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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Your New Year Trivia

One of the oldest and most exciting customs around the world is celebrating New Year. New Year is celebrated in a variety of ways in various countries. One can hear the church bells ringing, people singing, dancing and having lots of fun on this festive day.The New Year is a festive season that marks the beginning of the year. The New Year is a prefect time for a new start of making certain promises and taking resolutions.The New Year trivia is a time when people take certain resolutions that they swear to follow throughout the year. People wait to welcome the New Year with joy and excitement is in the air on New Year. Various countries have their own beliefs of what the new year holds in store for them.

The new year in United States is celebrated on Jan 1st by throwing parties on the night of December 31st. the new year trivia is sure to catch the mood of the people in an exciting manner. The Chinese celebrate New Year between January 17thand February 19th. This is at the time of the new moon. The New Year trivia is a perfect time for feasting and celebrations. The Chinese call this time of feasting and celebrations as Yuan Tan. The most famous decorations used by the Chinese for the New Year are the lanterns. One can see the lanterns glittering bright in the streets.The people in china believe that there are evil spirits that roam the earth. So on New Year they burn crackers to scare the evil spirits. The doors and windows of every home in china can be seen sealed with paper. This is to keep the evil demons out.

The New Year in Scotland is called Hogmanay. The people in Scotland follow a ritual that has a great significance. One can find barrels of tar set afire and gradually rolled down the streets in the villages of Scotland. This ritual symbolizes that the old year is burned up and New Year is going to begin.The New Year trivia is sure to make the celebration of New Year fun and enjoyable. New year is simply the perfect time to take resolutions and make for a fun-filled day. So enjoy the New Year and have a blast.

New Year Trivia Quiz
•Question:Jan. 1 is New Year's Day in which calendar ?
Answer :Gregorian Calendar

•Question:When was the first new year holiday observed?
Answer :In Ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago

•Question: New Year's is celebrated in which month by practioners of Tibetan Buddhism ?
Answer :February

•Question:The first New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square happened in which year?
Answer :1907

•Question:The date of Chinese New Year is determined by which calendar?
Answer :Lunar Calendar

•Question:What is Jewish New Year called?
Answer :Rosh

Courtesy of 123NewYear

Friday, December 24, 2010

Crazy Parrot Singing Grunge Song! Amazing Voice

How do one-way mirrors work?

Just about everyone has seen a television show or movie in which a criminal suspect is questioned while detectives watch from behind a one-way mirror. How does a piece of glass manage to reflect light from one side while remaining clear on the other?

mirror mirror
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
One-way mirrors are coated with a half-silvered layer,
allowing the mirror to reflect half the light that strikes its surface.

The secret is that it doesn't. A one-way mirror has a reflective coating applied in a very thin, sparse layer -- so thin that it's called a half-silvered surface. The name half-silvered comes from the fact that the reflective molecules coat the glass so sparsely that only about half the molecules needed to make the glass an opaque mirror are applied. At the molecular level, there are reflective molecules speckled all over the glass in an even film but only half of the glass is covered. The half-silvered surface will reflect about half the light that strikes its surface, while letting the other half go straight through. It turns out that half-silvered mirrors are also essential to many types of lasers -- see How Lasers Work for details.

So why doesn't the "criminal suspect" see the detectives in the next room? The answer lies in the lighting of the two rooms. The room in which the glass looks like a mirror is kept very brightly lit, so that there is plenty of light to reflect back from the mirror's surface. The other room, in which the glass looks like a window, is kept dark, so there is very little light to transmit through the glass. On the criminal's side, the criminal sees his own reflection. On the detectives' side, the large amount of light coming from the criminal's side is what they see. In many ways, it's the same as if people were whispering in one room while a loud stereo played in the other. The sound of the whisper might carry into the room with the stereo, but it would be drowned out by the intensity of the music.

If the lights in the room with the mirror are suddenly turned out, or the lights in the observation room suddenly turned on, then the one-way mirror becomes a window, with people in each room able to see those in the other. You can see this effect in any mirrored office building at night -- if the light is on in an office, you can see into the office just fine. Visit Howstuffworks.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How to Reduce Stress During Christmas

Christmas is full of contradictions. It’s a time of joy and family reunions. There will be parties to host and attend, gifts to exchange, holidays to enjoy. And because of all these, Christmas can also be extremely stressful for families.

