Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Counting down

Okay, I’ve finally managed to pull myself away from my day to day activities to jot a few words here. It’s not that we haven’t been busy because we have. At the moment we are on Day 3 of a five-day cooling off period for a 2-bedroom flat we are planning to buy in Marrickville. We exchanged last Wednesday and currently our lending institution is having a valuation prepared and our solicitor is organizing strata inspection, building report and pest inspection.
This is very exciting stuff and when the exchange happens in 6 weeks time (slightly less now), we will be home-owners for the first time. We spent the weekend looking at furniture and wondering how what we have and what we plan to get will fit into our new home. And thinking about what we currently have that won’t make the move with us and what the best thing to do with those pieces would be. We also have a considerable “cull” of clothes and other things in front of us. Sooz has already started and has filled a large bag with clothes to be donated to charity. I’ll start going through mine soon.
I have a feeling that the next 6 weeks or so is going to go by fairly quickly, probably too quickly.

No matter who wins … we lose

Sounds like a good line for advertising a science fiction/horror movie – but in this instance it’s about the Federal Election held on the weekend, which resulted in the return of the Liberal National Party coalition government. Some would say this is better than having Labor elected – and these could be the same people who believed the Liberal advertising about interest rates having risen under previous Labor governments and should that happen again, people with a $200,000 mortgage would need to find another $900 a month to cater for the increased rates. At no point did these ads suggest that interest rate rises are something over which governments have little, if any, control. Of course, it was surprising that Labor itself didn’t raise that point – or any other real arguments in relation to the economy of the country during the course of the campaign.

A breath of fresh air?

Mobile phones could soon be used as “bad breath barometers”. Siemens, the phone company, is working on microchip sensors, about 1mm in size, which will detect the faintest of foul odours. This has more than a social pleasantries practical application – the device will also be able to measure how much alcohol you’re had to drink, the level of oxygen in the air, and whether there is a gas leak or fire nearby. (This could have been useful to a colleague mentioned some time ago who was robbed as he slept in his hotel room after gas was pumped into the room.)


How does the mind work. Anagrams and such. How do we 'see' the solution? The Da Vinci Code has puzzles/cyphers/codes throughout and part of the joy of reading is to work them out. But how do we do it? What makes the brain look for patterns and solutions - and why is there such a sense of achievement when we do?
At work, each month I receive a copy of 'Innovation Matters' which includes a conundrum for readers to solve. Luckily the solution is given at the end of each issue because it would be irritating to have to wait a month to find out the answer - or worse, to be able to confirm you'd been right! They remind me of the lateral thinking puzzles that were doing the rounds a few (15 - 20?) years back. I enjoyed those too - much more than I enjoy philosophy posers. I'll see if I can dig up one to post here.

Friday, October 15, 2004

I'm back

Well, I'm kind of back, given that I am actually thinking about blogging again. So, watch this space. It won't be long now.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

And the time is ...

The famous Doomsday Clock, the US Academy of Atomic Scientists’ symbol of nuclear danger during the Cold War, stands at seven minutes to midnight, closer than it has for two decades. Does this mean the war on terrorism isn’t going so well?

Males and females are different

Just in case there was any doubt about this, I have just read two stories about bathroom products – one about males, the other about females.
A company has invented a product for use in urinals. The device, powered by two AA batteries, rests in the urinal and has a proximity alert which triggers an advertising message. The report didn’t mention if there had been a target printed on the device, but it did address concerns about whether using the device could lead to electrical shock. “”At three volts? I don’t think so” said a representative.
And for the girls … a noise-making device for bathrooms for girls has also been invented in Japan – but this one is designed to drown out the embarrassing noises of nature among women. The Sound Princess sold over 500,000 last year. When triggered, by passing a hand over a sensor, it gives the sound of running water.
And there’s even a product which can now marry the two – so girls will be able to use the urinals to trigger advertising babble to drown out other toilet noises. It’s called the P-mate and it’s been around for about 4 years. I first saw it on a morning TV show and someone was saying it was good for female skiers. Basically, it’s a disposable paper funnel which enables women to urinate while standing up. The product is now available in Australia and New Zealand.


