Monday, February 10, 2014

Holidays and Observances for February 10th 2014

Clean Out Your Computer Day

If your computer is running slowly, if your PC fans are noisy, or if you’re experiencing crashes and poor performance, it may be that your computer is just a bit dusty.

Clean Out Your Computer Day is an annual reminder to open up the casing (turn off the power first!), and to give everything a good, careful clean out.

Originally sponsored by Institute for Business Technology and in existence since at least 2000, Clean Out Your Computer Day falls on the second Monday in February. As increasing amounts of time are wasted in work places and at home because of slow computers and psychological research shows the negative impact of clutter – digital or otherwise – on our lives, this day was created as an opportunity for us to remember to clean up and delete old and unused files.  So, get into the spirit of the day, and clean out your computer!

Time wasted as result of digital clutter and slow technology:
  1. The average American adult has 1,800 digital files, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, making searching them quite a task.
  2. Executives waste six weeks each year looking for lost items and information, according to a study published in the Wall Street Journal, adding up for huge corporate operating losses.
  3. Americans waste nine million hours per day searching for misplaced items. On average, people spend a year of our lives looking for lost items, according to the National Association of Professional Organizers. Imagine the things you could do if cleaning up your computer saved some of those hours!
  4. 44 percent of home internet users say their connection failed to work properly at least once in the previous 12 months, according to Pew Research, resulting in lost time and increased frustration.
Frustration and emotional impact of digital and slow technology:
  1. In the UK, technology is above domestic relationships as a cause of stress (19 to 20 percent), according to British Association of Anger Management.
  2. 50 percent of Britons have reacted to problems with their computer by either abusing colleagues, hitting the computer, screaming, shouting or hurling parts of the PC, according to a study by British Association of Anger Management., with 25 percent of under 25s admitting to kicking their computers in PC rage.
  3. Nine in ten (90 percent) Americans admit that disorganization at home or work has a negative impact on their lives, accordingto a Kelton Research survey sponsored by OfficeMax. Their productivity (77 percent), state of mind (65 percent), motivation (53 percent ) and happiness (40 percent) are negatively affected when there is disorder. Moreover, 20 percent of Americans report that clutter also harms their relationships with other people.
  4. 80 percent of U.S. adults get frustrated waiting for their technology to load, according to a Harris Interactive study sponsored by Intel. This frustration with slow technology has been dubbed Hourglass Syndrome.
  5. Consumers spend an average of 13 minutes a day just waiting for their computer to catch up, adding up to three days of waiting and lost productivity per year.
  6. 62 percent of U.S. adults admitted to yelling or cursing out loud when their technology can’t keep up with them, while others hit their computer mouse (29 percent) or banged on their computer screen and keyboard (24 percent).
  7. More than one third of U.S. adults (35 percent) said that they missed out on something while waiting for technology, such as losing an opportunity to participate in an online sale (13 percent), or purchase airline, concert or sporting event tickets.
Business frustrations and inefficiencies caused by slower technology:
  1. 50 percent of UK workers are frustrated by the time taken to solve IT problems, according to the British Association of Anger Management.
  2. 30 percent surveyed have witnessed physical attacks on computers, while 62 percent say their colleagues regularly swear at their PCs out of frustration
  3. “Slow computers” is the most common employee complaint to IT helpdesks, according to a recent survey of 100 IT directors conducted by Vanson Bourne and sponsored by Diskeeper Corporation.
  4. “Lost passwords” ranked second and “system crashes” ranked third on list of most common employee complaints to IT.
  5. An analysis of Twitter revealed more than 1,000 tweets a month by U.K. members frustrated at their sluggish PCs.
  6. Organizations are ignoring common causes of slow computers and system crashes. E.g. more than two thirds (69 percent) of IT directors surveyed do not consider computer clean out a priority, and over half (56 percent) do not have processes in place to ensure regular PC tune-up.
Environmental impact of slow technology and its premature discarding:
  1. In 2007 alone more than 40 million computers were dumped, up from 20 million in 1998. On average, each computer lasted only 30 months, that short life span often attributed to the need for larger hard drive.
  2. Canada produces 200,000 tones of e-waste a year. Globally, e-waste exceeds 50 million tones.
  3. 75 percent of the 3 million computers bought in Australia every year will end up in landfills.
  4. In 2007 and 2008, 16.8 million computers in Australia reached their end of life. Of this, only 9 percent was recycled.
Useful PC Clean Out Tips:
  1. Delete unused, old or duplicate files, emails, email addresses, bookmarks and favorites. With System Mechanic’s “Remove Junk Files”, “Remove Internet Debris” or “Find Duplicate Files” tools, you can recover a lot of lost space - and a lot of time wasted while looking for files on a cluttered hard drive.
  2. Organize your files. Make sure to use a logical file naming system and put them into folders that make sense and are easy to remember and access.
  3. Defragment your hard drive. While it won’t categorize your files (you have to do that manually, see #2 above), defragmentation will speed up your access to them, again saving you valuable time. System Mechanic’s “Defragment Hard Drive” tool defragments even your Windows system files, providing noticeable speed improvements.
  4. Back up your files and programs at least every month. Imagine all the time wasted if your files are lost. Back up regularly to a separate device like a portable hard drive or set up an automatic online back-up service.
  5. Uninstall programs that you no longer need or use. To make sure they are completely uninstalled and do not leave any residual clutter, use System Mechanic’s “Remove Installed Programs” to uninstall even the most stubborn components.
  6. Once you’ve uninstalled unused program, make sure to clean out your registry as well. Invalid or out-of-date registry settings can slow down your computer’s boot time. Use System Mechanic’s “Repair Registry Problems” and “Defragment and Compact Registry” to save valuable minutes off your boot time.
  7. Further improve your computer’s start-up time by removing unnecessary start-up items. Many programs lodge themselves in start-up without your knowledge. Remove them using System Mechanic’s “Optimize Windows Startup” tool.
  8. Once you’ve organized all your files into folders, make sure all the shortcuts are still accurate. Use “Repair Broken Shortcuts” to get all your shortcuts in order.
  9. For an ultimate clean out, try iolo’s DriveScrubber (a stand-alone utility for permanently wiping data from hard drives, offered also as part of System Mechanic Professional). DriveScrubber can securely wipe out all your hard drive data or you can use a more selective approach, removing only your personal files and leaving the programs intact. Definitely opt for this clean out option if you are planning on donating your computer to make sure your personal information is not recoverable.
  10. For a complete PC clean out on Clean Out Your Computer Day, don’t forget your PC’s outside. Clean the screen, dust the keyboard, clean the mouse. After all, your computer deserves some pampering too.
National Cream Cheese Brownie Day

