Saturday, September 24, 2016

Side Effects – The Placebo Effect

It is known that many medications have side effects or results other than the intended effect. While usually specific side effects can be linked to the medicine there is a good chance a side effect experienced may not be related to the medicine at all.

This can be referred to as the Placebo Effect which basically means the medication did not cause a change, but in your mind, you think that it did so it seems like it did cause a change. This is something that can easily happen when taking a new medicine or supplement.

Recently I was doing some research and thought about trying out a supplement. I didn't get around to trying it yet, but throughout the day and following day I experienced what would be considered side effects such as headache and irritability. I thought to myself, if I had taken the supplement, I would have definitely blamed these effects on the supplement.

So in this case, these unrelated effects would have been blamed on the supplement incorrectly. This is something to keep in mind because it can happen when taking anything new from a medicine or supplement to even trying a new food.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Windows 10 Update Review - KB3176936

Recently Windows 10 did a big update on my computer which did not go very smoothly. I have the automatic updates on so it downloads by itself and then prompts to install the next time you are shutting down. Usually the updates are pretty quick, but this one took almost an hour.

At one point is went to a black screen and nothing was happening. It stayed like this for about 10 minutes. I thought it was frozen and I was going to have to do a force shut down, but finally it managed to come back again and finish the installation. They need to make sure there is progress showing on the screen or people may think something is broken and then shut it down in the middle of the update.

After it was completed, I noticed a lot of unwelcome changes were made. Lock screen and layout of some of the basic elements such as the Windows menu and task bar have been changed. Also for some reason, they seem to have reset a lot of changes that were put into place such as re-adding icons to the tray that were removed.

Even things such as default program settings were changed, for example it changed the music player use when opening an audio file. It also made some of my keyboard shortcuts not work anymore so I had to go back and manually fix them after the update.

Overall performance seems to be slower than before. I will give it some time because I know sometimes these things take a little time to break in after a new install, but so far I have not been too pleased with this recent update.

If Windows wants to update security features and bugs, that is fine, but they should not make big changes to people's computers like this especially without telling them ahead of time or explaining which changes have been made.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Software Piracy and Sales on Twitter

I recently discovered an issue on Twitter in regards to the unauthorized selling of pirated software. I discovered this while doing promotions for one of the software companies I support. While doing these promotions, I found a user on Twitter who was marketing cracked copies of some of the most popular programs to others at a fraction of the price via direct messages on Twitter.

This bothered me for 2 reasons. One, it was interfering with people like myself who are helping to promote legitimate sales of authentic software via the official companies, and two, it was just very morally wrong.

It is one thing to illegally download a software program for your own use, which is wrong to begin with, but then to turn around and try to profit off that by selling it to others is just taking it to another level of wrong.

I decided to try to do something about it. I contacted some of the companies whose software was being illegally sold on Twitter to let them know what was going on. Most of them have an online form or email to report these things. I got a few replies back thanking me for letting them know about it.

A few weeks went by and I noticed this user was still actively trying to sell pirated software on Twitter. I decided to contact Twitter about it directly. It was not very easy and they requested personal information which I was not really comfortable giving out, but I placed the report anyway.

A few days later they replied and basically said they reviewed it and it does not violate their policies. So basically what they are saying is they are ok with people using their platform to illegally sell unauthorized copies of software to others.

I was surprised that even after contacting the makers of these programs, nothing seems to be getting done to prevent this from continuing. It makes me think maybe software piracy is a much bigger issue elsewhere and these companies think it is not worth their time to try to stop one individual from stealing from them.

Overall I am disappointed in Twitter for not taking any action in this case and surprised that none of the companies have yet to make an effort to stop this from happening.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Collecting Marvel Cards in the 90s

As a kid in the 90's, one of my favorite activities was collecting Marvel trading cards. X-Men and Spider-Man were some of the most poplar and this was before they started making blockbuster movies for comic characters.

Every week or so, my friends and I would ask our parents to drive us to the comic book store to buy packs of cards. We would then trade cards with each other to try to collect all the cards and complete the sets. I was also interested in art at the time so it was fun to see all the artwork for each character.

Collecting full sets was not an easy task, especially at that age and at that time. There was no internet so you could not just buy whatever you needed online like it is today. You had to work hard and trade with your friends in order to get the complete sets.

I saved most of the cards hoping some day they might be worth something. Unfortunately, many cards were produced at that time so they are not very rare. Most sets can be found on eBay now for around $25-$30 which might even be less than they cost when they were first released. Based on this, I will probably hold on to them for now as the sentimental value is worth more.

