11/4/14

Sssssstickers!

So, if you know me IRL, you probably have a Green Asterisk sticker. In fact, there are several people who have my sticker who haven't even met me. I've been using it like a business card, too! It looks a lot like that picture over there. If you're familiar with Sticker Mule, you know that they've been providing stickers to people with orders of stacks at a time. Well, they just started up a Marketplace where people can make their stickers available to buy one at a time! So, if you feel like you really need a Green Asterisk sticker, you can get one right here. I mean, if you want to. Not like I'm pressuring you into it, or anything. It would just be really cool, ya know? Like we'd have a connection.

10/13/14

Chromebooked: The Interface Tour

One of the more intimidating aspects of switching to a new operating system is learning a new interface. Fortunately, Chrome OS has an advantage in that the Chrome browser can act as an intermediary between your regular system and Chrome OS. If you're at all familiar with the Chrome browser, you'll get along just fine with Chrome OS, but there are still a few differences. I'll walk you through a few of them.

What Windows calls the taskbar, Chrome OS calls the shelf. It works pretty much exactly the same way, except the menu looks different and it gives you access to all of your apps whether you purposely put it there or not. Which isn't as obnoxious as it sounds, because there's really no other way to get to them. Whereas, in Windows, you can open the file explorer, go to Program Files, and find all your apps there. The file explorer works a little differently in Chrome OS. And that's where Google Drive comes in.

There is an app called Files in your Apps menu, in most cases it's also pinned to the shelf, and if you click it you'll find a fairly familiar interface, except the default folder it opens to is Downloads. The way it works is sort of as though you have two drives, one is your Downloads drive, and the other is Google Drive. When you log into Google Drive, you'll automatically have 15 free GB of storage, or you can pay to get more. The amount of storage you have in Downloads varies according to which Chromebook model you have, but it's generally pretty low because if you want to keep something you've downloaded, you're expected to put it in Google Drive. The idea behind this system is that all your files are saved to Google Drive and you can access them from any interface. Of course, you have your Google Drive browser interface, or if you're more comfortable using the familiar facade of Windows, you can use this Files app. You can create folders here and organize yourself as you see fit.

Another essential part of any graphical user interface are the Minimize/Maximize/Close buttons. These are pretty unique in Chrome OS. Minimize and Close are pretty normal. You'll get the hang of them easily. Maximize is pretty different, though. You can click to maximize or... windowize? the window? Make it smaller? Anyway, that's easy. The unique part is that if you hold it down, two arrows appear and depending on which arrow you land on, you can move the window to take up that side of the screen. Very useful if you wanna compare two documents, or whatever.

Lastly, you've got your clock and notification windows. Notifications are pretty simple to understand. They hook up with Google Now so you can get weather and road conditions and such in there. If you don't have any Google Now cards or notifications, the notification button will not show up. Don't worry, it's still there, it's just not going to be visible until it needs to be. The clock menu holds all the extra stuff an OS needs: Shutdown, Lock, Help, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Volume, etc. It's all really pretty self explanatory, once you figure out where it is. And here I just told you! So you have no excuse!

That's pretty much all you need to know about the Chrome OS interface. If you use Chrome on Windows or Mac, you pretty much already know everything else. See? It's easy! I'm gonna go play around with the new Hangouts app and then get back to you about that. Until then, keep playing around!

10/11/14

Star Trek: Asterisk "Ensign Ro"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S05E03
Air Date: October 7, 1991
Written by: Rick Berman & Michael Piller
Directed by: Les Landau

Premise
A strong-willed Bajoran ensign is taken out of jail to help complete a mission, but not the one Picard thinks they're completing.

Recap
The day starts with a haircut. You don't normally think about Picard needing a haircut, but there he is, with what little hair he has, getting it cut by Mot, the barber. Mot is very talkative and very opinionated when it comes to Starfleet tactics. Picard just wants it to be over with. He seems to be more uncomfortable with Mot than he is with children. Finally, Riker calls in with an emergency. A distress call from a Solarion IV. Mot knew they shouldn't have colonized that planet. It's so close to the Cardassian border.