If you love brownie and cream cheese then today is your day, with the combination of the two swirled in for National Cream Cheese Brownie Day. This decadent bar that is a rich moist cake consistency cut in squares swirled in with cream cheese gives this brownie a fun look, and a creamy taste.

Brownies date back to the 1800's and was first documented in Boston Cooking School Cook in 1906. When brownies were first created they contained far less chocolate, then we use now. At that time there was no real variation to the brownie as we have today.

Currently brownies come in a variety of flavors such as: brownie with walnuts, caramel, peanut butter, cherries, peppermint and of course of our favorite one of the day cream cheese in honor of National Cream Cheese Day.

The combination of the cream cheese and brownie gives an added richness to the brownie, and the cream cheese kicks it up a notch with the tangy bite cream cheese flavor.

The collaboration of the two flavors of chocolate and cream makes this a sweet heavenly dessert; not to mention the colors of brown and off white swirled in as a design gives the brownie an elegant flair.

Enjoy National Cream Cheese Brownie Day with the recipe below. Go ahead and make your family, this special treat in honor of this day.

Plimsoll Day

Plimsoll Day is set aside to remember Samuel Plimsoll, a member of the English Parliament back in the day who championed sailors' safety while traveling the world's waterways in crammed-full ships. He was instrumental in the amendment of Britain's Merchant Shipping Act, which came about in response to the then-national problem of dangerously overloaded ships. Plimsoll's bill, dubbed the Unseaworthy Ships Bill, passed in 1876, and required that a mark be present on a ship's hull to indicate the waterline at which maximum cargo capacity was reached for the vessel.

Ah, but politics is a wily profession, is it not? For the law merely required that said line - which came to be known as the Plimsoll Line, or the Plimsoll Mark, - be painted on the boat. It did not say the line had to be an accurate representation of the safe waterline position for the ship's cargo load. That little stipulation didn't make it's way into law until 1894.

Today, the Plimsoll Line is universally recognized, and is actually several lines - each one indicating the safe waterline mark in relation to both cargo type and water type (salinity, temperature, ocean region, and season):

Now, back to my initial question: What's a Plimsoll? It's a shoe with a canvas upper and a rubber sole. Modern Plimsoll shoes - aka sneakers - look similar.

But which came first: the sneaker or the man? Hmmm. You tell me. See, the sneaker in question was originally called a "sand shoe," invented for beachwear by the Liverpool Rubber Company in the 1830's. It wasn't until sometime after the Plimsoll Line was created in 1876 that the distinctive footwear came to be known as a Plimsoll Shoe (since the rubber band between the upper part of the shoe and its sole resembled the Plimsoll Line on a ship's hull). So one could logically conclude that the shoe came first. But, add to the mix that Samuel Plimsoll was born in 1824, which predates both the shoe and the legislation, and you're back to the whole chicken vs. egg conundrum all over again. 

Umbrella Day

Umbrella Day takes place on February 10. The day honors the famous invention to protect against rain or sunlight. An umbrella or parasol is a canopy designed to protect against rain or sunlight. The word parasol usually refers to an item designed to protect from the sun; umbrella refers to a device more suited to protect from rain.

Umbrellas are now a consumer product with a large global market. Umbrellas continue to be actively developed. In the US, so many umbrella-related patents are being filed that the U.S. Patent Office employs four full-time examiners to assess them. As of 2008, the office registered three thousand active patents on umbrella-related inventions.

The basic umbrella was invented over four thousand years ago. We have seen evidence of umbrellas in the ancient art and artifacts of Egypt, Assyria, Greece, and China.

These ancient umbrellas or parasols, were first designed to provide shade from the sun. The Chinese were the first to waterproof their umbrellas for use as rain protection. They waxed and lacquered their paper parasols in order to use them for rain.

The word "umbrella" comes from the Latin root word "umbra", meaning shade or shadow. Starting in the 16th century the umbrella became popular to the western world, especially in the rainy weather of northern Europe. At first it was considered only an accessory suitable for women. Then the Persian traveler and writer, Jonas Hanway (1712-86), carried and used an umbrella publicly in England for thirty years, he popularized umbrella use among men. English gentleman often referred to their umbrellas as a "Hanway."

The first all umbrella shop was called "James Smith and Sons". The shop opened in 1830, and is still located at 53 New Oxford Street in London, England.
The early European umbrellas were made of wood or whalebone and covered with alpaca or oiled canvas. The artisans made the curved handles for the umbrellas out of hard woods like ebony, and were well paid for their efforts.

In 1852, Samuel Fox invented the steel ribbed umbrella design. Fox also founded the "English Steels Company", and claimed to have invented the steel ribbed umbrella as a way of using up stocks of farthingale stays, steel stays used in women's corsets. After that, compact collapsible umbrellas were the next major technical innovation in umbrella manufacture, over a century later.