Friday, December 24, 2010

Power balance

When last we saw my brother and his wife back in September they were extolling the virtues of the new "Power Balance" bracelets which were available from lots of pharmacies and chemist shops in Sydney and the Central Coast. They were supposed to restore the body's natural balance, unlock energy flows and generally help make the wearer feel "great". I think I saw earlier this week, in the paper, that they (the bracelets not my brother and his wife) have been exposed as a "sham". That may be so but it seems they may have a strong placebo effect as lots of their friends have reported feeling better when wearing them.

Standing guard

I'm not sure if this is where it hails from but on the drive back from Kyogle yesterday we passed a paddock full of cows where they were all lying down save for one. It occurred to me then - for the first time - that this was where the phrase "standing" guard comes from.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I don't think so

I have been using the SpellCheck facility on our corporate email system and was a little surprised with the suggestion it made for "superannuation".

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


The Courier Mail today promises this about smart phones: We review & rate 40 of the best. Well maybe I'm not as smart as the phones but I could count only 33.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


The US military is reviewing its policy about banning openly gay soldiers. A study has found the risk "to overall military effectiveness is low" if the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law is repealed. It is surprising that the US goes off to fight for democracy in far off lands but has a problem with full disclosure. Why is it so? That "out" gay people would pose a security risk - or be too threatening to/for their compatriots? The reason for the original enactment of the "Don't Tell ..." law was not outlined in the report I read.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Phantom entries

When we left Sydney - over 7 months ago - the Phantom's wife Diana had been kidnapped and placed in a prison under another name as a way of punishing the Phantom for his past good deeds. He was supposed to believe she had perished in a terrorist attack. The saga continued to the point that he and Diana are in the same place but she is heavily guarded. How will they get out of this one?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Instant gratification

I am guilty of needing to know - and needing to know "now!". I have become hooked on the latest series of "The Apprentice" from the US and as I watched this week I realized that since television often comes late to Australian shores, the series may already have been decided. Well, it hasn't but the results for the next few weeks are on the website so I have skipped ahead. There are no surprises here really - the "weak" would-be's have been despatched fairly quickly - and by "weak" I mean the ones the others had started picking on from Day One and who haven't been able to sufficiently stake their claim to "persist" in the series. It is an interesting psychological phenomenon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

TV Parents

Two television parents - the Cleaver's mother and the Cunningham's father - passed away this week. They will be missed.

Missing the point

I'm glad it wasn't just me - I read the joke in today's Gold Coast Bulletin and it wasn't funny - but more than that, it didn't make sense ... until I looked it up on the and saw they hadn't included the punchline! The sad thing is that I had to look it up because I'm positive I've seen similar versions of this one before.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Things that go Bump

I have stumbled across a new app for the iPhone - Bump - which allows you to send something to someone else's iPhone just by touching (bumping) them together. Very cool! And once you've done it with them once, you can use the app to message them (as long as they have an Internet connection).

Monday, October 04, 2010

Curses Daylight Savings (DST)

Even though we have moved over the border and into a DST-free zone, I still found myself in the time warp yesterday when I was up and ready to go at what I thought was 7.30 but was actually 6.30. I'd usually be able to tell by the sun but it has been raining here for the best part of a month (reminds me of a Ray Bradbury story where the sun only shines one afternoon every seven years) so that was no help. I only realized when I went to put my watch on and it showed the earlier time - and I thought it had stopped! The iPhone had done an automatic update using Sydney as its time zone - exactly what it was set to do - but it still brings the score to: DST 35 - Me 0.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A "good" read

Thanks to mate C for the recommendation - I have finally finished reading "Slaughterhouse Five which I am giving a fairly high score - because it featured time travel, aliens, and an anti-war message. I can see though that I am now going to have to do some reading on the bombing of Dresden. The passage I loved most in SF was when main character Billy Pilgrim describes what he sees as he watches a film in reverse. Definitely worth a read.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Check that

I know this makes sense in some way - it was printed on a cheque I saw recently: "Security feature: this cheque contains micoprinted signature lines, the absence of which may indicate a fraudulent cheque." Now, chances are that if someone was printing a fraudulent cheque, they'd leave that bit off - especially as most people these days, in Australia anyway, don't give or receive cheques that much and probably wouldn't know what wordage is usually included.

The original sin

Someone asked me a question on the weekend which I wasn't able to answer then and haven't been able to answer since - even though I have been seeking advice from others, and doing some net research. The question: what is the equivalent one-word noun for not committing a sin. The best to emerge so far is "good deed" or the Jewish "mitzvah" but it seems that if the powers that be wanted to encourage people to do good, there should be a word to acknowledge the act. Any ideas? Especially since there are a few for sin - trespass, transgression to name a couple. (Or does it make it easier for the Church to heap guilt on people if they only have a word for "sin" as someone suggested?)

Just like the old times

I'm sitting in the newly-opened Gloria Jean's at Emerald Lakes (on the Gold Coast, Queensland) and as I catch up on some writing I can't help but think of JK Rowling and other authors who have penned works in coffee shops. It could have been the middle of winter and their abodes didn't have heating, or because they lived alone and just wanted some company around them, but, as long as you have the right coffee shop, the right atmosphere, and aren't being moved on quickly, I can see that it would be quite pleasant to spend time sitting and writing (or typing) - especially on a cold, wet, Winter afternoon. Seems like almost a shame to head on back to work after lunch ...

