It’s official, “Seinfeld” did more than drive viewers crazy.

Seinfeld is a show about nothing and enjoyed by Brendan Spaar

Do you remember watching episodes of the tv show “Seinfeld” and thinking that there was something seriously wrong with some of the characters? Well, Brendan Spaar is not the only one and now “Seinfeld” has moved from being entertainment to being educational.

The show had a cult following for the zany comedy it offered but a psychiatry professor is using it for much more than that. Medical students at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School are learning about psychiatric disorders through Dr. Anthony Tobia’s “Psy-feld” teaching tool. He has created a database of teaching points from all the show’s episodes. Dr. Tobia has also written an academic paper that analyzes five of Elaine’s boyfriends from the show to explain delusional disorder.

Each character is analyzed and their “quirks” used as examples of certain personality disorders. Fans of the show are all too familiar with Jerry’s obsessive compulsive traits, Kramer’s schizoid traits, Elaine’s inability to forge meaningful relationships and George being egocentric. The most disturbing character of all is Newman. Dr Tobia has diagnosed Newman as “Very sick.”

Third- and fourth-year medical students are assigned to watch two episodes a week and then get together to discuss the psychopathology found in each show. Third-year student Marlene Wang said that the exercise leads to having more practical and relatable examples than a textbook.

So be careful what shows you watch. It might tell more about you than you realize.

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When you work are you ever really “off the clock”?

The image depicts that Brendan Spaar is a working guy
How many times have you been relaxing in your free time only to be hit with an email from work? With the advancements in technology the days of working 9-5 seem to be a thing of the past. It used to be that once you left work, you left work. Now it can follow you and pop up with the push of a button or click of a mouse.

That may be about to change in Germany. That country’s Labor Minister is looking into the possibility of “anti-stress” regulations. German employees could soon have legal protection preventing them from having to deal with work-related phone calls and emails after hours and on weekends.

Government officials are collecting data in preparation to draft a proposal for lawmakers next year. Labor Minister Andrea Nahles feels “there is a connection between permanent availability and psychological diseases.” Germany’s economy seems to support the premise that happy workers are productive workers. Every worker in Germany gets at least four weeks of paid vacation. Most employees have a 35 hour work week and women are allowed 14 weeks of paid maternity leave.

Some German companies have already taken voluntary measures to reduce after hours work. Volkswagen has restricted after-work email for some employees who have been issued company-owned smartphones. For workers under wage agreements, the company’s email server is programmed to stop delivering messages between 6:15 p.m. and 7 a.m. the following morning. Weekends are also off-limits. “Supervisors and employees regard the regulation as a signal to respect recreation times and to interrupt after-work hours only in emergencies,” said Volkswagen spokesman Markus Schlesag.

Brendan Spaar found that there is a cost to these “perks”. However, Germany’s DGB union leader believes “We clearly have a higher work protection standards compared to the United States, but in regard to competitiveness we are at least on a face-to-face level with the Americans. “Good and healthy work that can be maintained for a long time is a competitive advantage.”

I doubt we see changes like this in the US anytime soon. We operate in an immediate response society. Everything has to be fast- fast food, tv on demand & being in touch 24/7.

Nintendo & Mario watch you sleep

Nintendo is most commonly known as the maker of video game systems and games that excite and challenge people of all ages. Brendan Spaar got his first Nintendo system when he was in 2nd grade. It is still in his collection along with the Super Nintendo, Nintendo64, Game Boy and Wii. Most of the games were designed to test skill, reflexes and just plain stamina because playing could go on for hours non-stop.

Along came the Wii and a slight shift in gaming to a more interactive way of playing. No longer were the video game systems looked at as something strictly for kids. The days of being confined to a chair in front of a screen were coming to an end. Even senior citizens could be found using Wii Fit to get moving.

It seems that Nintendo is continuing to push from the gaming area of technology and into the possibly larger health/living area. The newest offerings from the gaming giant will be in the QOL (quality of life) health focused devices. The first one we’ll be seeing is a bedside sensor designed to track sleep, send that info into the cloud and give suggestions for getting more rest.

Nintendo’s president wants to redefine the company’s idea of entertainment. The company was founded in 1889 to make Japanese playing cards so the emphasis has always been on entertainment. It’ll be interesting to see if this new venture proves to be successful. It’s a gamble to go in a new direction but Brendan Spaar hopes they won’t leave the gaming sector in a deep sleep while they pursue this new venture.

Is that a bear or did you just win the lottery?

We’ve all seen the smiling faces of people holding giant checks after they’ve claimed their mega million lottery prize. Lots of times people delay coming forward until they’ve established a trust to handle the issues that come along with winning. It seems that the US isn’t the only country with HUGE payouts and winners that want to protect their privacy.

In China, it’s not unusual for winners to come in costumes or dress up to hide their faces. In the past, winners have claimed their prizes dressed as Micky Mouse, a giant panda and most recently, a bear. The latest winner claimed his $85 million prize dressed in a bear costume. He gave the usual lottery winner speech about giving some of the money to charity and being excited about winning. Like many US lottery players, he said he doesn’t play regularly and buys his tickets at random. Now he has 85 million reasons to be glad he played this time.