Sorry - got it wrong. It's not so much the number '4' that some cultures have concerns with but the sound of the word for the number '4'.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

It is “not good enough”

I haven’t really had a chance to examine the site yet, but one of the newsgroups I belong to (auspug.org) referred to the notgoodenough.com site. If you feel you’ve been “done” by a company, or that they haven’t been “good enough” or given “good enough” service, this site could be for you. When I visited last week I read about someone who had purchased a new Sony Vaio laptop and had asked the sales person what should be used to clean the screen. The reply was “Windex” - which the purchaser had duly used – and caused damage to his screen. When they contacted Sony, their reply was that this isn’t a warranty issue because Windex would never have been recommended. And this is about where notgoodenough.com site weighs in to approach Sony. I’m not sure exactly how this happens or how cases to follow-up are chosen – but in this instance it appears to have had a satisfactory resolution – the screen will be replaced under warranty. The site is worth a visit.

Finally … Palm

I think in the time I have been blogging here, I have not actually mentioned Palm (you’ll note reference to it in the description above). Well, finally the day has come – and it coincides with the release of a new incarnation of Palm called Tungsten 5. Rumours have been circulating over the last two weeks that the appearance of a new machine was imminent – and I received the news in my email box this morning. It’s been a year since the last machine was launched – and this one seems to offer only slightly different features – although some would think the first handheld to offer 256MB of flash memory (which doesn’t disappear if your battery goes flat as has previously happened) would get me a bit more excited. I’m going to a function tomorrow evening which will probably be the official launch of the T5 in Australia so it will be good to see if there are any other tricks they have built into it. Will I be upgrading from my current T3*? I don’t think so. I have a 256MB SD card with my current machine and that’s only half full – and while I know the memory structure is different, it’s not that big an issue at this point. I, of course, continue to reserve the right to change my mind once I see the T5.
* PalmOne have skipped v4 – as they did in previous ranges – something to do with some cultures being averse to the number “4”.

Real TV

And just when we thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse – a new program is about to hit our screens – “Border Security” …. Australia’s front line. It looks like another example of quality reality programming – and a lot more fear mongering. Who decides what rubbish will grace our screens – and at what point do they who decide realize what a disservice they are doing? And if I feel this strongly after just watching a promo for the show, I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when I actually see it!

Who are the terrorists?

The television is inundated with 'be alert' ads, reminding each of us that if we are alert to what is happening around us we can help avert terrorist attacks. There are also full-page newspaper ads. There are probably also radio ads, but I haven't been listening to the radio.
What is more frightening - terrorism or the threat of terrorism - with the threat made by the government as it doesn't for a moment let us forget that the only thing standing between the general public and terrorism is it - specifically the current Liberal Federal Government. It's surprising that they haven't trotted out comments by the US President about how they would find it difficult to work with a Labor Government as part of the Liberal campaign for the forthcoming Federal election.

Da Vinci

I finished reading 'The Da Vinci Code' by Dan Brown last night. It was a good read for the modern person. It is television in words, with short chapters so you don't need to make a big time investment at each sitting to make progress. And it moves along at a fairly compelling pace with enough happening, enough mystery and enough unknowns to keep you interested. I'm looking forward to reading more of Mr Brown's work - also sitting on the best-seller list.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Broken Arrows

I know there was a movie of the same name about misappropriated nuclear weapons, but I had no idea that it may have been based on some fact. I just read about the search off the Georgia coast for a bomb lost there 46 years ago. This is 1 of 11 Broken Arrows - nuclear bombs lost during air or sea accidents, according to US military records. Certainly makes me feel safer (not).

A Shark's Tale

... no, not the new animated feature, although we are planning to see that.
A 4.5m female great white shark is currently the biggest fish in a small 'pond' in Massachussets. The shark moved in last week and shows no sign of wanting to leave. But scientists are fairly sure she will and have tagged her so they can gather information about her travels. The tag archives the data and will transmit it all at once when the tag pops off and floats to the surface in April 2005 - if all goes to plan. Failing that, if she's still swimming circles in the shallow water of the pool, they can scoop the tag out with a net!
So why is she there, and why isn't she leaving? It's a long shot, but could it be because it's the same general area in which the movie 'Jaws' was set?

What's in a name?

In this morning's Sydney The Daily Telegraph the Finance section (not something I usually read) tells of the appointment of the 'first female chairman' at the Adelaide Bank ... Dr Adele Lloyd. As the headline said - New bank chairman has name to match!