9/17/14

Star Trek: Asterisk "Darmok"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S05E02
Air Date: September 30, 1991
Written by: Philip LaZebnik and Joe Menosky
Directed by: Winrich Kolbe

Premise
Picard representing the Federation. Dathon representing the Children of Tama. Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. The beast at Tanagra! Shaka, when the walls fell. Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel.

Recap
The Enterprise is on her way to the El-Adrel system to make contact with the Tamarians, a race of aliens who seem to have a language that defies the universal translator. Picard's mission is to attempt to push past this language barrier without the help of a language specialist and open diplomatic relations with them. They meet up with the Tamarian ship, and, as expected, can't understand a word the captain is saying, except to presume that he's referring to a bunch of proper names and locations. Frustrated, the captain disarms his first officer of his knife, repeats "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra!" and has his crewman beam him down to the planet along with Picard. A nice, friendly gesture.

9/8/14

Star Trek: Asterisk "Redemption II"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S05E01
Air Date: September 23, 1991
Written by: Ronald D Moore
Directed by: David Carson

Premise
As the Klingon civil war comes to a head, Picard works to uncover a Romulan conspiracy within it. Also, who's that blonde chick?

Recap
Season five opens with a high-stakes battle between Kurn and Worf and the forces of Duras! Kurn defeats his foes by navigating close to the sun and activating the warp engines, causing a solar flare that destroys the enemy ships. Back on the Enterprise, Picard tries to convince an Admiral that the Federation needs to get involved in the Klingon civil war because there might be Romulans. The Admiral isn't convinced unless the Romulans can be proven, because if they can't do that, then it's, by definition, an internal matter, and the Prime Directive doesn't let them get involved in those things. Picard suggests setting up a blockade with a tachyon detection grid so if any cloaked Romulans pass through, they'll be detected. The Admiral agrees to this plan. What could go wrong?

8/24/14

Star Trek: Asterisk "Redemption"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S04E26
Air Date: June 17, 1991
Written by: Ronald D Moore
Directed by: Cliff Bole

Premise
Attempting to avoid a Klingon civil war, Worf makes a deal with the intent of restoring his family's honor.

Recap
Gowron is set to be installed as the next leader of the Klingon High Council. Probably because of his diplomatic past with the Klingons, Picard is going to the ceremony along with Worf to take an unspecified part in it. While the Enterprise is on her way there, Picard visits Worf and tells him this trip will be an excellent excuse to challenge his discommendation. Worf is hesitant, but admits to being weary of the dishonor, since it is, in fact, a lie put in place to protect the Klingon Empire and those who Picard labels "less honorable men." There's no more time to discuss that, though, because Gowron has just arrived unexpectedly demanding that they act quickly to avoid a civil war!

8/12/14

Why Robin Williams' Death Hit Me So Hard

Celebrity deaths come and go. The news pops up on Twitter and while I may have a few somber thoughts, I'm never really touched. No matter how tragic, I went through the day without any problem. So, why, then, when I heard the news of Robin Williams' passing, did I suddenly feel a lump in my throat? Why did I consider work that night a distraction from my emotions, when Michael Jackson's passing felt more to me like just crossing off a list?

8/11/14

Star Trek: Asterisk "In Theory"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S04E25
Air Date: June 3, 1991
Written by: Joe Menosky and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by: Patrick Stewart

Premise
Fresh off a breakup from an emotionless snob, Ensign Jenna D'Sora finds herself a coin-operated boy.

Recap
The Enterprise is coming up on the Mar Oscura, an unexplored dark matter nebula. In order to make it visible, Data and Ensign Jenna D'Sora are working together on a probe made out of a photon torpedo that'll light it up using science! As they work together, Jenna says that her ex had invited her to dinner. And, as she had previously requested, Data reminded her of all the reasons that was a bad idea. They launch the probe which sparks luminescence in the nebula to examine the deep, unknowable void of dark matter, while something else sparks an infatuation in Jenna to examine the deep, unknowable void of Data's emotions.

