Archive for January, 2010

Is Your Password Strong Enough?

Passwords are used as a way to keep all of your information safe. However, the vast majority of passwords just aren’t strong or complex enough to keep hackers at bay for very long at all.

Most passwords include slang words or dictionary words that may be easy to remember but don’t provide much protection at all. Hackers are able to use what is called a brute force attack to gain access to data protected by weak passwords. Essentially, a program runs through dictionary and slang words combined with numbers to eventually establish what the true password is. While this process may seem like an endlessly complex approach and would take large amounts of time, the combination of weak passwords and automated brute force attacks can give someone access to your data in as little as 110 attempts. Those 110 attempts occur in only one second. That means that in just 17 minutes, a hacker could potentially have access to 1000 data accounts.

So what can you do to make your password stronger? Well, you can start by not using common slang words or words found in the dictionary. This will automatically make your password much stronger. In addition to that, you can begin incorporating capital letters. Many passwords are case sensitive and will not allow access if the correct capital letters are not present. Another way is to include numbers or symbols in your password.

While these steps will make your password harder to remember, they will also make your password harder to figure out and will keep your important data much safer.

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For Sale: Slight Water Damage

Passengers from United Airways Flight 1549, made famous for landing in the Hudson River after striking a flock of birds, may get a chance to see their plane again up close and personal. The jet liner that was skillfully brought down to safety by Captain Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger is now up for auction at a salvage yard in New Jersey.

The listing says that it is being sold as it is, where it is and that there is extensive water damage to the entire airframe and impact damage on the underside of the fuselage, which considering what happened, is to be expected. The wings are sold with the body, but are not attached, and the engines will not be part of the auction.

The auction will end on March 27, 2010 and will be open to the public.

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Recipe of the Week

Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara may be named for the charcoal makers of Umbria, but no one really knows. Made with pancetta, which is salt-cured pork belly (similar to bacon, but not smoked), and served up with lots of cheese and black pepper, this sauce was very popular with American GIs in Italy after World War II. It’s delicious as a basic recipe, but you can also add some more goodies such as fresh peas, asparagus tips or sautéed baby artichokes.


2 tablespoons olive oil

12 ounces pancetta, cut into ½-inch pieces

4 large egg yolks

2/3 cup heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper; to taste

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 pound dried penne

Yield: 4 servings


1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until it is crisp, about 15 minutes. Transfer the pancetta to paper towels to drain.

2. While the pancetta is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

3. Beat the egg yolks and cream together in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Whisk in ½ cup of the cheese.

4. Add the penne to the boiling water and cook until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer it to a colander to drain thoroughly, then return it at once to the pot. Add the pancetta and the egg mixture and toss to combine well. The heat of the pasta will cook the eggs. Stir in the remaining ½ cup cheese and serve immediately.

Make a big salad & enjoy!

Simon Cowell is on his way out

Simon Cowell, the famous talent judge with the often brutally honest opinion, has announced that this will be his final season as a judge on American Idol.  His eyes are set on a new talent show with less restrictions and, more specifically, a lot more money for him.  He intends to bring his popular British talent show, The X Factor, to the states and dig through the American talent pool to find the next rising star.  Cowell will serve as executive producer and talent judge once the show launches in America sometime in 2011, making it a much more lucrative job for the stern talent assessor.

Oddly enough, Fox doesn’t plan on getting rid of American Idol once Simon departs.  As of right now, nothing is officially laid out, but it seems like American Idol and The X Factor might fill up the winter and summer line-ups nicely.  Though, American Idol producers will have to find someone just as bold as Simon if they hope to keep the judging on the show as edgy and talked about as it currently is.

Also up in the air is the new panel of judges for Simon’s new show.  Many have asked if Paula Abdul, who left American Idol last season, would be among them.  Simon gave no definitive answer, but spoke highly of Paula, saying that he missed her and that he intends to work with her again in some capacity.

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Kick back and Relax, Your Days of Doing Laundry May Soon be Over.

At the Korean Institute of Science and Technology, scientists have developed an automated robot that is capable of tossing laundry into the washer and starting the cycle all on its own.

The robot, named Mahru-Z, is shaped like a human and has arms, legs, a rotating head, and fingers. It can also recognize objects in a three dimensional space and will be able to understand which chores need to be done. By using its fingers, Mahru-Z will be able to pick up a shirt, put it in the washer, add the appropriate amount of soap, and push buttons to begin the washing cycle. It is controlled by a central computer that gives it commands as it goes about its defined chores.

Mahru-Z also has a robot friend, Mahru-M, whose mobility is much better and would have the capability to bring things to its owner much easier and quicker. The two can work in conjunction, with Mahru-Z putting laundry in the basket, and Mahru-M bringing the basket where it has been asked to go.

