HashOut: 2007.08
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What's that drum doing under your table?

Spotswood Custom Computers' Drum PC CaseDon't be surprised when you find a drum like thing on or under your friend's desk. It could very much be Spotswood Custom Computers' custom built PC cabinet specially and individually handcrafted from high quality raw maple veneer plywood shell/cylinder, to replicate a bass drum.

Spotswood's Computer Cabinets are built from the scratch and are not modified versions of pre-made drums. Its available in seven stained colors - Natural, Light Oak, Dark Oak, Candy Apple Red, Golden Yellow, Blue and Purple.

The L-20 and C-20 Models are large enough to house two of the extremely long (10.5") graphics cards that are currently on the market. Equivalent to a conventional, full-tower size rectangular case, it has enough room to house an ATX form factor motherboard, power supply, four to five internal 3.5" drives and either one external slimline/notebook CD/DVD drive or two 5.25" external CD/DVD drives. A 3.5" I/O panel on the front of the case contains four USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire port, one headphone and one microphone connection.

L-18 and C-18 on the other hand can accomodate only three internal 3.5" drives and one external slimline/notebook CD/DVD drive. The L-18 has even received a '100% KICKASS' review rating from 3dGameMan.com.

The heat generated within the case is expelled by a rear 120mm exhaust fan, a 120mm blowhole fan, and a side 140mm intake LED fan.

Optional features include choice of the number of external drive bays, side panel colors, fans, hard drive activity and power LED colors, lugs, motherboard trays and wood stain colors.

You might worry the "Drum" like custom PC cabinets may emit sounds as loud as the drum. But Spotswood claims that their PC cases are "actually quieter than a metal case".

A perfect product for a Home Theater PC case, the L-Series and C-Series is, as the Computer Source Magazine puts it, "...a truly unique piece of work and is a fantastic gift for the music lover and computer geek alike."

If you have used this cabinet or gifted it to someone, do hash out your review about the Spotswood Custom Drum PC Case/Cabinet.
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Fix your tech gadgets online for free!

Have a broken computer or is the picture tube in your TV giving strange pictures? Is your manufacturer or the local service engineer making use of this opportunity to share the weight of your wallet? Before you give in, try Fixya. It's a community of consumers and engineers who are willing to help each other mend their consumer goods or use their products - free of charge!

Being a technology geek, quite often I receive calls from friends seeking solutions to problems related to their computer or electronic devices. I am sure they can now find solutions to their problems within hours on Fixya.

You can even find answers to your problem almost instantly from the knowledge base of previous problems and solutions.

The Question-and-Answer system on Fixya might look similar to Yahoo Answers or LinkedIn Answers but the advantage of using Fixya for consumer goods related problems is you are less likely to get deviated from the topic and more likely to find a solution to your problem from an expert in that particular field. BitWine is another such service but then it's pay-per-minute peer help community.

Other services provided by Fixya include Repair Service to find a repairman or an engineer nearest to you and a manufacturer directory to locate brand-specific products and user manuals.
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Real Mates vs Roommates

Symptoms of depression are more common among the single and divorced than among married couples, says American sociologist Patrick McKenry, who analyzed surveys from 5991 people aged between 19 and 80. Tying the knot provides a "protection effect." And men and women living together but unmarried score the same on a depression scale as single people.

Why doesn't cohabitation grant the same benefits that marriage vows do? McKenry speculates that unmarried couples may lack the institutional and familial support, and the commitment that gives married couples a greater sense of well-being.
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Plan to Relax

Vacations should reduce -- not induce -- stress. Take these steps to get the best out of your days away.
  1. Put your work in order and allow time to decompress before taking off.
  2. Review your vacation goals. What do you really want -- time in the backyard to read a book or an exotic getaway?
  3. Be flexible. You may have a mental image about how your time off should go, but chance will intervene. Consider vacations a little more like "adventures."
  4. Leave your work at work. Resist calls and emails. Your job is to relax and have fun.
  5. Plan re-entry. Give yourself a transition day before returning to the job.
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Safe online shopping with Webcard

Buying stuff on the internet isn't popular because of the growing incidence of credit card fraud.

Enter the "webcard" -- already available in the UK from the Internet bank Cahoot. Each time you want to buy something, you log on to your Cahoot account and it issues you with a credit card number you can use for your purchase. Unlike a normal credit card, this number is different every time -- so it can't be used again if it falls into the wrong hands. You can even specify a spending limit to prevent a site from over charging you. More information and a demo at www.cahoot.co.uk » Continue reading

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Contact lenses bugging you?

