Face of the day


Today’s face of the day, 49-year-old Rhian Lewis, is one of six patients having a bionic eye implanted in a clinical trial at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.

…She explains…they diagnosed me with retinitis pigmentosa.”

This disorder destroys the light sensitive cells in the retina – but how much and how quickly varies from person to person. In Rhian’s case, it eventually made her almost completely blind.

“I think I was about four or five. I’ve never had any vision at night or in dim light and then, as I went through school, I had the glasses and I sat at the front because I couldn’t see the board.

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Turn your damn phone off

It is the holiday season and there is evidence that constantly checking your emails on your smart phone may be doing you some damage.

The secret to happiness is to turn off your smartphone email app according to psychologists, who warn that constant updates have become a “toxic source of stress”.

Technology that puts people at the continuous beck and call of their emails has created a culture where people feel they must be constantly available for work, according to research.

As a result, an “unwritten organisational etiquette” has become ingrained in the workplace and employees have developed habits which are bad for their emotional well-being.

Studies have found that continuously checking and reading emails due to a “push notification” feature, which alerts users to new messages even when they are not in their Mail app, produces tension and worry. Experts recommend that switching off the Mail app on your mobile device will alleviate anxiety.    Read more »

A message to social media whingers…GFY


Tim Dick writes in the SMH:

Diddums, four times over.

To the Sydney woman whose expensive Uber trip home cost $720 rather than under $100 because of Uber’s well-known practice of hiking the price when demand outstrips supply, as it does on New Year’s Eve. “We’d had a few drinks and there might have popped up a notice about a surcharge,” Skye Shanahan cried to the Herald. “But I had no idea it could be anywhere near that.”

To Russell Crowe, who took his kids on a plane and moaned to the Twitterverse that Virgin wouldn’t take his wee petals’ hoverboards in the hold, given the worries about spontaneous combustion of some types of lithium batteries. Then he moaned again. He was still moaning three days later.

To the injured TV reporter who asked for a business class upgrade given a holiday injury, only to take it to Jetstar on its Facebook page when she didn’t get one.    Read more »


Almost everything bad is the (largely) unintended consequence of utopians

James Delingpole reviews Matt Ridley’s book Evolution of Everything.

[E]volution is a phenomenon which extends far beyond Darwin to embrace absolutely everything. The internet, for example. No one planned it. No one — pace Al Gore and Tim Berners Lee — strictly invented it. It just sprang up, driven by consumer need and made possible by available technology. As Ridley says: ‘It is a living example, before our eyes, of the phenomenon of evolutionary emergence — of complexity and order spontaneously created in a decentralised fashion without a designer.’

Which is what, of course, is such anathema to control freaks everywhere, from the Chinese, Iranian and Russian regimes to Barack Obama, who famously declared in 2012: ‘The internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the internet.’

This claim, as Ridley demonstrates, is at best moot, at worst flat-out untrue. In fact, government was actually responsible for postponing the internet. One of its early forms was the Pentagon-funded Arpanet, which until 1989 was prohibited for private or commercial purposes. An MIT handbook in the 1980s reminded users: ‘sending electronic messages over the ARPAnet for commercial profit or political purposes is both antisocial and illegal’. Only after it was effectively privatised in the 1990s did the internet take off.

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The demise of Lenny’s train set is close

Driverless technology is advancing quickly…certainly far quicker than rail technology ever will.

Rail transport has an inherent flaw in it…it rides on rails and they are fixed in place. Roads provide detours and work arounds, now if we could just fix the inherent flaw in driving…the driver.

They are a familiar sight on roads across the country, but the white van man may no longer be seen carrying out deliveries in Britain after the government announced plans to try driverless vans.

As part of a multi-million pound scheme being trialled next year, driverless delivery vans will be used to move parcels between either warehouses and shops or stores and homes in south east London.

While there will be no driver in the vehicles, an operator will sit within the van – which could be as big as a classic Mercedes Sprinter – to ensure the operation runs smoothly and to take control in the case of an emergency.

The scheme will be rolled out across a pre-determined route in Greenwich, London, next year, with the route possibly taking in a large Sainsbury’s distribution depot, a Tesco store and the O2 arena.    Read more »

Appeal rejected for Tinder basher


IT’S LOVE at first swipe – or is it?

The potential pitfalls of hooking up through ‘Tinder’ have once again been exposed – this time in a High Court appeal involving a man found guilty of assaulting a woman he met back in January on the popular dating app.

Antony Martin Frederick McCullough was sentenced to 120 hours community work after it was alleged he struck a woman – who can’t be named for legal reasons – just hours after meeting her on Tinder.