It's all in how you say it

During online training the other day, we were doing formulas in Excel and the trainer was trying to tell us to make sure, that when we were using IF (a logical test) formulas, that we had to make sure to give the either/or option responses in "those things you do in the air when you're having a conversation". I'm pretty sure she meant quotation marks - as was everyone else in the training judging by the number of murmurred assents.

Pretty Average

I have recently been doing some online training courses with work and was a bit surprised when an assessment (of the training) survey arrived via email. It put me in a quandry. I thought the trainer was good but the only options for rating were POOR, AVERAGE or EXCELLENT. I didn't want to mark them as AVERAGE because they were better than that, but I really didn't want to mark them as EXCELLENT either. And there wasn't anywhere on the form to make "any other comments". Just goes to show you can still make surveys tell you what you want them to.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

My life would ...

... suck without you. Catchy title for a song and every time I see it on the Glee album playlist I think "there's no way I'll ever like that" but it is growing on me so much so that today I checked to see what wonderful tune was playing and found I had been totally sucked in!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The more things change ...

... the more they stay the same. Except in the olden days, I'm sure the carriage return lever on the typewriter used to be on the right, not the left. Or am I remembering that wrongly? Someone has developed the MiTypewriter app for the iPad which has the look and feel - and sound - of an old manual typewriter. Very very satisfying in some ways - but very difficult to correct errors as you have to backspace over any - which is only marginally better than using Tippex correction paper or those typewriter ink erasers. Those were the good days weren't they? I think it gives a different timbre to one's scribblings.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

An inexact science

Depending on which you believe I was either the 999,999th or 1 millionth visitor to the WebShots photo site when I visited there earlier today.  I played it safe and didn't click on either of the large flashing areas that told me I had a won a prize - one of which was $66.  I think it could have cost me more than that in the long run - for the time I could have had to spend cleaning my machine of any unwanted "code" that might have been downloaded when I clicked on the link.  Not so lucky is a friend whose email account seems to have been hacked - with a request for $1,300 sent out to people in her address book as she was "stranded" while travelling ... when I called her to let her know of her supposed plight, she was surprised because she was actually visiting her mother at the time, not jetsetting around the world. Not quite sure what one does in a situation like that - or how the phishers expect to get a dollar out of the venture ... maybe it would be quicker for them to visit WebShots!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Time to give Planets a spin

One of the things we have loved since moving up here is the stars at night, which are big and bright, and, simply, breathtaking. Looks like we're in for some more action with comets, meteor showers and planetary groupings being clearly visible in the night sky over the coming months. Hmmm ... I wonder where that telescope is or where I can borrow one. And of course, finding Comet McNaught R1 and other night features is going to be a little easier with apps for the iDevices (you know the ones, iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches) like Planets which shows you the night sky - and labels it, and gives interesting information about what you're seeing. I looking forward to working out where Andromeda an Perseus are - because "close to the star Capella" doesn't help me much. (Although it does remind me that my first two cars, both Capellas, were "stars").

Music to the ears

Ukulele lovers in Cairns, Queensland, are all heart at the moment - to be precise "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus. This is the song that organizers hope over 1000 of them will play in an attempt to win a place in the Guinness Book of Records - beating the current 851-player record. "It's going to sound fantastic - one ukulele sounds great, 1000 will sound even better" organiser Gabrielle Thomasz is quoted as saying. (The Gold Coast Bulletin)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Who knew ...

... there are now some new words/phrases to cover texting disorders. According to a report in today's The Gold Coast Bulletin you could have textaphrenia; textiety or post-traumatic text disorder. The last one is my favourite: physical and mental injuries sustained while texting, such as walking into poles and people, plus feelings of depression when no one contacts them. Textaphrenia isn't bad either: hearing texts come on or feeling your mobile device vibrate when it has not. And lastly, textiey: the anxiety teens feel when they have not received a text or are unable to send texts - they feel like they have no friends and also over-analyze the reasons why people have not replied immediately. To be fair, of course, some people do reply immediately - it just takes them a very very very long time to tap out the message on the tiny phone keyboard - and predictive text doesn't help.

What the ... ?

"The navy would not need to use a nuclear weapon ..." said former President Bill Clinton when saying there may be no other option to stop oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico other than to blow the well up. There is still some hope that two relief wells might be able to stem the flow, but if that fails he said the most important thing was to fix the leak. "The navy could probably top it but there are all kinds of consequences that would have to be considered" he is reported as saying. He also insisted that BP was "trying to do the right thing" and should be given more time to plug the leak Hmmm.

Who thinks of these things?

Paul has so far successfully predicted the outcome of all Germany's World Cup games - which in itself isn't spectacular, one could say, unless you were also told that Paul is an octopus. He is being billed as a "psychic octopus" and makes his choice from two boxes, one with Germany's flag, and one with their opponent's, lowered into his tank. Let's hope he continues his winning streak, and, if he doesn't, that no-one's hanging out for calamari for dinner.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

By any other name ...

