Monday, December 17, 2007

Dropping by.

Yes, yes, I've been gone a while. I've been really busy, but I just wanted to drop a few interesting articles in here.

Oh, and I do know that some of my old links don't work--I didn't know at the time that Yahoo! News articles die after 2-4 weeks. In the future, I'll see if I can get some better links.

On to the news:

This housing bubble that's collapsing? If you want to know what the bubble might look like, Paul Krugman points to this website.

Paul Krugman also brings up the Al Gore-invented-the-internet thing, saying that Al Gore certainly had a helping hand in the matter.

Oh, and you can now see your friends' shared Google Reader feeds on Google Talk. I think that's pretty neat, though I use this blog to share news articles I get outside of Google Reader. So, sign up for Google Reader and learn how to use RSS feeds!

Being that we're in the season, it's nice to know that some people try to keep up with the holiday spirit. That's a lot of letters for one jolly person to handle. I hope that doesn't die, as it may be in some places.

I've been asked before where I get some of my desktop backgrounds. Well, the website, of course! All right, you probably wouldn't have guessed that, but I just wanted to mention that they have some good stuff there, and in their archives.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

An update

I got to school late today, and am still recovering from BYA10. I had a blast. But, now for some interesting news stuffs.

Remember how I mentioned that God was being sued? Well, apparently, God responded to the suit.

I've seen reports about how people are sleeping less nowadays--well, that trend may actually be deadly. Please get your sleep.

Here's an article about how to approach (psychologically, I think) internships.

And you may have heard about it elsewhere--it's around the internet--but there's a company which wants to make laptops for children in underdeveloped countries. They're having some trouble starting up and so have introduced a sale. Buy two laptops for $400 and one of them will be sent to a child in an underdeveloped country. They're pretty cool laptops with some pretty cool features, though they're not very powerful.

Venezuela's federal bank has been having problems, too. No surprise, considering the situation over there, but Chavez has always denied a lot of the problems. So, to mention some of them, the bank ratings in Venezuela are lowering.

See, a major source of money in a lot of countries is foreign investment--when people in other countries invest in your business activities. If the business activities are fruitful and money is made, investors get paid. The payoff can either be a percentage return on the initial invested money or a cut of the earnings, depending on the structure--but that isn't important. The important part is that investors have an incentive to invest money in reliable places and companies and governments have incentive to offer investment opportunities so that they grow and make money as well. So companies can grow, countries can grow, and economies can grow in part to investing.

But how are you supposed to know whether an investment is a safe investment or not? Ratings agencies (such as Fitch Ratings, mentioned in the article) rate countries and businesses based on a great many number of factors and assign ratings, usually on a alphabet scale where an A is good and a D is bad. So when ratings in Venezuela drop, investors are less likely to invest money in the country. If less money is coming in, there's less growth due to foreign investment. That's not good for Venezuela.

Also, Venezuela's biggest coal producer is declaring a force majeure. Force majeure is included in contracts for when one side cannot fulfill his obligations due to "major force," which would be forces outside of their control--crises and other market factors and such. I think the party is typically expected to mitigate the situation if they can, but it's not a good thing. And, coal is important for the petroleum industry (which has not been so strong in recent years anyway). So this is yet another blow to an already hurting Venezuelan economy. Because of Venezuela's economic diversification, it's not as big a blow as it could be, but it's still not good at all.

The reason for the force majeure is a strike amongst transporters, so material can't be moved. The strike also isn't a good sign for the Venezuelan economy.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Some stuff in the news

I really like the idea of cities providing free Wi-Fi to its residents. Houston has had plans to do this for a few years, as has Sugar Land, though I think of the two Sugar Land may be much closer to getting this through (according to the councilman I spoke to). Apparently, a lot of cities are having trouble with the plans and dropping the idea for the time being.

Do you remember all the layers of the earth you probably were supposed to learn as a kid? Well, there may be another layer.

The tallest freestanding building in the world will be in Dubai. It's an impressive looking building to be sure. It should be finished by the end of next year.

Ann Coulter proves she knows nothing about the AMA and the medical industry by trying to refute the claim that doctors are overpaid. She probably doesn't care, though, as long as she can insult Democrats. She's also wrong when she says, "The results of this debate are available on TimeSelect, for just $49.95." TimesSelect, which she misspelled, is now free, as of the publication date of her article--Wednesday.

There's an ancient manuscript in Prague called "Codex Gigas" or "Devil's Bible." Interesting document with an interesting story. Could be a good idea for a D&D game.

And for the heck of it, here's a picture of a cute baby panda.

MOO (More Office Options)

Microsoft Office is a very powerful set of tools. I'm not sure there's a better spreadsheet program than Excel 2007.

But in case you don't want to shell out huge amounts of cash, you have other options you can at least try out for free to see if they work for you.

Google Documents
Open Office
and now the new Lotus Symphony (from IBM).

There may be other options too (I know I've seen other word processors around anyway) but I've tried out the first two of these and highly recommend them. There's a little bit of functionality that I have in Excel that is lacking in Google Documents and Open Office, so maybe Lotus Symphony will be a new favorite.

I mainly wanted to announce Lotus Symphony, since it's new. Lotus 1-2-3 used to be very popular, and now Lotus Symphony is available for free using the same engine. Oh, and it now uses open source document filetypes.

Take that Microsoft! You may have superior products, but some others are catching up! Their price tag is better, their shareability is better (they don't have their own proprietary file types), and they have a growing knowledge base working on them.

Happy documenting!

There's another suite of free online office products I just found! Zoho, which is neat because it's pretty expansive. There are spreadsheet, powerpoint, and document products, of course, but also invoicing, projects, web conferencing, business products, wikis, and much more. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

An interesting news day.

Now, I usually keep up with mostly economics news with just a few frills, but every once in a while I find something too amusing to pass up.

The Texas Blue (hi George!) points to an article about a Nebraska senator suing God. I hope He has a good lawyer.

Also, if you've never heard of International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Then you haven't been paying attention--especially when regular news venues start reporting on it. It's tomorrow, so let this be your warning because come tomorrow all hope abandon, ye who not take heed.

In housekeeping news, this blog will be more of a general entertainment blog instead of a gamer blog. I'll hopefully blog about gaming stuff too, but I won't limit myself to that by any means.

Friday, May 4, 2007

This blog, in theory, will tend to stick with gaming stuff.

Seeing as how I'm a D&D fan, don't expect a lot of other stuff.