Monthly Archives: January 2008

Top 10 BitTorrent Tools and Tricks

Written by Lifehacker


BitTorrent is the go-to resource for downloading everything from music and movies to software and operating systems, but as its popularity continues to grow, so do the number of tools available for making the most of it. Some are must-haves, while others are a waste of time. Climb aboard for a look at 10 of the best BitTorrent utilities, tools, and resources for finding and managing your BitTorrent downloads quickly and efficiently.


10. Use BitTorrent to Send Files

Of course BitTorrent is a great place to go looking for files, but you can actually take advantage of BitTorrent’s distributed download protocol to share your own files. This guide details how to create your own torrent to distribute a file on your computer. The guide covers creating the torrent with the popular, Windows-only uTorrent, but the feature is available in almost any BitTorrent client.


9. Start BitTorrent Downloads Over IM

Using IM applications like Pidgin or the Mac-only Adium, you can set up your IM client to automatically accept downloads from specific users (namely, you) and then save the file to a folder that your BitTorrent client watches for new torrent files (in Pidgin you’ll need to go to Tools -> Plugins and enable the Autoaccept plugin). Most clients like uTorrent (Windows) and Transmission (*nix) support folder monitoring, so if your BitTorrent client is running it’ll detect the file you’ve sent yourself and automatically start downloading the torrent. This method doesn’t allow for very advanced remote management (like #5 below), but if all you want is a quick method for starting a new download, it’s quick and easy.


8. Download BitTorrent in Your Browser

I’d always recommend using a dedicated BitTorrent client whenever you can, but sometimes installing or running another app just isn’t an option. In those cases, web application BitLet is a perfect solution. It runs BitTorrent downloads through an applet directly in your web browser; all you have to do is point it to the torrent file. (Read more)

You can even stream music directly from a torrent in your browser with WeStream, BitLet’s other in-browser BitTorrent tool. (Read more)


7. Manage Your Video Downloads with Miro

Cross platform, open source application Miro is designed as a one-stop shop for handling video-whether that’s video podcasts or BitTorrent. It doesn’t have all the tools available to less specialized clients like uTorrent or Transmission, but it does work well to automatically download a season’s worth of television while it’s happening. (Read more)

6. Speed Up Your Downloads and Outwit Your Traffic-Shaping ISP

Whether you’re new to BitTorrent or you’re just not getting the download speeds you were hoping for, you can take steps to speed up your downloads by capping your upload speeds, adjust your connection allowances, or switch the default port. (Read more)

Sometimes a slow connection is the result of intentional BitTorrent throttling by your internet service provider. In addition to switching the default port your BitTorrent client is using, there are tons of other methods-like turning on encryption or adjusting the way your client behaves-that can help fool your ISP and speed up your downloads. (Read more)


5. Remote Control Your BitTorrent Downloads with uTorrent’s WebUI or Transmission’s Clutch

You’re gaga for BitTorrent, and these two tools let you control and manage all of your BitTorrent downloads from the comfort of your web browser-no matter where you are. Both applications can handle almost any feature of the desktop version (and both look very similar, as well). Just find the one that fits the operating system you’re using and get started with your remote access. uTorrent even has a special web interface for the iPhone.


4. Set Up a TV Season Pass with Ted or TVShows

Whether you opt for Ted (all platforms) or TVShows (Mac OS X only), these apps ensure you’ll no longer need to dig for the latest and greatest episodes of your favorite TV shows week after week. You just point them to what you like, and they automatically download new episode torrents as they become available.

3. Search the Best of the Best with YouTorrent

youtorrent.pngRather than get into an argument over the best torrent tracker/search engine, might I instead submit YouTorrent, a meta search engine that scours some of the best BitTorrent trackers for downloads and sorts the results by number of seeds. I know it’s new, and who knows if it’ll last (it doesn’t even have ads yet), but-god willing-YouTorrent is currently the easiest place to look for a new, healthy torrent (barring some really good private tracker that most of us are not members of). (Read more)


2. Transmission


The go-to BitTorrent client for Mac users, Transmission has that Mac feel that makes you want to go out and pirate download some Creative Commons-licensed content. It’s popped up already a lot in this list, from its torrent folder monitoring to it’s snazzy remote control features, so if you’re looking for a great client for your Mac, Transmission is the best on the market. (Read more)


1. uTorrent


It’s unfortunately Windows-only for now (that may change sometime this year), but uTorrent is bar-none the best BitTorrent client you’ll find. It’s fast, lightweight, and full-featured (as you’ve seen above). If there’s one Windows application I miss when I’m working away from Windows, uTorrent is that client.

Honorable mention update: I completely forgot to mention PeerGuardian2, a freeware IP blocker designed to protect your privacy from blacklisted IPs (like anti-P2P groups who might want to track your activity). It’s not a sure thing, but a lot of people consider it a reassuring layer of protection.

If you’re new to BitTorrent, all of this may have come at you a little fast. Check out the beginner’s guide to BitTorrent, and once you’re up to speed, take a look at more advanced intermediate guide.

If you’re not new to the world of BitTorrent, then chances are your list may differ from mine. If there’s one thing avid file sharers are passionate about, it’s their favorite clients and methods, so let’s hear what would have made your list in the comments.

11 Power Tips for Gmail

Written by Matt Cutts

Wow, I can’t believe how many people commented on my late-Friday night post about desired features for Gmail. If you want to suggest something for Gmail, that thread is the better place to do it. But looking through the comments, I saw a few requests that can already be done today. Considering that real Gmail users didn’t know about these options, I’m going to call them power tips.

