Volume 36
A Fun Site created by
Professor William Hillman culled from a daily motivational series
compiled for his BU Education Classes 2000-2009
The daily tech news items have been omitted since many of the stories are now "old news."


An eclectic collection of oddities, humorous anecdotes, weird photos, funny headlines, cartoons, puzzles, inspirational items, jokes, and more. . .  gathered here as a reference repository for speakers, lecturers, teachers, students, writers, or Web travellers just looking for diversion and a bit of levity. 

Letterman Top 10 Lists for Teachers
New test would measure students' Web wisdom
AFI List of Top 100 Quotes From U.S. Films
Funny Pics: New Computer Upgrades
An Old Farmer's Advice
The Evolution of Teaching Math in America
If a dog was the teacher you would learn stuff like . . .
10 Habits of Decidedly Defective People
Food & Beverage Jokes
25 Signs You Have Grown Up
Old Geezers
The Wisdom of Will Rogers
Breaking Through the Writer's Block
Late Night with David Letterman
Top Ten Things You Don't Want To Hear From Your Teacher On The First Day Of School
10. "Your grade will be determined by how well you wash my car"
9. "Parent-teacher conferences at 3:00pm; if your mom's hot, it's dinner and drinks"
8. "If my methods seem unconventional, it's because I forged my teaching credentials at Kinko's"
7. "I'm not good with names, so I'm going to call all of you 'Skippy'"
6. "Is it just me, or is chalk delicious?"
5. "Study, don't study -- honestly, I only care about tonight's Lotto numbers"
4. "I'm just a substitute -- your teacher is being detained at Camp X-Ray"
3. "Screw math -- just cheat off the exchange student"
2. "Hey everybody! Looks like we got a bed-wetter!"
1. "I was George W. Bush's English teacher"
Top Ten Ways To Make Going Back To School More Fun
10. Goodbye three-ring binders, hello four-ring binders
9. Learn to throw your voice and make the quiet kid talk dirty
8. Shower after every class, not just gym
7. Remind yourself your yearly allowance is only a few hundred bucks less than your teacher's salary
6. Dissect a frog... in history class
5. The ride seems faster on top of the bus
4. With luck, phys. ed. teacher could be a striking Major League Baseball player
3. Unionize your shop class
2. For show and tell, how about a rabid raccoon?
1. Be like Dave. Join the glee club!
Top Ten Things Every Principal Knows
10. Half the stuff teachers say is completely made up
9. Buy Tums in bulk
8. After a long day, a principal's best friend is Professor Jim Beam
7. Tell them it's for extra credit and students will wash your car
6. Don't waste your time on that female gym teacher
5. If the shirtless father was a problem student, chances are his shirtless son will be, too
4. Kids spend too much time on homework and not nearly enough on video games
3. Whenever I need some time alone, I pull the fire alarm
2. I should have become an astronaut
1. Nobody knows the difference if you make P.A. announcements nude
Top Ten Signs Your Kid Had A Bad First Day At School.
10. Already voted "Least Likely to Succeed."
9. His class schedule includes daily beatings from bullies, teachers, and the custodial staff.
8. Lunch was whatever he could scrape off the bottom of his desk.
7. His school bus driver made him ride on the outside of the bus.
6. Got tackled twice in gym class--three times in algebra.
5. He comes home pledging loyalty to fearless leader Kim Jong-Il
4. When you ask how his day went he tells you to direct all further questions to his attorney.
3. Homework on the first day: try not to be such a loser.
2. You know the kid everyone picks on? He got picked on by that kid.
1. Your last name is McGreevey.

New test would measure students' Web wisdom

LONG BEACH, California (AP) -- Students apply to college online, e-mail their papers to their professors and, when they want to be cheeky, pass notes in class by text-messaging. But that doesn't necessarily mean they have a high Internet IQ.

"They're real comfortable instant-messaging, downloading MP3 files. They're less comfortable using technology in ways that require real critical thinking," says Teresa Egan of the Educational Testing Service.Or as Lorie Roth, assistant vice chancellor of academic programs at California State University puts it: "Every single one that comes through the door thinks that if you just go to Google and get some hits -- you've got material for your research paper right there."