They're there to lend a hand in times of disaster and they promote drug-free messages ... these are just two of the benefits The Church of Scientology offered to an Australian Senate enquiry when speaking against the introduction of a new bill which would require religious groups to provide what public benefit they provide before granting them tax breaks. They were not, suggested their spokesperson Virginia Stewart, unlike the Salvation Army. Except of course that they may not do the other things the Salvation Army is renowned for eg assisting people struggling through the economic downturn and offering assistance to the homeless.

Good luck!

Without knowing the context - and sometimes even knowing the context - it's difficult to know if this is a positive affirmation or a suggestion that the exercise is a lost cause. You just have to love the English language!

The voice of the people?

What does Lindon Litchfield know that the rest of us don't? In a letter today to the editor of the Gold Coast Bulletin, about Julia Gillard's ascension to power, he asks: "Although one needs to respect the office of PM, the question is how will Gillard handle the coming depression and world war?" and goes on. "No better than her predecessor I suspect. Basically Australia is well and truly screwed and way beyond the point of return, so sit back and enjoy the rest of our downhill ride people ..."
A cheery message for the start of the day.

Monday, June 28, 2010

New idea

Hmmmm. This is a little disturbing. I had just written a blog entry - checked out another application and come back in to finish editing it - when I realised I had not saved it properly and it was "gone" - and now I have absolutely no idea what it was about ... until just then. Not sure if it had anything to do with the newspaper being open to exactly that page - where Gold Coast fertility experts have identified a simple blood test to pinpoint within a few months when a woman will cease to be fertile. This could well be a new concept in family planning.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Democracy ... getting it right

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd faces a leadership challenge this morning and is quoted as saying "I was elected to do a job. I intend to continue doing that job." The suggestion was that the "job" he was talking about was that of Prime Minister. However, it seems Mr Rudd could have the concept of democracy in this instance wrong - which is a worry in someone who continues to commit Australia troops to support democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was not elected by the Australian public to lead the country ... his Party elected him as their leader and because the Labor Party ended up with more seats at the last Federal Election, and because he won his seat at the time, he "automatically" took the position of Prime Minister. If he wants to say he was "elected to do a job" then he could admit it was to lead his Party ... and that in a democracy they have the right to choose someone else should they wish to. Or another option is for Australia to become a republic and for him to run for the role of President ... then if he wins, he can say he was elected (to lead the country). (Who knew there were high horses around this early in the morning?)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Exploring the new iPhone OS

How exciting is this? I download the new Apple iOS this morning - onto my iPhone - and am now able to type this using a bluetooth keyboard (conveniently recently purchased for use with the iPad). I am still investigating the other improvement the update delivers. Unfortunately I didn't have time to read all the articles about it while it was downloading - only because I ran out of time. Much fun in store for the coming days me thinks.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The WritePad way

I admit it, I have given in and purchased WritePad for iPad - which allows you to write on the screen - just like you can with other tablet devices. I still have to order the stylus that will allow me to write on screen delicately - rather than using sausages like the Koreans who have been hesitant to take off their gloves/mittens in cold weather yet still wanted to be able to use their iPod/iPhone touch screens. I did have WritePad for the iPhone but that just wasn't as elegant a solution as the new one is - it gives you an entry panel which converts each letter as you enter it rather than waiting for entire words/phrases to be recognized. I'm giving it a 10.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Naming Protocol

Forgive if I have pondered this one before - but how do you name your device - if you name it at all that is. Or, if not a device, then your pet? Or your child? What is it that kicks in and makes you think "I love/like that name enough to want to attach it to something or someone I get to name". Usually my partner helps me with my naming, or friends, but sometimes I manage to find the "right" name all on my own. Case in point: the iPad. I have called it "Padtheway", keeping Paddy in case someone else gets one and wants that name (yes M, that would be you). The iPhone is Ivan, the Vaio is Virgil (the previous Sony was Toni), and the Tablet PC is Moses; the smaller tablet PC is Mini-Mo (with a nod to Mike Myers whose forebears we hope, given his almost familiar resemblance, must cross our paths somewhere way back when). The cat is Em - short for Emma, but really named after Extra Mild - which she definitely isn't; and our other cat was Homer - not so much after the Iliad hero as Homer Simpson - we saw him eat just after he and his sister (Belinda Loveheart - now there's a name!) were found dumped. We were offered them both, but chose Homer to take home to be with Emma - since they did seem to mostly share the same surname (Ma).
UPDATE: And after all that, I have just remembered the reason for this post (and when I say "remembered" I mean "read where I had written it down so I wouldn't forget it") ... why would you name your device "Mongrel" - as I saw on the list of nearby Bluetooth devices as I sat at Maccas the other day ... or is that the owner's nickname?