  1. Wayne Schulz said “I want to be able to paste images into the email.” Wayne, it’s not quite the same as pasting images into emails, but one thing that makes image attachments easier is the dragdropupload Firefox extension. You know how you can click “Attach a file” and then you’ll see the familiar “enter a file location or Browse..” form appear? With dragdropupload, you can drag any file (e.g. from your Desktop) and drop it in that text box. It’s a fantastic extension that makes it much faster to include attachments or upload files, and I use it all the time.
  2. Jason Bartholme asked about “A sort that would allow for my unread messages to be at the top.” Jason, trying doing a search for label:unread label:inbox . That should show only unread messages that are currently in your inbox. By the way, did you like how I shared a search with you? That was a tip from the Gmail blog. There are other cool labels you can use as well.
  3. Julian says

    I would like to have a feature for inserting prepared text blocks, so I dont have to write some things over and over again.

    Julian, if you use Firefox, check out the Signature firefox extension to insert text macros. That might work for you.

  4. Daniel asked

    Crazy feature: I’d like to be able to have an easy way to migrate my entire Google account to a different gmail address, because I can’t find a step-by-step guide or anything to help me switch emails without losing various things.

    According to this post you can enable POP on your old account (look under Settings, then “Forwarding and POP/IMAP”), then import the emails (also using POP) into the new account. I think you could use Gmail’s Mail Fetcher utility to do this. To configure Mail Fetcher on the newer account, click on Gmail’s Settings link, then “Accounts” and then “Add another mail account.” Google Operating System (an unofficial blog that discusses Google often) has a couple relevant posts with a walkthough of using Gmail’s Mail Fetcher and a write-up on how to back up your Google account.

  5. Sankarananad asked a related question:

    I would love to integrate my google apps account with my default gmail account. Although right now google allows to associate email address there is no way to integrate or link two google accounts (say one and another powered by google apps).

    Right now the only solution is to forward mails from one box to another! If google makes integration possible we can use a single inbox to check mails from all those email address

    I’m not as familiar with the interaction of regular Gmail versus Gmail on Google Apps. This post described a scary-looking way that might work. If there’s a better way, maybe someone will stop by and let me know?

  6. Search Engines Web asked:

    The ability to open Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF without going to another page and using another software

    S.E.W, this post from Lifehacker mentions that Gmail can offer HTML view or Google Doc options for Word and Excel.

  7. Easton Ellsworth mentioned

    I’d love to be able to resize the email composition box on the default page – so instead of having to click the icon to open the whole draft in a new resizable window, I’d be able to click and drag to make the draft box bigger (especially vertically).

    Easton, check out the Resizeable text area extension for Firefox. It lets you click on the border of any form textarea and drag the border so the textarea expands. I haven’t checked how it works on the latest version of Gmail though.

  8. 1001 noisy cameras said “I think the ability to open emails in new windows would be great – it would help those users who are always multi-tasking.” If you’re looking at an email look at the top-right of the page and click on “New window” to open that email in a separate email.
  9. Diego asked

    I don’t know if this would be possible, but how about, when clicking on the compose link (or reply etc) if I hold some key as I click on Compose, it opens the new email in its own window? Same thing could go for Replies etc.

    Diego, instead of using ‘c’ to compose a new email, type ‘C’ and you’ll open a new window to compose your email. It looks like using ‘R’ instead of ‘r’ to reply will open a new email for replies too.

  10. jonathon asked “Is it me or does the pop3 server sometimes stop working when downloading email from gmail?” I’ve been using getmail to back up my Gmail, and I’ve noticed that Google will only let you download a few hundred emails in one batch. If you fetch again, you’ll often catch up. So usually it’s just a matter of being patient.

I heard a lot of great suggestions that I wouldn’t even have thought of. For example, I liked the idea of a “bounce” option for unwanted emails to make it look as if your email address didn’t exist. Oh, and since so many people asked for cool features, let me add one more feature I want: let me set a different vacation message for co-workers compared to people outside Google. Maybe in Google Apps for Gmail, if you are managing, let people on set a different vacation message for people on vs. other domains?

By the way, what was the funniest suggestion I saw? Jeff Hall won with “A USB breathalyzer kit for a friend who forgets how embarrassing her e-mails are when she gets drunk. The e-mails could be delayed until she provides a negative sample.” ๐Ÿ™‚

And here’s your bonus tip. If you’re a Gmail power user, three links to check out are the Gmail tag on Lifehacker, the official Gmail blog, and Google Operating System. Lifehacker does so many posts per day that limiting to the Gmail tag will narrow down the posts you see. The Gmail blog is the best place to get official Gmail news first. And Google OS seems to have Gmail-related posts pretty often.

LEGO Brick Timeline: 50 Years of Building Frenzy and Curiosities

Written by Gizmodo

The LEGO brick turns 50 at exactly 1:58 p.m. today, January 28, 2008. This timeline shows these 50 years of building frenzy by happy kids and kids-at-heart, all the milestones from the LEGOLAND themed sets to TECHNIC and MINDSTORMS NXT, as well as all kinds of weird curiosities about the most famous stud-and-tube couple system in the world. Jump to zoom in and tell us what was your first LEGO in the comments (check can also check the best LEGO sets in history article.)

(Click on the image to access the huge version-remember to zoom in if your browser auto-scales it.)

