Tuesday, July 6, 2010

63 - Answers

Q: Jacob - so what is this exactly for those not in the know?
A: This is the Internet. It's basically a series of tubes.

Oh, sorry, you mean what is "Ask Mitssob". I get confused sometimes. Since this is yet another new venue for the glory that is "Ask Mitssob" I guess a brief overview of what's going on here is fitting for those of you new to the party.

The story of "Ask Mitssob" begins with my membership in the old Jolinko sometime in 2006. Part of the membership was a blog. I've been doing the blogging thing off and on for a decade and I decided that I would do something different with this blog. In June of 2006 I began to solicit questions from my friends on Jolinko and provide them with answers. Now, before you think that I'm some kind of arrogant know-it-all I'll repeat what I said then: I am not doing this to prove that I'm smarter than everyone else. Far from it. By taking questions on subjects I know nothing about I'm forced to research, learn, and come to new understandings. Plus I get to practice my writing skills, get into interesting debates, and make copious amounts of fun of myself. All told I've had a blast doing this for the past four years and will continue doing it for as long as I have an audience willing to ask me strange questions and put up with my rambling, incoherent answers.

So ask away, good people of New Jolinko (and Blogspot and Facebook and wherever else I decide to post this). Thanks for your questions and I'll see you in the answers!

Q: Bill Jeffers - It seems like you get more condensation on a glass than a plastic cup. What is it about glass that makes it more condensation friendly? Or am I mistaken?
A: Condensation is the conversion of a substance from a gaseous state to a liquid state. What you're describing happens when water vapor in the air comes in contact with the cold surface of your cup. I suspect that glass gather more condensation because glass transfers heat and cold faster than plastic. That means that the outside of your glass gets colder faster than the outside of your plastic cup, and thus gathers more condensation from the air. I'm sure if I'm mistaken then the mechanical engineers amongst us will correct me.

Q: Sam Parker - What is the typical penalty for drunk driving a car with no registration, insurance, or up to date inspection sticker in the state of new york?
A: All of these penalties are assuming that you are convicted.

Driving while intoxicated - There's a myriad of options depending on age, whether this was your first offense, and the exact amount of intoxication. Minimum is for driving with a .02 to .07 while under 21, which is $125 plus a 6-month license suspension and a $100 re-registration fee. Maximum is your third offense of aggravated DWI (.18 or higher) in a 10-year span, which results in a maximum $10,000 fine, up to 7 years in prison and a minimum 18 month license revocation. Click on the link to find your exact case.
Driving without registration - NY Vehicle and Traffic Code section 401. You're fined between $75 and $300 and/or imprisoned for up to 15 days.
Driving while uninsured - NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law 319 - Suspension of your license for one year, which will result in a civil penalty of $750 when you go to re-register. You're fined between $150 and $1500 and may be imprisoned up to 15 days.
Driving without inspection - If the inspection sticker on your vehicle has expired in the past 60 days, you can receive a fine of $25 to $50. If the inspection sticker is expired more than 60 days, the fine is between $50 and $100. If there is no inspection sticker, the fine is between $50 and $100. Mandatory state surcharges of $55, plus additional fees, are added to the fine.

So all told the minimum you'll pay is $1,180 and the maximum is $12,705. Of course, if this situation applies to you then you really should be asking a lawyer and not me.

Q: Jarsh - Why is it that every morning when I need to log into 5 different websites at work, most use the same password, or at least a variation, that hotmail nearly 9/10 times makes me do it again due to bad log-in?
A: Below are a few possible explanations I was able to come up with.

1. Someone has installed a password-sniffing utility on your work computer that has redirected your Hotmail account to a bogus page that tells you that you've logged in incorrectly so as to collect your password. This is, needless to say, unlikely, but if you've made any new enemies in the past few months you might want to check it out.

2. You are missing the variation in your password scheme consistently on Hotmail because it's ingrained in your head to do it that way. To break out of that cycle try logging into your websites in a different order and see if it still happens.

3. Microsoft is automatically rejecting your first login to mess with you. Bill Gates probably has better things to do with his time but I wouldn't put it past one of his employees to torture you for no good reason.

3. You are hung over. Stop drinking before work.

4. You are drunk. Stop drinking at work.

Hope this helps. Let me know if this problem persists and I'll see if I can come up with more helpful suggestions.