Your cleaning regimen could be the culprit. Lenses that are covered with mucky deposits or left in your eyes too long could irritate the cornea, leading to itching, infection -- even, in rare cases, blindness. Try doing these:

  1. Cook the case: Boil for 5 minutes every month to kill bacteria; air-dry.
  2. Don't mix it up: Use one type of cleaner for each pair. Chemicals can get stuck inside soft lenses, and competing brands could cross-react and irritate your eyes.
  3. No swapping: Resist the urge to borrow your buddy's novelty lenses for the big game -- or you may end up sharing more than team spirit.
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What causes colorblindness?

Colorblindness is usually a genetic condition passed on the X chromosome from mother to son. It affects up to one in 10 men and one in 100 women. The most common form is the inability to distinguish red from green (that's why traffic signals are always in the same order every where). Colorblind people are banned from such jobs as fighter pilots and police officers -- and (we hear) from picking out their own clothes. Take a test using the circles below.
What causes colorblindness?
Normal people should see A=8, B=5, C=29, and D=74. Color deficient people may see A=3, B=2, C=70, or D=21.
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Wanna Bet?

Need to settle a trivia dispute fast? Richard Blewett, a "Trivial Pursuit" question editor for the games company Hasbro, suggests these websites:

Movies: IMDB.com posts film facts. Were you aware that Tom Hanks is a descendant of Nancy Hanks, Abraham Lincoln's mother?

History: Bartleby.com is an online reference publisher and features historical facts and quotations. The home page also features a list of links to other reference-book sites.

Celebs and TV: Hollywood.com can tell you in which film Jennifer Aniston was menaced by a killer leprechaun, and other details about celebs.

Music: Billboard.com's "Music Info Search" lets you keep up the names of recording artists, song titles and lyrics.
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You need a vacation

Here is a quick list of annual public holidays by country:
South Korea26

Source: World Tourism Organization
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The Left Ear Has Heart

The Left Ear Has HeartWhen it comes to the language of love, not all ears are created equal. In a recent study, volunteers listened to emotional and non-emotional words through each ear. The preliminary findings: Subjects had a 64% recall rate of emotional words heard in the left ear, 58% in the right. Why? Because the brain's right hemisphere, the side that processes emotions better, is more sensitive to signals from the left ear. So if you want to play to someone's soft side lean to the left. » Continue reading


The Best Pill for Brain Power?

Multivitamin tablets / capsules with antioxidants Vitamin C and E fight free radicalsSkip the exotic herbs and extracts -- your brain is more likely to benefit from a good old multivitamin, according to some experts. It's well known that antioxidants like vitamins C and E protect cells from damage by disarming free radicals -- naturally occurring molecules that destroy healthy cells. The brain generates more of these trouble-makers per gram of tissue than any other organ.

The advantage of a multivitamin is economy: You not only get C and E, but other key nutrients linked to healthy brain function, including beta carotene, iron, zinc, B-12 and folic acid.
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Visit museums and sites of historical interest without stepping out the door

Museums and historical sites are popular with travelers. But you don't have to travel far. Tourist bureaus of most Asian countries have websites where you can find information about local museums and places of historical interest.

For a list of museums go to asia.yahoo.com, click on Arts, then "Museums, Galleries and Centres". For extra listings visit Virtual Library Museums Pages of the International Council of Museums. Or seek out books such as The Extraordinary Museums of Southeast Asia (Harry Abrams Inc) by Kristin Kelly. » Continue reading


House-Swapping Vacations

House-Swapping VacationsEver dreamed of staying in a villa in Tuscany? Maybe you can -- if you're willing to swap your house for someone else's. It can save you huge amounts of money (at least half of swaps include cars too), and give you the experience of another culture in a way hotel stays can't. Bill and Mary Barbour have been swapping their home in the US for 18 years -- 100+ times worldwide -- and never had a theft or serious damage. Here's what they've learned:

  • Don't do it if you're uneasy living in someone else's home -- or trusting them to live in yours.
  • Don't expect a palace in Paris if you're trading a modest small-town home. But with time, you'll find the right fit.
  • Get to know the swap family. Talk by phone or email, and exchange photos and information.
  • It's easy to arrange swaps through several agencies like Intervac or HomeLink. For more agencies, just Google for "house swapping"
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A sandwich you can trust

Summer can be the time for big meals, leftovers -- and food poisoning, if you aren't careful. Keep sandwiches and curries from biting back with these cooling tips:

Chill Out: The sooner you get cooked food into the fridge, the sooner any harmful bacteria they may harbor will stop multiplying. "People have a hesitancy about putting warm food in the refrigerator," says one expert. But today's refrigerators can handle warm dishes without taxing the motor.