That's why Cal State and a number of other colleges are working with ETS to create a test to evaluate Internet intelligence, measuring whether students can locate and verify reliable online information and whether they know how to properly use and credit the material. "This test measures a skill as important as having mathematics and English skills when you come to the university," says Roth. "If you don't come to the university with it, you need to know that you are lacking some skills that educated people are expected to have."

A preliminary version of the new test, the Information and Communication Technology Literacy Assessment, was given to 3,300 Cal State students this spring to see how well it works, i.e. testing the test. Individual scores aren't being tallied but campuses will be getting aggregate reports. Next year, the test is expected to be available for students to take on a voluntary basis. Cal State is the lead institution in a consortium which includes UCLA, the University of Louisville, the California Community College System, the University of North Alabama, the University of Texas System and the University of Washington.

High tech in higher ed
Some of the institutions involved are considering using the test on incoming students to see if they need remedial classes, says Egan, ETS' project manager for the Information and Communication Technology Literacy Assessment. Other schools are thinking about giving the test as a follow up to communications courses to gauge curricula efficiency. Robert Jimenez, a student at Cal State-Fullerton who took the prototype test this spring, gives it a passing grade. "It was pretty good in that it allowed us to go ahead and think through real-life problems."

Sample questions include giving students a simulated page of Web search results on a particular subject and asking students to pick the legitimate sources. So, a question on bee sting remedies presents a choice of sites ranging from ads to a forum for herb treatments to (the correct answer) a listing from the National Institutes of Health, identifiable by having "nih" in the URL (site address) along with the ".gov" suffix that connotes an official government listing.

High tech has been a fixture of higher ed for some years. A 2002 report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 79 percent of college Internet users thought the Internet had a positive impact on their academic experience.
More than 70 percent used the Internet more than the library and 56 percent said e-mail improved their relationships with professors. Of course, some of those text-messaging students are still being taught by professors whose idea of a personal data assistant is a fresh pad of Post-Its.

Evaluating sources
"The problem with technology and education is how do you fit the new technology into existing curriculum lesson plans. You can't add more class time and it's much easier to just keep teaching the way you were," says Steve Jones, a co-author on the Pew study and a communications professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Jones folds lessons on Internet use into his classes. And he doesn't mince words about students who try the "click, copy and paste" approach to homework.

"I tell the students, 'Some of you are going to put off this paper until the night before. You're going to go to Google, type in search words and just look at the top five hits and use those. I'm going to grade you on this. I'm going to look at these sources and so let's talk about how to evaluate sources."' Which doesn't necessarily mean they all "suddenly become fabulous information evaluators and seekers, but it gives them a little bit of an idea that this isn't something that's apart from learning." Jones also finds himself learning from students, who are trying out new things like blogs and collaborating with other students online to create new sources of information. He thinks assessing students' Internet skills could be useful in figuring out ways to help them do better research but cautions that it's tough to test on something as changeable as the Internet.

Roth notes that the bulk of the assessment focuses on critical thinking skills, being able to analyze the legitimacy of Web sites, and knowing the difference between properly cited research and plagiarism, things that "haven't changed very much since I enrolled in college in 1969."

For today's students, working on the Net means not having the safety net of references vetted by campus librarians. But Roth isn't nostalgic. "Anybody want to go back to the bad old days when you had manual typewriters, and you had to get up and walk to the library to look up something?" she says with a laugh. "I don't think so."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

AFI List of Top 100 Quotes From U.S. Films

The American Film Institute's list of top 100 quotes from U.S. movies, with film title and year of release:

