Thursday, November 29, 2007

If You Like Music, You Are Gonna Love This Search Engine... (

Songza is a new service that advertises itself as a music search engine and internet jukebox. It is very simple to use; just type in the name of a band or song and Songza comes up with a pretty easy to navigate list of options. I could not always find everything I wanted and sometimes I got some pretty strange recordings (like the time the Beastie Boys did "You Have To fight For Your Right To Party" on the Joan Rivers below if you want to hear it for yourself) but in all it was quick and efficient.

Where Songza really shines is when you take the songs to a playlist. Click on the song you want and it asks you if you want to play it immediately or share it or put it on a playlist. When you hit play, it begins immediately. I was able to build a fairly eclectic playlist in about a minute and enjoyed the music for about an hour. Time well spent.

Now if they can just match the simplicity of the search engine with a service that helps you find new music, like iLike, they are set.

Top Contractors In Iraq And Afghanistan (Center For Public Integrity)

The Center For Public Integrity recently published an interesting article on the top contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. From the Key Findings:

Over the three years studied, more than $20 billion in contracts went to foreign companies whose identities—at least so far—are impossible to determine.

Nearly a third of the companies and joint ventures on the Top 100 are based outside the United States. These foreign contractors, along with the $20 billion in contracts awarded to the unidentified companies, account for about 45 percent of all funds obligated to the Top 100.

U.S. government contracts for work in Iraq and Afghanistan have grown more than 50 percent annually, from $11 billion in 2004 to almost $17 billion in 2005 and more than $25 billion in 2006.

Intel Centers Losing Anti-terror Focus (AP)

Interesting AP article on the changing focus of the US's anti-terror fusion centers. For the full GAO report go here.

(Thanks, Kent!)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New Report, Recommendations On Prisoner Radicalization In The US (GW and U. Va)

Think-tanks within George Washington and The University Of Virginia have just published a new report on the radicalization of prisoners in America titled, "Out of the Shadows: Getting Ahead Of Prisoner Radicalization".

Lots of good stuff here. Here are some highlights from the Key Findings:

  • Radicalization is neither unique to Islam nor a recent phenomenon, and remains the exception among prisoners rather than the rule. Right-wing extremist groups are also present in prisons and have an extensive history of terrorist attacks.
  • “Jailhouse Islam”, based upon cut-and-paste versions of the Qur’an, incorporates violent prison culture into religious practice.
  • The inadequate number of Muslim religious services providers increases the risk of radicalization.
  • Radicalization in prisons is a global problem and bears upon the national security of the U.S. In Europe, Latin America and elsewhere the threat has progressed farther than it has in the U.S., giving officials the opportunity to learn from foreign prison radicalization cases so as to confront the problem here in its early stages.
  • At present there is insufficient information about prisoner radicalization to qualify the threat. There is a significant lack of social science research on this issue. No comprehensive records currently exist, for example, on the religious affiliations of inmates when they enter prison.
  • Prison officials are understandably stretched thin by the need to maintain order in overcrowded and under-funded facilities.
  • Religious radicalization within prisons is a complex problem. No one profession alone is equipped to analyze and recommend change.

Useful Translation Tool (Lingro) sponsors a multilingual dictionary that could be very useful to someone trying to translate a page of text on the web. I think it would be most useful for someone who could read a language reasonably well but needed occasional quick help with a word or phrase.

The site works by entering in a webpage. Lingro wraps around the webpage and makes all of the words on the page immediately translatable. It can also create a wordlist to help you study.

Not as useful perhaps as Google Translate or some Firefox Add-ons that will translate an entire page from a good many more languages, but worth knowing about.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Free Thumb Drive, Etc. (

Just got the heads up below from a Mercyhurst alum:

" has a $10 discount for first time users of Google Checkout. This means you can get a 1GB flash drive (or other items) free.

1. First, head for

2. Add one Kingston flash drive to your cart.

3. At the Checkout page, click on the Google checkout option to get the $10 discount.

4. Make sure you choose budget shipping -- which is free."

(Thanks, Dan!)

How-To Sites (List)

There are several how-to sites that are worth bookmarking. I go to these locations for fairly complete instructions on a number of projects and they are typically a good place to start for just about any hands-on project:

WikiHow: "WikiHow is a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual."

Instructables: "The world's biggest show and tell."

eHow: "How to do just about everything."

SAM Soundtrack: Into Action (Tim Armstrong)

With a new term just beginning, I couldn't think of a better tune than this ska-punk ode to Oakland by former Rancid frontman, Tim Armstrong, backed up by the Disney-coated voice of Skye Sweetnam, "Into Action":