7/20/14

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Mind's Eye"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S04E24
Air Date: May 27, 1991
Written by: Ken Schafer & René Echevarria
Directed by: David Livingston, I presume

Premise
Geordi is brainwashed to be a sleeper agent for the Romulans and kill a Klingon to start an interstellar war.

Recap
While on his way to Risa for a nice relaxing artificial intelligence seminar in a shuttle, Geordi plays an engineering trivia game with the computer until he turns around and sees ROMULANS OFF THE BOW! He tries to react, but before he's able, he's transported into the wobbly green ship. Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise, Picard is meeting with Ambassador Kell, a Klingon tasked with quelling a rebellion in the Kriosian system which seeks independence from the Klingon Empire. The governor of Krios claims that the Federation has been aiding the rebellion with weapons, and since that's something the Federation would never do, Kell personally requested Picard to accompany him to sort it all out.

7/19/14

Chromebooked: Web Apps to Replace Your Familiar Apps

One of the first objections anyone seems to have with getting a Chromebook is that their familiar applications won't work on the browser-based operating system. This is understandable, because a sense of familiarity is always key when choosing anything new, but taking just a few minutes to learn the basics of a new app can not only expand your horizons, but also offer you a ton in both time and money savings. Granted, not a lot of the high-end professional applications have a web parallel, but in this post I'll show you exactly how close to professional you can actually get without spending a dime.

7/14/14

Chromebooked: Apptastic!


A few months ago, my Windows laptop died on me. I was in pretty dire straights for a while until I decided to take the plunge and splurge on a Chromebook to call my very own. I'm actually pretty poor and had no money for what I considered at the time to be a "real" computer, so I opened a PayPal BillMeLater account and used it for a Toshiba Satellite CB35-A3120 13.3" Chromebook. In the time since then I've come to recognize it as a great choice in computers for absolutely anyone, and in this new series of posts I'm calling "Chromebooked" I'll give you all some tips and tricks for how to get the most out of your own Chromebook and, if you don't have one yet, show you why considering it isn't such a bad idea.

6/23/14

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Host"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S04E23
Air Date: May 13, 1991
Written by: Michael Horvat
Directed by: Marvin Rush

Premise
Beverly falls in love with a Trill, but can she handle who he is on the inside?

Recap
Meet Odan, the handsome Trill ambassador who, in two weeks, has established a passionate romantic entanglement with Dr. Beverly Crusher while being escorted to the Peliar system to mediate a dispute. It's a perfect opportunity for Data to step in and completely misunderstand why they want to spend so much time together. After Beverly escorts Data away, Odan returns to his quarters and reveals that there's something funky going on with his stomach area. No time to worry about that, though. After the opening credits roll, Beverly and Odan arrive late just a few seconds apart from each other to a briefing at the Peliar system. Troi knows what's up. She always knows what's up.

6/17/14

Star Trek: Asterisk "Half a Life"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S04E22
Air Date: May 6, 1991
Written by: Ted Roberts and Peter Allan Fields
Directed by: Les Landau

Premise
Lwaxana Troi falls hard and fast for Dr. Timicin, and then discovers he's scheduled to die.

Recap
"Counselor Deanna Troi, personal log, stardate 44805.3. My mother is on board." And with that single line of a personal log, the episode begins. Picard cautiously steps into the hallway trying to avoid Lwaxana, and fails. She easily catches up with him as he makes his way to the transporter room to pick up one Dr. Timicin, who is part of a reclusive alien race with a dying sun. His mission is to test a solution he has to the dying sun problem by hitching a ride on the Enterprise to a nearby sun that's almost exactly alike, but in an empty system. So, whether he likes it or not, Picard is joined by Lwaxana for this diplomatic meeting in the transporter room. Dr. Timicin beams on board, Lwaxana is there... and it's love at first sight.

