THE MOST POPULAR BABY NAMES

baby on blanketSSA.gov/oact/babynames lets you find out how popular your name is. “Robert” was in the top 10 from 1900 to 1983. “Joy” never made the top 100 and is now at 475. Some names like “Scott” were wildly popular in the 60s and 70s, not much now. “Noah” is currently the most popular boy’s name (never would have guessed that). “Emma” is the most popular girl’s name. An unusual name might be the best bet; it never goes out of style because it was never in.

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THE LEAST CORRUPT COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD

corruption indexTransparency.org has a “Corruption Perceptions Index.” By their measure, Denmark is the least corrupt country in the world. New Zealand is the second least corrupt, Finland third. The U.S. is tied with Barbados, Hong Kong and Ireland for 17th place. Greece and Italy are tied at 69th. Somalia and North Korea are tied at the bottom — 174th.  In the “Economic Freedom of the World” index, Greece is 144th, Germany is 31st and Canada is 10th.

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15 COOL SCI-FI TECHNOLOGIES WE’VE ALREADY BLOWN RIGHT PAST

Character on Star Trek no match for Chinese computer15 Cool Sci-Fi Technologies We’ve Already Blown Right Past.”  For example, in 1997’s “Men in Black,” Agent K shows a miniature compact disc saying “They’re going to be replacing CDs soon.” The very next year the first MP3 player was released. In Star Trek, the character “Data” could perform 60 trillion calculations a second. In China, the “Tianhe 2″ can perform 34 quadrillion calculations per second. The robot dog in 1977’s “Dr. Who” could play chess and move about looking for danger. The U.S. military’s robot cheetah can run over 28 miles an hour, climb hills and jump over some obstacles. But … it doesn’t play chess.

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SHAKESPEARE ON THE RADIO

William ShakespeareSpotify online radio now has a Shakespeare channel. You can listen to ninety-eight straight hours of Shakespeare’s plays and poems. Of course they will be performed by actors speaking too fast and with forced accents, so you won’t really be able to understand that they’re saying, but that’s the way it is with Shakespeare performances.

Go to Spotify.com and search on the phrase “Ulysses Classical.” “We know that doesn’t make sense, because Shakespeare never wrote about Ulysses, but that’s the way it’s set up. Spotify is free if you can stand the obnoxious commercials, $10 a month if you can’t. It lets you stream unlimited songs to your phone, tablet or computer.

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HELP WITH EMAIL

email“Sidekick” by Hubspot is a free add-on for Google Chrome or Microsoft Outlook that lets you know when your emails were read and also when to schedule them.

The business version syncs with the leading contact manager Salesforce and fills in info from the giant Salesforce database. That way you know which companies have visited your website, what competitors they have and other info. Gotcha!

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WHAT’S YOUR IDENTITY WORTH?

hackedHaving our smartphone hacked — and heaven only knows what kind of information became available from that — made us wonder if we could have had our identity stolen. The next thought was: what would that information be worth to somebody. So we did the research rounds on the web and beyond and found that a stolen identity — the requisite numbers and passwords — sells for about $20 on the hacked-info black market. That’s it? Twenty bucks? What about our priceless collection of Pez dispensers?

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NOW CALLING FROM FLORIDA

cracked cellphone

We started getting messages from Google saying someone had signed in as us from Orlando, Florida, and we’ve never been to Orlando. Same day, we got that same bad message from Google. A friend in Delray Beach sent us a message to say she just started receiving scam messages from our phone that same morning. So what’s a body to do?

Our favorite tech guru, Kenny, at helphelpnow.com, told us we should have wiped our phone completely before surrendering it to a repair shop. That makes sense. There’s a menu item called “reset” in Android phones and “restore” in the iPhone. It’s described online when you search on “factory reset Android” or “restore iPhone.” Just avoid signing in again before you take your phone to the repair shop, you can sign in after it’s fixed. All your messages and addresses are saved online, so you can get them all back again when you sign in.

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SMART UMBRELLAS

smart umbrella 2We never take our favorite umbrella out because we’d probably lose it. (We’ve lost at least a dozen over the years.) It’s decorated with “Peanuts” and other comic strips, and we’d never find another like it. But coming soon is a smart umbrella that tells you where you left it.

The “HAZ” connects to your smartphone by Bluetooth. It’s not out yet, but it’s the subject of a successful crowd-raising campaign on Indiegogo.com. This requires no new technology and they’ve already brought in more than the $15,000 they asked for. You can pre-order it for October delivery.

With the push of a button, the HAZ opens, closes and retracts. No more stuck umbrellas, no more struggling to close your umbrella while you’re trying to get to your next destination.

Besides telling you where you left the umbrella, the free app tells you the weather and reminds you to carry your HAZ. The cost with shipping is expected to be $94 when it comes out. More info at indiegogo.com.

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POLITICS REDUX

CountableLast week we wrote about Countable, a free app for iPhone, iPad and Android, lets you know what Federal bills are being proposed and will send emails to Congressmen, expressing your opinion on the bill. We tried this of course, and were pleasantly surprised to get information on the pros and cons of each bill; we even got a personal email back from a Senator.

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CHINESE CITY WELCOMES ITS ANNUAL ALGAE BLOOM

algae bloom in chinaA Chinese City Welcomes Its Annual Algae Bloom”  Chinese farmers grow seaweed on large rafts and when they clean them off, the algae spread and blooms. People then float on the stuff and have some fun. Later it’s sold for food. Yum.

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