April 30, 2015

Top News Stories –

Apple says tattoos can cause watch problems –
Apple has said some of the functions on its new smartwatch may not work properly when its worn over tattoos. Darker-coloured artwork and even changes in darker coloured skin types can fool the light sensors on the back of the watch. The problem is not exclusive to the Apple Watch, which performed well in independent tests. But it does show the manufacturer has not solved the sensor problem. “Permanent or temporary changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can… impact heart rate sensor performance,” Apple said on a support page on its website. “The ink, pattern, and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings.” [BBC]
apple-watch-picturesThe Apple Watch range

Tesla’s $3,000 Powerwall Will Let Households Run Entirely On Solar Energy –
Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk unveiled ‘Tesla Energy’ — a new business arm that is focused on ending our dependence on grid power and switching instead to solar energy. The first Tesla Energy product is ‘Powerwall Home Battery,’ a stationary battery that can power a household without requiring the grid. The battery is rechargeable lithium-ion — it uses Tesla’s existing battery tech — and can be fixed to a wall, removing much of the existing complexity around using a local power source. For one thing, the company’s batteries cost $3,500 for 10kWh and $3,000 for 7kWh. They are open for pre-orders in the U.S. now; the first orders will be dispatched “in late summer.” [Techcrunch.com] On March 31 2015, Musk tweeted about a new product and shares in the electric car jumped to nearly 4 percent in just 10 minutes – adding a staggering $900 million (£600 million) to the company’s market cap in just 115 characters.
Elon Musk - The Summit 2013Elon Musk

Messenger’s Mercury trip ends with a bang, and silence –
Nasa’s Messenger mission to Mercury has reached its explosive conclusion, after 10 years in space and four in orbit. Now fully out of fuel, the spacecraft smashed into a region near Mercury’s north pole, out of sight from Earth, at about 20:00 GMT on Thursday. Mission scientists confirmed the impact minutes later, when the craft’s next possible communication pass was silent. Messenger reached Mercury in 2011 and far exceeded its primary mission plan of one year in orbit. That mission ended with an inevitable collision: Messenger slammed into our Solar System’s smallest planet at 8,750mph (14,000km/h) – 12 times quicker than the speed of sound. The impact will have completely obliterated this history-making craft. And it only happened because Mercury has no thick atmosphere to burn up incoming objects – the same reason its surface is so pock-marked by impact craters. [BBC]
NASA-Messenger-craftArtist’s rendering of the MESSENGER spacecraft orbiting Mercury Date Source

Video of the Day –

Biggest Trick In Action Sports History – Triple Backflip – Nitro Circus – Josh Sheehan


May 22, 2015

Top News Stories –

One Direction, Robert Pattinson help out in first Red Nose Day in America –
One Direction, Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Pattinson were among British stars who helped raise money for the first Red Nose Day in America.
The three-hour TV show opened with a monologue from host Seth Meyers. He announced his plans to trump the UK version of the fund-raising marathon.
“I don’t want the British doing anything in front of the cameras,” said the late night talk show host. “They are famously terrible actors so they are all working backstage.” Cameras cut to Simon Cowell in the director’s chair, Orlando Bloom at the sound board, Naomi Campbell operating a camera, Sir Ian McKellen working the teleprompter, Cumberbatch struggling with cue cards and Dame Helen Mirren making tea. Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne was left with the task of wishing people good luck while Pattinson struggled with valet parking and crashed the first car given to him.[BBC]
Highlight of the night was Cold Play creating a musical version of Game of Thrones with many of the cast appearing including John Snow (Kit Harrington). See Video of the Day.
Kit_HarringtonKit Harrington

Thousands of new words added to Scrabble dictionary –
Thousands of new words – including slang terms lolz, shizzle and obvs – have been added to the latest Scrabble word list, its publisher has said.
About 6,500 words have been added to the latest Collins Scrabble Word List, including a number of slang terms used on social media and in text messages. New words include twerking, emoji, bezzy and ridic – short for ridiculous. One the highest scoring new entries is quinzhee – an Inuit snow shelter – which scores 29 Scrabble points. Other new words now acceptable in the board game include onesie, devo – short for devolution – vape, and shootie, meaning a fashionable shoe that covers the ankle. [BBC]