1. "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," "Gone With the Wind," 1939.
2. "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse," "The Godfather," 1972.
3. "You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am," "On the Waterfront," 1954.
4. "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore," "The Wizard of Oz," 1939.
5. "Here's looking at you, kid," "Casablanca," 1942.
6. "Go ahead, make my day," "Sudden Impact," 1983.
7. "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up," "Sunset Blvd.," 1950.
8. "May the Force be with you," "Star Wars," 1977.
9. "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night," "All About Eve," 1950.
10. "You talking to me?" "Taxi Driver," 1976.
11. "What we've got here is failure to communicate," "Cool Hand Luke," 1967.
12. "I love the smell of napalm in the morning," "Apocalypse Now," 1979.
13. "Love means never having to say you're sorry," "Love Story," 1970.
14. "The stuff that dreams are made of," "The Maltese Falcon," 1941.
15. "E.T. phone home," "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," 1982.
16. "They call me Mister Tibbs!", "In the Heat of the Night," 1967.
17. "Rosebud," "Citizen Kane," 1941.
18. "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!", "White Heat," 1949.
19. "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!", "Network," 1976.
20. "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," "Casablanca," 1942.
21. "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti," "The Silence of the Lambs," 1991.
22. "Bond. James Bond," "Dr. No," 1962.
23. "There's no place like home," "The Wizard of Oz," 1939.
24. "I am big! It's the pictures that got small," "Sunset Blvd.," 1950.
25. "Show me the money!", "Jerry Maguire," 1996.
26. "Why don't you come up sometime and see me?", "She Done Him Wrong," 1933.
27. "I'm walking here! I'm walking here!", "Midnight Cowboy," 1969.
28. "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By,'" "Casablanca," 1942.
29. "You can't handle the truth!", "A Few Good Men," 1992.
30. "I want to be alone," "Grand Hotel," 1932.
31. "After all, tomorrow is another day!", "Gone With the Wind," 1939.
32. "Round up the usual suspects," "Casablanca," 1942.
33. "I'll have what she's having," "When Harry Met Sally...," 1989.
34. "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow," "To Have and Have Not," 1944.
35. "You're gonna need a bigger boat," "Jaws," 1975.
36. "Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinking badges!", "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," 1948.
37. "I'll be back," "The Terminator," 1984.
38. "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth," "The Pride of the Yankees," 1942.
39. "If you build it, he will come," "Field of Dreams," 1989.
40. "Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get," "Forrest Gump," 1994.
41. "We rob banks," "Bonnie and Clyde," 1967.
42. "Plastics," "The Graduate," 1967.
43. "We'll always have Paris," "Casablanca," 1942.
44. "I see dead people," "The Sixth Sense," 1999.
45. "Stella! Hey, Stella!", "A Streetcar Named Desire," 1951.
46. "Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars," "Now, Voyager," 1942.
47. "Shane. Shane. Come back!", "Shane," 1953.
48. "Well, nobody's perfect," "Some Like It Hot," 1959.
49. "It's alive! It's alive!", "Frankenstein," 1931.
50. "Houston, we have a problem," "Apollo 13," 1995.
51. "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?", "Dirty Harry," 1971.
52. "You had me at `hello,'" "Jerry Maguire," 1996.
53. "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know," "Animal Crackers," 1930.
54. "There's no crying in baseball!", "A League of Their Own," 1992.
55. "La-dee-da, la-dee-da," "Annie Hall," 1977.
56. "A boy's best friend is his mother," "Psycho," 1960.
57. "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good," "Wall Street," 1987.
58. "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer," "The Godfather Part II," 1974.
59. "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again," "Gone With the Wind," 1939.
60. "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!", "Sons of the Desert," 1933.
61. "Say `hello' to my little friend!", "Scarface," 1983.
62. "What a dump," "Beyond the Forest," 1949.
63. "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?", "The Graduate," 1967.
64. "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!", "Dr. Strangelove," 1964.
65. "Elementary, my dear Watson," "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," 1929.
66. "Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape," "Planet of the Apes," 1968.
67. "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine," "Casablanca," 1942.
68. "Here's Johnny!", "The Shining," 1980.
69. "They're here!", "Poltergeist," 1982.
70. "Is it safe?", "Marathon Man," 1976.
71. "Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain't heard nothin' yet!", "The Jazz Singer," 1927.
72. "No wire hangers, ever!", "Mommie Dearest," 1981.
73. "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?", "Little Caesar," 1930.
74. "Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown," "Chinatown," 1974.
75. "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers," "A Streetcar Named Desire," 1951.
76. "Hasta la vista, baby," "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," 1991.
77. "Soylent Green is people!", "Soylent Green," 1973.
78. "Open the pod bay doors, HAL," "2001: A Space Odyssey," 1968.
79. Striker: "Surely you can't be serious." Rumack: "I am serious ... and don't call me Shirley," "Airplane!", 1980.
80. "Yo, Adrian!", "Rocky," 1976.
81. "Hello, gorgeous," "Funny Girl," 1968.
82. "Toga! Toga!", "National Lampoon's Animal House," 1978.
83. "Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make," "Dracula," 1931.
84. "Oh, no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast," "King Kong," 1933.
85. "My precious," "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," 2002.
86. "Attica! Attica!", "Dog Day Afternoon," 1975.
87. "Sawyer, you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!", "42nd Street," 1933.
88. "Listen to me, mister. You're my knight in shining armor. Don't you forget it. You're going to get back on that horse, and I'm going to be right behind you, holding on tight, and away we're gonna go, go, go!", "On Golden Pond," 1981.
89. "Tell 'em to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper," "Knute Rockne, All American," 1940.
90. "A martini. Shaken, not stirred," "Goldfinger," 1964.
91. "Who's on first," "The Naughty Nineties," 1945.
92. "Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac ... It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!", "Caddyshack," 1980.
93. "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!", "Auntie Mame," 1958.
94. "I feel the need — the need for speed!", "Top Gun," 1986.
95. "Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary," "Dead Poets Society," 1989.
96. "Snap out of it!", "Moonstruck," 1987.
97. "My mother thanks you. My father thanks you. My sister thanks you. And I thank you," "Yankee Doodle Dandy," 1942.
98. "Nobody puts Baby in a corner," "Dirty Dancing," 1987.
99. "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!", "The Wizard of Oz," 1939.
100. "I'm king of the world!", "Titanic," 1997.