It all first started in 1947, when LEGO bought their first plastic injection machine. The brick was not invented then but took final form in 1958, when the shape of the stud-and-tube brick was patented. Since then, LEGO sets have been going through dozens of iterations, from the younger version, DUPLO, to the most sophisticated LEGO TECHNIC and LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT sets, going through all the different themes of LEGOLAND and, of course, the most successful line of all times according to LEGO, LEGO Star Wars.

LEGO brick curiosities

? There are about 62 LEGO bricks for every one of the world’s 6 billion inhabitants.

? Children around the world spend 5 billion hours a year playing with LEGO bricks.

? More than 400 million people around the world have played with LEGO bricks.

? LEGO bricks are available in 53 different colors.

? 19 billion LEGO elements are produced every year.

? 2.16 million LEGO elements are molded every hour, or 36,000 per minute.

? More than 400 billion LEGO bricks have been produced since 1949.

? Two eight-stud LEGO bricks of the same color can be combined in 24 different ways.

? Three eight-stud bricks can be combined in 1,060 ways.

? There are more than 915 million combinations possible for six 2 x 4 LEGO bricks of the same color.

? 7 LEGO sets are sold by retailers every second around the world.

? The LEGO bricks sold in one year would circle the world 5 times.

? 40 billion LEGO bricks stacked on top of one another would connect the earth with the moon.

? LEGO bricks are so much more than just toys. They are used in classrooms from preschool to university level to teach everything from math, language skills and science to engineering and technology principles.

? The LEGO brick has inspired generations of innovators, like Jonathan Gay, inventor of Flash.

? World-renowned author Douglas Coupland believes the LEGO brick represents a “language in itself.”

? A January 2008 Google search produces 57.6 million references to LEGO bricks.

? There are 55,600 LEGO videos on YouTube.

? Google co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, used LEGO bricks to build the external low-cost and expandable casing for 10 4GB hard disks when they were busy developing the Google search engine (today, they have reportedly been used in Google’s college graduate recruiting exercises to test potential candidate’s creative horsepower).

The first LEGO I remember-which I shared with my brothers and which my dad built for us, obviously without being able to contain his excitement-was a huge fair wheel, yellow. I don’t even know where that set is anymore, but I remember the armless minifigs. Or perhaps I’m dreaming. The very first LEGO we got, and which I remember building clearly, was the LEGOLAND Space Galaxy Explorer, which came along with three other sets, including a Rocket Launcher, the Space Shuttle and the Mobile Tracking Station. Do you remember your first LEGO set? Tell us in the comments.

The 12 Most Ridiculous Auctions on eBay

Written by Robin Barr

article image

How does one describe the layered horror that is eBay? Look long enough and you’ll find an item that the mere knowledge of its existence brings shock and dismay. Then, you must cope with the fact that the seller thought we would be willing to pay good money for it, and then come to terms with the fact that usually they’re right.

Here are some that almost had us bidding out of sheer, morbid curiosity.


The CB-6000 Male Chastity Contraption

Oh God, this one doesn’t look good at all. That’s right, it’s the CB-6000 male chastity belt on sale for a Buy It Now price of $189.95. What a steal!

This horrible, horrible device just about looks like the most uncomfortable and awkward thing that has ever been invented. The auction claims that “This is a new, flat design that is even more comfortable and even less noticeable than the previous popular models, “but the huge plastic dongs staring back at us seem to differ in their opinions. Wearing one of these would be the equivalent of getting that half-chub in english class, then having to go up to the board and diagram sentences, but even better because it is ALWAYS THERE.

The real climax of this auction comes when you see:

“Bonus! Free pair of Italian-designed sunglasses! See picture for listing and colors. Specify choice of color when submitting payment!” We’re assuming you need these because you want everyone to think you look cool when they see you walking down the street with your plastic-cock outline bulging out of your jeans.


The World’s Largest Lite-Bright

Remember that crappy little toy with easy-to-swallow parts that you used to get bored of at your grandparent’s house? How would you like to spend 15 grand on a huge one of those that some creepy guy spent way too much time on?

We thought so, just fax the deed to your house over to us, and we’ll take care of the rest. Possibly the most depressing part of this auction is not the level of detail that the “artist” had to go into, but rather the handmade, hand-painted frame and exquisite velvet backing that really accent the piece. Thankfully, for the sake of this man’s sanity, he will be featured in next year’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, thus assuring him a steady place in the pantheon alongside the Lizardman and that dude who got a railroad spike blown through his head.


E.T. Movie Character Bicycle Siren W/ Light Up Eyes

When we first came across this auction, we were shocked to see what we thought was a severed baby head in the preview window. It turns out, however, that it was simply a terrifying severed E.T. head.

Of all the horrible merchandise spawned from the ’80s film (and there was a lot), this has to be the most terrifying. No doubt the seller is hoping that getting rid of the thing will banish it from their nightmares as well. We doubt it.

Steven Spielberg spent millions of dollars trying to make that crappy puppet look adorable, next to Drew Barrymore no less, and this toy company instead decided to freehand a carving of an achondroplastic dwarf with a lazy eye, then call it a day. Probably the scariest part of this toy is that when you turn it on, the decapitated skull’s eyes start glowing red, just in case you didn’t know that the object was pure evil.


Nickelback Shot Glass

This is just about the shittiest shot glass ever seen. If you were at some bar and told the bartender “Oh no, I’d like my tequila in THIS shot glass,” we’re pretty sure you’d wake up the next morning in the hospital with one hell of a barstool lodged up your ass. The only viable use we can see for this shot glass is to use it to get drunk enough to forget what Nickelback is.