6/10/14

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Drumhead"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S04E21
Air Date: April 29, 1991
Written by: Jeri Taylor
Directed by: Jonathan Frakes

Premise
Retired Admiral Norah Satie is brought out of retirement to hold a witch hunt against an alleged Romulan terrorist.

Recap
We begin by questioning a Klingon exchange officer, J'Dan about the events surrounding a dilithium chamber explosion. Coincidentally, Starfleet recently learned that the Romulans got their hands on information regarding the chamber, and with the Klingons having a history with those green blooded villains, you can see why we would be suspicious of J'Dan. But J'Dan is not talking. He dies having anything to do with the explosion, so Starfleet is forced to bring in the big guns: retired Admiral Norah Satie, a debater so good that she regularly outsmarted her brothers at the dinner table after her father brought up a subject to be debated. Oh, and she also headed up the investigation into the alien conspiracy against Starfleet three years ago.

6/8/14

Star Trek: Asterisk "Qpid"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S04E20 (lol blaze it)
Air Date: April 22, 1991
Written by: Randy Russell and Ira Steven Behr
Directed by: Cliff Bole

Premise
Q teaches Picard all about his weakness and the dangers of love by turning him into that most classic of literary lovers, Cassan--... wait, no, Robin Hood?

Recap
The episode starts off by promising a most exciting premise: an archeology symposium! But, wait, before you start to drift off, what if I told you that Vash was part of this symposium? You know, the chick that Picard met on Risa who was just as good at stealing Picard's heart as she was at stealing ancient artifacts for a living. She smuggles herself on board the Enterprise ostensibly as part of the archeology council, but she's vague enough about her answers that one supposes she has ulterior motives while orbiting the long-forbidden archeological treasure trove of Tagus III. Meanwhile, as she introduces herself to the crew (including a mischievous Dr. Crusher), she begins to realize that Picard never told any of them about her. And that makes her a bit upset. After all, she thought they had something special!

6/4/14

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Nth Degree"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S04E19
Air Date: April 1, 1991
Written by: Joe Menosky
Directed by: Robert Legato

Premise
After scanning an alien probe, Lt. Barclay goes from zero to Gilderoy Lockhart, quantum engineering wizard, in sixty seconds.

Recap
It starts with Broccoli and Crusher acting in a stage production of Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac with the esteemed actor Reginald Barclay wearing the famous long nose. And when I say "esteemed actor" I mean "person who's too nervous about remembering his lines to remember or deliver them correctly." After watching the horrid rendition of Rostand's masterpiece, the audience applauds, and this confuses Data who wonders why they're praising Broccoli for mediocre work. He doesn't understand that just putting himself in front of a crowd and performing is a big event for the shy lieutenant. He's made a lot of personal improvements since we last saw him. He does, however, express concern that he's only trading one virtual reality (the holodeck) for another (the stage). Nevertheless, Troi assures him that he's doing great.

6/2/14

Star Trek: Asterisk "Identity Crisis"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S04E18
Air Date: March 25, 1991
Written by: Brannon Braga and Timothy de Haas
Directed by: Winrich Kolbe

Premise
People are mysteriously migrating to Tarchannen III and Geordi can't figure out why until he turns into one of those people himself.

Recap
After reviewing footage of a mission to Tarchannen III that Geordi was on with Susanna Leijten from a previous starship, Leijten informs the crew of the Enterprise that she and Geordi are the only two people left from the mission that hasn't dropped everything to go back there and completely disappear. So, what's the best course of action to figure out why they're doing this? Drop everything and go back there. But this time, follow the last crew member to do so. He hasn't reached the planet yet, but he's on a stolen shuttlecraft to get there. In fact, he's so dead set on getting to the planet, that he pilots the shuttlecraft straight into Tarchannen's atmosphere, causing it to blow up. This is a rookie mistake, really. He probably didn't pass driver's ed.