On the way to work this morning (I think it was this morning because I marvelled at how different the drive was when I was 10 minutes later than usual) I saw a woman coming up the street I was approaching and she was pushing a large red and black "runners" stroller - you know the type, they're designed for mothers (or fathers) on the run - literally. Imagine my surprise then when I was within proper viewing distance to see that the wee bairn in the stroller was nothing of the sort ... rather some kind of border collie cross (I immediately thought of Fiona, Lisa). My initial thought was that perhaps it was a "pampered pet" but then I actually engaged my brain and wondered about all the reasons you would take your pet out for a walk that wasn't actually - and decided there are some pretty dedicated animals owners out there (as if I hadn't actually known that already).

3G or not 3G - that is a question

I was excited at the prospect of 15 minutes free Wi-Fi at Zarraffa's Coffee until I tried to use it. Not sure if there were a lot of other people taking advantage of their complimentary offer but boy, was it slow. In the end, time up, I was glad to go back to my 3G. (Must check out what recharge I can get for that at the end of the month ... I may need to go for the 3GB for $30 from Telstra - their 1GB for $20 may not be as good value as it sounds - as they charge you 2 (units) per increment on it, rather than 1 per increment on the bigger plans. (I am amazed at how long it has taken me to find out what the increments are and to make sure I was remembering it correctly - but finally I found it on the Telstra website and finally worked out how to take a picture, crop and post it from the iPad). (Just hope it's readable.)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A new art scheme

Some years ago, I suggested to S that one way that the aboriginal community could be funded was by imposing a 5% "tax" on all artwork - especially artwork when it was re-sold, often at prices much higher than had been paid to the original artist. Imagine my surprise yesterday when I heard on the news last night that such a scheme - a "royalty" collecting scheme - with the proceeds being paid to the original artist (rather than putting into a central fund as I had suggested) was about to "go live". This was the first I had heard about it and I'm just wondering if the art world has heard more about it and whether there is a collection scheme or some sort of infrastructure in place to handle it. (I've had other ideas as well ... but look how long it took for the iPad to eventuate!!!!!)

It's a dud

You have to wonder about some members of the human race, don't you? Some folk in Britain have just been arrested for selling explosive detectors in strife-torn countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. So it should be okay to sell such a product, yes?, especially if it's okay for others to sell munitions to the same countries. Seems though that the explosive detectors aren't ... independent scientific testing has concluded that they are not capable of detecting explosives or anything else. Well, I don't think that's right ... it obviously detects people who are sick of being blown up by people and companies selling munitions to strife-torn countries. And I'm not even going to go anywhere near the story of the two Australian servicemen who were killed yesterday when they approached an explosive device to disarm it - only to have it detonated remotely by an "insurgent" who had been following them. Hmmm ... wonder if the Global Financial Crisis has affected arms sales.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

(Not the only) News of the day

The average reader could be forgiven for thinking that nothing else happened in the world of tech yesterday except for the official "launch" of the iPhone 4 - even though it won't be available until later this month. Steve Jobs brandished the sleek (almost as three-quarters as thin as the iPhone 3S) new device at the WWDC in the US. Tech bloggers and emagazines started reporting its features immediately - even though most of it is "old" news following leakage of details and photographs on Gizmodo after a prototype found its way into one of their reporters hands. Jobs made a reference to this and added (almost) "you ain't seen nothing yet" before running through the features of the new device including a front-facing camera (although Skype-type communications will only be available over Wi-Fi in the first instance) and the wraparound-antenna-embedded housing. Amazingly, the glass screen is said to be many many times more durable than plastic - which will be good news to all of those carrying around a device with a cracked screen now - at least when the time comes to upgrade they know there is a smaller chance of screen damage happening again. The other piece of news, although not totally unexpected, is that an upgrade to the iOS (i-Device Operating System) is on its way for later model iPhones, iPod Touches and, later in the year, the iPad.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Getting colder

It's a good question - did I notice that I had cold morning breath this morning (as opposed to morning breath which is quite quite different - although hopefully this is never so bad you can actually see it) because it is colder or because this was the first cold morning where I was talking to myself in the car (about the state of the windscreen clarity in the car in front of me - especially as it was being hit by the morning sun)? In any case, it is cold - but not so cold that we've had our first frost yet.

Where am I?

I'm not 100% positive but I would be willing to put money on the music I just heard being Mahler's Resurrection Symphony ... which isn't bad for breakfast music at Maccas.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Ways to choose a partner

Our Office Administrator is a single female and admitted today that she was using the installation of a security lock at the front door as a potential culling tool for prospective partners. That of course would be culling as "choosing" rather than as "killing". When the security lock was installed, so was a door bell - signed PLEASE RING. The doors had already been labeled as PUSH or PULL, depending on what side of the door you approached from. Anyone who stands outside and tries to PUSH the door labelled PULL without ringing the bell automatically gets excluded from the dating pool. Alas, there is no camera linked in to the video feed because there are some attempted entrances which are worthy of a "funniest videos" program. Hours of entertainment.

Banking details

Talking with one of our suppliers the other day, to request EFT details, I had mentioned that our Accounts Department was "tyrannical". He said he was pleased they were because that meant he would get paid; and yes he understood the need for third party verification of his banking details but even he was surprised when he realized that he had noted that he had to send through a bank "despot" slip.