In fact, according to the National Mental Health Association, nearly 60% of Americans suffer some form of stress-related depression during Christmas as a result of the increased demands of shopping, entertaining, family and relatives.
To beat the blues and enjoy the season to the fullest, learn some strategies to keep Christmas as stress-free as possible.

Start Christmas Shopping Earlier

Although Christmas sales generally don’t start until late October or early November, it doesn’t mean Christmas shopping cannot start earlier. In fact, it can be done all year round whenever there are sales. Keep an eye on gift items that are suitable and buy them when there is a bargain. When Christmas shopping is spread over the year, there is less hassle and less financial pinch. Plus, there won’t be frantic and crazy Christmas crowds swarming the departmental stores and shopping malls at other times of the year.

Have Reasonable Expectations of the Holiday Season

Avoid trying to make everything perfect. Setting the goal to make this Christmas the best ever is only going to cause more stress and anxiety. So plan ahead and prioritize things. Expect hiccups and obstacles along the way. Also, don’t be disappointed if this Christmas isn’t the same as it used to be. It may be different but can still be enjoyable.

Get Help with Christmas Cooking

Don’t try to be a supermum and do everything alone. Get help from everyone in the family with cooking and baking chores. If it’s going to be a big, elaborate dinner, it’s a good idea to ask others attending the dinner to contribute a dish. Allocate the dishes beforehand to avoid bringing the same dishes to the dinner. Keeping a copy of the menu close by is also helpful in preventing the hostess from forgetting to serve some of the dishes!

Be Prepared for Unpleasant Relatives

Family gatherings can be uncomfortable if there are some relatives that don’t get along well with each other. Be positive and put up with any unpleasant encounters and remarks. If someone is being rude, don’t bite back. Instead, in a calm manner, let them know such behavior is not appreciated and remind them that in the true spirit of Christmas, everyone should be nice to each other and keep opinions to themselves if they have nothing good to say.

Get Ready for Squabbling Kids

If there are young children in the family, the chaos is likely to increase considerably. Children may fight over gifts and toys, spill drinks on the carpet, throw a tantrum to get mum’s attention,or bite a visiting child. Granted, it’s hard to keep an eye on them when there is so much going on. If possible, assign an older child or a relative to watch over them while mum and dad are busy entertaining guests or preparing meals.

Have a Family Christmas Tradition

Having a special Christmas tradition within the family can be great way to relax and unwind during Christmas. Some families enjoy driving around the neighborhood on Christmas Eve to look at Christmas lights and decorations; reading Christmas stories aloud to the kids; making gingerbread houses with the kids; inviting people with nowhere to go over for the Christmas dinner. Start your own family Christmas tradition to make the big day even more special.

When families are prepared for the busy time at Christmas, the stress level will drop significantly. So it’s a good idea to plan and shop early, get help whenever possible, be prepared for possible unpleasant encounters at family gatherings and keep the kids under control. With less stress, the whole family will be able to enjoy Christmas the way it should be enjoyed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How Digital Signatures Work: Digitally Signing Messages

Public key cryptography gives a reliable method for digital signing and signature verification based on public/private key pairs. A person can sign a given digital message (file, document, e-mail, and so forth) with his private key. From a technical point of view, the digital signing of a message is performed in two steps:

Click here for a larger image.

Step 1: Calculate the Message Digest

In the first step of the process, a hash-value of the message (often called the message digest) is calculated by applying some cryptographic hashing algorithm (for example, MD2, MD4, MD5, SHA1, or other). The calculated hash-value of a message is a sequence of bits, usually with a fixed length, extracted in some manner from the message.

All reliable algorithms for message digest calculation apply such mathematical transformations that when just a single bit from the input message is changed, a completely different digest is obtained. Due to this behavior, these algorithms are very steady in cryptanalytical attacks; in other words, it is almost impossible, from a given hash-value of a given message, to find the message itself. This impossibility for retrieval of the input message is pretty logical if we take into account that a hash-value of a message could have a hundred times smaller size than the input message. Actually, the computing resources needed to find a message by its digest are so huge that, practically, it is unfeasible to do it.

