Thursday, May 31, 2012

30+ Free and Inspiring Blogger Templates

30+ Free and Inspiring Blogger Templates:
Showcasing the designs of Blogger template designers has been a regular feature on Blogger Buster. Each time I compile a collection of Blogger templates, I am fascinated to see the variety of free designs available. But after seeing some of the free designs available in 2012, this time I'm truly awed.

Having discovered (and of course, bookmarked) some truly amazing Blogger template designers, I present more than 30 of my favourite templates for 2012 with full template screenshots and links to the designers' sites.

P.S. Don't forget to check out some of the older Blogger template collections!

Read more »
Download your copy of The Blogger Template Book
Your complete guide to choosing, installing and optimizing Blogger templates (PDF 114 pages)

Germany Sets New Solar Record By Meeting Nearly Half of Country’s Weekend Power Demand

Germany Sets New Solar Record By Meeting Nearly Half of Country’s Weekend Power Demand:
Photo: Túrelio (CC)
Photo: Túrelio (CC)
This story has the sustainable energy movement incredibly excited, and rightly so methinks. Story from inhabitat:
Germany fed a whopping 22 gigawatts of solar power per hour into the national grid last weekend, setting a new record by meeting nearly half of the country’s weekend power demand.
After the Fukushima disaster, Japan opted to shut down all of its nuclear power stations and Germany followed suit after considerable public pressure. This seems to have paved the way for greater investment in solar energy projects. The Renewable Energy Industry (IWR) in Muenster announced that Saturday’s solar energy generation met nearly 50 percent of the nation’s midday electricity needs AND was equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity! …
By meeting a third of its electricity needs on a work day and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed, Germany’s solar power industry has broken all previous records. Speaking to Reuters, Norbert Allnoch, director of the IWR said: ”Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity. Germany came close to the 20 gigawatt (GW) mark a few times in recent weeks. But this was the first time we made it over.”…
[continues at inhabitat]

Where does this blog come from?

Where does this blog come from?:
A friend asked me today how many people work for me helping me write my books and blog.
I write every word of this blog (more than 2,000,000 words so far). If you see a book or an email that's from me, I wrote it.
I don't actively use Twitter (not because it's not a useful tool for some people, it just doesn't work for me) so I don't need a staff to pretend to be me there. (You can read this blog at @thisissethsblog).
I don't actively use Facebook either, though I have a page there.
If I blurb a book, it's because I've read it and thought it was worth highlighting. I don't endorse companies or other projects.
I don't take pitches to be on my blog, and no one can pay me to endorse them. I don't directly own private or public equity in companies I write about, except for, which I founded, and use because I like what we built, not because I'm trying to persuade you to use it.
And those are my boundaries. They might not be for everyone, and I'm sure that others have other systems that work for them, but there you go. If I fail to respond to an email from you, or read something you send me, it's simply because I've made the choice to be a soloist than to farm out the thing I love to do to someone else.
Thanks for reading.

Nick Gillespie on NBC Nightly News tonight, 6:30 p.m.

Nick Gillespie on NBC Nightly News tonight, 6:30 p.m.:
Nick Gillespie in better days for the Peacock empire. Editor In Chief Nick
Gillespie will appear tonight on NBC's Nightly
Topic: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is obsessed with
cup size.
The Big Apple chief executive is moving to
ban large-sized sodas
in the city so nice they ticket you twice
sitting on a milk crate
The proposal is finding favor only with the
voting bloc.
Even the liberal
Daily Beast
 says the ban is a thirsty-two ouncer too far.
Columnist Trevor Butterworth calls the mayor a "walking
advertisement for libertarianism."
But even Mrs.
can't escape the dead hand of trendy, feel-good
And Bloomberg always gets what he wants.
Can a town without a 1.2-liter Super Big Gulp truly be called

Last day to get discount state parks pass

Last day to get discount state parks pass: UPDATE: This is the last day you can buy this state parks pass for $125, kids. Price goes up on June 1, 2012.
The state of California just raised the price of its annual parks pass, which gives you the right to enter and park all over the state, to a...

Band of Bridges: Celebrating the Golden Gate Anniversary

Band of Bridges: Celebrating the Golden Gate Anniversary:

Editor’s Note: Today’s guest author is Greg Moore, President of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Google is excited to help support this celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge.

On May 27th, the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge celebrated its 75th anniversary. Our organization, the non-profit Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, is working with the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District; the National Park Service; the Presidio Trust; and the City of San Francisco to help commemorate this landmark event.