Depends how you look at it

I'm not sure why it is but given the choice of reading an electronic news feed as a list or set out in "newspaper" style, I definitely prefer the latter. It could be that there appears to be more of a choice or simply muscle memory that we are used to scanning over a range of items to select which story to read first - assuming that everyone reads the papers this way and not from the start to the finish, reading every story in order. Or maybe there is the illusion of variety in allowing the reader to "select" from the items on offer - a bit like the shopping experience. Hmmm, makes me wonder about what the more effective selling technique - especially when it comes to items in the Apple App store - where the apps are displayed in a list on smaller-screen devices - but spread out on the iPad. I'm sure someone at Apple would know which version garners the most sales.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


I'm not sure which is more surprising - the fact that the woman behind the McCafe counter remembered my coffee order - or that she wasn't a teenager!

Monday, May 31, 2010

That will teach them

While downloading updated versions of software this morning, on the list was BeeCellsLite (a strategy game - place the coloured dots together). The reason for the update - "bugs fixed". Hope they didn't "fix" all of them otherwise that's going to detract somewhat from the game.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The iPad has landed

After what seems like an eternity, and at the least, a very very long time, the iPad aka large-screen iPod Touch has finally arrived on Australian shores. The machine is simply amazing, and no less so because it comes (fully) charged out of the box, so there's no need to plug it in and wait (even longer) for it to be useable. And, surprisingly, it is much more functional than an iPod Touch - and there are some tremendous design features. You can still use it to Skype because it has a built in microphone and speaker - which is good since neither of these came in the box with in. If you haven't already ... it's well worth dropping in to your local Apple store and getting them to give you a demo. Afterall, they have just overtaken Microsoft in the "worth" department.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Enough said

On the wire this morning: "An English university researcher studying serial killers was being held yesterday on suspicion of murdering three prostitutes." The discovery of Stephen Griffith's alleged gruesome hobby is being credited to a caretaker who saw footage of one of the murders while reviewing CCTV footage. The reasons for his reviewing the footage is not given, but it appears that there was nothing amiss to suggest that a murder had taken place at the location - in Bradford, which people may remember was the home of Peter Sutcliffe aka the Yorkshire Ripper. I suppose it may not be long before people are calling for an end to research on serial killers - because it turns you into one - or perhaps Griffiths was only doing the research because he had predilections that way already.

Sign of the times?

There's a large advertisement in this morning's Bully (that would be the Gold Coast Bulletin to non-locals) entitled "Flights cancelled as Volcanic Ash Closes Air-Space" which could lead a reader to believe that the testing of the giant Hadron collider may have been responsible for invoking God's wrath to the extent where s/he first caused the Global Financial Crisis and then the eruption of the Icelandic volcano which has closed European air space on a number of occasions. The ad ends with the question: "Are you ready for the Lord's coming?" and contact details should you wish to avail yourself of the offer of a free Bible. And here were some people thinking that the experiments with the collider had failed to produce any results.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Now and ...Ben

On the radio this morning (2CBR - or perhaps that was really 4CRB), an old favourite - it's been a while - hit the airwaves again. It was Michael Jackson's hit Ben. As I listened to the heartfelt and touching lyrics about how much Ben was valued and it was a pity not everyone had a "friend like Ben", I couldn't help but wonder how many of those listening in radioland had watched the eponymous movie and seen Ben - the rat - and the services he performed for his best friend Willard. Just to recap, Ben was a rat - really, four legs, a tail, twitchy nose and whiskers - and (I can't remember if it was at Willard's bidding), Ben would lead the other rats out and about and do things like killing Willard's unappreciative boss. At this point I'd like to comment: Yes, everyone should have a friend like Ben - but I wouldn't really mean it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Please help ...

... to the "lady who locked the door" to the playground at Nerang McDonalds because it "is too wet and it's not safe" - as the small child behind me keeps getting told - and "be cross with her not with me"; can you please let me know - did you? Or is this something that the woman is telling the child - like some people tell me that the ice cream truck only plays the music to let you know that they've RUN OUT of ice cream.

Love a "chat"

Well "love" may be too strong a word but I am still enjoying the Chat Room page of the Gold Coast Bulletin. My favourite this morning starts: "To the crow thatwakes me at 5.32 every morning ..." (although, of course, on the Gold Coast anything is possible and the crow might actually be reading the paper .... ). Meanwhile, over at Flirt time, there's obviously some kind of code being used: "To the BJ cougar, im short and cut meat". Hopefully it's means something to someone.

Robin Hood

Off we went to see "Robin Hood" last night, quite enjoyed it and then found this in the paper this morning (showing how much of an effect it had on some people): "To the robin hood wannabe on olympus circuit in robina that shot an arrow through my window, come forward. Someone could have been serious hurt. - unhappy neighbour"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Not so much rigging as ...

... as ringing the voting. Councillors at the Gold Coast City Council are being asked not to use their phones during meeting amid fears they are using text messages to control debate and manipulate voting. What happened to the good ol' fashioned art of conversation? The Mayor, Cr Ron Clarke, "fired off" (much more urgent sounding than "sent off") an email recently asking (oops, "ordering") councillors to put away their phones and concentrate on decision making. There is apparently no evidence of the ringing rigging but some councillors, concerned about
the possibility, raised the issue with the Mayor. Councillors contacted for comment said they used their mobile phones during meetings for catching up with correspondence, and this was no different from "councillors going through printed correspondence during meetings and writing notes for their personal assistants". At least one councillor is reported as saying that she was not even aware that she could text on her "Blueberry".