Kim Jong-un’s ‘brat pack’ brother jets in to London for Eric Clapton concert –
Kim Jong-chol, allegedly passed over as heir to the North Korea regime because he has a weak character, was seen entering the Royal Albert Hall with a female companion and wearing a leather jacket. Wearing a leather jacket, T-shirt and sunglasses, Kim Jong-chol was caught on film by a camera crew from Japan’s TBS channel entering the venue with an unidentified woman. South Korean media reported that Kim was staying at The Chelsea Harbour Hotel and was scheduled to board a flight from London to Moscow on Friday. Rooms at the hotel cost up to £2,184 a night. Mr Kim, 33, was passed over by his father, Kim Jong-il, as heir to the North Korean regime because he has a weak character, according to South Korean intelligence reports. To compensate, he has taken on the mantle of the unofficial leader of the North’s “brat pack” of children of the regime’s elite.[Daily Telegraph]

Video of the Day –

Red Nose Day – Game of Thrones, Coldplay’s New Musical (Episode Highlight)

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January 2, 2016

Top News Stories –

Royal Shakespeare Company reveals its high-tech tips: carrots, cereal and tea bags –
The Royal Shakespeare Company is to open up its archives for the first time, sharing the behind-the-scenes secrets that have made their most accomplished productions. Anyone hoping to hear the highest-tech tricks of the trade, however, may be in for a surprise, as they disclose techniques even a schoolboy could master. The RSC’s first permanent exhibition of its own archives will show visitors how the company uses carrot sticks, rice crispies, and glue to pull off specific special effects. It will also how it uses tea bags and water to age the look of ordinary paper to make it appear Elizabethan: a trick used by schools up and down the land. The visitor attraction, called The Play’s The Thing, will open in June 2016, making it the RSC’s first exhibition devoted to the making of Shakespeare plays. It will be part of the restoration of the Swan Wing, built in 1879 and the oldest part of the Stratford-Upon-Avon theatre. [Daily Telegraph]

Video of the Day –

Leftfield “Head and Shoulders” from Ewan Jones Morris on Vimeo.

List of the Day –

100 Things we didn’t know last year – by the BBC (34-66)

34. Chewing something can partially excise earworms – songs that stick in the mind.

Find out more (the Times)

35. Former UK Liberal Democrat party leader Lord Ashdown told his successor that he used to eat hedgehogs.

Find out more (Evening Standard)

36. In north-eastern England, Conservative candidates used to wear red, Liberals blue and Labour green rosettes until the 1970s.

Find out more

37. Larry King tweets by calling a dedicated voicemail, which is listened to by an assistant who then transcribes his thought to Twitter.

Find out more (Vox)

38. Mali has two tax rates – 3% and 30% – and you might be asked which you’d rather pay.

Find out more

39. The world’s favourite colour is blue.

Find out more (YouGov)

40. Radiohead’s Thom Yorke appears on the front of an Iranian self-help book about marital and sex problems.

Find out more (Daily Mirror)

41. Tom Cruise advised Nasa on how to design their website.

Find out more (Daily Telegraph)

42. Drug dealers in Marseille offer loyalty cards.

Find out more (The Local)

43. The worst times to drink coffee are between 08:00-09:00, 12:00-13:00 and 17:30-18:30. The best is about an hour after waking up, regardless of the time.

Find out more (AsapSCIENCE)

44. The chances of a successful bank robbery are higher in the morning – but it’s also among the least lucrative crimes.

Find out more

45. Iceland has the world’s happiest gay men.

Find out more (Planet Romeo)

46. Chinese authorities consider the phrase “your mum” too coarse for the internet.

Find out more (Bloomberg)

47. There are only three non-gentrifying neighbourhoods in New York City.

Find out more (Gawker)

48. Reddit has a very detailed 9,000-word guide to the dos and don’ts of giving away Game of Thrones spoilers.

Find out more (Reddit)

49. Oliver Cromwell supposedly called the Magna Carta the “Magna Farta” – he didn’t like it.

Find out more (New Yorker)

50. Most kangaroos are left-handed.

Find out more

51. Marvel Comics stipulates that Peter Parker must be white and straight but Spiderman can be of any ethnicity or sexual orientation.