Divide and Conquer: Large portions such as a deep dish of curry or a pot of soup should be split up into shallow containers first. Otherwise it won't cool fast enough to stop bacterial growth.

Let it Breathe: Allow some room around the hot stuff in the fridge. You need air to circulate to get the food cold very quickly.
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Women beat men at recognizing faces

In case you hadn't already guessed, it's now official: women beat men hands down at remembering a face.

Swedish researchers conducted an online experiment using 1800 participants, each of whom was given eight tasks involving matching a picture of a face with ten similar faces under various conditions -- in profile, silhouetted or with different facial expression or degrees of picture quality. The study found that not only were women better at recognizing faces than men, but they were less likely to be distracted by changes in hairstyle or facial expression.

The result is probably a mixture of genetic difference and training. Women may be better at studying faces because they're more likely to be the main carer in a family and have more eye contact with children. The findings have implications for recruitment in industries such as security and customs, where facial recognition matters.
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Cooked carrots, a countertop attack

Cooked carrots are healthy and release antioxidants called phenolics which prevent cancerNutrition dogma says eat your vegetables raw. But an American study suggests that cooking carrots can actually boost their nutrient value.

Food scientists found that blanched, puréed carrots had 34 percent more of the antioxidants called phenolics than the raw root. Antioxidants protect the body by neturalizing free radicals; these rogue molecules can damage cells, leading to chronic diseases such as cancer.

How did the cooked carrots come out ahead? Heating softens the fibrous root, allowing more phenolics to be released from cell walls.
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Email Etiquette

Email EtiquetteBillions of emails are sent daily, many across the world, some between one desk and the next -- plenty of opportunity to inadvertently offend or annoy, especailly in a work situation. So:

Be brief. Emails that are more than a screen long are daunting and irritating. With friends you can be chattier.

Style counts. Spell check notes before you hit "send." Writing using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS signifies shouting; all small letters is hard to read.

Answer promptly. At work, respond within the day. When you are out for a day or more, program an "I'm away" auto reply.

Ignore chain mail, jokes and petitions. Almost no one likes them. Resist forwarding them unless they seem highly relevant.

Identify yourself. For business emails, create a standard sign-off that includes your full name, title, phone number, address and any pertinent infromation about your company.
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PPP is in

After over a year since PPP was born, it seems to have changed the face of blogging. People who said PPP was a failure have been wronged with PPP rapidly approaching a blogger base of 40,000 (known as Posties).

After finding nearly all prolific bloggers sporting the PPP badges on their blog, I felt it was time I gave it a try. When I signed up for PPP recently and went through the list of available opportunities, I was quite impressed to note that I might not need to review products that I have not used, thrashing my fear of losing my blog's credibility. There were scores of opportunities that just required to write about upcoming events, contests and stuff like that and get paid for it in return! Now does that sound exciting to you? Not just that. Most of the opportunities (known as opps) also allow you to write neutral about the subject.

Initially there were concerns with regard to disclosure, but that seems to have been overcome with the disclosure badge system.

About PayPerPost

PayPerPost (PPP) is a service which helps advertisers find bloggers who are willing to write about the advertiser's product or service and/or drive traffic to the advertiser's website in return for a remuneration. PayPerPost was founded on June 30, 2006 in Orlando, Florida, USA by Ted Murphy, who also founded the interactive agency MindComet and the "BlogStar Network", designed to connect advertisers with bloggers in a manual, non-marketplace fashion.
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You light up my brain

When you're in love, your eyes light up, your face lights up -- and apparently, so do four tiny bits of your brain. "It is the common denominator of romantic love," says Andreas Bartels, a research fellow at University College London.

Bartels used functional MRI scanning to examine eleven women and six men who said they were truly in love -- statements backed up by psychological tests. When the subjects were shown photographs of their sweethearts, different areas of the brain scan lit up -- indicating higher blood flow -- than when they were shown pictures of friends. Theses "love spots" were near, but not the same as, sections that become active when someone is feeling simple lust. Looking at pictures of their dearest also reduced activity in three larger areas of the brain known to be active when people are upset or depressed.
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20 Essential Firefox Add-ons for Web Shoppers

Online shopping can sometimes get really confusing especially during the Christmas season when you have a whole bunch of gifts to buy. It takes a lot of effort to first find the items you want and then to compare the price across various online merchants. Wouldn't you be glad if you could just highlight an item on a web page and your browser could list out the sites selling it along with their prices and user reviews?

