Friday, 10 September 2004

Newsletter Issue 84, September 2004

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 84, September 2004
Hi guys,
Heard anything of the controversy about who circumnavigated the globe before Magellan or discovered South America before Columbus? Then check out So Who REALLY Got There First? below.
Feeling low in the afternoons at work? Want to fall asleep at your desk as 2pm rolls around? Then reading  Ten Tips to Beat the Afternoon Slump might save you from your leaden eyelids. 
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

So Who REALLY Got There First?

Columbus discovered South American & the West Indies in 1492. Magellan proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the world was a globe by the solitary remaining vessel in his expeditionary fleet limping back to home port in 1522. Right?
On July 21 2004, a documentary based on the book "1421: The Year China Discovered America" screened in the USA saying that it was actually the Chinese who discovered North and South America and sailed around the world - all in 1421.
According to a former submarine commanding officer turned author, Gavin Menzies, the Chinese eunuch admiral, Zheng He, did it first. Mr Menzies has spent 14 years charting, researching and accumulating evidence to support the movements of a what he believes to be a thirteenth century Chinese expeditionary fleet.
Now, I have always assumed that it was the Vikings who got to North America first - half a millennium before Columbus pootled off from Spain and 440 years before Zheng He left Shanghai. In the mid-990s, a bloke with the jaw-cracking name of Biarni Heriolfsson was blown off-course, outbound from Iceland and fetched up on an unknown land. In 1002 Leifr Eiriksson retraced Biarni's course and reached the present-day Canadian coast. He sailed south and discovered an island which he called Vinland (Newfoundland) where he established a colony and traded for three years with the native population, known as the Skraelings. The Skraelings eventually got toey and forced them to leave, but the Vikings continued to loot Canada for timber. So that pretty much does both the Spanish:Italian alliance (Columbus) and the Chinese in the eye.
However, the circumnavigation by Magellan is a bit different. Zheng He is proposed, in his colossal multi-masted ships stuffed with treasure, to have made the first circumnavigation of the world in 1423, beating Magellan by a whisker under a century.
How? Chinese ocean-going supremacy in the first half of the 15th century is not in question. Menzies, however, is proposing that the Yong-le Emperor Zhui Di, commissioned a vast fleet of Chinese expeditionary teak junks, 450 feet long (three times the size of Nelson's Victory and dwarfing the 16th century ocean-going European caravels) set out from China in 1421 to return the spectators of the .
Menzies was shown a planisphere dated 1459 when researching in Venice, which included southern Africa and the Cape of Good Hope. The issue was that the Cape was not "discovered" as a sea route by Vasco da Gama until 1497, so how could it be on a planisphere dated 1459? The planisphere also contained a note in medieval Phoenician about a voyage round the Cape to the Cape Verde Islands in 1420 - and a picture of a Chinese junk.
Using Chinese star charts and maps pre-dating Cook's, Magellan's, de Gama's and Columbus' expeditions, Menzies has reconstructed the epic voyage of Zheng He; seven great voyages under his patron, the Yong-le Emperor Zhui Di, bringing foreigners into China's tribute system. In a statement he said "What nobody has explained is why the European explorers had maps. Who drew the maps? There are millions of square miles of ocean. It required huge fleets to chart them. If you say it wasn't the Chinese, with the biggest fleets and ships in the world, then who was it?"
But, when Zheng He returned to China in October 1423, China was in political and economic chaos; the treasure fleet was now "frivolous" and was abandoned, many of the records and maps were destroyed and the knowledge was largely lost.
However, Menzies believes that some salvaged maps and charts were taken to Venice by a merchant traveller, Nicolo da Conti, who had joined one of the Chinese junks in India. Da Conti claims in his 1434 armchair travellers book to have sailed to China via Australia; 350 years before Cook. From there, Menzies thinks that the heir to Portugal's throne obtained these maps on his way to Venice in 1428, and incorporated them into a world map which were then used for Portuguese exploration.
This latter is the most controversial part of Menzie's theory; that copies of parts of the Chinese "mappa mundi" were used by da Gama, Magellan and Cook in their voyages. Some of the early European exploration maps still survive in museums: Patagonia (1513), North America (1507), Africa (1502) and Asia and Australia (1542). European explorer's letters and logs - including Columbus - certainly acknowledge that they had maps, says Menzies. "They knew where they were going before they set out."
Mr Menzies looks like he has credentials; he has been published, he quotes other sources vigorously and he presented his theories at the Royal Geographical Society in March 2003. But if you do a little more research, he looks a bit light on the "rigorous, unbiased and reasoned" side.
But have a look for yourself; Mr Menzie's website is here; read a critique of his work here and here. Join the debate!