An Old Farmer's Advice

* Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
* Keep skunks and bankers and lawyers at a distance.
* Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
* A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
* Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled.
* Meanness don't jes' happen overnight.
* Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.
* Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
* It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.
* You cannot unsay a cruel word.
* Every path has a few puddles.
* When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
* The best sermons are lived, not preached.
* Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.
* Don't judge folks by their relatives.
* Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
* Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.
* Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't botherin' you none.
* Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
* If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
* Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
* The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with, watches  you from the mirror every mornin'.
* Always drink upstream from the herd.
* Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
* Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.
* If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.
* Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

The Evolution of Teaching Math in America

Teaching Math In 1950:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.  His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?
Teaching Math In 1960:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.   His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?
Teaching Math In 1970:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?
Teaching Math In 1980:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
Teaching Math In 1990:
A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers.)
Teaching Math In 2005:
Un hachero vende una carretada de madera para $100.  El costo de la producción es $80....

If a dog was the teacher you would learn stuff like: 
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.
Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
Take naps. Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout..! run right back and make friends.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.
Stop when you have had enough.
Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want what lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

10 Habits of Decidedly Defective People
1. Be a slacker.
2. Blame others.
3. Embrace hopelessness.
4. Follow others mindlessly.
5. Be a wet blanket.
6. Hang out with morons.
7. Be a self obsessed me-monkey.
8. Stand for nothing.
9. Have an “it’s not my job” mentality.
10.  Quit when the going gets tough. 
Food & Beverage Jokes

25 Signs You Have Grown Up
1.    Your houseplants are alive, and you can't smoke any of them.
2.    Having sex in a twin bed is out of the question.
3.    You keep more food than beer in the fridge.
4.    6:00 AM is when you get up, not when you go to bed.
5.    You hear your favorite song on an elevator.
6.    You watch the Weather Channel.
7.    Your friends marry & divorce instead of hook up & break up.
8.    You go from 130 days of vacation time to 14.
9.    Jeans and a sweater no longer qualify as "dressed up."
10.  You're the one calling the police because those %&@#  kids next oor won't turn down the stereo.
11.   Older relatives feel comfortable telling sex jokes around you.
12.  You don't know what time Taco Bell closes anymore.
13.  Your car insurance goes down and your car payments go up.
14.  You feed your dog Science Diet instead of McDonald's leftovers.
15.  Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt.
16.  You take naps from noon to 6 PM!
17.  Dinner & a movie is the whole date instead of the beginning of one.
18.  Eating a basket of chicken wings at 3 AM would severely upset, rather than settle your stomach.
19.  If you're a gal, you go to the drug store for ibuprofen and antacid, not condoms and pregnancy tests.
20.  A $4.00 bottle of wine is no longer "pretty good stuff."
21.  You actually eat breakfast food at breakfast time.
22.  "I just can't drink the way I used to," replaces, "I'm never going to drink that much again.
23.  90% of the time you spend in front of a computer is for real work.
24.  You drink at home to save money before going to a bar.
25.  You read this entire list looking desperately for one sign that doesn't apply to you and can't find one to save your sorry old butt.