Q: Phil - why the hell can't people drive?
A: Allow me to offer an answer that may seem a bit counterintuitive: people cannot drive because roads are too safe. This answer is based on an article I read in Wired magazine that was first published back in 2004. The article is about a traffic engineer who is redesigning roads with fewer warning signs and traffic indicators. This traffic engineer found that by taking away those warning signs drivers became more cautious and thus safer. Intersections with fewer signs forced drivers to pay attention because they couldn't predict the actions of other drivers based on signs. Drivers and pedestrians and bikers all had to cooperate and share the road, and it worked. His ideas were first implemented in Denmark but have since gone as far as West Palm Beach, FL.

An extension of his argument is the idea that signs and signals give a false sense of security, that people read signs of danger and assume that because of the warnings things are actually safer. Counterintuitively, making roads more dangerous (with fewer traffic signals, warning signs, and with things like traffic circles) makes them safer because we have to pay more attention. I think that this false sense of security we have contributes to the sense that people can't drive.

Q: Bridget Murray - Why do shower farts smell more than regular farts?
A: I think there are two reasons for this (and I base this on absolutely no medical knowledge or research):
1. Your body has had the chance to digest and process the food from the day before and thus generate a lot more gas. Concurrently that gas has had a chance to build up and become more, um, potent I guess is the polite way of putting it.
2. The confined space of a shower combined with the steam (presuming that you're not taking a cold shower, if you know what I mean) would have an amplifying effect on said fart.

I was going to leave the answer at that and then our own Matt Barrett chimed in with this gem: "Because you shower with Banjo." Never before in Ask Mitssob history has a user-provided answer been both concise and horrifying. I'd like to thank you for planting that mental image and thus denying me hours and hours of sleep. Well played, sir.

Q: Rani - Of the 4 elementals (or 5, I saw you missed heart). Which would you rather be killed by?
A: Let's take these one by one:
- Air: Blown to death? Where do I sign up?
- Water: Drowning is not exactly my idea of a good time but it has the benefit of being relatively fast compared with, say, a heart attack.
- Fire: As much as I love fire I'm not keen on the idea of burning to death. I suppose if the fire was hot enough to completely incinerate me I'd be OK with it, but if it's a mild fire and you survive then you're probably going to be killed by the resulting infection. And that, my friends, would suck royally.
- Earth: Buried alive? Welcome to one of my nightmares. Killed by falling rocks? Now that's more like it.
- Heart: Loved to death? Kinky...

I think I'd prefer fire on the condition that it's total. Otherwise I'll go with drowning.

Q: ML - When did I say Cornetto?
A: It was in the days of the Old Jolinko during what became the final round of Ask Mitssob questions on the old Random Thread. For some reason you posted "Cornetto" and I decided that it was worth calling out. What you meant or why you posted it are questions that only you can answer, ML. So why did you post it and what did you mean?

Q: Lisa - What is the difference (to me) between a 32-bit and 64-bit PC with Windows? The background to my question is that I'm hoping to get a new laptop within the next year or so (the one I have now is 5 years old, def 32-bit). I just found out that the Nike+ Armband that I got for my birthday apparently doesn't run at all on a 64-bit system. It made me realize that I know nothing about the new technologies or what I'll really need/want in a new computer!
A: The difference between 64-bit Windows and 32-bit Windows is 32 bits.

Ha, get it? Difference? 64-32=32? Sorry, Lisa, I couldn't resist.

To REALLY answer your question, there is little practical difference to the every-day computer user. 64-bit references the architecture of the computer in question. I won't bore you with details; if you're looking for more information I would check out this Wikipedia entry which outlines some differences between 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.

In your background information you mentioned that you were interested in a particular application, specifically the Nike+ Armband. I would assume that Nike will be updating their software to support Windows 7 64-bit, but in the interim I found a blog post here that explains how to run the program in Windows XP Compatibility mode on Windows 7. In short, I wouldn't let particular software issues dissuade you. The world is Windows, and since Windows is moving to 64-bit then it's in the interest of software companies to keep their products current.

Good luck in your computer purchase and if I can be of any help I'm only a question away! Or a phone call, which will likely be faster.

Q: Karyn Graves - The Graves family will finally be upgrading to one of those fancy phones that use those app thingys before December. It appears our verizon bill will go up by at least $30/month (per line?) just to add the data and then we also need the actual phone(s). Should we wait until closer to the deadline to get one or start looking now?
A: To answer your first question, the $30/month data plan applies to each phone, so if you and Kevin both get smart phones then you will have to pay an additional $60/month.