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Which iPad are you?

Finally Australians can pre-order Apple’s iPad – which may not be as easy as it seems. There are six models on offer, three of which will have Wi-Fi and 3G. Details of the data packages for use with the 3G models have not been announced by all telecommunications carriers - nor is there any suggestion of the option of using the same 3G account for both an iPhone and iPad. (if your have them). I’m not even going to worry about it for a while; as my wonderful partner is procuring the iPad for me. As well as being an extremely generous offer it has also freed up hours and hours of my thinking time - usually about now I would have started on the "will I/won't I; should I/shouldn't I; do I really need it etc etc]. Instead I’ll just concentrate on thinking about how to accessorize – which could end up costing as much as the device itself – bluetooth keyboard, power adapter, screen protectors, card reader, protective case – and the list will no doubt grow as more Companies start producing “add-ons” – let alone any applications one decides to invest in! There’s even a Louis Vuitton iPad case on offer.

Back up

We’ve all heard about Twitter and tweets – these short messages sent out over the internet and “followed” by others sometimes few; sometimes a lot. This communication method would seem to be ephemeral in nature unless the plan by the U.S. Library of Congress goes ahead and they do archive the billions of tweets published since Twitter launched 4 years ago. How would you sort them? Dewey Decimal system? Internet tags? Other? Surely someone somewhere will tweet the answer.

Ashes to...

Plans to scatter some of Edmund Hilary’s ashes on Mount Everest have been cancelled because Buddhist priests there have warned it would bring bad luck – and possibly a flood of requests for/from others. Most of Hillary’s ashes were scattered in the sea off Auckland after his death, aged 88, in 2008; the remainder was/are in the care of a small Buddhist monastery.

Mouthing off

Researchers have demonstrated a device which allows people to have a phone conversation without saying a word. Lip reading technology is involved – or should be, especially on public transport or in eating/drinking houses. And on the subject of mobile phones; I am reminded of the stories we hear of people who were reportedly caught out at times when they were “pretending" to talk on a mobile phone and it rang. These days, with some phones having dual lines, you’d just tell the “caller” you had another call coming in – just by moving your lips. This could have wonderful applications for those who are hearing-impaired as well - rather than just helping reduce all the white noise and other people's conversations associated with mobile phones.

Copy that

The plain-paper office copier has turned 50, sometime in March apparently. It could be a close call (or perhaps not really) as to whether the copier has saved or wasted more time since its introduction. Ah for the days of yore when people copied illuminated manuscripts by hand.

On the phone

I haven’t seen one - just read about it – but now there’s a solution for those who have an iPhone but also want the satisfaction of being able to slam down the phone when they wish to express dissatisfaction with a call. It’s the Desk Phone iPhone Dock Of course, it also works for people who want to fidget with a phone cord as they talk.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pencil it in

Are pencils less expensive than biros, or pens as they’re called these days? I ask because when a personable young adult offered me a pamphlet as I detrained* the other morning, I took it. It turned out to be a Public Transport User Survey and the instructions entreated “Please place your completed survey form, and the pencil provided...” – and that’s when I started wondering, yet again, about the way we, here in Australia, are asked to express our opinion in pencil. But I hadn’t thought it had spread from general practice for elections to surveys in the real world. Why can’t we write in pen for things which are supposedly important? All I can think is that pencils are cheaper. Because surely no one world want to change the submitted forms. I wonder if they disallow submissions which are not made in pencil? Ah well ...only are way to find out!
*I always thought I used to “get off the train” but on one trip on Queensland Rail last week an announcement referred to passengers “detraining” – so that’s what I do now that I’m in Queensland!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

What will they think of next?

A nasal spray can make men more in tune with other people's feelings and boosts their ability to learn, say researchers. Chances are it's not the nasal spray that's advertised on large yellow billboards here in Australia which promises better partner relationships (that's obviously a euphemism). It makes me wonder if nasal delivery technology is effective - and if there's any substitute to taking the time to teach children about caring and compassion so it continues with them throughout their lives rather than a "quick fix" (and now I'm wondering about "quick fix" and where the term originated - and how it came to be used in drug culture). How would you test/measure the results for something like the caring nasal spray - where would you find the test subjects ... and would you pick people who were particularly "not" caring or a gradation of caring profiles - and is caring dependent on the beholder or a function of the circumstances and persons involved? Hmmm - so many questions - but, really, will anyone care?

Probably a misprint

From the Sydney Morning Herald's Technology section: "Microsoft has cancelled plans to launch a table to rival the iPad, for now.". Okay, it's probably a misprint but given the work Microsoft has pioneered in large touchscreen surfaces, there's a slim possibility that it really does mean "table" not "tablet".

