Alpha Inventions created by Cheru Jackson, is a site which displays and automatically cycles through recently updated blogs. I reviewed this site some time ago, and did have a few criticisms of how it was running.  Cheru Jackson was quick to comment and engage in a dialogue with readers on that post to address their concerns. Overtime, AI has been tweaked and improved vastly over it’s original design.

The site’s pacing for automatic switching of blogs is much slower.  At times, perhaps a bit too slow, but this is a huge improvement over it’s original speed setting, which was so fast that by the time your eyes caught something interesting, it had disappeared. There is also now a back and forward button, although they do not seem to work consistently, and some design flaws are apparent..

Cheru Jackson says he created the site to help people, and I think we can give him the “benefit of the doubt”, as the saying goes. The bottom line is, the site is improving and is responding to feedback.  Alpha Inventions has come a long way since it first began, and Jackson is assuring people that the traffic it is generating for their blogs is legitimate user-based traffic, not “false hits”, as some have claimed.

The bottom line really is this: If you have specific criticisms of the site, they can be addressed, or you can choose to opt-out. Most bloggers are happy for any extra exposure that comes their way, and it’s with that in mind, that I’d like to support the site, and encourage others to give it a try, if they are not familiar with it.  It’s not the only tool to help your blog get some extra traffic, but it is one tool that you can make use of.

For more information from Cheru Jackson on Alpha Inventions, see “What Is Alpha Inventions?”

Since I had reviewed the site in it’s original form, I think I owe it to the site’s creator and designer to give a more up-to-date perspective.  Have you tried the new AI, and if so, what did you think of the improvements?

Similar sites:

If you like Alpha Inventions, you might also like Blog Surfer. Does anyone have any other good sites for finding new blogs to read and sharing your own for others to discover?

The other side:

Not every critic has been tempered by AI’s apparent improvements. See Alpha Inventions: A big waste of time for bloggers for current criticism. But, afterall, you can’t make everyone happy. I hope we will see further improvements to come.


Steven Hawking Promotes Colonization Of Space

hawkingI just watched a pretty amazing live speech by Professor Steven Hawking on Nasa TV. I’ll post a link to a transcript when available.

Prof. Hawking spoke on the importance of resurrecting public interest in science, and mentioned the new children’s book he has written with his daughter.  He went on to discuss the probability of life on other planets, saying he believed primitive life forms were likely to be fairly common, but intelligent life rare.  He mentioned the possibility that intelligent life self-destructs upon reaching a certain technological advancement due to nuclear weapons and other methods of mass destruction, but said he preferred not to accept that explanation as the primary reason for us not having confirmed the presence of other intelligent life.

Prof. Hawking gave several possibilities for colonization, including the moon, mars, and titan (a moon of Saturn), as well as planets outside our solar system.  He suggests inter-solar system travel should be a goal for humanity to accomplish over the next 200-500 years. He spoke of possibility that life began on earth due to the intervention of a meteor carrying DNA from another planet.  He closed by stating that if humanity was to survive the next million years, colonization of another earth-like planet is a necessity.

Prof. Hawking displayed a sense of humor at various parts of his speech, and also quoted Star Trek and displayed an image of what appeared to be a “galaxy class” star ship from the TV series. He also spoke briefly about UFOs and alien abduction, making jokes about those who report such events.

This was a very interesting lecture, and rather progressive compared to what I would have anticipated at a NASA event. I’ll have more here as it becomes available.

Do you believe that space colonization is necessary for the survival of humanity? Comment below.

Update: It would seem NASA tricked me. Although, “live” was appearing during the lecture, it appears this was a repeat broadcast of a lecture given over a year ago.  You can find more information here.

Dr. Phil Under Fire Again For Sexual Abuse

dr-phil_more-advice-that-i-pulled-out-of-my-assIn what seems to be becoming somewhat of a pattern, Dr. Phillip McGraw is once again being accused of sexual abuse by a patient. Mainstream media is just beginning to report the latest case, partially due to the lawsuit which was filed, alleging sexual molestation. The specific claims, which you can find here, along with several links, are rather bizarre.

It seems that Dr. Phil’s idea of “treatment” may include forcing a female patient (if we can call her a patient, since Phillip McGraw no longer has a license to practice medicine) to remain in a room with a naked man, and then having her breasts groped. Psychiatry seems to be the profession most prone to such abuses and perversity.  Many times psychiatric abuse goes unreported due to the private environment, imbalance of “credibility”, and patient trust. CCHR reports that over 10% of psychiatrists openly admit to sexually abusing their patients.  I wonder what percentage of psychiatrists admit to lying on surveys they use to self-report?