It is also interesting to know that, theoretically, it is possible for two entirely different messages to have the same hash-value calculated by some hashing algorithm, but the probability for this to happen is so small that in practice it is ignored.

Step 2: Calculate the Digital Signature

In the second step of digitally signing a message, the information obtained in the first step hash-value of the message (the message digest) is encrypted with the private key of the person who signs the message and thus an encrypted hash-value, also called digital signature, is obtained. For this purpose, some mathematical cryptographic encrypting algorithm for calculating digital signatures from given message digest is used. The most often used algorithms are RSA (based on the number theory), DSA (based on the theory of the discrete logarithms), and ECDSA (based on the elliptic curves theory). Often, the obtained digital signature is attached to the message in a special format to be verified later if it is necessary.

Verifying Digital Signatures

Digital signature technology allows the recipient of given signed message to verify its real origin and its integrity. The process of digital signature verification is purposed to ascertain if a given message has been signed by the private key that corresponds to a given public key. The digital signature verification cannot ascertain whether the given message has been signed by a given person. If we need to check whether some person has signed a given message, we need to obtain his real public key in some manner. This is possible either by getting the public key in a secure way (for example, on a floppy disk or CD) or with the help of the Public Key Infrastructure by means of a digital certificate. Without having a secure way to obtain the real public key of given person, we don't have a possibility to check whether the given message is really signed by this person.

From a technical point of view, the verification of a digital signature is performed in three steps:

Click here for a larger image.

Step 1: Calculate the Current Hash-Value

In the first step, a hash-value of the signed message is calculated. For this calculation, the same hashing algorithm is used as was used during the signing process. The obtained hash-value is called the current hash-value because it is calculated from the current state of the message.

Step 2: Calculate the Original Hash-Value

In the second step of the digital signature verification process, the digital signature is decrypted with the same encryption algorithm that was used during the signing process. The decryption is done by the public key that corresponds to the private key used during the signing of the message. As a result, we obtain the original hash-value that was calculated from the original message during the first step of the signing process (the original message digests).

Step 3: Compare the Current and the Original Hash-Values

In the third step, we compare the current hash-value obtained in the first step with the original hash-value obtained in the second step. If the two values are identical, the verification if successful and proves that the message has been signed with the private key that corresponds to the public key used in the verification process. If the two values differ from onr another, this means that the digital signature is invalid and the verification is unsuccessful.

Reasons for Invalid Signatures

There are three possible reasons for getting an invalid digital signature:

  • If the digital signature is adulterated (it is not real) and is decrypted with the public key, the obtained original value will not be the original hash-value of the original message but some other value.
  • If the message was changed (adulterated) after its signing, the current hash-value calculated from this adulterated message will differ from the original hash-value because the two different messages correspond to different hash-values.
  • If the public key does not correspond to the private key used for signing, the original hash-value obtained by decrypting the signature with an incorrect key will not be the correct one.

If the verification fails, in spite of the cause, this proves only one thing: The signature that is being verified was not obtained by signing the message that is being verified with the private key that corresponds to the public key used for the verification. Unsuccessful verification does not always mean that an attempt for digital signature adulteration is detected. Sometimes, verification could fail because an invalid public key is used. Such a situation could be obtained when the message is not sent by the person who was expected to send it or when the signature verification system has an incorrect public key for this person. It is even possible for one person to own several different valid public keys along with valid certificates for each of them and the system attempted to verify a message received from this person with some of these public keys but not with the correct one (the key corresponding to the private key used for signing the message).

In order for such problems to be avoided, most often when a signed document is sent, the certificate of the signer is also sent along with this document and the corresponding digital signature. Thus, during the verification, the public key contained in the received certificate is used for signature verification; if the verification is successful, it is considered that the document is signed by the person who owns the certificate. Of course, it is always necessary that, when certificates are used, we should believe the certificate only if its validity is verified or the certificate is self-signed but is obtained from the sender in a secure way (not from the Internet).