As president of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, I have the privilege of enjoying the majestic architecture of the bridge and its landscape on a regular basis. This iconic Bridge stands at the center of the Golden Gate National Parks.

However, we’re pleased to announce that now the American spirit and beauty of the bridge will be available to everyone. Our new interactive website, Band of Bridges, brings the celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th anniversary into everyone’s homes.

The website enables visitors to virtually connect bridges from around the world to the Golden Gate, making what we hope will be the longest bridge in history. Using the Google Maps API, users can navigate every corner of the Earth and search for bridges or enter a specific bridge they are already familiar with—maybe even one from their hometown. Each new bridge added will connect to preceding bridges, resulting in spans that stretch hundreds (or thousands) of digital miles.

With the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics approximating 600,000 bridges in the United States alone, we hope to connect thousands of bridges and people from across the globe.

Just as the Golden Gate blends together its surrounding nature, culture and people, Band of Bridges, conceived by San Francisco advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners and brought to life by the Google Maps team in Mountain View, is a culmination of the amazing creative and technological talent of the Bay Area in California.

The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy would like to thank Goodby Silverstein & Partners and Google for bringing such vision, beauty and authenticity to our efforts.

Please join us in celebrating the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th anniversary and be part of our Band of Bridges.

Posted by Greg Moore, President of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

LED Eyeshadow, The Latest In The World Of Battery-Operated Fashion

LED Eyeshadow, The Latest In The World Of Battery-Operated Fashion:

LED fashion, whether or not you like it, you'd better get used to it.
Maybe if I went to all-night raves with colorful little glowy sticks and jammed to Paul Oakenfold (uh oh, is he old already?) this maybe, somehow, would strike me as making sense. But then who cares what a tech blogger thinks about fashion. So decide for yourself: do you think LED eyeshadow is hot?
Or not?
An eccentric young lady has added to her eccentric assembly of creations a kind of eyeshadow made out of LED lights. The artist/researcher, Lulin Ding, says that she’d noticed how eyeshadow is only visible when a woman (or rock stars) blink. She wanted to turn the eyelid into a digital medium by illuminating it while it is closed.
The lights hang in the corner of the eye, suspended from wires woven delicately – and from the looks of it, difficultly – through the eye lashes. The wires run back over the ear and down the shoulder, eventually clipping onto a LilyPad Arduino microcontroller board commonly used to power “e-textiles.”
Whether or not you like the e-shadow, my guess is that you’re bound to see them sooner or later. The alluring surface of the female eyelid is just the latest part of the body or clothing to be “painted” with LED light. LED lights have been woven into dresses, high heels, shoelaces, and they’ve been used to brighten our smiles. They’ve even been used already to give eyelashes, quite literally, that irradiant glow. Never mind it’s probably insanely annoying to have a bright light – or three – just millimeters from your eyeball. But, as we know, people will sacrifice much in the name of fashion, so we’re probably going to have to get used to it. The ravers among us, probably sooner than most.
[image credits: DTK Austin]

[video credit: Lulin Ding]

images: LED Eyeshadow

video: Lulin Ding

World’s First Wikipedia Town Won’t Be The Last

World’s First Wikipedia Town Won’t Be The Last:

QR codes have been placed all over Monmouth, Wales that link directly to Wikipedia pages.
Toss out the travel guide and grab your smartphone — a new urban project has transformed a small town in Wales into the world’s first Wikipedia town. The project, called Monmouthpedia, links the sights and scenes within the nearly millennium-old town of Monmouth, the birthplace of King Henry V, to Wikipedia pages written by volunteers across the world. How do Monmouth’s physical locations and web pages connect together? Through posted QRpedia codes, which are scannable QR codes that pull up Wikipedia content in the smartphone’s set language.
On the surface, this may not seem like that big of a deal, until you consider the scale of the effort involved: the project aims to produce over 1,000 Wikipedia pages about every notable person, place, and artifact in Monmouth for tourists in as many languages as possible, which is currently around 29 but can potentially build to over 250 languages.
That’s a quarter of a million Wikipedia pages for a town populated by less than 10,000 people.