Dr. Phil was previously accused of sexual misconduct by Sara Morrison. “Not a single day has gone by when I haven’t been affected by what Phil McGraw did to me. He profoundly affected the course of my life,” she said. Dr. Phil’s latest accuser is Shirley Dieu. Her lawsuit comes not long afterward both McGraw and his wife were sued for fraud by former employees, Deborah Flattery and Brynja McGrady.

This is certainly an explosive story, and I suspect there are many more details in that lawsuit which the mainstream media, in typical fashion, will not touch. If anyone out there has more information, please comment below. Also feel free to comment to share your thoughts on this.  I’ve obtained a copy of the suit courtesy of Fox, and I will be reviewing it as time permits.

For more information on Psychiatric abuses see The Citizens Commission On Human Rights (CCHR).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Soldier’s Little Girl Wants Her Daddy Back

Precious Paige wants her daddy home.

Precious Paige wants her daddy home. Image by: Abby Bennethum

NBC Philadelphia reports on the little girl who didn’t want to let her father go back to war.

“A family photo that shows a little girl beside her father and his fellow soldiers in uniform as they prepare to go to war has resonated well beyond the tight knit Bennethum clan.

Four-year-old Paige Bennethum really, really didn’t want her daddy to go to Iraq. So much so, that when Army Reservist Staff Sgt. Brett Bennethum lined up in formation at his deployment this July, she couldn’t let go.

No one had the heart to pull her away”

This little girl is not alone, and yet her story has put an iconic image to the painful goodbyes that are one of the costs of the continued wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This truly is a heartbreaking story.  I think we can all feel a sense of solidarity with young Paige Bennethum, no matter our views on the war. I hope her father does make it back safely, and I hope for the safety of the fathers of little girls just like Paige in Iraq and Afghanistan. The insanity of war, will continue to make victims of the most innocent of us, until we stop participating in it’s madness.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Squidoo: Blogging Made Easy

Even Squidoo can't ressurect the "singing fish".

Even Squidoo can't ressurect the "singing fish".

I’d like to talk a bit about Squidoo now that I’ve experimented with it enough to form a pretty consistent opinion on it. First, let’s deal with some common questions:

Question: Do you actually make money on Squidoo?

Answer: Yes. You really do get money, though most people might make more money with Amazon affiliate links. It really depends on your skill set, however.

Question: Is Squidoo actually faster and easier than standard blogging?

Answer: Yes, it definitely is faster. You could put together a bare-bones page in Squidoo in 10 minutes, that has the appearance you worked on it for 2 hours. The quick interface makes publishing multiple posts fast and effective.

Question: Is Squidoo harder to use than WordPress or Blogger?

Answer: No. It’s actually quicker and easier to use than both, and still manages to give you more options.

Question: What is the biggest advantage with Squidoo?

Answer: Squidoo is, in a way, like the YouTube of web publishing. It’s very easier to network on, and the platform is great for learning what works and what doesn’t, as far as attracting traffic. Getting paid is also nice, but keep in mind that unless you donate your money to charity, Squidoo will take 50%.

Question: What is the biggest flaw or downside to using Squidoo?

Answer: That 50% of revenue being taken, that I just mentioned.

Ok, let’s get down to my review.  I stumbled across Squidoo many months ago.  A lot of people seemed to be saying that there was money to be made on it.  It was like blogging, only with much better integration of pictures, videos, and other content, and it earned cash. Well, I was interested. I spent a few hours researching it, and then finally started up my first “lens”, which is what Squidoo calls your web page.

Your lens is like your post, but it is not one mass of information.  A lens is composed of modules, which let you focus on the smaller sub-sections that make up the whole.  There are modules for pretty much everything, and you can add or remove them at will very easily.

Squidoo isn’t technically blogging, but more generally, web page publishing.  However, blogs benefit very much from the platform. Generally most people have not monetized their blogs to their full potential, and 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing. Squidoo makes it quick and easy to incorporate relevant merchandise into your lens, in a very unobtrusive manner that users respond positively to. There are many, many modules taking advantage of affiliate programs, including Amazon, Ebay, Zazzle, CafePress.

