Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ignoring reports

It's sometimes hard to tell the differerence between a worthwhile and truthful research report and one that's just a load of ... and I am unsure about this one. Apparently truck drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be in a crash or just miss being in a crash than an undistracted driver. For car drivers (and it pains me to say this M) the greatest danger seems not to be texting while driving but dialing while driving. So ... just how helpful are reports like this? Would you feel safer today texting while driving? The report is based on research conducted between 2004 and 2007 by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. There was no mention in the report I read if there could be a cultural, geographic or technological differential with the results - afterall, phone technology has come a long way since 2007. And did it look at types of phones - for example, and wouldn't this be interesting to know - leaving out the obvious no-texting while driving option - is it safer to text with an iPhone than a Nokia? Hmmmm. Or should that be Mmmmmm - iPhone. (And could there be any truth to the rumours hitting the tech press this morning that Apple is going to release a tablet device - somewhere between the iPod Touch and laptop size - before year end? Could this finally be the 10-inch touch screen device I asked for months ago?)

Turn of phrase

I'm not going anywhere near the subject matter which rode under the heading "Vile & Tacky O - Calls to kick out shock jocks after 14-year-old girl is subjected to rape ridicule on live radio" in this morning's The Daily Telegraph but I did want to share one sentence from that report: "The controversy is a new low for the radio duo, who have set the bar close to rock bottom. " Okay - that seems as though it could be telling it like it is. I didn't choose to follow the "link" (remember when we used to call it turning the page) to "Bottom feeders page 25".

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Meal choices

According to a report on How Australia Cooks, for Westinghouse, 9 out of 10 people- cook at home on any given day. Our favourite meals are steak or chops with vegetables or salad, followed by a roast dinner - or to put it more correctly - the roast dinner comes in at #2 on the list of favourite meals. I heard about this when the man at the table next to mine at the cafe read the list to a significant other on the telephone. A net search revealed only four news items on the report, which also concluded that ovens played a practical role in the kitchen. Which brings to mind the time I shared a flat with one other and we discovered something brown and furry living in the oven - I'm not one of the 9 out of 10 who cook daily and had never used it. At first we thought it was a rodent's nest of some kind but closer investigation revealed it was the remains of something a whole lot less sinister which had been there for a long, long, long time. The last time R had used the oven was months before I had moved in - she wasn't the word's most frequent cook either - and, as was evident, wasn't super-keen on oven cleaning either!


Way back when I was younger I used to love trawling through dictionaries and seeing what words meant. Then, when I started doing word puzzles, I loved trawling through crossword dictionaries. Now I'm in love with the WordWeb Pro dictionary - is there nothing it can't do? It's billed as a "powerful thesaurus and dictionary for Windows with word and anagram finder" - and it does all that admirably. There's also a free version which will run on other devices too, eg iPod Touch/iPhone - it's not quite as feature-packed but it's not bad. But the Pro is fantastic - type in "dance" and it will show you all the different types of dance - which came in quite useful last night as I was trying to figure out what they were. Hours of fun - and educational too!

In the stars

While speaking with someone the other day (names not used to protect the innocent) they mentioned they had been to see a psychic. This didn't particularly surprise me because this person has been known to seek similar advice previously when at a crossroad. The next bit, though, did surprise me. The psychic told them that basically, their life at present was "cactus". Actually the psychic is reported to have used another, shorter, word starting with "c" but you get the idea. Amazingly, as I don't often put faith in these things (probably because I know I could believe), the psychic was spot on! Good to know that sometimes the only way to go is up.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Good words

As the Masterchef phenomenon fades just a little post-Final ABC News Online's Rebekah van Druten summed up, for me anyway, why this program have succeeded where other reality programs have failed:
Audiences have tired of malice and manipulation.
Hear, hear! Or is that "Here, here"?

Community service

I've done mine this week ... I let the Prime Minister's website team know they still have the last Prime Minister's details searchable on their site. While fact-checking for a forthcoming Minutes In Time Samagrams entry, I was looking for confirmation of John Howard's birthday. A Google search on his name gave loads of result, the second of which was - which was true once but Mr Rudd has held that seat for nearly two years now. (And no, I don't think I will check to see how long it takes the website team to rectify the matter.)