John Cummings showing off a QRpedia code on a storefront
The Monmouthpedia project was started by John Cummings, who got the idea after watching a TEDxBristol presentation on the use of QRpedia codes at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery. The idea took six months to develop and involved a variety of partnerships, both physical and virtual. The technological support for the project was provided by the Monmouthshire County Council, which is installing Wi-Fi across town for users to access the Internet for free, and Wikimedia itself contributed $40,000 to the project, according to the LA Times. Along with over 1,000 images of Monmouth added to the project, the articles keep pouring in as volunteer content contributors keep generating content, translating pages, and continually improving upon what’s been produced. That includes geotag information to allow visitors to take virtual tours using the QRpedia codes.
You can check out the official video about the project to see how the project tries to capture the best of both worlds:
QRpedia solves a longstanding problem in tourism: providing relevant information that’s easily accessible. That’s why travel, museum, or even restaurant guides are catalogs of massive information organized around easily indexable subjects. This is what also makes them big, bulky tomes to have to carry while trying to sightsee. But QRpedia codes mean that travelers don’t have to carry a book, the search process is as simple as holding a phone up to a code of interest, and information is accessible one web page at a time. This gives enormous control over how deep someone wants to learn about a subject of interest. And QR codes are relatively inconspicuous.
But Monmouthpedia is only the beginning for what is possible for augmented reality-aided tourism.
See, QR codes are still a pull technology, meaning the user still has to find the code and scan it with a phone. Sure, a QR code takes less time to scan than trying to do a Google search on-site, but a much easier way would be to have location-aware technology that could push information at you, according to your preferences. This could be accomplished using RFID chips, near field communication or the next generation of GPS smartphones that will pinpoint your location down to the inch. So if you stood in the proximity of a famous building for more than 10 seconds, the Wikipedia page about the building would open on your smartphone automatically. Behind the smartphone, there’s all the hope and hype of Google Glass, which could not only use GPS, but possibly photo recognition, especially for identifying faces.
Regardless of whether future tourism projects use QR codes or another technology, the need for Wikipedia content, and lots of it, will remain. So the Monmouthpedia project isn’t so much about the current technology being used, but a recognition that the barrier between the physical and virtual worlds is crumbling. Additionally, it showcases how people across the world can rally around a historical location, even one that may not be a household name, to generate and foster real community connections using technology.
[Media:  Wikipedia]
[Sources: LA Times, Monmouthpedia]

Do Dogs Feel Guilty?

Do Dogs Feel Guilty?:
“I walked into the house, and he was acting strange. I could tell he had done something wrong,” she told me. I pressed for further details.

Street Art by Daniel Anguilu in Houston, Texas, USA

Street Art by Daniel Anguilu in Houston, Texas, USA:

Click here for a bigger photo. By Daniel Anguilu in Houston, Texas, USA. Thanks to Melissa E. Noble for the photo!

Man Goes To Hospital For Kidney Stone, Finds Out He’s A Woman

Man Goes To Hospital For Kidney Stone, Finds Out He’s A Woman:
Photo: thirdrail (CC)
What surprises life will spring upon you? ABC News reports:
A Colorado man who was admitted to the hospital for a kidney stone received surprising news when the nurse came back with test results revealing he was actually a woman. Denver photographer Steve Crecelius said he’s felt a little different all his life.
He was intersex, meaning he had both male genitalia and internal female sex organs. “The nurse is reading the ultrasound and says, ‘Huh, this says you’re a female,’ Crecelius said. “It was very liberating.” Steve, who now goes by “Stevie,” said his wife and their children accepted his new identity right away.

The Choom Gang: Teenage Obama’s Mastery Of Marijuana

The Choom Gang: Teenage Obama’s Mastery Of Marijuana:
4852219520_1743782e9fLong before he was unveiling presidential decrees, young Barack Obama displayed the spark of leadership with his pot smoking initiatives. The forthcoming book Barack Obama: The Story from the Washington Post’s David Maraniss alleges that teenage Barry palled around in a smoke-filled van named the Choomwagon and invented new getting-high techniques such as “interceptions”, “roof hits”, and “total absorption”. Via Buzzfeed:
A self-selected group of boys at Punahou School who loved basketball and good times called themselves the Choom Gang. Choom is a verb, meaning “to smoke marijuana.” As a member of the Choom Gang, Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends. The first was called “TA,” short for “total absorption.” “Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated,” explained one member of the Choom Gang, Tom Topolinski.
Barry also had a knack for interceptions. When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted “Intercepted!,” and took an extra hit. No one seemed to mind.
[Choom Gang member] Mark Bendix’s Volkswagen bus, also known as the Choomwagon. … The other members considered Mark Bendix the glue, he was funny, creative, and uninhibited, with a penchant for Marvel Comics.