My next article will introduce the class libraries for working with digital signatures and certificates on a Java 2 platform and gives a short description of the most important classes and interfaces from Java Cryptography Architecture (JCA) and Java Certification Path API that concern the use of digital signatures and certificates.

About the Author

Svetlin Nakov is part-time computer science lecturer in Sofia University, Bulgaria. He has over 5 years of professional software engineering and training experience and currently works as IT consultant in a leading Bulgarian software company. His areas of expertise include Java and related technologies, .NET Framework, network security, data structures and algorithms, and programming code quality. More information on his research background, skills and work experience is available from his home site

Monday, December 20, 2010

Best Christmas Movies for Kids

best christmas movies

Macaulay Culkin in "Home Alone." Credit: Everett Collection

For many families, settling down together to watch a Christmas movie is as much a tradition as hanging stockings and trimming the tree. To help you plan your viewing schedule, we've rounded up a list of our 20 favorite Christmas movies for kids. From tots to teens, you will find a little something for everyone here. Included are the old classics, some more recent favorites and a couple you may have even forgotten about.

Think we left something out? Tell us your favorite Christmas films by leaving a comment below!

1. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1964): From a 1939 story by Robert L. May, the character of Rudolph was made famous in this stop-motion animation movie that first aired on NBC in 1964. Digitally remastered in 2005, this heart-warming story about a misfit reindeer and his glowing red nose has become a Christmas tradition in many families.

2. "Olive, The Other Reindeer" (1999): A character born out of a misunderstanding of the lyrics to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," Olive the dog got her own animated special thanks to executive producer Matt Groening of "The Simpsons" fame. Olive is a sweet little dog who misunderstands Santa when he says he needs the help of "all of the other reindeer" to prevent Christmas from being canceled.

3. "A Christmas Story" (1983): What could be more entertaining than a loving-but-dysfunctional family at Christmastime? Set in the 1940s, the story of Ralphie Parker and the build-up to what he hopes will be the best Christmas ever gets funnier every year. Catch it during its annual 24-hour airing on TBS each Christmas Eve.

4. "Frosty the Snowman" (1969): The story of a magical snowman with a big personality, this movie was based on a song made famous by Gene Autry in 1950. In addition to a magic hat, this 30-minute animated movie has drama, redemption and a surprise appearance by Santa Claus himself.

5. "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947): Every child who has ever wondered if the department store Santa is the real thing will find reason to believe in this Academy Award-winning movie. A young Natalie Wood gives a beautiful and touching performance as a little girl who helps those around her learn the true meaning of Christmas.

6. "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1966): He's a mean one, but we love the Grinch as he tries to spoil Christmas for the residents of Who-ville. As with all good villain movies, the bad guy learns a lesson in the end and everyone lives happily ever after.

7. "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000): The beauty and whimsy of Dr. Seuss' imagination comes to life in Ron Howard's live-action remake of the 1966 classic. Jim Carrey is perfectly cast as the Grinch and the mayhem and madness are laugh-out-loud funny.

8. "The Year Without a Santa Claus" (1974): In this claymation television special, Santa Claus does the unthinkable: He gets fed up and decides to take a vacation instead of delivering Christmas gifts. Mrs. Claus comes to the rescue as she and the elves try to help the world rediscover the spirit of Christmas.

9. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965): It just wouldn't be Christmas without Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang. A timeless story about a boy searching for the true meaning of the holiday, the film is memorable not only for the sad little tree in which he finds it, but also for the wonderful score by composer Vince Guaraldi.

10. "The Muppet Christmas Carol" (1992): Jim Henson's Muppets do Dickens in this kid-friendly adaptation of the classic story. With Kermit as Bob Cratchit and Miss Piggy as his wife, the film is as silly as you would expect and surprisingly touching.

11. "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993): Santa gets the Tim Burton treatment in this offbeat and somewhat bizarre stop-action fantasy movie. Alternately scary and funny, the movie features a ghoulish Jack Skellington kidnapping and torturing Santa in an effort to take over Christmas.