5/31/14

Star Trek: Asterisk "Night Terrors"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S04E16
Air Date: March 18, 1991
Written by: Pamela Douglas, Jeri Taylor, and Shari Goodhartz
Directed by: Les Landau

Premise
While the rest of the Enterprise can't dream and are stuck in a binary star system, Troi saves the day by flying through green clouds and taking care of a wedgie.

Recap
While flying through deep space, the Enterprise comes upon a binary star system in which the U.S.S. Brittain has been stuck for the past few days. They have no idea why, only that they sent out a distress signal, and when they scan the ship, there are not a whole lot in the way of life signs. Troi uses her built-in natural sensors and senses... something... so she requests to be put on the away team. When the away team gets there, they find everyone dead by what seems to have been their own hands, except for one quivering mass of a male Betazoid hiding in a closet. He's speechless, and not just because Troi's there.

5/29/14

Star Trek: Asterisk "Galaxy's Child"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S04E16
Air Date: March 11, 1991
Written by: Maurice Hurley and  Thomas Kartozian
Directed by: Winrich Kolbe

Premise
Geordi gets friend zoned while Crusher delivers a space baby.

Recap
It starts off innocently enough. Picard tells Geordi that Dr. Leah Brahms is coming on board to look at the engines, and Geordi admits he's studied her work, but he's trying to keep it on the DL that he actually fell in love with a holographic projection of her while they were in the "Booby Trap." He especially tries to keep that secret when she comes on board and says "So, you're the one who mucked up my engines." See, Brahms was the designer of the engines that the Enterprise used, but Geordi needed to make some adjustments while they were out exploring. She is not pleased. So you can imagine how she would feel if she knew Geordi was stalking her.

3/20/14

How to Add an Extra Hour to Your Day

If you're a busy, successful entrepreneur like me, you can often find that you're catching up on things right up to the last minute of the day before you pass out from exhaustion. If only there was another hour to the day, you could possibly get that last email answered, that final deal made, that closing chapter written. Well, it's not impossible! With a little investment in setup, you, too, can experience the pleasures and leisure of time dilation. And you won't even have to fly around the world powered by the rays of our yellow sun Superman-style to do it. (Although solar power is something highly advocated by this blog and I recommend that anyone interested in such a power generation alternative go look it up, but that's completely irrelevant to this particular article.)

3/14/14

How to Be In Two Places at Once

We've all been there, right? Too many items on our plate, hitting the ground running at 6am and there still aren't enough hours in the day. If only we could be in two places at once, we could get a whole lot more done. Well, according to Completely Unsubstantiated Science it's totally possible! You, too, could be sitting down at your office desk and driving the kids to school at the same time using quantum mechanics. Harnessing this natural law is easy if you follow these steps, but be forewarned: cat lovers need not proceed.

3/12/14

How to Find a Mate on Mars

It's difficult enough to find a mate here on Earth. There are dozens of websites devoted to it, there are people who go to bars to do it, there are experts upon experts who give some sound advice on how to do it, and the divorce rate is still over 50% (I think; I mean, I haven't actually checked. What do you think this is? An actual informational article where I do "research"?). Anyway, if you feel like you've exhausted all of your options on Earth, there are several benefits to expanding your search to extra-planetary avenues. I know what you're thinking: "But, Steve! There's no life on Mars!" Well, that's what the government wants you to believe. And they're right. There is no life on Mars. But there are bevvies of alien beauties under Mars! And here's how you get them:

3/2/14

How to Live Without Breathing

Breathing is something so natural and so vital that most humans start doing it without any kind of prompting directly after birth. It's not something you learn, but it is something you can learn to improve. It's not good or bad in itself, but becomes either one depending on what you inhale. For the most part, a successful human life is lived by inhaling a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen, with a few other gases for good measure, and exhaling carbon dioxide. All of this you probably already know. But what you probably don't know is that it's possible to live without breathing. I'm Sun Mcleod, and this is my story.