Christina Laun has put together a wonderful list of 20 Essential Firefox Add-ons for Frugal Web Shoppers which does just that and much more! These Add-ons make online shopping experience a breeze.

Out of the twenty the ones which caught my fancy were:

  1. Woot Watcher

  2. Chartlet - Wouldn't that be helpful for recording and tracking stock prices too!

  3. Send Tab URLs - Do you have to shift from working on one computer to another (Example: shuttling between work and home)? This Add-on can be useful to email the URLs you were working on before shifting so that you can open the same on the other computer without having to remember the long URLs or retyping them.

Do let me know what was your favorite. Do you know other cool Firefox Add-ons for web shoppers?
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Many Tongues Help Kids

You think it may be confusing for children to grow up with more than one language? Wrong. Research shows it benefits kids in many ways -- they learn languages in general better, and develop problem solving skills earlier. "Multilingual children have a sense of perspective that makes them very language aware and able to block out irrelevant information," says Professor Ellen Bialystok of Toronto.

What's your view, opinion or experience? » Continue reading

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When d'ya need water?

Drinking eight glasses of water a day is simply too much and good if you're working from the bathroom.If drinking eight glasses of water a day has you wearing a path to the bathroom, set down your cup and relax. Drinking water can be a good substitute for high-calorie beverages. But there's no proof we all need to drink those eight glasses of water each day, according to physiologist Heinz Valtin.

"Proponents of the 'eight glasses theory' say that every one of us, including couch potatoes, should drink that much," says Valtin. "And it's just not true." We have a finely tuned system for regulating water flow, including an antidiuretic hormone that tells the kidneys when to keep water in the body, and thirst, which normally kicks in well before we dehydrate. Juice works as well as water, and caffeinated drinks count too. Nearly one-half of the body's water needs are derived from food. Some people do need more water, including patients with kidney stones, people who exercise hard, and those in hot climates. For most, drinking more won't hurt, but trust your body. "If you drink when you're thirsty," says Valtin, "you should be safe."
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Slate fillet & amber sauce

Hsu Chun-I's 'A Banquet of Stones' of 52 dishes assembled from stones
Looks appetizing enough? Take a bite, and you might howl. Not that the cooking is bad, Hsu Chun-I's 'feast' of 52 dishes is assembled from stones and minerals. The stones are not carved or dyed. Hsu selects only those that bear an extreme resemblance to the dishes. The most expensive exhibit is 'Pig's Trotters and Eggs Stewed in Dark Soya Souce', valued at $85,000. » Continue reading

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Messy swig

Cross connection of treated sewage water to drinking water tap.
How would you feel if someone told you that for five months you have been drinking treated sewage water meant for watering lawns?

Vinay Jain in Cary, North Carolina found this truth when workers shut off a treated-water pipe in their area. His neighbors had tap water but their sprinklers were dry; it was the opposite for the Jains. So much for speeches on lack of potable water in developing countries.
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Feet Cold? Wear a Hat

Although your head and neck take up only 10% of your body surface, you can lose more than 30% of your body heat through your head (kids lose up to 60%). Unlike other blood vessels, the arteries in your head and neck don't constrict in the cold air (they need to get blood to your brain). As warm blood rushes through, heat easily escapes. Bundling up keeps the heat in, where it can be transfered to other parts of the body -- like your frozen toes. » Continue reading

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Get a Little Cheesy Culture

Cabot Creamery in Vermont, USA - Visitor Cheese Factory Tour and TastingEver Wonder how cheese is made? By talented cows? Milk-loving ladies and gentlemen? Find out on a cheese factory tour. "Cheesemaking is as much an art as it is a science," says Jed Davis of Cabot Creamery, in Vermont, USA, which hosts over 30,000 tourists a year.

You can discover which bacteria, moulds and enzymes transform milk into a smelly Gorgonzola or creamy Brie, and learn how professional tasters determine how long a cheddar should age. Tours typically end with a tasting, making them a particularly nutritious outing: Cheese contains bone-building calcium (associated with the regulation of blood pressure, reduced risk of colon cancer and even weight loss), protein (builds muscle) and phosphorous (strengthens bones). For information on cheese and cheese recipes, log on to www.ilovecheese.com. » Continue reading

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Holy Toy

Faith Toys - Jesus Christ, Samson and Goliath DollsToys have started going to church, or so it seems. Wal-Mart is set to market faith-based toys modelled on Biblical characters. They are aimed at religious parents who would prefer Samson to Spiderman. Though the manufacturers, One2believe, plan to cash in on the post-9/11 market for religious objects, here, too, it is the action figures who score. While action-figures of warriors Samson and Goliath retail at about $20 each, a talking Jesus Christ doll sells at $15. » Continue reading


Technology blues

Technology blues: Recharging mobile phone battery without current powerWhat happens when technology gets ahead of infrastructure? Residents of villages surrounding Belur in the state of Karnataka in India, have mobile phone and mobile connections. What they didn't have was power supply. For more than a week, no electricity-based device was working in Alehalli Hoblli.

