Google Maps’ New “Typical Traffic” Route Planning Feature

Google Maps has just introduced a new feature that I have been patiently awaiting for several years now — Route planning with typical traffic conditions!

Route planning allows you to plot a course between two points and not just with current traffic but with typical traffic for various times during the week and day. Previously, you could only see current traffic conditions, which was not very helpful if you were trying to plan your trip to the airport a week in advance.

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PayPal is Terrible — Your Money is Not Safe From Them. [Burn in Hell PayPal]

Paypal is a terrible, horrible, despicable company. If you have little experience with PayPal, count yourself lucky. There are many reasons why the company continues to top lists such as the “Five Worst Companies for Customer Service“.

PayPal currently has a “2.6 out of 10” on Trust Pilot and a “1 out of 5” stars on Consumer Affairs. Forums, such as getSatisfaction are filled with extremely upset customers vowing to never use PayPal again. I am joining the countless ranks of burned customers that will never use PayPal again.

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Do Allergy Shots Work? Is Immunotherapy Effective?

I have been unknowingly suffering from allergies for years. In the spring and fall I would suddenly become “sick” and nothing I did could get rid of it. It took years for me to discover that it was allergies, not a virus each time, because my allergy symptoms are identical to that of the flu (fatigue, sneezing, itchy throat etc.).

Eventually I figured that I may actually be suffering from allergies, and after taking allergy meds I started to feel much better. The only problem: allergy meds knock me out. Even non-drowsy options make me feel tired and weird. The solution: allergy shots (immonotherapy)!

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The Unbelievers Movie Review

Renowned scientists Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss cross the globe as they speak publicly about the importance of science and reason in the modern world.

What The Unbelievers lacks in entertainment and excitement, it makes up for in brilliance.

The Unbelievers is essentially a compilation of some of the great international appearances of Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss as they discuss the importance of science and logic.

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From an Ex-Telemarketer: How to Get Rid of Telemarketers

Telemarketers can be a pain in the ass (there is really no other way to put it) but responding in the wrong way can make the situation worse.

As an ex-telemarketer, I know first-hand what it is like to be on both sides of the call and trust me, telemarketing sucks for both parties involved. I worked for a small call centre in Cambridge called C.S.I. that specialized in collecting donations for charities like the New England Police Officers Safety Association. To this day I sincerely hope it was legitimate, though I now have my doubts (I was only 15 then).

So how do you get rid of telemarketers?

Firstly, Do Not Ignore Them

Telemarketing companies use automted phone dialers to call large swathes of “potential customers”. This means that if you think you can get away from them by not picking up the phone because they will “give up”, you are probably wrong. These phone systems “got time fo’ dat” and will keep calling back until you decide to answer your phone (they may eventually declare you unreachable but it isn’t worth all of the ringing).

Instead, pick up the phone, interrupt their speel to save time and tell them that you are absolutely not interested and ask them to take you off their call list. It helps to mention this in several ways such as “please remove me from your call list and add me, permanently, to your do not call list”.

You can always avoid unknown callers, but you will likely miss important calls from friends and family whose numbers are not familiar to you — something that I am personally not comfortable with.

Just picking up and saying you are busy or not interested will not work because either because systems like the one I used include a “not interested” button that can be pressed, which ensures that you will get a call back so that they can reconsider in the future.

Secondly, Hide Your Number!

Adding yourself to the National Do Not Call List is a good starter. This will certainly reduce the volume of calls, but telemarketers with special exemptions or rogue telemarketers will still target you.

Giving out your phone number for giveaways is a sure-fire way to end up on a list as well. Chances are they captured consent not just for themselves but to share your number with other parties as well.

I have been giving this advice for years, though I do not know if anyone is actually following it. Give it a try.

You can read more goodbye-telemarketer suggestions here.


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What Happened to Wired Magazine? Silicon Valley Douchebag Hipsters

Ah, yet another content provider selling-out to try to be “cool”. I recently wrote about what happened to the Discovery Channel and their now complete decline into trash TV, and now Wired Magazine is heading in a similar direction.

I want to preface this rant by saying that I am (was) a huge fan of Wired. As recently as 6 months ago I have said that Wired Magazine is the best magazine out there. It had a balance of tech, science and culture curated for an intellectual reader.

Unfortunately, things have changed and the magazine has begun to nosedive. Wired seems to be focused almost entirely on Silicon Valley douchebag hipsters now, and it is really depressing.

It started off when they wrote about some of these new trends and now, slowly but surely, the hipster culture has taken over Wired. From aspects as obvious as the topics of articles, and products being advertised, to more subtle changes like the overall colour scheme — everything is now retro and it is brutal.

I understand that a significant portion of their subscribers are probably Silicon Valley hipsters, but they are giving up their general focus on tech and science to appeal to this group of douchebags, just like the Discovery Channel did to try and appeal to the mass market.

It is no secret that there is general hatred towards hipsters from pretty much everyone that is not a hipster, so it very unfortunate that Wired would decide to appeal to one segment of their audience while alienating the rest.

I haven’t cancelled my subscription yet because I am hoping this is just a “phase” that Wired will get through soon. I thought desperate “individuals” would have moved on to the next trend by now and that Wired would have moved on as well.

Wired, I beg of you, please correct your flight path!

Bonus: collection of ridiculous hipsters


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What is a Camless Engine, and Why Should You Care?

So as not to bore the car fanatics, I will keep the following description brief.

A camshaft is found in a car engine that enables the opening and closing of valves as the engine rotates to enable combustion — bringing in the fuel (intake valve) and expelling what’s left after combustion (exhaust valve).

I have embedded a video below illustrating the purpose of a camshaft.

The important thing to know about a camshaft is that it cannot operate on valves or cylinders independently of the others. The rotation of the engine moves the camshaft through the same motion every time. As a result, a camshaft creates efficiency limitations.

Enter the camless engine!

Instead of a camshaft, the new Freevalve engine uses pneumatic actuators to independently control each set of valves for each cylinder. This allows for enormous flexibility, including the ability to dynamically control the number of cylinders in use.

As a result, the technology, right off the bat, will improve power and torque by 30%, and increase fuel efficiency by 50%. That’s huge! The new engine is also smaller — truly incredible.

There is even talk about being able to use such engines to run multiple types of fuel, such as diesel and gas in the same engine, though this would require a separate tank and system for each.

The only drawback to the engine so far is that the pneumatic system that will control the valves may be more susceptible to damage than a camshaft. This could be a big problem as camshafts are currently extremely reliable, standing the test of time. However, we have to start somewhere and the benefits will surely outweigh the costs if the pneumatic system can be built in a robust manner.

You can learn more about the new cam-less engine here. I, for one, am very excited.


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