While this technology is in its infant phase and a consumer ready robot is years away from being available, it’s nice to know that maybe someday I can call in my robot butler and ask him if my jeans are clean yet.

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Jail Time for Man Who Slapped Child

Roger Stephens, 61, was arrested back in August for slapping another woman’s 2 year old child as they passed in a Walmart.

Annoyed that the child wouldn’t stop crying, Stephens reportedly warned the mother, saying, “If you don’t shut that baby up, I will shut her up for you.” The mother, dismissing Stephens as an angry shopper, avoided him and went on her way. Shortly after their first exchange, they ended up passing each other in a different aisle. Stephens, still unhappy with the child’s behavior, grabbed the 2 year old and hit her across the face 4 or 5 times. “See, I told you I would shut her up,” he barked.

He was arrested immediately and the child was checked over by medical personnel to make sure that she wasn’t seriously injured. Her face was slightly bruised, but she was otherwise unharmed.

Stephens was found guilty of cruelty to children in the second degree and was sentenced to 6 months in prison followed by 6 months of home confinement. During his period of home confinement, he will be required to wear an ankle monitor and will not be allowed near any children under the age of 12. He will also be required to participate in mental health counseling.

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New Intel Reader for the Visually Impaired

Intel has just released a new product that promises to be a huge success in the blindness community. Named simply the Intel Reader, the device is a technological masterpiece without being overly complicated to operate.

The Reader works by utilizing a high resolution camera to take a picture of text.  It’s as simple as pointing the reader, taking a picture of the text, and letting it read aloud to you.  It converts the printed text into a digital readout which can either be magnified or played back via synthesized voice. The Reader can be used on nearly anything with printed material. It is also very portable, allowing the user to bring it anywhere they would need to. Another added feature is a headphone jack, so that the user can maintain privacy if they’d like.

The Reader also comes equipped with a hard drive, so you can store multiple sources of text at the same time and read them whenever you wish. This feature truly gives a great deal of freedom to anyone who uses one. It is also compatible with MP3 and Daisy audio formats, digital talking books, and can even store text transferred from your computer, like the Matilda Ziegler Magazine e-mail edition.

For more information on the Intel Reader, go to

Football Conference Championship Games

The last stop before the Superbowl looks like it is going to be extremely entertaining to watch.

Appearing in the AFC Championship, the New York Jets have beaten the odds, not to mention a number of tough opponents, in order to come up against the powerful Indianapolis Colts. The Colts saw their first loss of the season against the Jets in week 16 when they decided to pull all their important starters after they had taken the lead in the first half. The Jets went up against the Colts’ second string and ended up winning 29 to 15. The controversial win has everybody questioning whether or not the Jets can produce the same end result with Peyton Manning at the helm and all of the other first string players helping him out for the entire game this week.

The only people who aren’t questioning the outcome are the Jets themselves. With three big wins to get them to the conference championship, they feel that momentum is on their side. Coach Rex Ryan is fired up and he’s trying to light that same fire in his players as they embark on one of the most important games in franchise history. If the Jets rookie quarterback, Mark Sanchez, plays up to his potential, his offensive line gives him the necessary protection, and the ground game produces decent numbers, this game could be a close one.

All the Colts need to do is just be the Colts. They’ve had no problem winning games, with a regular season record of 14 wins and only 2 losses. Manning’s offensive line gives him ample time to pick and choose his intended receivers, who are more than willing to make spectacular catches and keep running afterwards. The Colts’ running game is relatively strong as well, giving them a double edged sword when attempting to score.

On paper, both defensive lineups look to be relatively similar, so you should expect to see most of this battle fought from the offensive side of the ball. No matter what happens, it should be a fantastic game to watch.

In the NFC Championship, we’ll watch the Minnesota Vikings play against the New Orleans Saints. This should prove to be a very interesting game to watch. While the Vikings offense isn’t as good as the Saints in terms of numbers, their defense is much stronger, especially against their opponent’s running game. The Saints are a scoring powerhouse and were expected to make it to the Superbowl since the first few weeks of the regular season. They both have what it takes, but can they pull it off?

The Vikings offense is led by veteran quarterback Brett Favre, who has played in the league for 19 years now. The 40 year old quarterback has had a simply incredible season this year with over 4,200 passing yards and 33 touchdown passes. Adrian Peterson, the Vikings’ star running back has had an equally impressive season, with over 1,300 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. If the two can combine their talents and continually get points on the board, they’ll give the Saints a run for their money.

