Fixed! (sort of)

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The Movable Type software behind this blog was broken last year when my web host moved the site to a new machine. Its taken me ages to get it working again. I still get error messages I can't always get past. I'm going to have to move the blog to a new Content Management System. I experimented with Word Press, but its been massively attacked, and there's a whole new learning curve for making it look good. I have managed to get the software to let me make a backup of all the entries, so theoretically I can import those into Wordpress or something else.

Interview about Electric Cars

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I interviewed Mark Taylor, Secretary of the Sydney Branch of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association at the Sydney Mini Maker Faire for the Diffusion podcast. Stick around to the end of the interview for a look inside the car.

Created with flickr badge.

Solar phone USB charger

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I bought this 30 000mAh solar USB battery from
I'm sceptical about the 30 00mAh, so I'll be undoing the screws in the next few weeks to check out what the actual power cells have written on them. Other sites are selling 3000mAH batteries for more, without the solar panel.

When I first charged the powerbank overnight, the power LEDs wouldn't switch off. It was crazy, they stayed on for days. However, once I charged it even longer, and then put the powerbank in the Sun for the solar battery to charge it, the power LEDs went off when it was out of the sunlight. It looks like it just needed to be filled with enough charge to behave normally.

Now the LEDS flash when its in the Sun, when its connected to the mains, and when its recharging my phone. They now switch off when I hit the "off" switch, as they should. The built-in solar panel delivers 1.5 W.

Its very light, so I carry it in my backpack at all times, and always have it available to recharge my phone. It comes with a 2A and a 1A USB port. The phone recharges in AC mode, so its pretty quick. T

he only down-side is that the LEDs are very bright when the powerbank is recharging my phone. It also comes with a super-bright LED to work as a torch. I bought mine for just $20!

At home I've teamed it up with a 7.5 W fold-out solar panel to speed up the solar recharging time. With my extra solar panel I can recharge in a day of full sunlight, or a few days of indirect sunlight.

Solar powerbank
Solar powerbank
Solar powerbank
Solar powerbank

Got a second tweet on TV

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QandA on ABC on April 28th:

When was Australia last in an air battle? When do we anticipate being in an air battle next? #QandA

The tweet was in reference to the 24 BILLION DOLLARS spent by the Abbott Government on American jet-fighters that can't turn, and can't fly far enough to reach outside Australia. An obvious waste of money, like the faulty submarines, helicopters, tanks, aircraft carriers and other expensive broken war toys we buy from the Americans and can never actually use.

When was Australia last in an air battle? When do we anticipate being in an air battle next? #QandA

My previous tweet on TV was on QandA on April 6th.

Obey the sign

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Welcome to Sydney.

Sydney Harbour last weekend

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I took a trip with a meetup group to the Fair Trade Markets in Manly on the weekend, and took these pictures of the ferry trip:

iwoolf's items tagged with Harbour More of iwoolf's stuff tagged with Harbour

Save your bad fruit

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So you need to save the bad fruit, AND your receipt, and trek them both back to the supermarket for a refund.

Fortunately, last week I won a large box of fresh fruit and vegetables in a raffle held at the Australian Society for Medical Researchers trivia night . Its due to be delivered this week or next week.

I'd like to see The Checkout cover this.

My name on TV!

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Last Monday night one of my #QandA tweets was selected to be broadcast during the show. The newly appointed Free Speech Commissioner Tim Wilson appeared on Q and A, so the right to free speech became a topic.

I asked if anyone would ask about the anti-protest laws recently introduced in Victoria, robbing millions of free speech. My question was tweeted, but it wasn't asked. Commissioner Tim Wilson appears in all his public statements to only support free speech of the wealthy to be racist, as the LNP government wishes. Tim Wilson thinks its unfair that ethnic minorities can use words (particularly one beginning with "N") to describe themselves that are currently illegal for rich white men to use to describe them.

Tim Wilson is a former staff member of the IPA, an extreme right-wing group who have long advocated abolishing the Human Rights Commission. The Australian Human Rights Commission had to sack staff to free up $300 000 for Tim Wilson's salary, as this was a newly created position. The LNP government appear to be working down the IPA's policy wish-list, despite all the election promises they break.

Guaranteed TV

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UPDATE 7th March 2014: Sony have phoned to tell me that as my TV is beyond repair, they will replace my TV with the latest model that is just about to be released. They will phone next week to organise delivery!

My 2.5 year old Sony TV started looking like this last night: red ghosting across the bottom 3/4 of the screen, with images and text ghosted for 30 seconds. 

I phoned Sony and they told me their warranty was only 12 months. I pointed out that 2011 Australian Consumer Law says TVs have to last a reasonable time, so they had to fix it or replace it. Sony told me that I could "pursue that path", but they would only honour their warranty, not the Australian Government's consumer guarantee. They offered to collect the TV from me for a fee, and then fix it for a larger fee. They opened a case file. It was completely illegal for them to even quote me a fee.

I tried phoning Bing Lee, where I bought the TV on 17th June 2011, and they told me that they don't have any repair facilities, they would only send the TV back to the manufacturer under the 12 month warranty, and as the TV is over a year old, they couldn't help me. I invoked the Australian Consumer Law with them as well, and they repeated that there was nothing they could do. I pressed and they suggested I bring the TV in so they could see the red screen, and they would see what they could do, no promises.