12. "Home Alone" (1990): Bumbling criminals try to take advantage of a boy left home alone on Christmas in this slapstick comedy by the late John Hughes. The movie that launched Macaulay Culkin's career is as entertaining today as it was when first released.

13. "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" (1992): Not quite as good as the original but still a blast, this film showcases New York City decked out in all its Christmas finery. The slapstick comedy might be over the top, but the hilarious work of Tim Curry makes it all worthwhile.

14. "Eloise at Christmastime" (2003): Eloise, the imp of the Plaza Hotel, plays matchmaker in this movie based on the popular books by Kay Thompson. Charming and sweet, Eloise teaches the adults around her about compassion in her own mischievous and delightful way.

15. "An All Dogs Christmas Carol" (1998): Charles Dickens goes to the dogs in a canine version of the classic Christmas tale. A big, bad bulldog gets schooled in the true meaning of Christmas by lovable Charlie and his cute sidekick, Itchy.

16. "The Polar Express" (2004): Live performances were translated into digital images for this unique-looking animated film starring Tom Hanks. Groundbreaking filmmaking technique aside, it's a timeless story about a young boy trying to discover the true meaning of Christmas.

17. "Elf" (2003): Will Ferrell is up to his usual tricks as Buddy, an orphan raised by Santa Claus and his elves. Returning to the real world in search of his father, Buddy finds hilarious adventure -- and love -- in New York City.

18. "Mickey's Christmas Carol" (1983): Disney's version of the Charles Dickens classic takes Ebeneezer Scrooge McDuck on a journey to find the true meaning of Christmas. Ghosts Goofy and Jiminy Crickett, along with Bob Cratchit Mickey and his nephew Fred Donald, help Scrooge see the light before it's too late.

19. "Prancer" (1989): A tear-jerker with a happy ending, this film features a young girl struggling to repair her broken family while nursing a special reindeer back to health. Full of heart and warmth, the film is touching without being too sappy.

20. "A Christmas Carol" (1951): Of all the versions of Dickens' classic story, this one is by far the best. A beautifully simple presentation devoid of special effects and gimmicks, it's a film every family should see this time of year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

10 Most Expensive Properties Listed for Sale in 2010

Wasn't 2010 the year that we rejected our gluttonous spending ways, when we convinced ourselves that less was more and that Dante intended to have a circle for those who couldn't make do with any fewer than five bathrooms? Well, no doubt the following homeowners just want to join the downsizing party.

Presenting, the Luxist List of the 10 Most Expensive Properties on the Market in 2010. (An asterisk or two: Some of these listings are holdovers from 2009, one even from 2006. And while it's inconceivable that a publicly listed home in this price bracket would escape our attention, frequently homes are available as pocket listings -- the owner will sell them for the right price, but oh-so-quietly.)

1) The Manor -- or aka, Candyland, as the Candy Spelling mansion is dubbed. On the market at $150 million for eons now, the mistress of the mansion appears unwilling to bequeath the title of "most expensive home in America" to anyone else. Fair enough. But unless the frog she kisses turns into a Saudi prince, we fear this palace will be heading our list in 2011 too.
Besides, in this new era of austerity, what does one woman really need with 123 rooms and 56,500-square feet? It's the largest home in Los Angeles County and was built by Candy and her deceased husband Aaron Spelling, the entertainment mogul who created -- among other things -- "Beverly Hills 90290" that starred their daughter Tori Spelling. The two-story house has a level between the second story and the attic that is just for closets. There is a screening room, bowling alley, three rooms for wrapping presents and a parking lot for 100 cars. Oprah is said to have looked but if she did, she didn't buy. Listing agent: Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland in Beverly Hills, who shares it with partner Rick Hilton and Coldwell Banker agent Sally Forster Jones.

2) Fleur de Lys, the 41,000-square-foot estate that makes no attempt at understatement. Listed at $125,000 million, it is modeled after a French Ducal palace. Following the Candy Spelling School of Real Estate Marketing, owner Suzanne Saperstein hasn't budged on the price since it was first listed in 2007. If you're interested, talk to Joyce Rey of Coldwell Banker, who shares the listing with Robert Kass of Hilton & Hyland.

