Friday, December 18, 2009

China develops herbal medication to treat A/H1N1 flu

Chinese medical specialists announced Thursday they had developed a Chinese herbal medication to treat the A/H1N1 flu.

Seven months of scientific and clinical studies showed the remedy, called "Jin Hua Qing Gan Fang," was effective in treating A/H1N1 flu patients, said Wang Chen, president of Beijing's Chaoyang Hospital. "It can shorten patients' fever period and improve their respiratory systems. Doctors have found no negative effects on patients who were treated in this way," he said. "It is also very cheap, only about a quarter of the cost of Tamiflu," he said at a press conference held by the Beijing Municipal Government.

"We are further developing the medicine and trying to present it to the whole country and world as soon as possible, thus offering an alternative to treat the A/H1N1 flu," he said. For more information click on Herbal Medication

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Army Tests ‘Universal Remote’ for Future Troopers

On future battlefields, the Army wants to have an all-seeing array of drones, robots and sensors that will be tied together over a common network. But the real challenge will be bringing all that digital information down to the lowest level: the individual soldier.

That's the idea behind a recent series of tests pairing Land Warrior, a controversial array of infantry gadgets the service has trialed in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the Common Controller device, a developmental system that functions something like a "universal remote" for different robotic devices.

To read the complete article click on Army Universal Remote

Sunday, December 13, 2009

East Texas Palm Trees

Palm trees don't usually grow well in East Texas – probably because it gets too cold for them in winter. However, one shopping center in Tyler seems to have solved the winter problem:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nanotech ink turns paper into batteries

"Stanford University researchers have demonstrated a way to turn ordinary paper ito a battery, which may be crumpled or pressed into any form. It's said the technology promises greater durability, higher efficiency, and faster energy transfer than traditional batteries. The technique uses special ink made of carbon nanotubes and silver nanowires. Thanks to the small diameters of these materials, the ink sticks strongly to the fibrous paper, allowing the battery to be extremely durable. The paper battery could last through 40,000 charge-discharge cycles — at least an order of magnitude more than lithium batteries. According to the researchers, the paper batteries will be low-cost, may be crumpled or folded, and can even be soaked in acidic or basic solutions, yet their performance does not degrade. 'We just haven't tested what happens when you burn it,' one of the researchers quipped." For more information click on Paper Into Battery

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Technology is bringing changes in health care

Amid all the noise of health care reform, a real revolution is happening.

Medical advancements that sound like science fiction -- growing your own organs, being cared for by robotic nurses, popping anti-aging pills -- are either at or near reality already. No matter what is decided about how we deliver and pay for health care in the future, the manner in which bodies and diseases are treated is about to change dramatically.

At least that's the opinion of the innovators in medicine and technology -- scientists, doctors, engineers and philosophers -- who gathered last month at a TEDMED, (that's Technology, Entertainment, Design Medicine) conference in San Diego to unveil solutions to some stubborn health care problems. These innovations are likely to be embraced not only because they could save money, but also because a large, vocal group is going to want them -- the baby boomers.

Click on Future Medical Technology for more information.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Delete Browser Cookies, Clean Up Your Trail of Crumbs

The web knows who you are. It knows which sites you like, what you search for and where you spend your time. By collating these and other bits of data, it's not hard to figure out quite a bit about you.

If that makes you nervous, you need to learn how to get rid of cookies and browse privately, without leaving a digital fingerprint everywhere you go. Click on Delete Browser Cookies for information on how to Get Rid of Cookies, Keep Cookies out of Your Browser and more.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Health Insurer Loses 1.5 Million Patient Records

A health insurer lost 1.5 million patient records last May but waited six months to disclose the incident. The data, which was stored on a portable disk drive that disappeared from the insurer's office, was unencrypted and included patient Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and health data

On a separate note, a second health insurer mailed 80,000 postcards to Medicare recipients last week that listed the patient's Social Security number on the front of the card beneath the patient's name.

The complete story is available at Health Insurer Loses 1.5 Million Patient Records

Sunday, November 15, 2009

McKinney, TX

McKinney saved many of the older buildings when they refurbished the downtown area, so it has a nice historic look. There is a wide range of shops and professional offices around and near the square including antique shops, spas and salons, art and music galleries, restaurants, an "eco boutique", law and financial firms, mortgage and insurance offices, a winery and a large ski shop???

The old county court house pictured below is now the McKinney Performing Arts Center. A new courthouse was built in the suburbs near Central Expressway/US 75, the main North Dallas freeway.

In the picture below the building on the left with the red awning is the Spoons Café, my favorite downtown restaurant. They have very good Migas and Breakfast Tacos. There all kinds of restaurants downtown, everything from an expensive Rick's Chop House to Café Malaga, a little tapas restaurant.

The historic old bank building below is now home to a combination antique and home furnishings/accessories gallery.