Ten Tips to Beat the Afternoon Slump

The American Institute of Management's website once again had a great article, this time by Dr Jerry Teplitz, JD, PhD. Jerry was kind enough to allow me to reproduce his article in this newsletter so that you too can take advantage of the knowledge.
Dr Jerry V Teplitz is the author of 4 books and has given over 1500 presentations to more than 1 million people over the last 28 years. His dynamic, educational and entertaining keynotes and seminars have a long-term impact on performance enhancement and productivity. Participants report that they have become more positive, effective, focused, energized and more productive.
If you‘re like two-thirds of the population, you've experienced the afternoon slump. You know the feeling—it‘s mid-afternoon and you feel drained and want to call it a day. While you do your best to stay focused on your work, you may find that you are not as productive as you should be. Welcome to the afternoon slump!
This drop in energy isn‘t all in your head—it‘s a physiological response. Fortunately, you can take steps to reduce the slump‘s frequency and duration. Embrace the 10 tips outlined below and encourage others in your office to do the same. You'll find that the old afternoon slump period has been transformed into a time of increased productivity. And, as an added bonus, you'll have more energy to enjoy your time away from the office.
  • Tip #1: Drink water. Drink a minimum of eight glasses of water a day--even if your physical activity is limited to sitting at a desk. Keep a water bottle handy so you can easily sip water all day. Liquids like coffee or cola don‘t count—they dehydrate you and make the slump worse. And don‘t wait until you feel thirsty—by then you are already dehydrated.
  • Tip #2: Avoid sugar and simple carbohydrates. While a mid-afternoon candy bar may give you a quick sugar rush, in the long run it actually worsens the slump. Sugar and simple carbohydrates get absorbed immediately into the bloodstream, causing a rise in blood sugar, which in turn causes your body to secrete insulin to bring your sugar level back down. Candy isn‘t the only culprit. Simple carbohydrates, like white bread and rice can cause your blood sugar to drop after an hour or two. Try to incorporate more proteins and complex carbohydrates into your diet--whole-wheat products, brown rice, etc. They won‘t trigger blood sugar highs and lows.
  • Tip #3: Eat small meals. Have six small meals over the course of the day instead of three large ones. Eating a lot at once overwhelms your body, causing it to work harder to digest the food. The digestive process diverts blood away from your brain and your extremities.
  • Tip #4: Get rid of standard fluorescent lights. Most offices are lit with cool white fluorescent tubes, which have a negative effect on how people feel and function. A better option is full spectrum fluorescent tubes, as these simulate the wavelength of sunlight. Studies have shown that full spectrum lighting provides many benefits: headaches disappear and afternoon fatigue declines, while productivity levels rise. If your office doesn‘t use full spectrum fluorescent tubes, you might want to replace the tube just in your office.
  • Tip #5: Take a walk. Walking gets your blood circulating, helps you breathe better and stimulates your brain. Walking outside for five or ten minutes each day will give you the extra benefit of fresh air, but walking around the office is okay too. If you don‘t have time to take a walk, run up and down the stairs for two minutes.
  • Tip #6: Meditate. Meditation is a great way to rejuvenate your body. Meditating for fifteen to twenty minutes twice a day will keep your body continually energized. If you do run into the afternoon slump, meditating for a quick five minutes can immediately re-energize you. You may even find that you require less sleep at night, since you are giving your body much well needed rest twice a day.
  • Tip #7: Take your vitamins. B-complex and Ginseng have an energizing effect on your body, so take them every day. To get the maximum benefit from your vitamins, divide the dose and take them twice a day, with meals.
  • Tip #8: Listen to music. Music can energize you, but choose carefully--some music can actually cause fatigue. Hard rock can make you feel jittery. If you listen to music with lyrics, make sure they are positive and motivating.
  • Tip # 9: Breathe and stretch. Your cells require an exchange of air in the lungs to get rid of waste products. By doing some breathing exercises during the day, you'll get a lot more fresh air into your system. Try this exercise: Breathe in slowly, filling your stomach first, then the chest and finally the shoulders while counting to seven. Then exhale slowly, starting to exhale at the shoulders first and finishing with the stomach, again while counting to seven. Repeat the process three to six times. In addition, do some stretches mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
  • Tip #10: Handle negativity. Negative people and images can have a draining effect on your energy. Conversely, if you spend the day surrounded by positive people and images, you will feel energized. If negative people surround you at work, you'll have to make a conscious effort to maintain a positive outlook.
Author Bio: Jerry V. Teplitz, JD, Ph.D., is author of Managing Your Stress: How to Relax and Enjoy, Switched-On Living and Brain Gym for Business. He consults on management, leadership, sales and personal development issues.
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Purging Hijacking Modem Dialers