Concrete Concerns at Seabrook

Concrete Concerns at Seabrook:
                                     ASR in a tunnel at Seabrook
One of the issues that has complicated the license renewal process at the Seabrook nuclear plant in New Hampshire is the discovery of potentially serious concrete degradation in some of the buildings.
This problem was first officially noted a year ago, when NRC inspectors confirmed that widespread cracks in the plant’s concrete due to a process called alkali-silica reaction (ASR) resulted in a “moderate to severe” reduction in concrete strength in five buildings.

ASR can occur when certain forms of silica in the bulk material in concrete (such as crushed rock and sand) react in the presence of water with such chemicals as sodium or potassium, which are commonly found in the cement paste. This reaction produces a gel that forms in the pores of the concrete and then expands, causing stress and cracking. Over time, those cracks can join together to form larger fissures in the cement and compromise the concrete’s structural integrity.
To better understand the technical issues related to the concrete damage, we hired a concrete expert to review the publicly available documents. Paul Brown, a professor of ceramic science and engineering at Penn State University, wrote a report that discusses the problem and identifies some outstanding questions that need to be answered. Working with the group C-10, we released his report along with a summary of the issues.
Prof. Brown concluded that neither plant owner NextEra Energy nor the NRC fully understand the scope or origins of the problem and therefore cannot adequately assess the plant’s structural status. His report provides a list of key questions the NRC and NextEra Energy need to address before they can assure nearby communities they are not at heightened risk.
In particular, NextEra and the NRC must determine to what extent ASR is occurring, what other negative reactions—including corrosion of embedded steel in the concrete—are occurring, and what basis there is for knowing which steps will be effective in addressing these problems.
NextEra Energy applied to the NRC in 2010 for a 20-year renewal of the operating license for Seabrook. Its current license was issued in 1990 and does not expire until 2030; the license renewal would allow Seabrook to operate until 2050. NRC and NextEra analysis of the plant must therefore identify and understand aging issues well enough to predict its behavior for the next 40 years.

TED: Sebastian Deterding: What your designs say about you - Sebastian Deterding (2011)

TED: Sebastian Deterding: What your designs say about you - Sebastian Deterding (2011): What does your chair say about what you value? Designer Sebastian Deterding shows how our visions of morality and what the good life is are reflected in the design of objects around us.

Federal Appeals Court Finds Defense of Marriage Act to be Unconstitutional

Federal Appeals Court Finds Defense of Marriage Act to be Unconstitutional:
A unanimous 3-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
1st Circuit ruled today that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage
Act, which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples who have
been lawfully married in states that permit gay marriage, violates
the U.S. Constitution. Here are some snippets from the majority
opinion of Judge Michael Boudin, a judicial conservative appointed
to the 1st Circuit by President George H.W. Bush:
This case is difficult because it couples issues of equal
protection and federalism with the need to assess the rationale for
a congressional statute passed with minimal hearings and lacking in
formal findings.  In addition, Supreme Court precedent offers
some help to each side, but the rationale in several cases is open
to  interpretation.  We have done our best to discern the
direction of these precedents, but only the Supreme Court can
finally decide this unique case....
To conclude, many Americans believe that marriage is the union
of a man and a woman, and most Americans live in states where that
is the law today.  One virtue of federalism is that it permits
this diversity of governance based on local choice, but this
applies as well to the states that have chosen to legalize same-sex
marriage.  Under current Supreme Court authority, Congress'
denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in
Massachusetts has not been adequately supported by any permissible
federal interest.
Download the decision here.
For more on the legal battle over gay marriage, check out
previous coverage

Voodoo Pharmacology Literalized: The Drug That Turns People Into Flesh-Eating Zombies