Churchills British Restaurant & Pub below is a nice cheap restaurant. It has British classics like Steak & Ale Pie and Shepherd's Pie and of course it has Texas favorites like Migas Burritos and Stuffed Jalapenos.

This the original Collin County Prison. Now it's a lawyer's office. Somehow that seems appropriate.

My opinion of a new town is always influenced by their library. The downtown McKinney library passed this test – it's a very nice library. An additional new library will open soon in the suburbs.

There are many prosperous neighborhoods in the McKinney suburbs and many new housing developments continue to be built with houses costing everywhere from $150,000 to $1,200,000


Even the newest most luxurious apartments are cheap compared to Fairfax VA: The new Greenhaven apartments start at $775 for a 1-bedroom/1-bath up to $1415 for a 3-bedroom/2-bath.

Looking at all of the new construction of houses, shopping centers and hospitals, you would never know there was a recession. The new Methodist hospital below is almost completed and a Baylor Medical Center will be built in the future.

One very nice new shopping center is Eldorado Plaza about three miles outside McKinney near Central Expressway/US 75. Cafe Brazil, a small coffee house located in this shopping center, is another favorite restaurant of mine.

Croation Village is a beautiful new shopping center being built further out in the suburbs. Like many of the buildings in this area, limestone and other native materials are being used in the construction.

The imposing building below is Samson's Italian Grill restaurant.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Japan eyes solar station in space

It may sound like a sci-fi vision, but Japan's space agency is dead serious: by 2030 it wants to collect solar power in space and zap it down to Earth, using laser beams or microwaves.

The government has just picked a group of companies and a team of researchers tasked with turning the ambitious, multi-billion-dollar dream of unlimited clean energy into reality in coming decades.

To read the complete story click on Solar Station in Space.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Where’s Chuck

In case you're wondering what happened to my travel blog, I have settled in McKinney TX for the winter. McKinney is a small town about 30 miles north of Dallas. I'm continuing to go to school and have started trading options so I decided to stay in the Dallas area for the winter. I found a terrific little furnished studio apartment for $199 per week at Value Place McKinney. That's less than half what I was paying at hotels closer to Dallas. Their prices vary by location. Last month I took some training in Fort Worth and paid $169 to stay at Value Place Fort Worth for the week. If you ever need a nice, cheap place to stay when you travel, check them out. No free breakfasts, no fitness rooms and housekeeping every other week – just cheap, clean, safe accommodations. Only minor problem is they only rent week to week.

About a month ago a couple of friends in Virginia reminded me that I wasn't posting any new security and technology information. Since then I have posted several security and technology articles. I'll be posting articles on McKinney and the Texas State Fair soon.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

International Space Station Assembly

Watch the pieces come together as they are sent up from Earth. This is the International Space Station (ISS) Assembly diagram, piece by piece. Thanks to Richard Belt for this diagram. I had no idea the Space Station had grown to this size.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Firefox Users, Check Your Plug-ins

Mozilla is now offering Firefox users a simple way to tell whether the browser's various plug-ins are up-to-date with the latest security patches.

Plug-ins are components installed by third-party software that power videos, animation and games in the browser, among other things. Outdated plug-ins can give malware an easy way into your computer, so it's important to make sure your browser has the latest, most secure versions. Even if you are normally vigilant about updating third-party software, occasionally a software update will fail to automatically patch its accompanying plug-in.

Click on Plugin Check - it scan Firefox and tell you if any of the plug-ins you have needs patching.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

OOPS! Data on 103,000 Students Misplaced

A flash drive containing the personal information of more than 103,000 former adult education students in Virginia was misplaced last month, state education officials reported Wednesday. For details click on Student Data Misplaced

Friday, October 2, 2009

Texas Civil War Museum

The Texas Civil War Museum located in a suburb west of Fort Worth maintains the most comprehensive collection of civil war artifacts west of the Mississippi River. While TCWM is best known for its military collections, it also holds significant collections of domestic objects and decorative flags, personal furniture and artifacts, and postwar Victorian attire. Object collections total approximately 4,000 items.

"It is well that war is so terrible, else men would learn to love it too much." - GEN Robert E. Lee

Although a majority of Texas citizens and politicians supported secession, a significant minority of about 25% favored remaining in the Union. Governor Sam Houston was probably the best known "Unionist" in Texas. Although he strongly believed in the doctrine of states rights, he thought secession was a "rash action," and certain to lead to a conflict sure to favor – in the long run – the industrial and populated North. He predicted: "Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives you may win Southern independence, but I doubt it. The North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery impulsive people as we are...but once they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum of a mighty avalanche, and what I fear is that they will overwhelm the South with ignoble defeat." Houston refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, and was deposed from office.