Have you ever heard of modem dialers? They are small software applications which are downloaded automatically to your PC when you visit certain Web sites. In order for you can get access to free online material, your modem is forced to dial another number; an international number at a very stiff rate per minute.
Modem dialers are usually found at adult, gaming or gambling sites, though I have found one at a Kazaar download site (Kazaar is a peer to peer file sharing site/application). When you go to the site, the software either automatically downloads itself to your PC or you start the download yourself by when you clicking on a free or premium content offer; the dialer then installs itself on your system, writes itself into your start-up configuration, hijacks your modem, stops it dialing your internet connection & instead dials their international number. Then you get a ghastly toll bill; all without knowing it.
There are six simple things that you can do to ensure your PC is protected;
  1. Ensure your PC has up to date antivirus software installed, with up-dates downloading every couple of days
  2. Ensure you are running a good firewall, with up to date patches installed
  3. Run Ad-aware software regularly & purge the illegal aliens that arrive on your PC (get it at
  4. Use a pop-up blocker such as (get it at
  5. Don't go to Web sites that offer 'free' or illegal content - that means adult, gaming, gambling or peer to peer sites. 
  6. Read agreements carefully. When a page or programme asks you to press 'OK' or 'Yes', make sure that you know what you are agreeing to!
If all else fails & you get stung more than once, have your telecoms provider put a PIN access code on your phone. That way your modem won't be able to dial up. And apparently Telecom provides an 0900 bar at no charge.

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you;
  • LTO, Linear Tape Open. The latest thing in tape storage technology, offering hardware data compression; high efficiency error-correction code; and timing-based servo system, using pre-recorded data bands. Developed by HP, IBM & Seagate, now up to its third iteration (LTO3).
Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Short+Hot Keys... and now tips
Over the next few newsletters, we are going to look at all you can do in Outlook. This time we focus on what you can do with the function keys;
  • "Display Help or the Office Assistant" F1 Outlook "Make the menu bar active" F10
  • "Enter a name in the Quick Find box" F11
  • "Display Save As dialog box" F12
  • "Turn on editing in a field (except icon view) or move to a field in the active card" F2
  • "Open the Advanced Find dialog box" F3
  • "Open the Find text box when in an email" F4
  • "Refresh the files visible in the Open or Save As dialog box" F5
  • "Cycle through all the panes in the active window or move between Calendar, TaskPad, and the Folder List when moving around in day/week/month view" F6
  • "Check spelling" F7

Hot Linx

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here