizarre (and strangely ambiguous) announcement, Nissan North America has claimed that owners of the 2007 Altima and G35 should make certain that their ‘intelligent key’ is kept at least ‘one inch away’ from their cellphone at all times, as getting too close for comfort could cause the keys to be ‘erased, rendering them unable to unlock or start the car.’ Interestingly, a Nissan spokesperson stated that the company found ‘incoming and outgoing calls had the potential to alter the electronic code within the I-Key.’”
That would be a tough call to the Triple A: I can’t get into my car because my pockets aren’t big enough.

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Don’t diss my IT skills
ComputerWorld US, a sister publication of this site, has published a list of 10 obsolete IT skills. Among them are: Cobol, ColdFusion, C programming and OS/2. Naturally, irate readers wrote in to defend all of these things and more. To quote an article addressing the letters: “Boy, do Cobol, ColdFusion and C have lots of fans.”
I can only imagine that’s an understatement. Maybe the boys and girls in the editorial bullpen got together and said, “Hey, what’s really going to stew our readers prunes? I mean, really get them all hot under the collar. I know! Let’s say something mean about Cobol!”

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Eat for a year or . . . buy a PC
I’ve got a good one for you. There’s this company called Dell and they’ve decided there’s a market for a US$6,000 PC! Maybe in 1987 that seemed like a bargain, but it’s hard to defend that price 20 years later, especially when you can walk into Wal-Mart and pick up a computer with the change you found under your car seat (incidentally, Dell also sells computers there as well).

Here’s what you get for your six dimes:
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6800 Factory Overclocked to 3.73GHz
NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI Chipset for Intel
Up to 4GB Dual-Channel DDR2 SDRAM
Up to 2.75TB Multiple Serial ATA Hard Drives
Multiple DVD+/-RW, Combo, DVD-ROM configurations Available
Dual 768MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX graphics cards – SLI enabled
AGEIA PhysX physics accelerator (optional)

This sucker’s also water-cooled. I’m assuming, if you can afford one of these, you’re a trust fund baby or just bumped off a relative for the insurance money. Considering the amount of time you’ll be spending playing games on it, you can’t possibly have time to hold down a job.

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How to Google Google
Well, in short, Google has come up with a way to Google itself. It sounds like a bizarre auto erotic twist on Internet search . . . which is kind of what it is, come to think of it. Using Google Trends (once known more pretentiously as Google Zeitgeist), you can spot what’s hot on the search engine on any given day. Sounds like a huge waste of time, but that’s what the Web was designed for in the first place.

This PC World reviewer had this to say: “I’m a bit more perplexed at Google Trends’ feature that delivers a daily list of the 100 hottest topics on its search engine. I ask, how much can we divine from what people are searching for today? The top four ‘Hot Trends’ in the U.S. today are ‘singer Irene,’ ‘fellini film,’ ‘monokini designer gernreich,’ and ‘goddess of wisdom.’ Huh?&rdquo

I couldn’t have said it better myself. What the frig is a monokini? Prolly something to do with porn.

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This just in: Mars all wet
According to this report on Space.com, one of the Mars Rovers just discovered some Martian soil rich in silica, which suggests it was at one point – well – wet.
I didn’t even know there were still any Mars Rovers left. Remember a few years ago when every scientific journal featured an image of a cute little robot traipsing over red soil on its cover? Insider just figured that they were a colossal waste of taxpayer money (U.S., not Canadian, thank goodness) or worse yet, a PR stunt designed to shine the spotlight on an otherwise moribund space program. Wait a sec . . . Let’s go back to the article and see how this water on Mars thing happened.

“This discovery came about unexpectedly as the result of a mechanical failure.”

OK, that makes sense. Phew. All is right with the world. Here’s more, if you’re still interested:

“Both Spirit and its twin rover Opportunity completed their original three-month missions in April 2004, and are aging. One of Spirit’s six wheels no longer rotates, gouging a deep impression as it drags through soil. That scraping has exposed several patches of bright soil, leading to some of Spirit’s biggest discoveries in its Gusev Crater exploration site, including the most recent find.”

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Google to ban cheaters
Insider is going to date himself here, but the Internet was barely a flicker on the horizon when he was in university. If Insider was in school now, he probably wouldn’t have even graduated. Access to YouTube and online poker would have scuppered any chances of that.

How do the kids today manage? Well, by cheating. There’s quite a thriving industry behind it, as it turns out. Professional essay writing is rampant – a B+ paper can be bought by a student thus freeing up time for drinking and more YouTube.

Google has decided to ban ads for essay writing services on its search site, which is laudable, but is somewhat puzzling considering that students will now have less time for YouTube (Google-owned, natch).

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Can you hear me now?

Why do people climb Mount Everest? To defeat colossal odds? To express what it is to be a human being, at one with the universe and alone with the elements? Nope. It’s to make cell phone calls. Insider is pretty sure that his roaming plan won’t take him all the way to the summit of Everest (or indeed the summit of his office building), but this Brit aims to make the world’s highest cell phone call. All I can say is, Dude make sure it’s charged.

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Watching the detectives

Do you password-protect your PC at home? Well, Insider won’t ask what you’re hiding from your family (naughty, naughty), but will caution you to delete stuff that could be used against you in court. Why? Well, if you have to ask, you’re probably going to be arrested for something one of these days and no amount of help from Uncle Insider is going to prevent that. If, however, you are prudent about deleting files, you’ll have less to worry about when the authorities barge into your home, or, in some cases, are invited in by a family member. There’s some troubling precedents being set in the U.S. “But I’m a Canadian!” says you. Okie dokie, but that argument don’t wash in court. Well, maybe it works sometimes, but why risk it?

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Politician discovers Internet actually public
In a move that defies description, an Azriona public official posted some questionable material on MySpace then claimed to be surprised when people actually read it.

Dennis Seavers, executive director of the state fingerprinting board, described himself as a “wild debaucher” and claimed he would help children, but only to become more lawless. In this AP story posted here, Seavers said, “It’s exactly the opposite of me as a person. . . . If I had known that the public would see it, I never would have done it.”

Maybe he’s actually the head of the state fingerpainting board.

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With a little help from my paid-for friends

Y’know, sometimes it’s awfully tempting for Insider to stop writing about technology in general and just focus on MySpace. The amount of weirdness, gullibility and greed there is just too good to pass up. To wit, an entrepreneur is offering a minimum of 6,000 friends to anyone willing to pay him US$199. What’s bound to shake my faith in humanity is the number of people who would be willing to part with that much coin to take this guy up on his offer. Don’t expect the service to be around too long, though. MySpace frowns on this type of crap.

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Arr…. there be a Ballmer off the port bow

(This isn’t about MySpace. Just thought I’d get that out there.)

It’s not as if pirates in Asia aren’t already laughing till their hurt. I mean, wouldn’t you if the piracy rate was around 90 per cent and you’re more likely to get busted for jay-walking than distributing bogus copies of Windows XP? Well, here’s more laugh fodder. Microsoft has signed an anti-piracy agreement with Vietnam. This article on CNN published pictures of Steve Ballmer glad-handing with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. What’s missing is a caption that reads: Wow, what a colossal waste of time.

OK, before the angry e-mails start (again), let it be known that Insider does not support piracy. On the other hand, Insider doesn’t support pointless publicity stunts either. I just can’t shake the impression that Microsoft probably approached every Asian government from Laos to China and the only one that said yes was Vietnam.

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