Approximately 90,000 Texans served in the Confederate Army and about 2,000 in the Union Army. Texas provided 23 Infantry Units, 43 Cavalry Units and 19 Artillery Units, as well as specialized units including a Battalion of Sharpshooters and Mounted Mountain Guards. Among the most famous units were Terry's Texas Rangers (a group of frontier cavalrymen, many of whom later became peacekeepers in the Old West), Walker's Greyhounds and Hood's Texas Brigade. Texans were involved in every major battle of the war in every state. Known as the "shock troops" of the Army of Northern Virginia, Hood's Texas Brigade were "always favorites" of General Lee and, on more than one occasion praised their fighting qualities, remarking that none had brought greater honor to their native state than "my Texans." Hood's men suffered severe casualties in a number of fights, most notably at the Battle of Antietam and at Little Round Top in the Battle of Gettysburg. Texas supplied large numbers of men, cattle and horses for the Confederate forces until mid-1863, when the Union captured of the Mississippi River.

Although Texas did not experience many significant battles, the Union mounted several attempts to capture towns and ports in the south and gulf coast regions of Texas. With ports to the east under blockade or captured, Texas and western Louisiana ports were a critical link to the outside world for the Confederacy. A few cities fell to Union troops temporarily during the war, including Port Lavaca, Indianola and Brownsville. Federal attempts to seize control of Laredo, Corpus Christi and Sabine Pass failed. By the end of the war no territory was in Union hands. The last battle of the civil war was fought at Palmito Ranch May 13, 1865 on the Rio Grande River in south Texas. The Confederates won, only to have to surrender to the Union after realizing the war had ended a month earlier with the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia.

The pictures above are not representative of the uniforms worn by the average Confederate soldier, especially early in the war. Early in the war, Confederate soldiers received their uniforms - if and when they had uniforms - from a variety of sources. There were many differences, depending on unit, location, time, and other variables. Some companies had uniforms made up by the ladies at home, some units were issued militia uniforms by their states, and some commands had uniforms made up by local tailors. Lots of Confederates went to war in plain old civilian clothes and just parts of uniforms.

Presentation Sword of General U. S. Grant – picture credit TCWM

The .44 caliber Henry repeating rifle, created in 1860 the year before the Civil War, used the first complete self-contained metallic cartridge. The Henry rifle held 15 shots, which the average soldier could shoot in 10-12 seconds. Compare that to the 15-30 seconds it took the average soldier to reload his single shot muzzle loader rifle and you see why the Henry was a devastating weapon when it was used in battles. It was described by one Confederate as "that tarnation Yankee rifle they load on Sunday and shoot all week." The Union army had an estimated 6000 Henry Rifles, most of which were personally bought by soldiers. The Henry rifles could not be used in larger quantities because the Army could not produce metal cartridges at the rate they would have been consumed or transport the extra weight of all the ammunition the soldiers would have used. The Henry rifle was the direct ancestor of the Winchester rifles that would be used after the Civil War, particularly in the American Indian Wars.

As a countermeasure to the Union's blockades, the Confederate States developed the first naval mines. The mine above was called a "Confederate Torpedo" but it was actually what is now called a contact mine. When a ship contacted a mine it would explode and sink the hapless ship. The mines were promising and sank at least forty Union ships. The success with the naval mines led to the development of torpedoes and land mines as well as other similar explosive devices. A wide variety of fixed, moored, and drifting mines were deployed and used with effect at locations along the Atlantic coast, the Gulf coast, and along rivers, including those in the Mississippi basin. These cost effective weapons caused delays in Union operations, resulted in involved countermine operations, and caused fear and apprehension in crews.

The CSS Hunley was the first submarine (bottom of photo above) to attack a warship successfully. In 1864, the Hunley rammed the Union's corvette Housatonic (top ship in photo above) in Charleston Harbor, successfully setting a torpedo into the ship's hull. This was the method used to deploy torpedoes until the self-propelled torpedo was developed a few years later. The torpedo is shown in the photo underneath the Hunley to the right. The Housatonic sank. Something went wrong on the Hunley, and it also sank shortly after the Housatonic, taking its crew of nine to a watery grave.

At least 618,000 Americans died in the Civil War, more than the nation has lost in all its other wars, from the Revolution through the current date. The Union armies had from 2,500,000 to 2,750,000 men. The Confederate strength, known less accurately because of missing records, was from 750,000 to 1,250,000 men. It is estimated that 94,000 Confederate soldiers died in battle and 164,000 died of disease. Approximately 110,070 Union soldiers died in battle and 250,152 died of disease.

The following photos of clothing are from the Judy Richey Victorian Dress Collection. This private collection is an expansive look at original women's and children's clothing from the Victorian Era. With over 200 Victorian dresses and accessories, the museum exhibits up to 50 at a time on a rotating basis.

Since Texas did not suffer lengthy occupation during the war, reconstruction was not as harsh as in other states. Many people from the east hung a shingle from their home with the letters GTT (Gone to Texas) painted on it and started a new life here.