But what stung them most was that mobile phones could not be charged. So they came all the way to Belur town to charge their mobiles. Shopkeepers in Belur were cashing in: they were demanding Rs.10 for charging a phone. » Continue reading

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Beat the stress - smash the hotel room

Roomolition: Stressed Guests Trash Rooms and Bathrooms at NH Hotels in Madrid SpainNH Hotels, a Spanish hospitality chain, welcomed stressed guests to wreck their rooms. Thirty guests smashed the interior of the Madrid hotel as part of its refurbishment.

Candidates for the "roomolition" took a strength test and a psychological test to show how stressed they were. The company owns 335 hotels in 21 countries in Africa, Europe and the United States. No, the offer was only for the Madrid hotel. » Continue reading

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The secret to living longer

How to live to be 100Biologists reckon our bodies could last up to 120 years. We all know about smoking, exercise, diet, etc, but here are some other longevity-boosters. (Sorry, gains aren't cumulative.)

Eat three chocolate bars a month. (Add 1 year) In a study of 7,841 male Harvard graduates, those who ate 1-3 bars a month lived a year longer than those who ate more or none at all. Chocolate contains phenols, antioxidants that appear to help prevent heart disease.

Visit a house of prayer twice a week. (Add 7-14 years) A study reported that white people attending religious services more than once a week lived on average seven years longer than those who didn't. Among black people the figure was 14 years. Such people have lover rates of smoking and drinking, plus helpful factors such as strong social ties.

Don't make mobile phone calls while driving. (Add 1-2 years) Every day 99 years of life are lost when motorists blabbing on their mobiles crash. So each one-minute call shaves an average of 45 seconds off your life.

Ask lots of questions. (Add up to 5 years) Research on 1,200 pensioners for five years found those who were most curious had a 30% better chance of living beyond this period. Higher curiosity levels may mean better adaptation to changes, challenges and stress.

Think positive. (Add 2 years) AIDS patients with pessimistic outlooks, says one study, died on average two years before more positive subjects.

Be eccentric. (Add 5-10 years) A Scottish neuropsychologist studying 1,000 eccentrics (one built to lectern on his roof to preach to his sheep) found they live five to ten years longer than normal people. One reason: they're unencumbered by the usual worries the rest of us fret over.
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Try Thursdays

Need to ask a favor? Try your luck on Thursday. That's when people feel most agreeable, according to a Canadian study. Researchers, who tracked behaviors in people working at least 30 hours a week, found that we become more accommodating as the week progresses towards the weekend. By Friday, though, the compliant mood is over: We're in a rush to finish things. On Monday, it's back to business. Productivity peaks on Tuesday, but avoid touchy subjects on Wednesday, when people are most quarrelsome.

Do hash out your experience asking someone a favor on a Thursday! » Continue reading

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Sun StarOffice on Singapore Airlines' KrisWorld inflight entertainment system

Sun StarOffice running on Linux Server on Singapore Airlines' KrisWorld inflight entertainment systemSun Microsystems Inc. and Singapore Airlines have rolled out StarOffice software in its new Boeing 777-3000ER aircraft.

It has introduced StarOffice software as part of its next generation KrisWorld inflight entertainment system to meet the increasing needs of travelers today. Passengers from Singapore Airlines will be able to use StarOffice's word processing, spreadsheets and presentation tools which runs on the aircraft's Linux server and is accessed via a seat-back terminal at each passenger's seat.

With heightened security, access to laptops during flights can sometimes be restricted. The availability of StarOffice software, offers Singapore Airlines' customers the opportunity to work on and access their information in an open, secure and freely available fashion independent of any vendor or file formats during their flights.

With StarOffice software supporting an increasing number of productivity file formats like Open Document Format and Microsoft Office, travelers can access such files through a single application with a USB storage device that can be plugged into the USB port embedded in the armrest of each chair (near the headphone jack) and even export documents in PDF format.

StarOffice software is an office productivity product that includes word processing, spreadsheets, presentation, database, graphics, drawing, photo editing and web publishing applications. It is compatible with Microsoft Office.
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