Some of the sets I still have include:

Marvel Universe Series 1 1990
Marvel Universe Series 3 1992
Marvel Masterpieces 1992
Marvel Masterpieces 1994
Fleer Ultra Spiderman 1995
Marvel Fleer Ultra 1994
Marvel Fleer Ultra 1995
X-Men Series 2 1993

After doing a little research on the current market for Marvel cards, I found that they are still releasing new sets and in fact there is a new Marvel Masterpieces set for 2016. This caught my interest especially since the artwork is done by Joe Jusko who did the art for the original Marvel Masterpieces in 1992. Apparently the new set is more limited and more expensive at $150-$200 for a box. Given the cost, I do not plan on collecting but it is nice to see they are still releasing new sets.

Did you collect Marvel cards in the 90's? Which sets were your favorite?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Why do so many people have the same names?

Names are pretty important considering it is something that identifies us as an individual for our entire lives. Most people are given a name by their parents and will go by this name or a nickname unless they decide to have it legally changed later on in life.

With all the possibilities of unique names out there, many people still end up with common names and often the exact same name as other people. So how does this happen?

There are many lists out there with the most popular baby names for each year. It is possible people search for the popular names and then pick a name out of the most popular names. Also it may be out of tradition such as naming a child after a relative, historical figure, or celebrity.

Personally, I think people should try to give their children more unique name instead of the most common names that have already been done. It can be odd to come across someone with the same name as you. It is a coincidence, but strange because we associate our name with who we are and so it is odd when you find someone else who is going by the same name.

A unique name helps you stand out from the crowd. In a list of names, the common names get overlooked but when there is an interesting name you have never seen before, it stands out and gets more attention. This can have an effect on many things from job applications to general introductions and meeting people.

With the internet these days and the ability to search by name, a common name is almost impossible to narrow down in a search unless it is someone famous. A unique name can be found much more easily with a search. This could be a positive or a negative depending on how you look at it, but I think having the unique name has the advantage.

In my case, I have a first and last name that falls somewhere in the middle, not too common, but common enough that there are others with the same name. Given the choice of one way or the other, I would prefer a more unique name that no one else has.

Do you have a common name or a unique name? What are your thoughts when it comes to picking out a name for a child?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

US Womens National Team Rio Olympics Wrap Up

I have been following the US Women's National Soccer team since the World Cup last year and since then, they quickly became my favorite sports team. They are a great team with lots of wonderful personalities and are just a lot of fun to watch.

While the roster has changed a bit from last year's World Cup team, they still have a lot of the same players and staff. The team was favored to win gold again this year but they struggled throughout the tournament. It seems the chemistry was not quite there this time as they had trouble converting on opportunities.

They ended up making it to the quarter finals of the 2016 Rio Olympics but lost a close game against Sweden in a penalty kick shootout. Throughout the game, the US seemed to be dominating at least on possession, but Sweden proved to be more efficient with the few opportunities they had. 

I don't blame anyone for the loss as it was a fair game and Sweden earned the victory. It is very disappointing for the US team, but it is a lesson that they are not unbeatable. I am still very proud of the US Women's National Team and will continue to follow their progress as they train for the next big tournament!

For more on the USWNT check out their Youtube and Twitter accounts here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

How to use a dishwasher if drain is clogged

A while back, my kitchen sink drain started getting clogged so when I would run the dishwasher, the water would back up into the sink. It was going to take a while before it could be fixed, so I had to figure out another solution. I didn't want to wash all the dishes by hand in the bathroom sink, so I figured out a way to still be able to use the dishwasher.

Under the sink, there is a hose that runs from the dishwasher to the drainage pipes or disposal. This is where the water is drained from the dishwasher. I found if you unhook this hose from the disposal and put it into a bucket or a wastebasket, you can run the dishwasher and the water will drain into the bucket. Then you just have to empty the bucket in a another drain that is not clogged such as a bathroom tub.

It is not the most convenient because it usually uses at least 5 gallons of water per wash so you have to keep an eye on the bucket throughout the cycle to make sure it does not overflow. I found that having 2 small buckets works best. It usually does not drain more than 1-2 gallons at a time so as long as you stay on top of it, it should be able to handle the water.

Check the instructions for your dishwasher to see how many gallons it uses per wash. It can depend on which cycle you choose.

Also remember not to use the sink when you have unhooked the hose underneath as water may get out from the hole where the hose has been disconnected.

Overall I find it works well and allows you to run the dishwasher even if your kitchen drain is clogged.