Friday, September 18, 2009


News today is that the latest Dan Brown novel "The Lost Symbol" is now available for electronic download from various pirate sites on the web within a couple of days of its launch - and only a couple of days before "Talk Like A Pirate Day".
If you to procure it legally and electronically in Australia - it is apparently going to be available on publisher Random House Australia's web site from today. Asking price $49.95 - same as the hard copy - except there will reportedly be a 20% discount, although I don't know how long that will be available. I admit that seemed a bit rich to me - especially since some retailers here are selling the book version for under $25 - but I suppose publishers don't get this type of release every day: over 1 million copies were sold on its first day of release in the US, Canada and Britian. While this is amazing, it falls short of the record for a book's debut - 8 million copies in the US alone for JK Rowling's last instalment in the Harry Potter series.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


There's going to be a crackdown on jaywalking on the streets of Sydney - but in the article I read about it, they didn't quite say what "jaywalking" was or is. The only clue is that you need to go with the "go" or "green" or "little walking man". But can you cross while you're texting, or have both ears busy with music, or at places on the street where there aren't traffic lights or pedestrian crossing? The fine will be apparently be $56. I always thought that Jaywalking was something Americans did - and it seems we're not going to get an Australian word to cover whatever the behaviour is. According to the Wordbook dictionary by TranCreative LLC - including content from WordNet 3.0, and to Jaywalk is to cross the road at a red light. It's ORIGIN: Jay + walk, jay in its obsolete form meaning a dull or ignorant person. Hmmm.
A quick visit to a couple of sites suggests that jaywalking can include staying on the road longer than is necessary to cross it. Hmmm ... again - although it's possible alcohol could be involved in these, and other, instances.

The Living Years

There are some items that seem as though they should carry a "Paid Advertisement" notification ... or at least some explanation as to why it carries the cost it does. In the paper today I saw an article about something which has apparently been called "Facebook for the dead" - a site where family and friends can post photos, videos and memories of their loved ones who are no longer with us. The site is called The Living Years and the site's ambassador - former athlete Jane Flemming - is reported as saying of the site, which the developers have designed to be easy for anyone to use - "if you can Google, you can create a lifebook on Living Years".
It is free to create and keep a lifebook for two weeks but to keep it going after that will cost $5 a month. Now, I know that this has been set up as a business but it seems that the costs could be offset by advertising - or maybe they are. And after having a quick look at the site, it seems that there is now a way to donate to a charity - there are several currently affiliated with the site - as well as other end of life businesses.
When I get a moment, I must check to see what similar sites exist.

Annoyed - The Lost Opportunity

Well, the new Dan Brown book (The Lost Symbol) is out today - for $49.95 here in Australia and since I'm not interested in the hard copy version, I went to to buy an electronic version. I thought I was getting fantastic deal - since it's on sale on Preorder for $9.99 plus I had a coupon for 25% discount - which meant I could purchase for the credit I currently have in-store. Well, that was the plan ... until I went through the first stage of check-out only to be told that there is a geographical restriction on the book ... which means I cannot get it. So does that mean it's not going to be available in Australia in ebook form? Not that it would be the first book. But it does seem to be counter-productive to move into a new technology that can use the internet for distribution and not be able to use it globally. I'll check some local booksellers and see if they have it but at this rate, in protest, I may wait for it to be available at the local library - which was supposed to have an catalogue of e-books (in PDF format) go online yesterday.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I made the mistake of reading what is supposed to be "fact" at the start of an excerpt from Dan Brown's latest novel "The Lost Symbol" - and I am almost hooked but wonder whether it is truly "fact" and if it is, how on earth could Dan (or his wife if she is still helping with his research as was suggested some time ago) know. The fact (paraphrased): In 1991 a document was locked in the safe of the CIA's direction. It is still there and includes refererences to an ancient portal and an unknown underground location. [Of course, I'm thinking Star Gate as opposed to a mere a door]. Where does the portal lead, what does it do, and why is Dan Brown sending Robert Langdon on a mission to "unravel ancient secrets" - what benefit will it provide (besides the obvious ones to the author and publisher)? And when does the book come out?