Find out more (Washington Post)

52. The word “twerk” dates back to 1820.

Find out more

53. Heaven exists but hell does not, according to the theology of Sepp Blatter.

Find out more

54. UK officials discussed plans to relocate the entire 5.5 million population of Hong Kong to Northern Ireland in 1983.

Find out more

55. Three-times F1 world champion Niki Lauda swapped his trophies for unlimited free car washes.

Find out more (Reuters)

56. Playing Tetris for 12 minutes the day after a traumatic event can reduce flashbacks.

Find out more (Smithsonian magazine)

57. There are four main personality types into which people can be categorised when drunk: “Mary Poppins”, “Hemingway”, “Nutty Professor” and “Mr Hyde”.

Find out more (the Drinks Business)

58. Minions are all male because their creator believed they were too stupid to be female.

Find out more (The Wrap)

59. Nando’s is one of the biggest buyers of contemporary South African art.

Find out more (FT)

60. In Ohio, it’s illegal to disrobe in front of a man’s portrait.

Find out more (Slate)

61. A UK court can determine how short your shorts should be.

Find out more (Caerphilly, Ystrad Mynach and Bargoed Campaign)

62. Butt-dials aren’t considered private conversations in the US.

Find out more (Slate)

63. A baby is born on its predicted due date just 4% of the time.

Find out more

64. For three months, Leicestershire police didn’t investigate attempted burglaries if they occurred at odd-numbered properties.

Find out more (The Times)

65. Reindeer migration is a major live television event in Norway.

Find out more

66. Real Paleolithic people, contrary to some of the followers of the fashionable modern diet named after them, appear to have eaten plenty of carbohydrates.

Find out more (Quartz)

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January 3, 2016

Top News Stories –

Paul McKenna: I chose my wife by Excel spreadsheet –
Paul McKenna, the hypnotist and self-help guru, has disclosed that he decided who to marry by using an Excel spreadsheet. The 52-year-old revealed the software – normally used by accountants and office administrators – helped him to choose his wife-to-be, his long-time personal assistant Kate Davey. McKenna, who is worth around £40m, said a friend had pointed out that although he had dated a “lot of beautiful women”, he “didn’t actually like them”. He was encouraged to “make an Excel spreadsheet” to find out who he loved – and it turned out to be Kate, who has worked with him for 20 years. The pair revealed their feelings to each other three years ago and are now engaged to be married. [Daily Telegraph]
Paul_McKennaPaul McKenna

Video of the Day –

Infinity Room – [TIEE] from Refik Anadol on Vimeo.

List of the Day –

100 Things we didn’t know last year – by the BBC (67-100)

67. MI5 erroneously suspected novelist Doris Lessing of running a brothel.

Find out more (Independent)

68. US Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders released a spoken-word folk album in 1987.

Find out more (Dangerous Minds)

69. It is possible to have orgasms in your left foot.

Find out more (New York magazine)

70. The formula for the perfect poohstick is PP = A x I x Cd.

Find out more

71. Silk can be made from the solidified saliva of a clam.

Find out more

72. Gorillas have individual tastes in music.

Find out more (Discover Magazine Blogs)

73. The simpler and more repetitive a song’s lyrics, the more likely it is to reach number one in the Billboard Hot 100, debut in the top 40 and climb the chart more rapidly.

Find out more (Psychology Today)

74. The producer who was Gordon the Gopher’s puppeteer ended up as the BBC’s head of editorial standards.

Find out more

75. Bill Cosby was the first choice to play Sam Malone in Cheers, ahead of Ted Danson.

Find out more (Hollywood Reporter)

76. In their spare time, US fighter pilots play a mash-up of pool and rugby called crud.

Find out more (New York Times)

77. Scots have 421 words for snow.

Find out more

78. Lies are more convincing when the person telling them needs to urinate.

Find out more (Daily Telegraph)

79. Spotify’s shuffle is not truly random but sprinkles different genres evenly across a playlist and alternates songs by the same artist.