The case comes hard on the heels of the high-profile death of Kiwi woman Warriena Wright, 26, who fell 14 floors from her luxury Surfers Paradise apartment in August 2014.

Gable Tostee, 29, was arrested and charged with the woman’s alleged murder.

A trial date is yet to be set. Tostee has proclaimed his innocence in a series of bizarre posts on social media – with the latest stating he was a victim of “abuse and violence” on the night Wright died.

Despite being convicted, McCullough is also protesting his innocence.

According to police, after meeting the woman at the home of a friend they went to McCullough’s home where they engaged in consensual sexual intercourse. After sex, it is alleged that McCullough struck the woman a number of times in the face with his hand and then applied force to her in ‘a general struggle’.   Read more »

This is one way to get rid of stroppy teacher unions

The teacher unions are so stroppy that I foresee the profession being replaced in many areas.

Like this:

Software has emerged as the equal of humans when it comes to marking essays in an Australian study.

The test of test-marking software was conducted by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, which administers standardised tests called the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN).

NAPLAN tests include an essay-writing component, and in the 2012 edition of the tests sine students were asked to type those essays into computers.

ACARA believes those essays are suited to automated marking because they have “criteria that target lexical properties of essays (sentence structure, paragraphing, punctuation and spelling), criteria that target semantic properties of essays (audience and ideas) and criteria that explicitly target successful interplay of lexical and semantic features of writing (test structures and cohesion).”   Read more »


Kim Dotcom’s not feeling any love for his own private Internet

Eccentric entrepreneur Kim Dotcom claims to be building a “new private internet” safe from the prying eyes of surveillance communities, but experts say it’s a “preposterous pipe dream.”

MegaNet, expected to launch in 2016, is an encrypted — and allegedly wholly private — peer supported internet. When asked last month to prove whether his network was more than just an idea the mogul told Fairfax Media that it may be just his words now but that “the security community will appraise it and validate this service”.

Unfortunately, the security community has now spoken and they’re extremely sceptical.

“It’s a pipe dream to think that you can fight the national security agencies at their own game,” says Stephen Wilson, managing director of the Lockstep Group.

Remember, this is the brilliant idea where Dotcom is going to use all our smart phones to store encrypted chunks of data for other people.    Read more »


Israeli technology reassures panicked French citizens

Israeli technology did its bit to help reassure panicked French citizens that their loved ones were safe in the wake of the Paris terror attacks

“During the 24 hours after the terror attack, 4.1 million people checked in with friends and relatives using Facebook Safety Check, a technology developed by Facebook Israel’s research and development department,” said a spokesperson for Facebook Israel. “A total of 360 million people received messages that their loved ones were safe.”

Safety Check is a feature that Facebook has activated a number of times in the past, usually for natural disasters. The Paris terrorist attacks are the first time it has been used to enable people to “check in” and let others know they were safe in a terrorism situation.

Remind me again of all the wonderful inventions to help society that were created in Palestine?

Oh yeah, that’s right. One invention and one invention only, the Qassam rocket.

The Qassam rocket gained notoriety as the best-known type of rocket deployed by Palestinian militants, mainly against Israeli civilians…According to Human Rights Watch, Qassam rockets are too inaccurate and prone to malfunction to be used against specific military targets in or near civilian areas, and are mainly launched for the purpose of “harming civilians.”[12] Basil Collier has compared the Qassam rockets to the V-weapons of Nazi Germany, which were used for terror bombing civilian populations during World War II.[13][14]


Eight Qassam launchers, seven equipped with operating systems and one armed and ready to launch, were uncovered during a counter-terrorism operation in northern Gaza. Had it been launched, this Qassam would have targeted Israel's civilian population.

Eight Qassam launchers, seven equipped with operating systems and one armed and ready to launch, were uncovered during a counter-terrorism operation in northern Gaza. Had it been launched, this Qassam would have targeted Israel’s civilian population.

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The thin end of the Internet GST wedge has arrived

I’m not sure how Todd McClay thinks that breaking John Key’s ‘no new taxes’ pledge is going to help National but he has decided to bring in a tax on internet purchases anyway.

The Government is moving to slap the goods and service tax on online service purchases, which will mean a price rise for the likes of subscriptions to Netflix and Apple services.

It is proposing a law change which will require the overseas retailers to be GST-registered and for them to return the tax to the Government – which says it is now missing out on around $40 million a year and growing.

Currently if you buy anything worth less than $400 from overseas you don’t have to pay the 15 percent GST.

“It is about creating a level playing field for collecting GST and putting New Zealand businesses and jobs ahead of the interests of overseas suppliers,” Revenue Minister Todd McClay said.

The Bill was introduced to Parliament today and the Government hopes the law will be in place in October next year.    Read more »