Voodoo Pharmacology Literalized: The Drug That Turns People Into Flesh-Eating Zombies:
On Tuesday I
that news outlets were uncritically regurgitating
fact-free speculation that some sort of drug—"bath salts,"
possibly, or imitation LSD, or maybe cocaine—made Rudy Eugene eat
Ronald Poppo's face on Miami's MacArthur Causeway last Saturday.
Since then, the
has become, if anything, more lurid and credulous, in
the manner typical of drug panics, with one outlet after another
recycling the same rumors, baseless pronouncements, and horror
stories (some of which I have noted
here before). One commendable exception:
in Time, which historically has not been known
for calm, well-informed reporting on drugs (or pretty much
anything else
that scares
people), Reason contributor Maia
Szalavitz explains "Why Drugs Are Getting a Bum Rap in the Miami
Face-Eating Attack." Szalavitz notes that the vast majority of
"drug-related" violence is in fact prohibition-related violence,
resulting from black-market disputes rather than the malign
psychoactive effects of prohibited intoxicants. She adds that,
given all the millions of people who have used drugs said to cause
murder and mayhem, you would expect to see a lot more violence if
the allegations were even close to true. She points out that
journalists routinely rely on police, who have a strong incentive
to exaggerate the dangers posed by illegal substances and whose
views are skewed by the sorts of drug users they tend to encounter,
for expert advice about the effects of forbidden chemicals. Both
cops and reporters, she observes, tend to focus on extreme examples
that by definition tell us little or nothing about the behavior of
the typical drug user. Whether or not it turns out that Eugene
consumed "bath salts" before attacking Poppo (and it bears
emphasizing that there are no toxicological results yet), it should
(but sadly does not) go without saying that his behavior was highly
unusual, if not unique, among people who consume these quasi-legal
speed substitutes:
Stimulants of any type rarely lead to violence in people who
don’t have a prior history of violent behavior. Typically, drugs
enhance or disinhibit pre-existing tendencies, rather than
provoking entirely new behavior. And drugs are far from the only
reason that a person might strip naked and become violent, as the
Miami man did.
Indeed, the best predictor of violent behavior is a previous
history of violent behavior, which we now know that the Miami man
had. He was apparently the first person ever to
be tasered by North Miami Beach police. Why? He had
beaten and was threatening to kill his mother.
Also, while overdoses of stimulants do overheat the body, they
certainly don’t, as the Miami police representative suggested,
"burn organs alive." Blaming LSD for violent behavior is even
further off base. No research has associated LSD or related
psychedelic drugs with violence, and higher potency isn’t likely to
change that.
Without detracting from the consistently thougtful and
produced by Szalavitz, who is almost singlehandedly
atoning for Time's historical hysteria about illegal
drugs, I would argue that there is less excuse than ever for the
anti-drug alarmism that is still routinely peddled by
reputable news organizations. Here are some of the more
embarrassing headlines generated by the "Causeway Cannibal"
CBS News: "Bath
salts, drug alleged 'face-chewer' Rudy Eugene may have been on,
plague police and doctors
Reuters: "Did
Drugs Make Rudy Eugene Chew on a Naked Miami Man's Face?
U.S. News & World Report: "Miami's
'Naked Zombie' Proves Need to Ban Bath Salts, Experts Say
Toronto Sun: "Miami
cannibal may have been high on 'bath salts
National Post: "Highly
addictive drug blamed for cannibal attack in Miami a growing threat
in Maritime Canada
The Huffington Post: "Bath
Salts: The 'Cannibal' From Miami's Alleged Dangerous Drug Of
In my book Saying
Yes: In Defense of Drug Use
I call the persistently
popular belief that drugs make people do evil "voodoo
pharmacology," a term I use because it calls to mind zombies
animated by magic. Here you have a literalized example: a drug that
supposedly turned someone (who may or may not have actually used
it) into a flesh-eating zombie. And the press, rather than
questioning this outlandish claim, amplifies it. Even if it
weren't easier than ever before to look up research and seek out
alternative perspectives, how much sense does it require to be
skeptical upon being told that an alarmingly popular drug commonly
causes irrational outbursts of violence? How could such a drug ever
gain a wide following? This is not rocket science; it is just

Disneyland set to reopen Matterhorn ride, Carnation Cafe

Disneyland set to reopen Matterhorn ride, Carnation Cafe: Disneyland Resort parks are reopening venues in June as they prepare for a bustling summer season.
Disney has scheduled no official refurbishment projects in June because it is expecting heavy crowds, especially with the upcoming opening of Cars Land...

The Accidental Asshole: Pinpoint How You're Annoying People and Do Something About It [Annoyances]

The Accidental Asshole: Pinpoint How You're Annoying People and Do Something About It [Annoyances]:
We all have our pet peeves. But have you ever wondered about the annoying things you do that your friends, family, and strangers are too polite to tell you about? I do, and I decided to do something about it. More »

Download the Windows 8 Release Preview Now [Windows 8]

Download the Windows 8 Release Preview Now [Windows 8]:
The last preview version of Windows 8 is here, so if you want to get a peek and what the final version will feel like, you can download the Release Preview now and give it a test drive. More »