Not very Christian behaviour

According to a report in today's The Daily Telegraph, after World Youth Day last year, 550 of the pilgrims did not go home. Since then, Federal authorities have caught and expelled just over half of them, but 280 are still out there somewhere. Of course, they shouldn't be hard to find - The World Youth Day pilgrims were noted for spontaneously forming a circle and bursting out singing. And some had legitimate cause for rejoicing, as well as their love of The Almighty, as some (86) were granted protection visas as they could not return home safely. Another 90 are awaiting advice as to whether their visas will be extended.
The most amazing thing about this item was the last sentence: The Department of Immigration and Citizenship deals with 26 million people each year. That's about the current population of Australia.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fresh idea

But it's not necessarily a new idea because the man at the newsagency said he had been trying to explain what a great and easy concept it was to someone over a year ago. A company is marketing Fresh Ink -printer ink cartridges which are categorized by pictures. So instead of buying a Canon BCI cartridge - you buy a Strawberry. A sticker comes with each cartridge so you can put it in a safe place - and, just in case you tire of the novelty (or they go out of business - please no!) it also gives the real model of the cartridge so you can purchase one elsewhere. Oh, and did I mention that even though they aren't brand name, their use won't void your printer's warranty - or so the man at the newsagency said.

Learning styles

We all have different learning styles, but what I'm surprised about is that I seem to have different learning styles for different tasks. I'm currently trying to learn a sequence of 37 numbers, and their relationship to each other i.e. how many numbers between one number and another in the sequence, and I am finding it hard going. I have tried a number of ways, but each So for has been found wanting... although, truth be told, maybe I've just forgotten how to rote learn. how sad would that be. Or maybe I need to think about it differently: l'm off to search on the web for a mnemonic. (Hmm -mnemonic, I think 1 read somewhere that there is no mnemonic for mnemonic - and what a strange word it is if you write it several times quickly).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Not getting into hot water

If you're in Australia and you're currently using a hot water bottle for those chilly nights, you might want to check the brand. Of 30 brands currently available here, it seems the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found 18 failed safety standards. And it's not just their opinion: in NSW alone, 111 people were treated for severe burns from scalds from hot water bottles from January 2006 to August 2009. It's unclear why it has taken so long for this menace to become public or how many of the injuries have resulted from people not knowing how to safely use a hot water bottle. If you're unsure - or just want to check your current hot water bottle does meet the safety standards - visit the ACCC website at

Dump button

Hmmm - what's the point of installing a "kill" switch to stop inappropriate content going to air if it's not used. I'm referring to the Kyle and Jackie O show broadcast from a Sydney radio station which had been criticised a short while ago for an on-air lie detector test on a young girl. Well, Kyle has been at it again - but this time, even though the "kill" switch was there - it wasn't used. The question is ... why? Were staff too slow to catch it - or did they too think the remark was acceptable? And does having a "kill" switch mean Kyle can now be even more outrageous (if he wasn't currently forced off-air for 10 days) because it is someone else's responsibility to monitor what comes out of his mouth? Whatever the reasoning, I'm probably not the only one who thinks that it's time this stuff was not taking up the front page of the newspaper (if I was more cynical I'd be checking to see if The Daily Telegraph has financial tie-ins with 2DayFM).

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Hard to fathom

I read a report in the paper this morning about a couple who are about to go on trial in France for allegedly murdering their two children in 2005. The children, both aged 8, were allegedly fed poisioned cannelloni because their parents thought they would be "better able to pull themselves out of debt without them". This is a far cry from the story of the woman at the bus stop this morning who was telling me she was prepared to fight her partner (even though she loves him very much) for the opportunity to send their daughter to boarding school to give her a chance at a better education.


A mate has introduced me to a series which has been kicking around in the UK for a while now - QI. It is magnificient - a comedy panel show based on obscure facts. Points are awarded for right answers - and for wrong answers that are interesting - hence the name QI or Quite Interesting. In the last three shows I have watched there have been references to items that have captured my curiousity in the past: the final use of the guillotine for public execution in France (1977), the suicide of Carruthers - the man who invented Nylon, and the 16 mile-high jump out of a balloon by Joe Kittinger. If you see it in your travels, and like good banter, this could be the show for you too.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Facebook to the rescue

The Daily Telegraph today reports on two young girls, 10 and 12, who, when trapped in a drain over the weekend while doing "urban caving", called for help on their mobile phone by updating their Facebook status. Now, I know I'm a little old fashioned when it comes to some things, but wouldn't it have been better to use the phone to call the emergency services and then, as they waited, update Facebook? Seems the younger generation might approach communication in an entirely different way to the rest of us.