"Geezers" (slang for an old man) are easy to spot: Thank God for Old Geezers!


1. Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco.
2. Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.
3. There are two theories to arguing with a woman...neither works.
4. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
5. Always drink upstream from the herd.
6. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
7. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back in your pocket.
8. There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading ~ The few who learn by observation ~ The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.
9. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
10. If you're riding' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.
11. Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier'n puttin' it back.
First, Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.
Second, The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.
Third, Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know "why" I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved.
Fourth, When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of Algebra.
Fifth, You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.
Sixth, I don't know how I got over the hill without getting to the top.
Seventh, One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young.
Eighth, One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been.
Ninth, Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable.
Tenth, Long ago when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft. Today it's called golf.
And finally, If you don't learn to laugh at trouble, you won't have anything to laugh at when you are old.

B R E A K I N G   T H R O U G H W R I T E R ' S   B L O C K

Writer's block. It's the writer's worst nightmare, or so I'm told anyway. Like most writers of short, list-based, how-to-write articles, I've only written short, list-based, how-to-write articles that rely on recycled bromides and long-standing conventional wisdom. This means I can skip all of the frustrating (and, above all, unprofitable) work of actually crafting an original piece of writing. So, I wouldn't know anything about writer's block.

That said, let's look at the three most common writers block scenarios along with some handy tips for "breaking through the block."

Scenario 1: Can't Get Out of the Starting Gate

Symptoms of the Block: You know that you have the next Great American Novel burbling inside of you, one so brilliant that it would make Philip Roth trade his pen for a box of fingerpaints, but you just can't seem to get anything on the page.

Likely Cause of the Block: You are lazy.
Throughout your life, have your parents, teachers, bosses, or significant others called you a shiftless good-for-nothing who will never amount to anything?
Was your last shower more than three days ago? Do you earn less than $20,000 a year? If so, you're most likely lazy.

 Look around you. Are there candy wrappers, empty cola cans, old pizza boxes, and half-finished bags of Funyons? If yes, you're probably fat as well.

Additionally, do you often wake up with unexplained bruises and smelling like the bottom of an ashtray? I'm afraid that you're probably also a drunk.

Breaking Through the Block:
Fortunately for you, fat and drunk are practically two prerequisites for writing success. The difference between Ernest Hemingway and you is that he used his limited hours of coherency to write classic American fiction, while you spend your time touching yourself and ogling the showcase models on The Price is Right.

So, get your hands off the goodies and onto the keyboard, and you'll be on your way to lasting fame and a violent death by your own hand, just what every writer wishes for! 

Scenario 2: Spinning Your Wheels 

Symptoms of the Block: You may write for hours and everything seems to be running smoothly at the time, but when you go back later to review your work you become dissatisfied and delete everything, leaving you back at a very frustrating square one.

Likely Cause of the Block: 
You are untalented and have nothing to say. This is perhaps the most common cause o f writer's block, but also the toughest one to self-diagnose as most people are delusional about their abilities as writers.

Breaking Through the Block: Lucky for you, talent and having something to say are perhaps the least important factors when it comes to success in today's publishing marketplace.

First, stop reading what you write, dummy! You've heard the old saying that "writers write," well, add this one to your arsenal: "Only suckers re-write." Ask yourself, which one you want more: Nabokov's prose style or Dean Koontz's bank balance? I rest my case.

If you're into non-fiction, there's an even easier route to success: what I like to call, "the Kearns Goodwin," in which you simply re-type someone else's book that's already been published. Quality is guaranteed. Just make sure your advance is big enough to pay off any pesky litigation.

Scenario 3: All Used Up

Symptoms of the Block: At one point, you used to have a lot of success writing, maybe even published a novel or two, but now, getting things to flow is tougher than getting Hillary Clinton to divorce you.

Likely Cause of the Block: You are spent, tapped out, finito, don't even think about it, done.

It's important to realize that eventually, it happens to everyone. The problem is, while the words have gone away, the mortgage, the alimony for the multiple wives, and your Taiwanese hooker habit haven't. So, what to do?

Suggestion one: Have someone else write your book for you.