Chocolate Flavored Nipple Spread – With Applicator

What goes better together than nipples and chocolate? Nipples and a knife! Yes this nipple spread comes with a KNIFE included for spreading chocolate over a nipple.

Now, we’re not ones to pry, but should you really be buying a product that has the warning “Never over-sharpen blade, especially if used by those who are prone to: sneezing attacks, nervous ticks, slashing fantasies, or DEAD DRUNK!”

Oh, and if you decide to warm the blade in the microwave before you use it, they advise using the “scream test” to check if it’s the appropriate temperature. This is another one of those sad situations where the only people who need the warning–psychopaths and cannibals–are also the ones least likely to follow it.


Barack Obama- Digital Political Pop Art

Selling art on the internets?! What an amazing idea! How about political art? Even better! How about a crappy Photoshop manipulation of Barack Obama with some shitty clip art orbiting his head?

WHY CAN’T WE OWN THIS!?!?!!? Oh wait, that’s right, because this douche wants to charge you $1,500 for the five minutes he spent on his computer. The cost for his supplies and time must have been through the roof, because we can only imagine that the $950 starting bid he began this auction with made his profit margins razor thin.

Yes, we realize art is more than the sum of its materials. But, not in this case. Either the items are so symbolic as to be indecipherable (though we’re pretty sure we know what the Coke symbolizes) or else it’s simply a depiction of an Obama who has collapsed on the floor in mid-snack, his skin turning blue from oxygen deprivation, his soft drink and banana having landed near his head. He was also just about to mail something.

To add insult to injury, as the man lay gasping on the floor, a snail has stolen his watch.


American Raccoon Penis Bone

Did you know that most animals other than man have an actual bone in the penis called baculum? Well eBay seller “baculumdude” sure does, and he is very willing to tell you about them. He also has his very own store on eBay called, oh you guessed it, Baculum world.

Scared yet? Well, if not, you may be interested in these penis bones (also known as mountainman toothpicks according to “dude”), as they can be used as a conversation piece or… well we guess there’s no other use for these, unless you consider the best anniversary present ever an actual use.


Used Breast Implants

This is an auction for some girl’s old used breast implants. You see, Janine apparently wants to upgrade her boobs from what she has now to… convex, we guess. This is probably one of the grossest auctions on eBay, considering this object was (for more than several days) inside of the seller’s body. While Janine does mention that she has a calendar out for 2008, she refuses to show her face in the auction–go figure. Well, at least whoever buys these can rest easy knowing that there is little else they can do in their lives that will be creepier than this.


Hologram Jesus

Now upon first inspection of the photo for this auction, it appeared to us that “robsue” was trying to start a bidding war for Jesus (with a Buy It Now price of $2). In reality, what rob or sue seems to be selling is a playing card with the Shroud of Turin on it. While we can imagine nothing more exhilarating than getting onto the playground and trying to trade our Jesus playing card for your best friend’s Mark McGuire rookie card, the seller only ups the ante once you read the description.

That’s right, it’s a genuine HOLOGRAM Jesus collectible card. Now we’re not one to call something sacrilegious, but putting the King of Kings on par with the pack of X-men hologram cards you got in a box of Cap’n Crunch may be a little much.


Old Playboy Magazines

Mmmm, nothing gets us going more than 40-year-old used pornography!

Fortunately these are all in good condition and still have the centerfold intact (the seller seems to have done some extensive research into this).

The poor old guy is probably thinking, “These poor, young internet users! Where else shall they find the pornography in these prudish times? Why, these four crusty magazines are likely the only porn they shall ever see!”

We’re afraid it’s a buyer’s market for porn these days, kind sir. Not only are every one of these 1965-era naked pictures available online somewhere, for free, but we can also get you hi-res pictures of what those models look like in 2008. For that is the magic of the internet.


The Seanut

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Hey, I would really like to own the largest nut in the world, but I’m only a millionaire!” Well, you’re finally in luck.

According to this poorly worded auction, the Seanut is the largest nut in the world “that been register in Guinness Records.” Interestingly, in his effort to sell the item, the seller has completely forgotten to note how much the nut looks like genitalia.

Our big problem is that for the $367,000 asking price, it’s not at all clear how big this nut is. He should have put something next to it for scale. Is it the size of an ash tray? A bowling ball? A car? Can kids climb on it? Can we put it in the yard and sell tickets? Can we hollow it out and live inside it? And call it Fort Vulva?



OK, now who in their life hasn’t either wanted real x-ray glasses or the ability to become invisible? Well billwwilliams is here to finally answer your prayers.

Now, if we are to believe this auction (and of course we want to), then the secret to invisibility has been kept secret for thousands of years and is one of the “best-kept secrets of the ages.” But the subtitles at the beginning CLEARLY state that this isn’t a magic trick or a ninja technique.

What gives!? Who wants some crappy invisibility that ninjas don’t even use? The auction goes on to screw itself over by CLEARLY stating at the bottom and in its description that it is to be used for “MORAL PURPOSES ONLY.” What kind of crap is that? If you’re doing something moral, you sure as hell don’t need to be invisible. That’s the stuff you want people to see.

The last nail in the coffin to this potentially kickass auction is the fact that the secret can be “digitally delivered” to you. Fuck that, if the secret of invisibility is “digital” we’re getting it off fucking BitTorrent. Then we’re hiring ourselves out as an invisible assassin, charging millions to the highest bidder, changing the course of nations with a stroke of our invisible blade. Or maybe just use it to sneak into girls’ locker rooms.