Friday, April 30, 2010

All in the reporting

News this morning tells of the successful in-captivity breeding by an English aquarium of South American frogs which have a poison 200 times more powerful than morphine. The species, Phantasmal poison frogs, is bright red with three greenish fluorescent stripes, and is classed as endangered - with populations only surviving in seven (known) sites in Ecuador. Now the most interesting thing about these incredibly poisonous frogs - which was mentioned in the last paragraph of the news item I saw - is that their toxins can block pain 200 times more effectively than morphine without addiction and more serious side effects. (On re-reading the article, it was mentioned earlier - but I missed it in my haste to read the article to see why they were putting the effort in to saving this extremely rare poisonous amphibian.)

Art and life

This from Yahoo today: "The actress who played Thelma Lou on "The Andy Griffith Show" was robbed in the town that inspired the show's idyllic Mayberry setting, after moving to the area to avoid big city crime.". Times have changed.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


I am unsure what approach to take to today's Sudoku puzzle in The Daily Telegraph. It is rated as "easy/medium/hard". Hmmmm.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Horse sense?

The Victorian Government has a mission - to reunite Phar Lap for the 150th anniversay of The Melbounre Cup. I'd be more inclined to believe this story if it wasn't so close to 1 April - but the general gist is that they want Phar Lap's skeleton (currently in New Zealand) and his heart (currently in Canberra) brought to Melboure and displayed alongside his hide at Melbourne Museum. Racing figures are divided over the plan, some thinking it would be best if Phar Lap's bits were left in situ. I don't know if I'd like to see him in pieces like that - the least they could do - if the scheme does go ahead as planned - is put him back together!

On the run

From the land which gave us very funny footage of two fleeing handcuffed prisoners coming to grief when they tried to run on separate sides of an iron pole - knocking themselves unconscious in the process - comes news of two men trying to break INTO a New Zealand prison.
Security footage at Auckland's Mt Eden Prison shows the men running from the scene after they had tripped an alarm; they have not yet been tracked down. Local authorities are unsure whether the episode was a prank, or if the would-be intruders were intoxicated or fuelled by another motive; but they say it was good practice for their security staff - ahem ... not catching people escaping from the prison precinct???

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Moving research

What do toads and cats have in common? If you believe some geologist-types, it's that both species can predict earthquakes and other natural phenomonen. Just before the massive earthquake in Italy recently, garden toads were on the move in large numbers. Anecdotal (almost) evidence - from lost and found ads in local newspapers show a noticeable spike in the number of missing cats before an earthquake. These are not isolated incidents but there appears to not yet be enough empirical evidence for the wider scientific community to see the theory as credible (or is that creditable?). It's a shame really because it it is true, there could finally be a good use for cane toads - which seem to be making larger inroads into the Australian continent every year.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Where there's smoke...

Cigarettes and smoking have received more than their usual share of attention in the news today - most of it controversial. A person associated with the Victor Chang Foundation has talked in Indonesian about smoking being healthy; police have said that smoking is good for you; and someone else has come out saying that pig products are used in cigarettes (the filters) which makes then questionable for people whose religious beliefs preclude then from partaking of pork.

Don't think so...

For a moment there, the chances of going along to see "Clash of the Titans" were quite good -until I saw the ad for the 3D version at a city bus stop: with Sam Worthington brandishing a large ball of snakes. In 3D... I don't think so - but may be there's a 2D version - if not I can wait until it comes out on DVD. (Surprisingly the giant scorpion perturbs me not.)

What next?

There was a report last week of a new mode of delivering explosives which was quite frightening. Apparently suicide bombers are now having explosives implanted in their bodies - bosoms or buttocks - which means it's available to both men and women. The implants are difficult, if not impossible, to detect using conventional methods like the full-body scanners being trialled/used in the United Kingdom. Of course, whether these scanners are an effective weapon in the fight against terrorism at all, implants notwithstanding, depends on the operators using then correctly and effectively - and not to "perv" on their co-workers as reportedly happened recently.


... which is not speaking with a lisp bit rather wondering why I hadn't noticed that I repeatedly don't pronounce the 'th' is 'asthma'. I might do a little poll to see if anyone else does this. You do?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Which ringtone are you?

When I changed from a Palm Treo 750 to Ivan the iPhone, I gave some people - the ones I was talking to as I learned how to make ringtones - the opportunity to choose their own. It started me thinking about what noise or song I would choose as my own personal ringtone. I'm still considering it; but I have chosen the default ring tone for the iPhone - "Hello Dolly" - which does make answering the phone interesting since I always want to answer "Hello" as the singing starts. Which ringtone would you choose?

A "punch" in the pants

... let's hope not. Electronic underpants are being rolled out at aged care facilities throughout NSW. Simavita is leading the change with the pants which send a text message to a central server when the wearer becomes incontinent. The seIf-alerting underwear will mean staff no longer need to conduct manual checks to see if residents are "comfortable" or in need of assistance.

Passive or active?