The Saints have had a truly fantastic season this year, going undefeated until the last three weeks of the regular season. They are ranked first in points and yards per game, which isn’t surprising considering who is behind those numbers. Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees has numbers that almost exactly mirror those of Brett Favre with over 4,300 passing yards and 33 touchdowns. The Saints’ running game features Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, a couple of seriously productive running backs.

Bottom line, and forgive me for sounding like Yogi Berra, whichever team can score the most points the quickest, is sure to win this game. What isn’t known, though, is which one will end up doing that. If the Vikings’ offense can keep adding to the scoreboard and their defense lives up to their reputation, the Saints are in trouble. However, the Saints have proven to be astoundingly talented and resilient this season. If there is any crack in the Vikings’ armor, they will find it an exploit it with everything that they have. It is going to be a great game.

In the AFC Championship game, the Jets came out hungry and looking like they were going to perform the upset of the season against the Colts.  However, they lost their steam during the second half and the Colts rallied to end up winning the game 30 to 17.
In the NFC Championship game, it was a back and forth duel throughout the entire game.  Neither team ever led by more than a touchdown and a series of amazing plays by both teams brought the game into overtime with a score of 28 to 28.  The Saints won the coin toss and naturally chose to receive the kick.  They marched down the field to get into field goal range and their kicker split the uprights for the win and a trip to the Superbowl.

Conan O’Brien Says ‘Farewell’ to Tonight Show

It seems that Conan’s time as the host of the Tonight Show on NBC will be short-lived.  The popular late night host has essentially conceded at this point and is in negotiations regarding severance contracts with NBC.  The show that NBC promised him after Jay Leno looked on to retirement is now being taken back.  Sources say that Conan’s contract will net him a buy-out of roughly thirty millions dollars, but Conan’s main concern is that the staff of his show will be taken care of properly. 

While nothing is etched in stone at this point, nearly everyone is expecting that Jay Leno will return as the host of the Tonight Show after his primetime show produced poor ratings and negatively affected NBC affiliates.

The largest question mark in all of this revolves around NBC.  The network’s handling of the situation has left many puzzled and may affect it’s future ratings as a result, regardless of what programming they offer.  NBC also needs to consider the possibility that O’Brien will transfer to another network and compete with them directly, perhaps even during the same time slot as the Tonight Show.

Despite his recent treatment, O’Brien has remained classy, composed, and of course, funny.  Wherever he ends up after all of this, those traits will surely follow. 

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Boy With Brain Tumor Is NFL Play Caller

Whether you’re a Baltimore Ravens fan or not, this is a story that you’ll be able to appreciate. 

In week 15, Baltimore’s first play was an incomplete pass, a pretty normal play call with a pretty normal result.  What wasn’t normal was who called it. 

Cam Cameron, the Ravens’ offensive coordinator, heard about one of his son’s 14 year old classmates who suffers from an inoperable brain tumor.  His name is Matthew Cassidy.  After hearing about Matthew from his son, Cameron immediately went to visit with him, toting along a Joe Flacco signed football and Ravens hat.  Before leaving, Cameron turned around and asked Matthew what the first play of the game should be the following Sunday.  Stunned by the gesture, Matthew suggested a play-action pass to Todd Heap.

Sure enough, the Ravens’ first play of the game was just that, only the pass ended up incomplete.  Later in that game, though, Cameron noticed the “Matthew Cassidy” written next to that play and called it again.  Matthew’s play got Todd Heap into the end zone and the Ravens ended up easily winning against the Bears.

Three weeks later, Cameron called on Matthew to help them again as the Ravens were facing the Patriots in their first playoff game.  He suggested a run this time, with Ray Rice as the intended foot power.  As anyone who was watching or listening to that game can attest to, Matthew’s choice was worth its weight in gold.  For the first offensive play of the game, Rice exploded up the middle through a nice hole created by the offensive line and then ran 83 yards like his shoes were on fire and the end zone was a swimming pool.  That first touchdown set the tone for the rest of the game, as the Ravens soundly beat the Patriots 33 to 14 to go on to the next round of the playoffs.  Cameron couldn’t have been happier.

Not just the phenom NFL play caller, Matthew is an incredible kid.  He said, “When I get better, I wanna do what Coach Cam did for me. I wanna make some kid feel the way Coach made me feel.”  He’s an athlete at heart who unfortunately can’t really run around anymore due to his chemo therapy treatments and very low white blood cell count.  But he keeps his spirits high by routinely listening to comedy albums on his MP3 player, laughing all the way through his fight to live.  Soon, Matthew will find out if the chemo therapy has been working and if the tumor has shrunk enough that he can begin radiation treatment.

At the time of the article, Cameron was asking Matthew what his call would be for their next game against the Colts.  Unsure, and not wanting to make an unwise choice, Matthew told the coach that he’d get back to him.

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