6 Rules for Effective Writing from George Orwell

Written by John Wesley

George OrwellIn our society, the study of language and literature is the domain of poets, novelists, and literary critics. Language is considered a decorative art, fit for entertainment and culture, but practically useless in comparison to the concrete sciences. Just look at the value of a college degree in English versus one in computer science or accounting.

But is this an accurate assessment of value?

Language is the primary conductor between your brain and the minds of your audience. Ineffective language weakens and distorts ideas.

If you want to be understood, if you want your ideas to spread, using effective language must be your top priority. In the modern world of business and politics this is hardly ever the case. In many instances, imprecise language is used intentionally to avoid taking a position and offending various demographics. No wonder it’s hard to make sense of anything!

This is hardly a recent problem, and as George Orwell wrote in his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language, the condition is curable. By following Orwell’s 5 rules for effective writing, you’ll distinguish yourself from competitors and clearly communicate your ideas.

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

This sounds easy, but in practice is incredibly difficult. Phrases such as toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, an axe to grind, Achilles’ heel, swan song, and hotbed come to mind quickly and feel comforting and melodic.

For this exact reason they must be avoided. Common phrases have become so comfortable that they create no emotional response. Take the time to invent fresh, powerful images.

2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

Long words don’t make you sound intelligent unless used skillfully. In the wrong situation they’ll have the opposite effect, making you sound pretentious and arrogant. They’re also less likely to be understood and more awkward to read.

When Hemingway was criticized by Faulkner for his limited word choice he replied:

Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree (Ezra Pound). Accordingly, any words that don’t contribute meaning to a passage dilute its power. Less is always better. Always.

4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

This one is frequently broken, probably because many people don’t know the difference between active and passive verbs. I didn’t myself until a few months ago. Here is an example that makes it easy to understand:

The man was bitten by the dog. (passive)The dog bit the man. (active).The active is better because it’s shorter and more forceful.

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

This is tricky because much of the writing published on the internet is highly technical. If possible, remain accessible to the average reader. If your audience is highly specialized this is a judgment call. You don’t want to drag on with unnecessary explanation, but try to help people understand what you’re writing about. You want your ideas to spread right?

6. Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous.

This bonus rule is a catch all. Above all, be sure to use common sense.These rules are easy to memorize but difficult to apply. Although I’ve edited this piece a dozen times I’m sure it contains imperfections. But trust me, it’s much better now than it was initially. The key is effort. Good writing matters, probably more than you think.

I hope you find these rules helpful, and through their application we’re able to understand each other a little bit better. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to read Orwell’s original essay. It contains many helpful examples and is, of course, a pleasure to read.

24 ways to get the rest you need

Written by Stealth Health

Achieve a Deep, Uninterrupted Sleep

Nighttime Habits

Blessed sleep — the holy grail of health. Lack of sleep can send your blood sugar levels skyrocketing, contribute to weight gain, lead to depression, put you at risk for diabetes, and cause brain damage.

That’s just the warm-up. Sleep deprivation can alter your levels of thyroid and stress hormones, potentially affecting everything from your memory to your immune system, heart, and metabolism. Of course, lack of sleep can kill you instantly — as when you run your car off the road because you’ve dozed at the wheel (an estimated 71,000 people are injured in fall-asleep crashes each year). In fact, studies find that if you’ve been awake through the night, it’s as if you had a performance impairment equal to .10 percent blood alcohol content, more than enough to get you arrested for drunk driving in most states.

Given the evidence, you’d think we’d all be hitting the pillow as soon as the sun dropped below the horizon. Ha! Today Americans get 25 percent less sleep than they did a century ago. Nearly 4 out of 10 don’t get the minimum 7 hours of sleep necessary for optimal health and daytime functioning, while 15 percent get less than 6 hours most nights.

Since we’re all in agreement that a good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health and mood, pick three of these tips to follow each night until you get the night’s sleep you so desperately crave.

1. Create a transition routine. This is something you do every night before bed. It could be as simple as letting the cat out, turning out the lights, turning down the heat, washing your face, and brushing your teeth. Or it could be a series of yoga or meditation exercises. Regardless, it should be consistent to the point that you do it without even thinking about it. As you begin to move into your “nightly routine,” your mind will get the signal that it’s time to chill out and tune down, dialing down stress hormones and physiologically preparing you for sleep.

2. Figure out your body cycle. Ever find that you get really sleepy at 10 p.m., that the sleepiness passes, and that by the time the late news comes on, you’re wide-awake? Some experts believe sleepiness comes in cycles. Push past a period of sleepiness and you likely won’t be able to fall asleep very easily for a while. If you’ve noticed these kinds of rhythms in your own body clock, use them to your advantage. When sleepiness comes, get to bed. Otherwise, it might be a long time until you are ready to fall asleep again.

3. Sprinkle just-washed sheets and pillowcases with lavender water and iron them before making up your bed. The scent is scientifically proven to promote relaxation, and the repetition and mindlessness of ironing will soothe you. Or, instead of ironing your sheets, do the next best thing: Put lavender water in a perfume atomizer and spray above your bed just before climbing in.

4. Hide your clock under your bed frame or on the bottom shelf of your night stand, where its glow won’t disturb you. That way, if you do wake in the middle of the night or have problems sleeping, you won’t fret over how late it is and how much sleep you’re missing.

5. Switch your pillow. If you’re constantly pounding it, turning it over and upside down, the poor pillow deserves a break. Find a fresh new pillow from the linen closet, put a sweet-smelling case on it, and try again.

