May 3rd, 2010

  • anivad

American colloquial term for USB flash drives?

What's the colloquial American term for USB flash drives? (this thing:

Does one exist?

I've always known them as thumbdrives but after doing a search it turns out that ThumbDrive is the name for the specific brand that was marketed here in Singapore, and not the general term. I'm not sure about its international usage.

If I do a search for 'USB flash drive', I get entries referring to it as that, and if I do a search for 'thumbdrive' I get pages of people referring to it as a thumbdrive, and apparently it also goes by the brandname 'DiskOnKey' in some places; there are a lot of variants, and I was wondering if there was a more generic one.

Story context: American character uses a USB flash drive and he refers to it (e.g. "pass me that _____."). I'm just curious what term he would be likely to use.

stitch headbang

Transcontinental Railroad Travel, 1872

I have a character who needs to get from St. Louis to Cheyenne (and back, and then back to Cheyenne again later on in the story), and I am trying to figure out the details of the journey.

How long would a railroad-based trip from St. Louis to Cheyenne take in 1872?

I'm assuming he'll take the Missouri Pacific Railway across Missouri itself, then head up the Missouri River via steamer or stage to Omaha--I can't find information on whether the two lines connected in at that time.

Once he gets to Cheyenne, how long would it be before an eastbound train returned to pick him up?

The schedules I've found say that some trains run "daily," but that specific journeys take up to five days, which seems potentially disastrous on a single-track railway.

In my Google adventures, I did find a couple of train timetables, but therein lies another problem: I have no idea how one reads a nineteenth-century train timetable. There's a fantastic high-resolution one here if you zoom, but again, I have no idea what any of it means. By my guesswork, it looks like a route from Omaha to Cheyenne might take a little over a day and a half. Is that right?

Russian Police?

I need a reason (any reason, really) for the Russian police or equivalent to raid a house in the middle of nowhere. There is a kidnapped heiress being held there, but the police may or may not know. The people holding the heiress/living in the house are definitely criminals so basically any crime will do, just not sure why the police would break into a house and start shooting/handcuffing. Or anything along those lines, really. The details aren't important to me.

Setting is present day, give or take 5 years. Thanks in advance! I'm not really sure how to google "crimes the russian police will break into your house over.", or if any actually exist.

How to talk to someone in a fugue state?

Hello, new member here, though I've lurked off and on and scoured the tags semi-frequently for answers to my questions. This time I've become so exasperated I decided to finally join and ask, as I can't find a relevant answer anywhere. ^^;

Setting: Present-Day Germany

Character: A teenage boy, approximately 14 years of age.

This is fanfiction, and the fandom involves many strange and paranormal goings-on within the town. This boy's problem is related to these goings-on, but right now his friends don't know what to think and have taken him to the doctor because he was complaining of strange pangs in his heart (which are also related to the paranormal, as will be explained later) and then collapsed. When he awoke, he no longer remembered anything about his identity and instead insisted he was a knight of legend. He also wants to leave, which the others have only managed to temporarily prevent by convincing him to see a doctor.

The doctor won't find anything wrong with his heart, or anything physically wrong at all, but I'm assuming he'll get diagnosed with the kind of amnesia that comes from an emotionally traumatic experience or dissassociative fugue. The only possible clue as to what could have caused this is a terrifying dream of being killed he had right before his heart pained him the first time. (As mentioned, in actuality it was something paranormal, but the doctor wouldn't be diagnosing that, haha.)

My question is, How would the doctor tell his friends to talk to him? Would they have to humor him and go along with his insistence that he is a legendary knight, or would they need to keep insisting his true identity and try to get him to remember?

Searched terms: "how to talk to someone in a fugue state", "how to talk to someone with amnesia", "fugue state"; looked at the Wikipedia article for "fugue state".

Creative ways to destroy a laptop

Seeking your imaginative ways to destroy a laptop with nothing other than typical items found in a house. The protagonists are angry as hell about blackmail items found on the laptop, so bonus points for destruction that feels *good*. Of course, their main concern is to destroy the data irretrievably, so the hard drive needs to be obliterated. The protagonists are knowledgeable and educated, so they would know (for instance) that drain cleaner has acid corrosives in it. Furthermore, one of the protagonists is known to have poor impulse control, and he's going to be extremely distressed. I'm considering beating the hell out of the laptop and then pouring some type of liquid into it (such as Drano, vinegar, coffee, orange juice, turpentine or maple syrup, or some combination of these). I've also thought about frying the circuits with some kind of electrical overload—however, I'm more uncertain how to go about this 'safely' (for my protagonists). For instance, would it fry the computer to toss it into the bathtub (while powered up)? Would that permanently destroy the data?

Time and location: Present day U.S.

I googled: "how to destroy a computer" "how to destroy a laptop" "acid in household cleaners" "fry a computer"

I could probably do more research, but I think this community will have much more interesting ideas.

Thanks in advance.

ETA: Great answers...I'm looking forward to more of them.

Some additional info: While the protagonists want to destroy the laptop, I think they don't want to bring the authorities down upon them (as fun as it would be to blow up the laptop with, say, a homemade thermonuclear device). And they've got the antagonist incapacitated, but he's not a negligible threat. So it needs to be 1) quick 2) sure to destroy the data 3) won't bring the fire department or the neighbors.

ETA2: I have to say, some of the aggressive tactics you guys are suggesting make my protagonist with rage issues seem like practically a pacifist. But I would expect no less from this comm, and you're giving me great ideas.

ETA (2-28-11): Found this link today summarizing research done at UCSD on this topic.
Willow Comic

Effects of the loss of a finger

I'm writing a story where the main character has had her pinky finger bitten off by a demon. I've tried to google a few things and the closest I got was an article about a carpenter that lost his finger tip in a table saw. I'm not concerned with how long it would take to heal etc. I'm wanting thoughts on how it would effect using weapons or fighting hand to hand. Basically what difference would it make in a situation where you might forget the lack of a finger in the rush of adrenaline.