Fresh evidence that we survived the last Ice Age


Say “hi” to grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand grand granddad.

Turns out he was a cool dude in more ways than one: Read more »

How many people use a smartphone as a phone? [POLL]

The results of this survey confirm what appears to be happening

Making a call is now only the sixth most common use for a mobile phone, a study has found.

Sending and receiving text messages, reading emails, browsing the internet and using the phone’s alarm clock have all overtaken actual conversation.

In fact, almost four in ten smartphone users believe they would manage without a call function on their handset at all.

The study, by taxi app Hailo, found the average person uses their mobile phone for an hour and 52 minutes a day.

Most of this time is taken up with texting, emails and surfing the web, but around 20 minutes will be spent making an average of three calls.

The survey of 2,000 people found that social media apps, calculators, calendars and cameras were also seen as particularly important functions.


What is your primary use for your smart phone?   Read more »


Virgin Galactic crashed – one dead


Will this set back space tourism?

At least one person is dead and another injured after Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo space tourism craft crashed in a California desert, the California Highway Patrol has said.

The craft was undergoing manned testing when it experienced what the company described as “a serious anomaly”.

Television images shot from a helicopter showed what appeared to be wreckage bearing the Virgin logo.

SpaceShipTwo is carried aloft by a jet, then launched into sub-orbit.

In a statement, Virgin Galactic said the “vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo”.

Kern County Sheriff’s spokesman told the Reuters news agency the craft’s co-pilot was killed, while the pilot ejected and was seriously injured.

Ken Brown, a photographer who witnessed the crash, told the Associated Press news agency the craft exploded after it was released from a plane that carries it to a high altitude.

That aircraft, known as White Knight 2, has landed safely, Virgin Galactic said.

With the rocket blowing up a few days ago, and now this, it is a keen reminder that space continues to be hostile and at the edge of safety.   Read more »

Here’s the flaw in Trevor’s Moa Plan

Defrosting ancient poo could reintroduce some age-old bugs to the modern world, scientists say.

An extremely infectious and deadly ancient virus, released from a frozen slumber by warming climates, could play havoc with immune systems that have no experience of such germs.

A team of international biologists, including the University of Canterbury’s Arvind Varsani, has proven that such an incident is theoretically possible, after they resurrected an ancient virus from the 700-year-old frozen droppings of Canadian caribou.

With a little reconstruction, the DNA virus, christened the “caribou faeces-associated virus”, has gone on to infect modern-day plants, according to a paper published yesterday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Varsani said the team had proved ancient viruses were as worthwhile to study as today’s versions – as both may make up tomorrow’s germs.

The virus was also identified as a relative of a modern one, giving valuable insight into how the microbes evolved, he said. “Through this work we might be able to understand where they are going and what they are doing if they become pathogenic.”

The elephant in the room is of course the dinosaurs in the Labour Caucus.  Is their poo a risk factor in infecting more modern Labour politicians?   Read more »


How would you like to pay $0.80 in tax for every GB you use on the Internet?


The thin end of the wedge is ready as Hungary considers an Internet tax

Tens of thousands of Hungarians gathered in central Budapest Sunday to protest a proposed tax on Internet use, accusing prime minister Viktor Orban of attempting to restrict freedom of information in the central European country. Read more »


Because hoverboards

It had to happen…someone has finally made, albeit a clunky version, but a hoverboard nonetheless.

Read more »

Price steering. Heard of it?

Are you a rich prick?  Or at least, do you have the best phone, iPad or crappy computer?  In that case, you might be paying more for things online than others.

It’s no secret that advertising is often targeted to online users, but it may surprise you to learn the extent to which pricing is also personalised.

According to a study by computer scientists at Northeastern University, many major e-commerce sites personalize prices per customer, depending on what software they use or their browser history.

The difference in costs can be as large as ten per cent, and most sites don’t even warn you when they are using price steering techniques.

One of the culprits guilty of ‘price discrimination’ – customizing the prices of products – is travel-booking website Orbitz.

Researchers found that users who are logged onto the Orbitz website are charged an average of $12 less than those who are not logged on.

The same goes for online travel services company CheapTickets. Neither CheapTickets nor Orbitz tells customers that prices alter depending on the user.

Websites also discriminate based on what devices customers are logged onto. For example, Travelocity offers an unspoken $15 discount for people using Apple’s iOS operating system.

Home Depot, on the other hand, suggests products that are about $100 more expensive to customers using a mobile device, as opposed to those on a desktop computer.

I’ve had it before when looking at a web site and talking with the Mrs who then also pulls it up, only to find the price is different.   Read more »

Whaleoil now part of Google’s “dark net”

Seems the European Data law that forces Google to filter search results with certain, erm, search results, has hit us too.

Due to a request under data protection law in Europe, we are no longer able to show one or more pages from your site in our search results in response to some search queries for names or other personal identifiers. Only results on European versions of Google are affected. No action is required from you.
These pages have not been blocked entirely from our search results, and will continue to appear for queries other than those specified by individuals in the European data protection law requests we have honored. Unfortunately, due to individual privacy concerns, we are not able to disclose which queries have been affected.

Please note that in many cases, the affected queries do not relate to the name of any person mentioned prominently on the page. For example, in some cases, the name may appear only in a comment section.

The following URLs have been affected by this action:

So, you too, as commenters anyway, are possibly censored.   Read more »

Did the Metservice capture a UFO on radar? [POLL]


It only appeared in one frame on yesterday’s rain radar.   Read more »

UFO spotted on official NASA mission recording


Laugh if you must, but it’s recorded, and nobody can explain it.

A UFO photobombed astronauts making repairs to the International Space (ISS) earlier this month – setting off a wild frenzy of speculation online.

The spooky incident happened on October 7, when Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman of NASA and Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency conducted a spacewalk outside the International Space Station to fix an electrical problem.

In video shot by NASA and uploaded to YouTube last week, the UFO can be seen hovering just for a few seconds behind the astronauts, before the camera cuts to another angle.

We can go with “the universe is so large, why would we be the only ones?”, but I prefer an oopsie where a black-ops secret military craft did an oopsie.  I think it much more likely, in the day and age where private companies go into space, that the US and perhaps other government have orbital craft.   Read more »