Adjust Your Bedroom

6. Choose the right pillow to accommodate the best mattress to suit your sleep needs. One Swedish study found that neck pillows, which resemble a rectangle with a depression in the middle, can actually enhance the quality of your sleep as well as reduce neck painโ€ฆ.. One Swedish study found that neck pillows, which resemble a rectangle with a depression in the middle, can actually enhance the quality of your sleep as well as reduce neck pain. The ideal neck pillow should be soft and not too high, should provide neck support, and should be allergy tested and washable, researchers found. A pillow with two supporting cores received the best rating from the 55 people who participated in the study. Another study found that water-filled pillows provided the best night’s sleep when compared to participants’ usual pillows or a roll pillow. Yet another study found that a pillow filled with a special “cool” material composed of sodium sulfate and ceramic fiber provided a much better night’s sleep than one filled with polyester. The reason, the researchers suggest, is that the cooler pillow kept the subjects’ head cooler during the night, improving their sleep. While you may not be able to find a sodium sulfate-filled pillow, you can buy a pillow made of natural fibers, which are better at releasing heat than polyester.

Other pillow tips: if you’re subject to allergies or find you’re often stuffed up when you awake in the morning, try a hypoallergenic pillow. And experiment with the pillow’s thickness. While a thick, fluffy pillow might sound appealing, it might be too thick for you, leading to neck strain. Try a thin pillow.

7. Switch to heavier curtains over the windows, and use them. Even the barely noticeable ambient light from streetlights, a full moon, or your neighbor’s house can interfere with the circadian rhythm changes you need to fall asleep.

8. Clean your bedroom and paint it a soothing sage green. Or some other soothing color. First, the more clutter in your bedroom, the more distractions in the way of a good night’s sleep. The smooth, clean surfaces act as a balm to your brain, helping to smooth out your own worries and mental to-do lists. The soothing color provides a visual reminder of sleep, relaxing you as you lie in bed reading or preparing for sleep.

9. Move your bed away from any outside walls. This will help cut down on noise, which a Spanish study found could be a significant factor in insomnia. If the noise is still bothering you, try a white noise machine, or just turn on a floor fan.

10. Tuck a hot-water bottle between your feet or wear a pair of ski socks to bed. The science is a little complicated, but warm feet help your body’s internal temperature get to the optimal level for sleep. Essentially, you sleep best when your core temperature drops. By warming your feet, you make sure blood flows well through your legs, allowing your trunk to cool.

11. Kick your dog or cat out of your bedroom. A 2002 research study found that one in five pet owners sleep with their pets (and we’re not talking goldfish here). The study also found that dogs and cats created one of the biggest impediments to a good night’s sleep since the discovery of caffeine. One reason? The study found that 21 percent of the dogs and 7 percent of the cats snored!

Lose Some, Gain Some

12. Sleep alone. Sure you love your spouse or partner, but studies find one of the greatest disruptors of sleep is that loved one dreaming away next to you. He might snore, she might kick or cry out, whatever. In fact, one study found that 86 percent of women surveyed said their husbands snored, and half had their sleep interrupted by it. Men have it a bit easier; just 57 percent said their wives snored, while just 15 percent found their sleep bothered by it. If you absolutely will not kick your partner out (or head to the guest room yourself), then consider these anti-snoring tips:

  • Get him (or her) to stop smoking. Cigarette smoking contributes to snoring.
  • Feed him (or her) a light meal for dinner and nix any alcohol, which can add to the snoring.
  • Buy some earplugs and use them!
  • Play soft music to drown out the snoring.
  • Present your lover with a gift-wrapped box of Breathe Right strips, which work by pulling the nostrils open wider. A Swedish study found they significantly reduced snoring.
  • Make an appointment for your sleeping partner at a sleep center. If nothing you do improves his or her snoring, your bedmate might be a candidate for a sleep test called polysomnography to see if sleep apnea is the cause. Better to help your partner — and yourself — than to exile the poor sonorous soul!

13. Take a combination supplement with 600 mg calcium and 300 mg magnesium before bed. Not only will you be providing your bones with a healthy dose of minerals, but magnesium is a natural sedative. Additionally, calcium helps regulate muscle movements. Too little of either can lead to leg cramps, and even a slight deficiency of magnesium can leave you lying there with a racing mind.

14. Eat a handful of walnuts before bed. Walnuts are a good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid.

15. Munch a banana before bed. It’s a great natural source of melatonin, the sleep hormone, as well as tryptophan. The time-honored tradition, of course, is warm milk, also a good source of tryptophan.

16. Drink water before bed, not fruit juice. One study found it took participants an extra 20 to 30 minutes to fall asleep after drinking a cup of fruit juice, most likely because of the high sugar content in juice.

Relax Yourself

17. Take antacids right after dinner, not before bed. Antacids contain aluminum, which appears to interfere with your sleep.

18. Listen to a book on tape while you fall asleep. Just as a bedtime story soothed and relaxed us when we were children, a calming book on tape (try poetry or a biography, stay away from horror novels) can have the same effect with us grown-ups.

19. Simmer three to four large lettuce leaves in a cup of water for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add two sprigs of mint, and sip just before you go to bed. Lettuce contains a sleep-inducing substance called lactucarium, which affects the brain similarly to opium. Unlike opium, of course, you won’t run the risk of addiction!

20. Give yourself a massage. Slowly move the tips of your fingers around your eyes in a slow, circular motion. After a minute, move down to your mouth, then to your neck and the back of your head. Continue down your body until you find you’re so relaxed you’re ready to drop off to sleep. Another option: alternate massage nights with your significant other. You get Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Your significant other gets Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. You do each other on Sundays.