If you are Tom Clancy, James Patterson, or Rudolph Giuliani you've already made this work to great success and weeks on the bestseller lists. If you're not already rich and famous (and let's face it, you aren't), you might try.

Suggestion two: Turn your computer keyboard upside down.

This is a modern variation of a classic, but little known method. With the publication of Ulysses, James Joyce believed he'd written the definitive statement on the English novel. Unfortunately, he now had to top himself. After years of frustration, in a fit, Joyce switched the positions of all of the keys on his trusty Smith Corona and began transcribing the recipes in the original Betty Crocker cookbook. The resulting nonsense was Finnegan's Wake, a book often purchased, but seldom read, a smart author's home run.

Don't be afraid to experiment with techniques of your own. Desperation is the mother of invention, and if you think you have a future as a writer, you're nothing if not desperate.

As always, good luck, and good writing!

Tricks used by hackers to steal your password.

This information can be obtained much easier than you think. The hacker can use this information to get into your e-mail, computer, or online banking. The main impediment standing between your information remaining safe, or leaking out, is the password you choose. (Ironically, the best protection people have is usually the one they take least seriously.)

Statistically speaking that should probably cover about 20% of people.

One of the simplest ways to gain access to your information is through the use of a Brute Force Attack. This is accomplished when a hacker uses a specially written piece of software to attempt to log into a site using your credentials. Insecure.org has a list of the Top 10  Password Crackers.

So, how would one use this process to actually breach your personal security? Simple. Follow this logic:

You probably use the same password for lots of stuff.
Some sites you access such as your Bank or work VPN probably have pretty decent security, so they are not going to attack them.
However, other sites like the Hallmark e-mail greeting cards site, an online forum you frequent, or an e-commerce site you’ve shopped at might not be as well prepared. So those are the ones they'd work on.
So, all they have to do now is unleash Brutus, wwwhack, or THC Hydra on their server with instructions to try say 10,000 (or 100,000 - whatever makes you happy) different usernames and passwords as fast as possible.
Once they’ve got several login+password pairings we can then go back and test them on targeted sites.
But wait… How do they know which bank you use and what your login ID is for the sites you frequent? All those cookies are simply stored, unencrypted and nicely named, in your Web browser’s cache. (Read this post to remedy that problem.)
And how fast could this be done? Well, that depends on three main things, the length and complexity of your password, the speed of the hacker’s computer, and the speed of the hacker’s Internet connection.

Assuming the hacker has a reasonably fast connection and PC here is an estimate of the amount of time it would take to generate every possible combination of passwords for a given number of characters. After generating the list it’s just a matter of time before the computer runs through all the possibilities - or gets shut down trying.

Pay particular attention to the difference between using only lowercase characters and using all possible characters (uppercase, lowercase, and special characters - like @#$%^&*). Adding just one capital letter and one asterisk would change the processing time for an 8 character password from 2.4 days to 2.1 centuries.

Password Length All Characters Only Lowercase
3 characters
4 characters
5 characters
6 characters
7 characters
8 characters
9 characters
10 characters
11 characters
12 characters
13 characters
14 characters
0.86 seconds
1.36 minutes
2.15 hours
8.51 days
2.21 years
2.10 centuries
20 millennia
1,899 millennia
180,365 millennia
17,184,705 millennia
1,627,797,068 millennia
154,640,721,434 millennia
0.02 seconds
.046 seconds
11.9 seconds
5.15 minutes
2.23 hours
2.42 days
2.07 months
4.48 years
1.16 centuries
3.03 millennia
78.7 millennia
2,046 millennia
Remember, these are just for an average computer, and these assume you aren’t using any word in the dictionary. If Google put their computer to work on it they’d finish about 1,000 times faster.

Now, I could go on for hours and hours more about all sorts of ways to compromise your security and generally make your life miserable - but 95% of those methods begin with compromising your weak password. So, why not just protect yourself from the start and sleep better at night?

Here are some password tips:

Often times people also reason that all of their passwords and logins are stored on their computer at home, which is safe behind a router or firewall device. Of course, they’ve never bothered to change the default password on that device, so someone could drive up and park near the house, use a laptop to breach the wireless network and then try passwords from this list until they gain control of your network - after which time they will own you!
Please, be safe. It’s a jungle out there.

One Man's Blog Reference

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