In the US, it’s legal for winners to remain anonymous in only 5 states (Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, and Ohio). Brendan Spaar has never won the lottery but understands wanting to keep winning money a secret. People seem to come from everywhere when they hear of someone getting a big payoff of cash. Chinese lottery winners pay a 20% tax on their prize money, which is about $17 million for the winner dressed up as a bear.

Brendan Spaar is wondering who he’d get as a “stand in” for him if he wins. With mega millions as a prize, maybe a comedian or other actor to play the role. So next time you buy that lottery ticket, be thinking of what you’ll do if you win. It doesn’t hurt to dream!

Everything’s Better With Coke- even Wi-Fi

Back in the 60s, Coke had a saying, “Things Go Better With Coke”. Guess that’s still true today because people in rural South Africa can now get free Wi-Fi from Coke vending machines.

BT Global is teaming with Coke to make it available to people that can afford it the least. Coca-Cola South Africa chief information officer David Visser said that providing access to free Wi-Fi will allow students and schoolchildren to “increase their knowledge through research while also giving entrepreneurs and small business owners in the community the opportunity to manage some of their business aspects online”.

There are 2 planned locations for the Wi-Fi “coolers”.Both locations are in areas near schools and shopping so people will have easy access to them. Internet access is  free via Wi-Fi without any purchase requirement of any kind and is accessible for the duration of the time spent at the locations.

How do they plan to avoid a slow down on the Information Superhighway as well as avoid crowds around the Coke sites? Imagine just wanting to grab a quick refreshing Coke and having to battle your way through people trying to send emails or Google the latest news.

Brendan Spaar wishes Coke would offer free Wi-Fi here in the U.S. More and more places are offering it free to their customers but they probably wouldn’t be happy if you used it without making a purchase. Maybe one day we might be able to enjoy a Coke while surfing the web for free.

Clean your plate or you could get fined in Seattle.

Recycling has always been a passion of Brendan Spaar

When Brendan Spaar was a kid he remembers hearing people say, “Clean your plate. There are starving kids in China that would love to have this food”. Maybe that’s why the US is having a problem with obesity. Now there’s another problem facing people living in Seattle, Washington. Too much food/ compostable material in your garbage could get you fined if you live there.

Right now, people living in single-family homes are encouraged but not required to dispose of food waste and compostable paper products in compost bins. Apartment buildings must have compost bins available, but residents aren’t required to use them. That’s about to change next year.

Under the new Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) rules, collectors can take a quick look each time they dump trash into a garbage truck. If they see compostable items make up 10 percent or more of the trash, they’ll enter the violation into a computer system their trucks already carry, and will leave a ticket on the garbage bin that says to expect a $1 fine charged on the next garbage bill.

January 1, 2015, garbage collectors will start tagging garbage bins and dumpsters with warning tickets  when they find violations. They won’t start collecting fines until July 1. Seattle already banned recyclables from trash 9 years ago. This is taking it a step further in an effort to cut down on things going to the landfill.

Brendan Spaar doesn’t think people will be lining up to get the job of sifting through the trash. It’s going to be hard to enforce because in an apartment you don’t always know whose garbage belongs to what tenant. Instead of fining people for not composting maybe they should think about rewarding the ones that recycle by giving a discount on their bill.

Want an all-in-one printer? This Canon printer can print, copy, scan AND play a video game.

Most of us use our printers for normal everyday things like printing resumes, copies of important papers, or making flyers about that dog you found. Well, Brendan Spaar found that a UK security researcher has taken the Canon Pixma wireless printer to a whole new level. Before you buy your next printer you might want to see if it will do what this Canon Pixma did.

Michael Jordon (no, not THAT MJ) is a security researcher who wanted to demonstrate the security problems surrounding devices that would form the “internet of things”. The Canon Pixma wireless printer can be accessed by using the internet so you can easily check the device’s status. The web interface has no user name or password on it,” he said. That meant anyone could look at the status of any device once they found it,

At first, the remote access feature didn’t look like a problem, until Mr Jordon realized it was possible to update the printer’s firmware, via the interface too. Even though the firmware was encrypted,he found it was possible to crack this protection system to reveal the core computer code. Reverse engineering the encryption system used by Canon also meant that if Mr Jordon wrote his own firmware the printer should accept it as authentic.

Of course this made Mr Jordan curious to see what he could do. So he came up with a plan to try to get the Doom video game to run on the printer. He believed that successfully running Doom would prove that you could control the printer. Being a video gamer and security researcher gave him the skill and determination necessary to spend the time to make it work.

The printer has a 32-bit ARM processor, 10 meg of memory and even the screen is the right size but it was a coding problem to get it all running together. The biggest problem, he said,was that the printer’s firmware lacked functions provided by the operating system on any PC or other device it was running on. A version of Doom does exist that runs on Arm processors, but a lot of coding and trial and error was needed to convert this so it could handle the quirks of the printer.

This wasn’t a quick and easy hack. It took months of writing code and testing in his spare time, and he finally got it to run two days before he was due to give a speech about the project at the UK’s 44Con hacker conference.