21. Take a hot bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime. A research study published in the journal Sleep found that women with insomnia who took a hot bath during this window of time (water temperature approximately 105?F), slept much better that night. The bath increased their core body temperature, which then abruptly dropped once they got out of the bath, readying them for sleep.

22. Use eucalyptus for a muscle rub. The strongly scented herb provides a soothing feeling and relaxing scent. You can find eucalyptus oil to mix into a carrier oil, or even a eucalyptus-scented cream.

23. Spend 10 minutes journaling the day’s events or feelings after tucking yourself into bed. This “data dump” will help turn off the repeating tape of our day that often plays in our minds, keeping us from falling asleep.

24. Keep a notepad at your bedside along with a gentle night-light and pen. Then, if you wake in the middle of the night and your mind starts going, you can quickly transfer the to-do list to the page, returning to sleep knowing you “caught” those thoughts.

If you’re tired of feeling like you’re not at your best or like you’re not getting the sleep you need, then it’s time to take action! Sign-up for the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Challenge today!

20 Examples of Unusual eBay Feedback

Collected by Capn Wacky

POSITIVE: Item shipped quickly, have been having erotic dreams about seller. Thanks!

POSITIVE: Thanks for great Rainbow Brite lunchbox. Should shrunken head be inside?

NEUTRAL: Excellent communication, but should’ve poked holes in box before shipping the kitten. Refunded.

NEGATIVE: Despite indication in listing, I could not fit item into any of my body cavities.

NEGATIVE: Honda R-Type sticker did not add horsepower as advertised.

NEUTRAL: Item shipped promptly and in good condition, but I should not have to bid on birthday presents from my parents.

POSITIVE: I don’t really remember what I ordered. But I’ve been sitting in the box it came in all day, and it’s great!

NEGATIVE: Product didn’t work, possibly broken. I woke up this morning and was disappointed to find I still believe in Jesus Christ our Savior. ๐Ÿ™

POSITIVE: Excellent Buyer. A++++++. Thrilled by the quartz movement of the “Rolex”. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

NEGATIVE: Should have been clearer that seller only accepts payment in Bhats via Eastern Union Moneygram.

POSITIVE: Plain brown packaging seemed to fool my wife. Thanks!

NEGATIVE: The dog won’t hunt.

NEGATIVE: Very nice monkey mascot costume, but it’s a size 34, not a 63 as advertised.

NEGATIVE: Lederhosen not as pink as the picture led me to believe.

POSITIVE: A+++++. Items are exactly as described. Best case of kalashnikovs I’ve ever bought. Allah Akbar!

NEGATIVE: This is clearly the ninth, NOT THE SIXTH, repackaging of Mad Super Special #24.

POSITIVE: One of the scents mixed in with the packing peanuts remind me of a passionate weekend in Rio… was that you?

POSITIVE: The way you wrote my zip-code makes me weak in the knees. Such smooth strokes. A+!

NEGATIVE: Though you did nothing wrong, I am giving you this negative feedback to teach you that the universe is arbitrary and unfair.

NEGATIVE: Buying this Space 1999 Lunchbox did not fill the void in my empty life for as long as I’d hoped.

Top 10 Quotes from Stephen Hawking

Written by the land salmon

I have recently been reading up a bit on the life and work of British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. In my reading, I have run across a number of his famous quotes that are both funny and insightful. He is widely considered to be among the most intelligent people living today. Here is what he has to say…


10. “Einstein was wrong when he said “God does not play dice”. Consideration of black holes suggests, not only that God does play dice, but that He sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can’t be seen.”

9. “I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.”

8. “My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”

7. “I find that American & Scandinavian accents work better with women.” In response to a question about the American accent of his synthesiser.

6. “Someone told me that each equation I included in the book would halve the sales. In the end, however, I did put in one equation, Einstein’s famous equation, E = mc2. I hope that this will not scare off half of my potential readers.”

5. “My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.”

4. “To show this diagram properly, I would really need a four dimensional screen. However, because of government cuts, we could manage to provide only a two dimensional screen.”

3. “Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.”

2. “The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be pinely inspired.”

1. “Eternity is a very long time, especially towards the end.”

Top 10 Reasons to Believe Logic Over Religion

Written by Daily Garlic

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for turning my tap water into alcohol and a never ending food basket, but I’m tired of all these people whining and telling me how to live my life. You do your thing, I do my thing, we’re all happy, but after reading that someone is paying Facebook to post a religious article titled “6 Reasons You Have To Believe In God”, I figured I’d grab my own cross and at least have fun while getting ready to be crucified for having an opinion.

The argument that because complex life exists, it must have been “created” is ridiculous, and it’s time someone said it. Yay, we have lots of chromosomes, we can see in color and keep erections for 4+ hours (commercials say see a doctor, I’d rather see a sorority house), but explaining away the unexplainable with magical explanations is as real as the emails I get from the prime minister of Nigeria who wants to send me $4 million dollars via a cashiers check.

1. “Earth is the perfect environment, it had to have been made for us”

Nai-eve. Get real. I point you to Arachaea, aka Archaebacteria and Extremophiles. These miraculous organisms live in ridiculously extreme climates. Climates much like that of, I don’t know, other planets perhaps? The point is, different kinds of life require different things. Ours needs water, oxygen and beer. Anyway, as far as we know, in the 9 planets (fuck you, Pluto still counts) we have in our Solar System, we’re the only ones with real sentient life, so I guess that means we’re the only ones right? Oh wait, I forgot about the BILLIONS+ of other planets and solar systems in other galaxies and what not that we haven’t been to or seen up close. So we’re here, great, that’s awesome, but if it were so damn perfect, Canada would be part of the United States, it wouldn’t be so damn cold here in the winter, and Yellow Stone would shoot up Budweiser. Hey, a guy can dream right?