If you want an iPhone 4 then you'll have to switch to AT&T, otherwise your choices are Android, Palm, Windows Mobile or Blackberry. What I would recommend is that you start looking at the operating systems for the phones now. You may decide that you really love/hate one of them and can thus help narrow your decision down. If I wasn't a full-fledged Apple Junkie I would be going with the Android platform. There's lots of apps, they have the most powerful phones, and some of the phones let you use the phone as a mobile wifi hotspot. For hardware comparisons the good folks at Engadget have produced a nifty table comparing offerings from various manufacturers, which can be found here.

Phone turnover is so fast these days that waiting until September or even October before choosing a phone might be a good idea. You can keep track of new and upcoming phones on technology websites like Engadget and Gizmodo (assuming you're not already doing that) and when one comes along that strikes your fancy you can buy it. The other advantage of that is that when the new and fancy phones come out that often drives down the price of the previous generation, which may be all that you need. I wouldn't wait any longer than October because that gives you a solid month of time before your trip to test drive the phones and get used to them. If they turn out to be faulty or they just plain suck then you have time to exchange them for something different before your trip.

A final note on the whole smartphone thing. I've had a smartphone (in my case an iPhone 3G and iPhone 4) since June of 2008 and I can say without question that it changed my life. Having instant access to information, entertainment, as well as full contact with the world is something I now could not live without. I'm not proud of this, it's just a fact and something to consider. It really is an addiction of sorts, which may color your decision to purchase one.

Q: Bill Jeffers - Any medical research done on vibrating cell phones in your pocket causing muscle spasms in your leg? I swear I feel my pocket vibrating 15 times a day, sometimes even when my phone isn't in it.
A: To start, our own Eric Democko decided to be his usual helpful self (no sarcasm, he really is helpful) and contribute the following:

because I like to help mitssob out every once in a while: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/200 ... PageReturn
"Some call it "phantom vibration syndrome." Others prefer "vibranxiety" — the feeling when you answer your vibrating cellphone, only to find it never vibrated at all."

I found a similar article at a site called America's Watchtower from 2007 that had more interesting information. A psychologist was quoted and I'll repost that quote in its entirety below because it does a good job of explaining the science of what's going on:

Peter Tse, professor of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth College, said phantom vibration rings may happen because cell phone users develop a "template" in their heads.

"I have a template for my baby’s cry in my head, for example, and sometimes just by chance a random set of sounds will match it," he said. "I will go to check, but the baby wasn’t crying."

He said the brain is constantly filtering out background information. Tse said sometimes when a person is monitoring or searching for something important to them — such as a cell phone call or the sound of their own name — some of this background information is picked up and matched to a mental template.

It’s called the cocktail party effect.

"When everyone’s talking at a cocktail party, if your name or anything close to your name comes up in the room, you easily pick up on that," Tse said.

But false vibrations are less easily understood. Some neurologists compare it to the nerve sensations felt by amputees in the place of the missing limb.

Q: Bill Jeffers - I'm generally not one to ask engineers a grammar question, but this has been annoying me. Brett reminded me of this annoyance when he posted "Italy are out". In my logic, it should be "Italy IS out", but all the commentators say it the dumb way. Is it a European thing? I mean we're talking about a singular team/country, so is would be the appropriate version for me. Though I suppose it would depend on what your definition of is is, right Bubba?
A: Your write, axing engineers grammar and speling stuff are dangerous.

The difference in phrasing comes down to differences between how British English and American English treat collective nouns like names of countries, organizations, etc. In British English they usually take on a plural form when it comes to verbs. For example, "Italy are out." In American English those same collective nouns take on a singular form. For example, "Italy is out."

So the real answer is that both statements are correct depending on who you are, where you're speaking, and the kind of English you prefer to speak.

Q: Kait and Jeff - Hey Mitsy, if becoming a nun means "marrying God" does one "divorce God" or get an annulment to leave religious life?
A: The technical term for giving up being a nun is "dispensation", which according to a glossary I found at the Sisters United News website means, " release from vows granted by the Catholic Church allowing a sister to leave a congregation." I suppose this means that one is "divorcing God", but really dispensation sounds more like the dissolution of a contract than something that requires an annulment.