Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

– Abraham Lincoln


Problem Solving: Buckets

This problem has been around for a while, see if you can solve it without looking it up..

Objective is to measure exactly 4 gallons of water in a 5 gallon bucket.

Supplies: You have a 3 gallon and a 5 gallon bucket, one holds exactly 3 gallons and the other exactly 5 gallons. You have an infinite supply of water (lets just say more than you’ll ever need to solve this). The buckets have no markings on them.

You objective is to measure exactly 4 gallons of water and have it contained in the 5 gallon bucket. (I think you know why it won’y be in the 3 gallon bucket).

Comment back if you know the answer (well, one of them anyway)

Problem Solving: Bright Idea

This problem involves a sealed room with no windows. No light can get in or out of the room. Outside of the room near the door are three light switches. The electrical contractor was asked to install three lights inside the room, each having its own light switch outside the room. These were the extent of the requirements given. As it turns out the contractor gave no thought to correlating the order of the switches to the order of the lights in the room. (Typical of most outsourcing)

You are left to solve the problem of which switch goes to which light. But there is only one caveat. You may only enter the room one time and one time only to see which light is on. You may not leave the door open, you have no help, and you have to special equipment to assist you. You may only follow these steps:

1. Manipulate the switches
2. Enter the room
3. Solve which switch goes with with light.

Comment back if you think you have solved it

Swine flu strikes home, stay informed with early warning system

Swine Flu has just spread through the high school I attended in NY where 75 students fell sick, apparently infected by a few students who recently returned from Mexico.

There are no confirmed cases of swine flu in the city and initial results from the first students tested are said to be coming back negative. Still a Center for Disease Control spokesman said, “We are very, very concerned. We have what appears to be a novel virus, and it has spread from human to human. It’s all hands on deck at the moment.”

The World Health Organization has just reported that these outbreaks of swine flu in Mexico and the United States have the potential to cause a worldwide pandemic.

These events reminded me of the near release of Ebola and Marhburg viruses in a suburban area of Virginia described in the book “The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story“.

It was shortly after reading that (nearly 7 years ago) when I began to subscribe to the ProMed-mail infectious disease notification system.

The International Society for Infectious Diseases having members from over 155 countries operate a program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases; ProMed-mail is an electronic outbreak reporting system that monitors infectious diseases globally.

ProMed-mail describes itself as:

The global electronic reporting system for outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases & toxins, open to all sources. ProMED-mail, the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases, is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases.

They have set up their Twitter account back in February but have not yet started using it for notifications.

Perhaps they need to raise some more money in order to bootstrap using Twitter as notification mechanism for those who subscribe (which I already do!). Its a worthy organization and service, please consider donating.

You can’t forget your password if you don’t know what it is!

About two years ago I reached a breaking point. I could no longer remember all of the passwords I was required to have for all of the on-line sites that required them. I have always had an excellent memory. When I was a kid I had memorized all of the telephone numbers of all of my friends, and I still remember them today. Useless knowledge that I can’t get rid of! (I hope there isn’t a limit!) As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that my tolerance for having to remember fleeting and useless information is very low. I just wasn’t going to memorize passwords anymore. For obvious reasons, I decided it would be a bad idea to use the same password on all of the sites that required it. With cybercrime on the rise seemingly everywhere, I was sure that I didn’t what an identity or password of mine used on multiple sites. That way if any one of the sites was compromised then the cyberthug perpetrators couldn’t penetrate other sites that I subscribe to using the stolen information.

After trying several manual techniques for keeping my passwords I finally settled on a password vault I had used where I worked to store server passwords. It’s a great little package called KeePass Password Safe. Now all of my passwords look something like this:

or this

Rather than me rambling on about this I’ll snip the description of the product from their site and paste it right here:

KeePass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known (AES and Twofish).

Excellent tool, I highly recommend using it. I have dozens of user accounts and don’t know the passwords to any of them!

What if Newspapers Had Just Been Invented?

Speaking at the National Association of Broadcasters convention, Malcolm Gladwell the author of The Tipping Point and Blink posed the question; What if Newspapers Had Just Been Invented?

Will the decline of newspapers continue? Many of us, including Malcolm believe that this is true. Certainly the revenue model around them has deteriorated. As will the model around television and radio. In fact I believe that all businesses that were built around controlling the distribution of information face the same decline and disruption in their business model. I currently work for Cox Communications, a division of Cox Enterprises who also happen to own Cox Media, which include Cox Newspapers, which is one of the nation’s ten largest newspaper-publishing enterprises, includes 17 daily and 28 non-daily newspapers.

Take a look at this list of features and services the newspaper industry have let slip through their fingers because of their misguided insistence of controlling the distribution rather than concentrating on the content.

Why do I feel like my car is stalled in the railroad crossing?

Newspaper Destiny

Just found this cheery bit of news on the WSJ, where they have this nice map calling out the decline of newspapers across the country:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said in March 2009 it will cut its full-time news staff by about 90 people, or nearly 30%. It is the third and largest round of job cuts for the AJC news staff, which numbered about 500 in 2006. The first came in 2007 with buyouts for retirement-eligible staff members, followed by a broader buyout in mid-2008