Gallery: Fleur de Lys

3) Tranquility in Zephyr Cove, NV remains on the market at $100 million as it has been since 2006. That's four years folks. The seller is Joel Horowitz, the co-founder of the Tommy Hilfiger Corp., and the estate sits in the tax-favorable Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. The estate has its own private lake, boat house and sits on 210 prime acres. The marble flooring in the entrance hall of the 20,000-square-foot main house is patterned after that of the New York Public Library's and the staircase is a replica of the Titanic's. Is there a lesson here involving sinking ships? Shari Chase of Chase International has the listing. Continue reading here!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

7 Tips on Maintaining Healthy Relaxed Hair

Relaxed hair, by its definition, undergoes controlled damage in order to straighten it, but maintaining this hair in a healthy fashion is possible with several simple steps. If you're not currently following most of these tips, your hair may not be as healthy as it can be. All hair should be pampered, but relaxed hair requires even more special treatment due to its processed nature. See if these seven tips for maintaining healthy relaxed hair can't help you get your straight tresses into the best shape possible.

1. See a Professional for Chemical Applications

This is typically where you'll spend the most money in maintaining relaxed hair, but it's worth investing in a trusted stylist for touch-ups and/or coloring. They're licensed for a reason. Too many women (and children and men) are walking around today with damaged hair that's the result of home treatments.

Find a stylist you trust. This may not be easy; you may have to try several salons and get recommendations before you find someone you're happy with. Once you find a professional and build a good relationship with her, she should be able to advise you whether a lye or no-lye relaxer is best for you, which cuts will best flatter your face and how to care for your hair on a daily basis.

2. Avoid Overprocessing

Applying relaxers to previously processed hair or leaving chemicals on for too long are two of the most common mistakes made when it comes to straightening. While home kits are easier to use than ever and cheaper than having a professional apply treatments, these products also make it easy to overprocess the hair. Not waiting the recommended time frame between touch-ups is another risky relaxer move.

Consistently applying straightening chemicals to previously processed hair will eventually lead to damage, breakage and possible permanent hair loss.

Even if you must apply your own relaxers, have a trusted friend help you with back sections of the hair whenever possible. Better yet, however, save those pennies and see a stylist for this task.

3. Choose Low or No-Heat Styling

Flat irons and curling irons are very convenient, but daily use will eventually lead to dryness and damage. Heat tools are fine for occasional use, but try to get into the habit of low or no-heat styling when you can. Examples of styling techniques that don't require a lot of heat include:

  • Wet sets
  • Wrapping
  • Satin-covered rollers
  • Curlformers
  • Flexi-rods

Also, try any of these hairstyles that don't need to have ends "bumped" or curled:

  • Buns
  • Braids
  • Updos

4. Wrap and Protect at Night

Not only does wrapping your hair at night save you time in the morning, but it also protects your delicate tresses while sleeping, especially if you add in extra protection in the form of a silky hair cover or pillowcase.

When you mold your hair to the shape of your head, you preserve body and volume in a low-maintenance fashion that requires absolutely no heat.

5. Condition Regularly

Relaxers strip away some of the hair's natural oils during the process of straightening; replacing moisture is essential to keeping hair in good shape. Instead of greasy, petrolatum-laden products, which don't actually moisturize the hair but only coat it, rely on good quality conditioners to maintain proper moisture levels in your hair. Follow each shampoo with a rinse-out conditioner and deep condition two to four times per month, depending on your hair's needs.

6. Trim as Needed

The ends of your hair can become excessively dry if not cared for properly. They're the oldest and most fragile parts of your hair and they need to be treated with extreme care. However, they're not going to last forever and it's better to get rid of split and dry ends sooner rather than later. If you routinely pamper your hair and observe other good hair care practices, you'll need to trim less often than someone who flat irons daily or never deep conditions.

7. Wear Protective Styles

Why protective styles such as chignons, updos and braids? Because these hairdos keep your hair's ends up and out of sight, which allows them to retain moisture, which in turn leads to more hair retention. Even if your goal is not to grow hair down your back, healthy ends are still important, as they fit into an overall healthy head of hair.

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