2. Free Will – Contradicting a Contradiction

God “gives” us “Free Will” so that we can choose which path to follow. He knows what we’re going to do, but he’s “giving” us the choice to, uhm, choose what he already knows we’re going to do? To put it simply, if God can know 100% without a doubt you’re going to do it, it’s set in stone, you can’t change it, you’re just fulfilling destiny or a “plan” laid out by someone else. Either he gives us free will to do what we want (in which case there are many different paths and there is no way to KNOW which one we’ll do), or it’s all an illusion and you’ve got a puppet string coming out of your ass.

3. Hillary Clinton is leading the polls

If there is a God, and he does love us, then this would never have happened. Every time I realize my calendar doesn’t say April, I wonder if there is a God and he has a sick sense of humor, but then it would have to be a really, really sick sense of humor.

4. Evolution

I don’t actually think that evolution disproves creationism, actually if there was an “intelligent designer” this would have been an “intelligent design” to build in. It’s nature’s undo button once you figure out that giving tigers the ability to fly just wasn’t the best idea out on the market. But since the church feels that evolution cannot co-exist with creationism, point me.

5. Intelligent Designs lack of a designer

Aren’t we smart, we are truly awesome. Don’t misunderstand me, I love walking on two legs and peeing standing up, but telling me that we have to be created by a magical being just because we exist, begs questioning.

Logic dictates that if (a) we are here so we must have come from somewhere, i.e. a “designer” who is more complex and intelligent than us, then (b) a complex and intelligent designer, would also have to have come from somewhere i.e. a “designer” who is even more complex and intelligent.

If the reasoning for a God is we’re here, then where did he come from? My favorite famous lines are “he always was” and “no one knows”. Shave the wool off your back and follow the herd if you believe that. If someone HAD to have created us, they would have HAD to have been created. If our creator could have ALWAYS been or just magically appeared, then so could we have.

We can’t just assert that God is mightier and he just magically came to be, if that’s the logic, I say someone still had to find him in the bottom of a cereal box, it’s a paradox.

6. Ron Paul is behind in the polls

Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) is the leading advocate for freedom in our nation’s capital.” He’s advocating for FREEDOM, come on, how can you not love freedom. He wants to legalize pot and I’ve seen him kiss at least 6 babies in the past week. He wants to get rid of the IRS, imagine a world without angry letters from those bastards! If God existed, Ron Paul wouldn’t be just President, he would have been made Co-God back in the 60s.

7. Pot is illegal but Alcohol is A-Okay

Alcohol, the leading cause of drunk driving, and as such the leading cause of alcohol-related deaths, is totally cool for me to drive down to the liquor store to pick up and binge drink on. On the flip side, lighting up a joint and scarfing down a large pizza or two will get you boned hard. If God was around, he’d rather I eat a bag of Doritos and pass out than get drunk, beat my wife and piss on the couch. The worst that can happen with pot is smoking yourself stupid and passing out, but alcohol makes people angry. Hulk mad. If only there were a God? and then Ron Paul would set the record straight.

8. Bad things happen to good people, great things happen to bad people

For a society that constantly gets the short end of the stick when it comes to miracles, I’ve never fully understood how people can whipe away such an obvious shortcoming with one or two hail marys. If we’re God’s children, how come Bin Laden hasn’t been bent over his knee and beat with a wooden spoon yet? Why the hell are people stopping to help stalled motorists and getting raped murdered, and why is it that every time a girl scout makes it to my door she’s out of thin mints? I’m sick of it. Shortbread cookies suck, they do. There, I said it. Aside from such atrocities, every single day bad people get rewarded, while good people are getting creamed on the side of the road by drunk drivers. Give credit where credit is due, if you’re an asshole, you should have karma spitting in your face, and if you’re a good-looking, stand-up guy who wants some damn thin mints, you should get some damn thin mints.

9. Blind Faith

If we’re supposed to believe in a God, and he wants us to believe in him, and the only way for eternal salvation is to believe, then why can’t he take 30 seconds to hop off his throne made of golden baby carcasses and pop in and have coffee with me tomorrow? Starbucks, 10:30, I’ll buy. If it’s such a big deal to believe, why is it not such a big deal to give a reason to believe in?

10. The proof is in dying

Ever notice how religions promise us stuff that cannot be instantly proven? One of the biggest promises is heaven after we die or in Islam they promise 72 virgins. That has got to be the lowest thing.. promising pussy in the after life for accepting their religion.

The biggest logical fallacy is that a religion can offer us millions and millions of years of heaven for accepting their beliefs for just 100 years max? What is the ratio there there, how can accepting something for 100 years or so get you something for millions of years (or eternity) to come. When something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

I don’t want you to change your views for me, hell I don’t care if you DO believe that Jesus is magic and my house was struck by lightning and swiftly burnt to the ground right after posting this. It’s your life, do what you want, but don’t sit back and take everything you’re told with a spoonful of sugar and a blindfold, that’s for republicans.

About the Author: David enjoys long walks on the beach, casual strolls down the boulevard and writing long and drawn out posts in his underwear in the wee hours of the morning.