technology

Want to get rid of your reading glasses? R50 per day will do it.

Most of us might not know the word "presbyopia", but most of us will suffer from it at some point. As we get older, our eyes lose elasticity of the lens, which makes focussing on near objects more difficult.

The solution to this problem for most us is to get reading glasses. But many of us who are too vain to admit that we need reading glasses, we hold our phones at arms length and squint when we think no one is watching.1

The silent threat of technology

I was in Beijing in 2017 and came close to being wiped out by a scooter. The previous time I visited China's capital, this would not have happened, because I would have heard it coming. This time, I did not, because the scooter was electric, and almost completely silent as a result.

I've been thinking about this a lot in the years since during my frequent visits to the bush (as we South Africans generally refer to our Big 5 game reserves). 

The hazards of driving in Johannesburg

Driving into Gauteng this evening with a magnificent thunderstorm in full glory over Johannesburg in the distance, and (of course), my fellow Gatties,1 at the slightest hint of a cloudburst, slow to a crawl in the fast lane of the freeways, and put on their hazard lights.

If you know the type of person who puts on their hazards during a storm, do they know that’s really stupid? Here’s what you should tell them:

Racist emoji

Have you ever heard someone says something that sounded completely outrageous, and you turned around to see a smile on their face and heaved a sigh of relief?

Humans rely on a wide range of signals to communicate with each other, and most of these are non-verbal: What we say is modified by pitch and loudness of voice, body language, hand gestures, and facial expression.

Written communication has none of those signals, so letter writing was very formal and structured to avoid miscommunication:

"Dear so and so...

Rats and dogs

Can dogs be trained to sniff out Covid-19?

Medical Detection Dogs, a UK NGO founded in 2008 on the premise that dogs can be trained to sniff out diseases, is hoping this is the case.

They are working in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Durham University. This team recently collaborated to successfully prove that dogs can be trained to detect malaria.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence at Home is over, for now

Some 21 years ago, when I was managing editor of the Cape Times, I had acquired as my desktop computer at work an Apple Power Macintosh G3 with its matching Sony Trinitron monitor.

It was both beauty and beast by the standards of the day; blue and white polycarbonate clocking in at 300 MHz. More importantly, it could effortlessly play the Star Wars Phantom Menace trailer which was the first movie trailer to debut on the Internet

'I can't believe it's not butter!' redux

The Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens, was once only found in South America, but today is quite ubiqutous. The United States Spain, Portugal, southern France, Italy, Croatia, Malta, the Canary Islands, Switzerland, the Black Sea coast of Russia... Yes, and right here in Southern Africa.

Adult females can lay more that 600 eggs at a time. The larvae that emerge can grow to 2,5 cm. That's about an inch if you don't speak metric.

Corona versus Ebola: some stats

The Democratic Republic of Congo announced their tenth outbreak of Ebola in 40 years on 1 August 2018. The number of cases has exceeded 3 000, making it the country's largest-ever Ebola outbreak. It is the second-largest Ebola outbreak after one which hit West Africa from 2014-2016.

Key stats from then to date via Doctors WIthout Borders:

  • 3423 total cases
  • 3304 confirmed cases
  • 2244 deaths

Contrast this with Covid-19, as the Corona virus is more formally known.