Artists impressions

I never cease to be amazed at how unflattering court drawings are. Is there a rule that if you are in court as the defendant that you have to be portrayed in the worst possible light? Or is the artist just reveals the accused's true inner self? Of course, it could be that you just look that way. I remember my brother once telling me that licence photos are as they are (haven't seen a flattering one yet) because that's the way you'll look when the police pull you over. Wonder what it is that makes someone embark on a career as a court artist- and how often do job openings come up?

Shot in the arm - well, finger ...

What is the world coming to? Two men out for a quiet bike ride have been shot at with air guns. Oh wait - it wasn't a quiet ride - it was the 13th stage of the Tour de France. Riders Oscar Freire of Spain and New Zealand's Julian Dean were in someone's sights with Friere sustaining an injury to a finger. Organisers have asked police to investigate.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Question time

I bought a new pairs of headphones today and when I went to put them on I realised they didn't have an "L" or "R" - so I was stumped ... which was the correct way? So, some quick research later and I was none the wiser ... nothing. I read through the instructions that came with them - thoroughly ... nothing there either. I examined the headphones again - and the only point of differentiation is that there are three raised dots on one of the arms. Hmmm. Is there some secret audiophile business happening here? More concentrated searching on the net finally uncovered the answer on a forum. Without going and looking - do you know what it is?

Friday, July 03, 2009

And that's "App"

I cannot believe that it has taken me over a year to get this - that the iPhone (and iPod Touch) App Store could be short for APPLE and application. D'Oh.

Quit - for life

Not sure I'd be lining up to take these (were they around when I became a non-smoker I wonder?) but there will be many who do turn to anti-smoking drugs to help them kick the habit. The US Food and Drug Administration have reportedly just ordered Pfizer (makers of Chantix or Champix here in Australia) and GlaxoSmithKline (Zyban) to place warnings on the drugs highlighting the possibility of "serious mental health events" such as behaviour changes, depression, hostility and suicidal thoughts while taking them. The report I read gave no figures as to what prompted the FDA to take this step but it seems that somewhere along the line, for some people, not smoking somehow became as risky as smoking.

You may have missed ...

News reports today tell of the passing of two very different types of actors - Mladen George Sekulovich also known as Karl Malden (97) and Mary Isobel 'Mollie' Sugden (86). I'm now curious and wondering if anyone has done any research on whether, as a sub-group of the population, thespians live longer.

Safety first

Want to pick up something along with your email? Chances are that if you're using a public computer at an internet cafe (or library?) you could be exposed to 5 times the bacteria that you'd find on a personal device. The UK research, reported in today's The Daily Telegraph, also noted "high-use, multiple-user internet cafes and computer labs are hotspots for harbouring germs such as the potentialy fatal golden staph". Could this be another reason for investing in a low-cost netbook to take with you so you can just plug into someone else's wireless network - or, better still, an iPod Touch?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

TV re-runs

"House is back" the promos all but screamed and ordinarily I would have been pleased to see this rude but brilliant diagnostician return to the screen - except I've seen it all before - or rather, them - because they're repeats. Why can't they just mention that in their ads? Ironically, I would watch a repeat if I chose to tune in rather than being misled, even if unintentionally.

Excellent error message

This is quite a nice way of delivering the news:
Hi. This is the qmail-send program at
I'm afraid I wasn't able to deliver your message to the following addresses.
This is a permanent error; I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Happy Birthday

I know lots of people think The Daily Telegraph doesn't stack up to other daily newspapers, but it's okay by me and today marks it's 130th year of operation ... and it's "Still only $1.00" as it says on the front page.

Missing millions

It seems a bit low but he probably thinks he has a good reason ... UK tycoon Scot Young has been ordered to reveal where $820 million disappeared to soon after his wife filed for divorce. The disappearance has been dubbed "mysterious" and a High Court Judge has told the developer that he will be jailed for 6 months if he doesn't make a full disclosure of his finances by September. So, let's see ... if he chose to go to prison rather than making the cash available, that would make his time in jail worth about ... $3,061 a minute (checked that a few times to make sure it was right). Now, just where is the incentive for doing the right thing?

Just the ticket

UK fans of Michael Jackson who had already bought their tickets for his "This Is It" tour have been offered the option of either getting a full refund or receive souvenir tickets instead. Hmmm. Who would pocket the difference? The promoters (AEG Live) or Michael Jackson's estate?