The CheckOut at ABC covered this last year
Australian Consumer Law Guide
Fair Trading on Consumer Guarantees and the Australian Consumer Law
The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission
Broken but out of warranty? You still have rights
CHOICE Magazine
ACCC raps Apple and Harvey Norman for deceiving customers over warranties: why The Good Guys and JB Hi-Fi could be next

right click and choose 'save as' to download MP3
Shauna Murray is an associate professor and ARC Fellow at the University of Technology, Sydney in the Climate Change Cluster C3 Centre where she researches microalgae that produce toxins that are eaten by fish and could end up on your dinner plate, giving you an illness like Ciguatera. Ciguatera fish poisoning can cause major problems with circulation, digestion, breathing and the nervous system. Shauna's work includes identifying where the microalgae are growing so that fishers can be warned not to take any seafood from those areas and prevent the spread of the illness.

Gurjeet Singh Kohli is a Research Associate studying the genes of the microalgae that cause Ciguatera with both Shauna at UTS and Bret Neilan UNSW. He has recently handed in his PhD thesis. I asked him why it was so difficult to make a test kit that detects the toxins that cause Ciguatera.

Sustainable Aquaculture Group UTS
What is Ciguatera Fish Poisoning?

Sydney Mini Maker Faire gallery

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The Sydney Mini Maker Faire was held for one day at the Powerhouse Museum. I recorded 13 interviews which were broadcast over the last month on Diffusion Science Radio, and I took 78 photos, which you can browse by clicking below:

iwoolf's Sydney Mini Maker Faire 2013 photoset iwoolf's Sydney Mini Maker Faire 2013 photoset

Click above to see the rest of the photos.

Cycle reindeer

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Cycle reindeer
Cycle sleigh

PLoS ASAP video interview

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The Public Library of Science has announced the six finalists for their ASAP Accelerating Science Award Program. They hired me as a freelancer to record an interview with finalist Professor Matt Todd about his Open Source Science project to crowd-source a cure for Malaria. Adrian Tan worked as my videographer.

Lynne's Sci-Fi News is back online!

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Lynne Gryphon produced a top-rating video podcast back in 2006, and became very popular. Then her show was broadcast on Canadian TV with ads but no pay, copied by people with ads all over the internet. Lynne felt she'd been exploited and so she took everything down. This year she's uploaded the episodes to youtube.

Here's episode 12 where I was a guest. Subscribe to Lynne's youtube channel, she's creating new content. Her website is

This bird actually opened the lamp-cover itself before climbing in.

Cockatoos playing with street-lamp
Cockatoos playing with street-lamp

Cockatoos playing with street-lamp
Cockatoos playing with street-lamp

Review of "We Steal Secrets"

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right click and choose 'save as' to download MP3

At Nerd Nite Sydney in the Cafe Lounge, Dr Peter Jonason lecturer in personality and individual differences from the University of Western Sydney, spoke about the evolutionary functions of the different kinds of sexual relationships people choose to have from casual, to committed. He hung around after the gig, we went outside the noisy club, and spoke to me about the behavioral ecology of sexual relationships.

Peter Karl (PK) Jonason, Ph.D

Nerd Nite Sydney

right click and choose 'save as' to download MP3

In light of the revelations that the US and UK spooks are treating us all like criminals by spying on our every move, I went to the very noisy Pitt St Mall to talk with David W. Campbell Senate candidate for the Pirate Party about PRISMbreak and the Protect Our Privacy protest.

Pirate Party Australia
PRISM break
Snowden reveals Australia's links to US spy web
NSA Surveillance of Australia Exposed!
Agreements with private companies protect U.S. access to cables' data for surveillance 

NSA recruitment drive goes horribly wrong

iwoolf's PRISMbreak  Sydney 2013 photoset iwoolf's PRISMbreak Sydney 2013 photoset

Your brain has a backup

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right click and choose 'save as' to download MP3

At Nerd Nite Sydney, outside the noisy Cafe Lounge I spoke with Astrid Zeman about her research into using optical illusions to improve computer vision. (This interview was recorded on my phone, surrounded by a crowd, before I bought the new microphone, so my apologies for the noise).

Astrid Zeman's profile at Macquarie University

Astrid's paper 2013 paper: The Müller-Lyer Illusion in a Computational Model of Biological Object Recognition

NBC coverage of Astrid's work

Going up or coming down?

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iwoolf's items tagged with rocket More of iwoolf's stuff tagged with rocket


Chocolate Mmm

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While searching for chocolate videos for Diffusion, I found this on the Internet Archive:
Chocolate Mmm

CeBIT 2013 gallery

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I took these photos at the CeBIT exhibition in Darling Harbour as I recorded interviews for Diffusion.

iwoolf's CeBIT 2013 photoset iwoolf's CeBIT 2013 photoset

I took these photos last night at Eat The Collection at the Powerhouse Museum, featuring 3D printing of chocolate. I'm editing an interview for next week's Diffusion about 3D chocolate printing.

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