Something I saw today happened to trigger a memory of the classic Spirograph toy we had as kids.  This was just too cool, and my sister and I had hours of fun with it.  It was very simple, gears and pins and a pen, but it made some really cool drawings.

I poked around online a bit and sure enough – there is a VIRTUAL SPIROGRAPH!

Sure, it’s not quite as fun as spinning the gears with a pen and seeing the image begin to emerge before your eyes, but it’s still pretty cool.

Automatically emptying the Recycling Bin

If you are like me, you don’t use the windows recycling bin for much at all.  Sure, occasionally restoring a file deleted in error, but that’s usually minutes after deleting it and smacking your forehead.  If stuff has been in there for any length of time, I don’t care about it, and it’s annoying that it eats my free disk space.

If you are one of those users who keeps stuff that they CARE about in the recycle bin (as if it is some kind of handy desk-top folder), then you are an idiot, and need to rent a clue.

Windows Mesh is a really need synchronization tool, but I have found that it tends to clutter the recycle bin on both systems which are syncing, so it’s another way for the thing to fill up your disk.

I found a neat article on the web on CybernetNews which shows how to automate this.  The article talks about emptying the bin on startup, but you can also set it for other “triggers” such as locking the screen.

CLICK HERE to view the article, and thanks Ryan for the great and easy to follow tip!

Another handy solution is a cute little product called “bin manager”.  This program adds to the recycle bin right-click menu and allows you to empty out files based on how old they are (delete anything over 2 days for example).  You can also call this from a script to do scheduled purges based on age.

Ivan Oransky: Are we over-medicalized

This is a really interesting talk (well ok, most TED talks are really interesting) about our medical system.  In a nutshell, we’ve built a medical system which gives doctors incentive to perform diagnostics, procedures, and prescribe mediation, whether it’s necessary or not.

Counting unique values in Excel 2010

Let’s say you have a column of values, and you want to know what the unique values are and how MANY of each value there are.  There isn’t a really straightforward way to do this, but you can do it with a couple of easy steps.  Here’s our sample data:


What we do is to select those cells and make a copy below:


Now, select those cells and click “remove duplicates” (in the “Data” tool ribbon):


Just click OK, and you’ll see this:


So now your spreadsheet looks like this:


In cell B18, paste this formula: =COUNTIF(A$1:A$15,A18)


Now, grab the “handle” at the lower right corner of that cell and drag it down to B21.  This copies the formula to the cells below.


SO, the left hand column now contains the unique values, and the right hand column tells you how many of each you have.

By inserting a pie chart, and picking A18-A21 as the legends, and B18-B21 as the data, you get this:


Bing goes social – well so much for that!

Microsoft sent out an announcement today about a major “improvement” to Bing’s search engine.  Now, it ties in with social networking.  Microsoft says:

Introducing the new Bing

And just like that…search goes social.
High-quality search results are just the beginning. Now only Bing brings together the best search with people from your social networks, so you can spend less time searching and more time doing. Be one of the first of your friends to try it.

And of course:

Some Bing social features are only available in the US at this time and are not compatible with all browsers

Well naturally, nobody would want to use a browser other than IE, now would they? LOL!

So why is this inane, and why am I posting about it?  My feeling is that with this new “improvement”, the search engine (at least for me) will now be pretty worthless.  Why you ask?  Simple – while social networking has it’s uses and so forth, it’s not good for everything.  If I’m searching around for techie stuff, for instance, MY network of “buddies” wouldn’t be any help.  Can you imagine asking your bowling buddy where to find a specific video driver?  In general, haven’t you noticed that there seem to be an awful lot of people in this world who are complete idiots?  Would you ask them… ANYTHING??  No, of course not.  Yet Bing assumes you would, and asks them for you.  How inane!

SpaceX picking up the slack from NASA

Now that NASA is out of the space shuttle business, they are hoping the private sector will step up and fill the cargo transport needs.  SpaceX (located in Hawthorne, CA) has been preparing for some time, and has now successfully delivered a cargo capsule to the International Space Station.  This is the first private company to have delivered a cargo capsule to a space-bound destination.

A 'new era': Private-sector space mission


Click Here for the full story from LA Times.

Kip Addotta – Wet Dream

Here’s an oldie but a goodie.  Some friends and I were talking about various novelty songs, and this one came up.  I had no idea they had a video for it!  This one should get some kind of award for the highest number of bad puns per minute.

Don’t Drink Water

Water sales has become a huge business these days.  There are stores that specialize and sell ONLY water.  That seems amusing to me, like the old Saturday Night Live “Scotch Boutique”, where they specialized in selling just tape.

I don’t drink water.  You probably shouldn’t either.  Think about it for a few minutes: fish swim around in water and pee in it.  That’s nothing I want to drink.  And, it’s even worse than that!  They drink it too, then pee it out again!  Horrors!

Once it’s boiled and flavored with something like coffee beans, it becomes somewhat palatable.  Unfortunately the cafeteria downstairs at work hasn’t yet mastered this art.  “somewhat” would be a large stretch in their case.

The other thing I find inane with water is the recommendations on how MUCH you should drink per day.  I tell you, if I drank as much (of any liquid) as doctors recommend, I’d be in the bathroom all day.  Chugging down 3 liters of water per day like clockwork just seems ridiculous to me.  You see, our bodies have this neat mechanism built in.  It’s called “thirst”.  When your body needs liquid, this “thirst” mechanism is triggered and you find you want to drink something.  It’s very clever.  Here's what I do:  When I get thirsty, I drink something (well, not water. I mean … come ON!  Fish pee?).  When I’m not thirsty, I don’t drink anything.  It’s a great system.

In addition to not having to run to the bathroom all the time, I don’t have to carry around water bottles, or have big 64oz cups of soda on my desk for constant imbibing. I save money, effort, and it’s quite convenient to utilize this built-in liquid “fuel gage” type system.