30 June, 2010

Oooooo oooo oooo! Squeeeeee!

Jeremy has given me an early birthday present! It's a Judoon scanner torch! BUT - and this is the COOL part - he's opened it up and tinkered with its innards so that it now uses 1/20th of the power and produces 4 times the light!

He replaced the two AA batteries with one, replaced the original lame bulb with two LEDs from a broken torch (resulting in significant power savings), and also made the switch much more robust. Heh heh heh. Customised Doctor Who torch. Weee. :)

BTW.... if any of my dearest friends happen to already have bought me a Judoon Scanner Torch (based on the accurate assumption that I love pretty much all Doctor Who merchandise no matter how crappy) then I'll still be happy to receive it (this is a reassurance not a hint). Jeremy's talking about the benefits of having another one around the house just in case the first one breaks.

25 June, 2010

$800,000 buys NZ village

"Why settle for a $1 million house in Sydney when you can have a whole village in New Zealand for less?

"The tiny town of Otira, in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, is on the market for $NZ1 million ($817,060).

"The village's current owners, Bill and Christine Hennah, made the purchase in 1998 after passing through the town and 'feeling sorry for it'. They paid $NZ80,000 ($65,290) for the hotel, school, railway station, town hall and 18 houses.

"The Kiwi couple, now in their 60s, are asking for $NZ350,000 ($285,520) for the hotel, or $NZ1 million for the whole lot.

"Otira has a population of 40 and is in the middle of a national park on the west coast of the South Island."
Found at ABC.net.au

17 June, 2010

Best opening paragraph ever

"A Mount Gambier woman has warned the community against cleaning lawnmowers in bedrooms while smoking."

(click to enlarge)

14 June, 2010

Customers warned of illegal cafe holiday surcharges

From ABC news at www.abc.net.au:
Patrons are being urged to report cafes and restaurants which charge illegal public holiday surcharges over the long weekend.

Under an amendment to the Trade Practices Act last year, eateries were banned from charging weekend or public holiday surcharges and were required to supply a separate menu if they wished to charge extra during busy periods.

.. Choice spokesman [said] "It's been over a year now... I think perhaps it's now important for consumers to remind restaurants that if they charge a surcharge - be it 10 per cent or anything else - that it has got to be included, bundled into the restaurant price, and not added on as a percentage afterwards."

The Restaurant and Caterers Association says many eateries are probably not aware of the ban... "I think the ACCC was very slow off the blocks getting information to the industry as to what its obligations were."
Read more

MakerBots - 3D printer robots! Woot!

MakerBot is an affordable, open source 3D printer. It makes almost anything up to 4"x4"x6". Build your own MakerBot and it makes things for you. MakerBots print with ABS plastic. It's your own little factory.

And from their blog (4 June, 2010):
A MakerBot Self Replicates!!!!

Wow, just wow! Christian Arnø has made a MakerBot with a MakerBot and has achieved MakerBot self replication!!! SO MUCH WIN!

10 June, 2010

Plastic antibody works in first tests in living animals

Scientists are reporting the first evidence that a plastic antibody -- an artificial version of the proteins produced by the body's immune system to recognize and fight infections and foreign substances -- works in the bloodstream of a living animal. The discovery, they suggest in a report in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, is an advance toward medical use of simple plastic particles custom tailored to fight an array of troublesome "antigens." Those antigens include everything from disease-causing viruses and bacteria to the troublesome proteins that cause allergic reactions to plant pollen, house dust, certain foods, poison ivy, bee stings and other substances.

... The scientists gave lab mice lethal injections of melittin, which breaks open and kills cells. Animals that then immediately received an injection of the melittin-targeting plastic antibody showed a significantly higher survival rate than those that did not receive the nanoparticles. Such nanoparticles could be fabricated for a variety of targets, Shea says.
Read more

07 June, 2010

Petition to Remove the word Pornography from Australian Customs Incoming Passenger Card

The Australian Sex Party is demanding the new question that has appeared on Incoming Passenger Cards at the Customs point of entry into Australia be removed. The new question asks if they are carrying any ‘pornography’.

Sex Party President, Fiona Patten, said that this development now gave Government officials an unfettered right to examine someone’s laptop or mobile phone as they re-entered the country. A senior Customs official, Richard Janeczko, has been quoted as saying that materials “stored on electronic media devices such as laptops, thumb drives and iPhones” are on their target list.

“If you and your partner have filmed or photographed yourselves making love in an exotic destination or even taking a bath, you will have to answer ‘Yes’ to the question or you will be breaking the law”, she said. Travellers must now also declare perfectly legal materials such as Category 1 and 2 Restricted magazines, X18+ films and quite probably a large section of R18+ films which have explicit sex in them. Ms Patten said the change marked the beginning of a new era of official investigation into people’s private lives – being investigated or searched on the basis that you might have legal material in your possession.

She said that by answering YES to the new Question One on the declarations, people would then be asked whether they are declaring a weapon, illicit drugs or pornography. When they answered ‘pornography’ their materials would then be examined by one and possibly a number of Customs Officers. If people were at all embarrassed by the question, often surrounded by family and friends, they could be taken into a private room and even have their person searched.
“Is it fair that Customs officers rummage through someone’s luggage and pull out a legal men’s magazine or a lesbian journal in front of their children or their mother-in-law”, she said? ...

Read and sign the petition

04 June, 2010

Police Clear Street Over Kids' 'Nuclear Reactor'

Old news now (23 June 2009) but still an essential, stern warning to us all about the dangers posed by small children.

Two six-year-old boys pretending to have built a mini nuclear power plant has prompted German police and the fire brigade to clear their street, authorities said.

The school children in the western town of Oelde had built the nuclear reactor mock-up out of a computer casing and taped a "radioactivity warning" they had printed out from the internet on its side.

"When the boys returned to their 'nuclear power plant' from a brief stop at home they were sent away again as the area and a wide radius around it had been cleared and blocked off," police said in a statement.

Residents were ordered not to leave their homes and firefighters tested for a radioactive leak.

The boys' parents thought the fire department was conducting a drill until they read about the operation online and what led to it.

They reported to the police station and explained their six-year-olds had not managed to build an actual nuclear reactor.

Powermat. Bloody hell!

It's here. Now. I thought it would be years away

The Powermat Wireless Charging System provides a simple, fast and efficient way to keep all of your favorite personal electronic devices charged. Enabling your devices with Powermat Receivers allows you to Drop and Charge them on any Powermat Mat to experience wireless charging... A USB connection is available on every Mat for legacy devices providing another source for power rather than finding an additional power outlet.

And here's me with a birthday just one month from tomorrow. :)

01 June, 2010

Your dear friend Princess Leia

From New Scientist's Feedback column:
It is commonly believed that no matter how preposterously unlikely the propositions in so-called Nigerian scams are, the scammers succeed in making money with them because, so long as they send out enough of them, there will always be at least one sucker out there who will fall for them.

Surely, though, can there be anyone on the planet who would fall for this one, received by a colleague in the US? It begins: "Dear friend, I am Princess Leia Organa, only survivor of the royal family of Alderan... I was falsely imprisoned upon the imperial battle station 'Deathstar' when my planet was hideously destroyed and ended by the very bad Sith Lord Vader..."

And so on, down to the usual request for assistance in transferring funds. The suspicion that this is just a joke is tempered only by the knowledge that you could say the same about all the others.