One great advantage to using Squidoo is that that you can use it “test the waters” out on a particular topic. Instead of spending a couple hours fully making a lens about singing fish, for example, you can put out bares bones version of singing fish, and 11 others. You can then watch the stats, and see what is in the highest demand, and fill it out further. There’s always some  “hit or miss”, like on anything else online, but Squidoo maximizes “hit” and minimizes “miss”. It’s worth checking out, and if you’re wondering if Squidoo is, in fact, visually more appealing and engaging, you can see for yourself.

Here is my post about job interview strategies in blog format:

Here is the post on Squidoo, where it’s module format not only makes it look better, raises it’s visual appeal, and monetizes it, but it also helped me get in new content, but helping me to take the article one section at a time and further flesh it out:

Which do you like better?

Click here to start your own Squidoo lens today!

Surrogates Movie Is Worth Seeing, But Barely

A day after seeing Michael Moore’s new film, I was off watching Surrogates. There’s a special place in my heart for sci-fi films, such as this one, and I was genuinely excited.  Sometimes first impressions really shouldn’t be overlooked, though.  I saw the trailer for Surrogates weeks ago, while seeing District 9 (which is a must-see movie of 2009). My first reaction to the trailer was laughter, and it seemed one of the most ridiculous movies I’ve seen a trailer for.  As time went on, and I saw different clips, I began to feel differently.  The concept seemed unique, and there wasn’t a whole lot else playing in the way of competition. So, in the end, I was choosing between Zombieland and Surrogates, and went with the latter.

This is a movie that had a lot more potential than it utilized. It certainly makes you question the nature of reality and the possibilities of advancing technology. It’s enjoyable, but it felt like it could have been so much more than what it was. I found the characters pretty two dimensional. Bruce Willis is great, but this is no Die Hard 3.

What I liked about the movie was it’s take on “virtual reality” or perhaps “alternate reality”, and that it’s the type of film that can mean different things to different people.  There’s a lot of room for interpretation, in particular, within the realm of social commentary, health, and philosophy.  It does have a sort of Matrix feel to it, but not to the same degree.  The film can be viewed as a metaphor for a robotic society, either through a diminished sense of man’s spiritual self, or through mind-numbing pharmaceuticals. In fact, there are a couple of scenes where several pill bottles are shown beside the “control device” for the surrogates, which is used by many to “escape from reality”.

Spoilers below:

Character development definitely seemed to be a low priority.  I found myself not really invested in any of the characters, and it certainly doesn’t help that half the characters in the movie end up being the same person. The ending did not make a whole lot of sense, and despite an obvious attempt at closure, there really wasn’t much. This movie seems to end with the assumption there will not be a sequel (I tend to agree), but it still couldn’t quite bring itself to burn that bridge entirely.

The political climate in the movie was fascinating, but fell short of the brilliance of District 9. The Prophet was an interesting character, but lacked depth, a quality which may have been deliberate given the circumstances of his identity.

Overall, it was a good movie if you’re the contemplative sort, or if you just enjoy action with a sci-fi twist, but I would not put it near the top of my list either for sci-fi, or for Bruce Willis flicks.

While we’re on the subject of sci-fi, what is your favorite science fiction movie? Also feel free to comment on Surrogates, but please do share your top sci-fi picks. There’s a lot out there I haven’t seen.

Man’s Skull Regenerates On It’s Own To Cover Large Hole

man's skull regenerates to cover hole. metla plate no longer needed.

Man's skull regenerates to cover hole. Metal plate no longer needed.

BBC is reporting that a man undergoing an operation to treat an infection surprised doctors with his apparent regenerative abilities. Following an automobile accident 6 decades ago, a metal plate was inserted into Gordon Moore’s head. Doctors discovered recently that his skull had fully healed underneath that plate at some point, allowing for it’s complete removal.

While doctors hasten to emphasize the rarity of this occurrence, readers should consider that it was happenstance that revealed the situation in the first place. How likely is it that similar individuals who were led to believe a permanent metal plate was a life-saving necessity, have likewise managed to heal?  If you’ve been in a similar situation, you might want to consult a doctor who understands the regenerative properties of the human body.  This is something which is often under-appreciated and overlooked.

The regenerated skull is sloped much in the way the metal plate was. It seems reasonable to conclude that the metal plate, while inserted for the protection of his head, actually interfered in the healing process. I wonder how often patients are made aware of this possibility?

It’s a truly incredible story, both in it’s ramifications and it’s indications of the real potential of man, and how easily it can be overlooked. Gordon Moore, who was in at least two separate  car crashes that damaged his skull, has seemingly stopped wrecking his car and started healing his body. Do you find this story as inspirational as I do?