Find out more

80. The English composer Benjamin Britten wrote a national anthem for Malaysia, only for it to be rejected in favour of a cabaret tune.

Find out more

81. Elephants almost never get cancer.

Find out more (Nature News)

82. Actor Brian Blessed says that he delivered a baby in a park, bit through the umbilical cord and then licked the infant’s face clean.

Find out more

83. People who like their coffee black are more likely to be psychopaths.

Find out more (Huffington Post)

84. American toddlers shoot one person a week on average.

Find out more (Washington Post)

85. Biff Tannen’s older self, as portrayed in Back to the Future Part II, was based on Donald Trump.

Find out more (Daily Beast)

86. The US used to relocate beavers by parachuting them out of planes.

Find out more (Mashable)

87. Dancing to Gangnam Style could raise people’s pain thresholds.

Find out more (Wired)

88. Pregnancies conceived in December have the best chance of success.

Find out more (Netmums)

89. Men with beards have a greater tendency to hold sexist attitudes than their clean-shaven counterparts.

Find out more (Mental Floss)

90. Footballers have worse teeth than the general population.

Find out more

91. It’s possible to hallucinate a foreign accent.

Find out more (Brain Decoder)

92. Victoria’s Secret Bombshell perfume is almost as good at repelling mosquitoes as commercial insect sprays containing Deet.

Find out more (Daily Beast)

93. Germaine Greer wrote a 30,000-word love letter to Martin Amis in 1976.

Find out more (the Guardian)

94. You’re So Vain definitely is about Warren Beatty (and two other men).

Find out more

95. A 17th Century scientist planned to paint the bubonic plague on to hats to create a biological weapon.

Find out more (New Scientist)

96. The Churchill household spent around £1,160 each year on wine, £104,400 in today’s money.

Find out more (the Economist)

97. A cow’s flatulence could fill a 55-gallon (250-litre) bag with methane in one day.

Find out more (Grist)

98. It would cost £11,602.25 to send a letter to Mars from the UK.

Find out more (Daily Mirror)

99. Text messages that end with a full stop are seen to be less sincere than those that don’t.

Find out more (Wired UK)

100. Employees who say they love following the rules are the ones who are most likely to be fired for breaking them.

Find out more (New York Magazine)

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January 8, 2016

Top News Stories –

Secret Netflix code unlocks thousands of hidden genres –
Netflix’s incredibly niche, personalised subgenres have long captivated movie nerds, from “Steamy Crime Movies from the 1970s” to “Period Pieces About Royalty Based on Real Life”.
The genres, based on a complicated algorithm that uses reams of data about users’ viewing habits to recommend exactly what a particular user is into, number in the tens of thousands. When Netflix thinks you’ll like sentimental Spanish-language dramas or gritty tearjerkers, they’ll show up on your home screen, but aside from that, they’re not easy to find. But a simple web address trick has emerged showing how you can find any one of these genres simply by switching a number in a URL. If you’re logged into Netflix, enter:
where “XXXX” is a series of digits – into your browser’s toolbar to bring up one of the thousands of genres in Netflix’s library. 1089 is “Mind-bending Movies”, for example; while 354 is “Movies Starring Matthew McConaughey” – currently a genre of one film. Not all numbers will result in a subgenre, and given Netflix’s ever-changing algorithms, they might move around every now and then, while there may be regional differences meaning that some codes don’t work. [Daily Telegraph]

Video of the Day –

James Corden and Meghan Trainor: All About That Change

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  • 2015–16 Australian bushfire season
    • Three people are unaccounted for and at least 135 structures are destroyed, including the historic Yarloop Workshops, following a bushfire in the small Western Australian town of Yarloop. Reports coming out of the area suggest the town of Yarloop has been almost completely destroyed with one local official, Murray Cowper, saying, “A big fireball came through and there was no way they were going to stop it. This could well be the end of the town”. (SBS) (BBC)
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