"Coolfacts", an application for the iPhone, suggests, as Fact #71, that the vocabulary of the average person consists of 5,000 to 6,000 words. How do they know? And how would you go about working out what your own vocabulary is - especially as we have two types of vocabulary - active (the words we use all the time) and passive (the words we know but don't use on a daily basis). Do you record yourself and count the words back? Or is there another way?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Voice activated

I downloaded Viigo for the iPhone yesterday (a birthday present) and so far I am not totally impressed with it. I downloaded an update a little while ago that is supposed to improve voice recognition/performance but will wait until I'm connected to a wi-fi hot spot before trying it. But it its amazing technology - to think that you can talk instructions and message into a device and it will "translate" it to text for you. This could do away with the need for texting while driving ... and leave the way open for emailing. Now if only it could speak your messages here like it does in the US.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Relatively speaking

When does a Sister become a Mother? Does she need to be made head of a convent or is there another path for "promotion"? And why have I never thought to wonder about this before ... and why now? I credit Mother Mary Mackillop and reports of her pending canonization.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Pesky email

Don't you just hate it when emails aren't delivered because corporate email filters won't let them through because they detect there's a photograph or two attached? So what do you do to get the email through? Any ideas?

Friday, February 26, 2010

D'oh moment

That loud noise just then was me doing a crossword puzzle and coming across the clue "stonecutter" and realizing how clever The Simpsons creators are. How many others did/not know that The Stonecutters of which Homer ultimately becomes leader before they reform the group to exclude him is actually based on the FreeMasons ... or Masons D'oh. I knew it of course, but I just hadn't put it all together in my conscious mind until the clues finally fell into place just then.

Entrpreneurial skills

Anthony Stancl, 19, of Wisconsin, has been sentenced to 15 years in jail after his blackmail scheme was exposed. Posing as a girl on Facebook, he tricked male classmates into sending him naked photos of themselves - and then he used the photos to blackmail them. What were they thinking? And would the reaction have been different if he had been blackmailing them for money rather than sexual favours?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

No comment

Disturbed by the calibre of comments on their site, Engadget has turned off that capability to allow time for the more nasty, threatening commenters - definitely not the majority of their readers - to fall by the wayside or under the "banhammer". This is a breath of fresh air - just when you thought technology was just another avenue for bad behaviour you find that someone is taking some responsibility. Well done Engadget!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Words you don't expect to hear

"Soy milk - thanks Mum." Overheard at the Coles Supermarket, Broadway
NSW yesterday as it was excitedly spoken by a young child.
On the subject of soy milk, it seems one brand was recalled late last
year because of high levels of iodine - but because it tastes better
than other brands, especially in coffee, there's reportedly been a
"black market" trade of it out of a cafe in Sydney.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A matter of perception

There's an old Jewish story about a woman who complains to the Rabbi about her worries - and she appears to not be the only one - so he tells the townfolk to put their worries in a bag and bring them to the town well. He then instructs them to leave theirs and take someone else's. At the end of the week, everyone is clamouring to get their own worries back. I would do well to remember that the next time I complain about the woman at the bus stop chewing my ear off (not literally of course) about all manner of things - because it could always get worse! Yes, yes, there's no direct correlation between the story and the observation - it's sometimes just nice to share stories.

Please explain

What does a goat with a green frog sitting on its head have to do with the Trading Post? I must be right out of step with the modern advertising psyche but for the life of me I can't work it out what the banner poster us about - just attracting attention or does it hold some other, deeper message?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sweet ...

It's not one of the easiest building materials, but chocolatiers in China are doing what they can to have chocolate more widely accepted there by erecting a smaller version of The Great Wall, and the famous TerraCotta Warriors, in chocolate. Up to 80 tons of chocolate have been used for displays to be shown in the World Chocolaye Wonderland
exhibition and trade show being held in Beijing this month. Hopefully this will give the Chinese market a real taste for chocolate.

High cost of hope

Following the devastatIng earthquake in Haiti last week, with the country's infrastructure in ruins, humanitarians are hard-pressed to get aid to the country and distribute it. One of the main problems is landing aid in the country especially as the airport is reduced to one airport and the country's main port has been damaged. The airport has been taken over by the US which said over the weekend that priority for the 400 flights a day would be in the order of: search and rescue, military and then humanitarian aircraft. It's an incredibly hard call to make - whether to look for injured and dying - especially when the country's medical and aid facilities are already stretched beyond capacity - military troops to keep order in a country where it is quickly disintegrating because people are hurt, hungry and overwhelmed by their situation, or to land food and other aid. It's a call even Solomon could find difficult to make.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Exceptional results

If you do a search of books formatted for Kindle from Amazon, you'll find more exceptional than mundane results - literally. There were only 2 of the latter - one about end of life communications, the other about physics. There are loads of "exceptional" results - from customer service to IT training to making the most of "you" and your life.

Taking a load off

A study released today reports that the weight of a woman's handbag has dropped dramatically over the last 2 years with the introduction and adoption of "new-generation multi-purpose gadgets". I have to agree - these days I've been known to take just the iPhone and leave the camera, mini laptop, Palm, and Bluetooth keyboard at home. This has got to be good news for my backpack which used to weigh in at over 5 kg. Of course, there are some things you still have to carry - like pen and paper for those times when you just have to "write" something (and I'm talking A4 size here - not "nana notebook").

Developing story

US military helps develop internet. China and the US develop trading relations. Google becomes key internet player. China censors internet. Google threatens to withdraw from China. The White House holds talks with Google. Who else thinks there's more to come with this story?