Recently in odd things

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

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.

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

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

Going up or coming down?

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


Laboratory meat limerick

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I've been writing a story about a hamburger being made from muscle cells grown in a petri dish. Here's a limerick the story inspired:

The problem with laboratory grown meat
Is the fact that the meat has to eat,
cultured cells must be fed,
with blood from the dead,
Its a pity the flavour's so sweet!

Capital A in the sky

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2013-02-16 19.31.21>

Pareidolia normally makes you see faces, but I see a huge capital letter "A" in the sky. Can you see it, too?

Water Cannon

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Water Cannon

Originally uploaded by iwoolf.

Water Cannon

download mp4

Leigh Russell at Dorkbot Sydney demonstrated the behaviour of non-Newtonian liquids by putting a potato starch solution on a speaker and playing tones from his synthesizer through it, producing shoggoth-like effects. The stuff looks like its alive and trying to escape! This one is safe for the kids to try.

This video was broadcast (with my permission) on "Tokudane," which is a weekly morning show on the Fuji Television Network on Japanese TV.

The Problem with Christianity 2

The Ashfield Anglicans continue with their message.

Not shopped

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 This is the actual sign at St John's Church in Ashfield, they're inviting doubters to engage over the next few weeks.

not shopped



Deregulation department

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I didn't know we had a department for abolishing legislation! The minister should report more often on her successes.

Department of Deregulation

Fairy shroom?

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This looks like the hallucinogenic Fly Agaric mushroom depicted in all the Fairy illustrations. Can anyone confirm its identity?

Beautiful plumage

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This wild peacock pair showed up outside my window on my visit to Canberra


I'm helping my mother babysit tweens this week, and the same phrases keep coming up so often they deserve to be on t-shirts, so here they are:

for kids that know
I know

Please cease your behaviour
stop it!

our parents allow us to do this all the time, honest
we always do

Melbourne sinking

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Library sinking
Cool sculpture at the Library of Victoria

Rare emailed me today to ask permission to use my voice in this demo song "Entangle". He searched on "Entangle" and "spoken word", found my Diffusion feature on entanglement, liked it and edited a snippet into his song. I've been mashed!

The Jedi Path opens

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The Jedi Path opens
The Jedi Path is a new book for Star Wars fans that comes in an amazing box that opens with lights and sounds.

Gnome Chomsky in Ashfield

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Vivid Sydney Opera House

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download MP4

A colourful animated light show projected onto the Sydney Opera House for the Vivid Sydney festival 2011.

Rapture day

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I woke up with an absurdly deep voice again today, here's a recording MP3

Talking frogs

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These are amazing value for very little dollars.
frog1.jpgclick to buy frogs

They record and store 30 seconds of sound when you press the left button. They play back the sound when you walk past them triggering the light sensor in the eye.

This has endless possibilities. Children talk to the frog and he talks back. Teenagers can set the frog up where it won't be noticed and play practical jokes when people trigger the phrase they've recorded. A friend and I set up several of these frogs in a big cloth pyramid in a shopping mall art exhibition of Interactive Sculptures, with a different sound for every direction. My favourite was "hey you!".

Talking Pyramid

The insides come out easily to be made into a new talking object, whether you want your garden gnomes to talk, or a movie poster to be interactive - anything can talk!

I imported a whole bunch, and have sold or given away almost all of them. If I imported more of them, would you buy them?

Fake Barry

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My larynx is swollen, so I'm recording funny stuff before it heals. Here's fake Barry White:
MP3 download

Frequent Flyer Fun

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Back in 2000, I found a book called "The Penny Pincher's Passport to Luxury Travel (Travelers' Tales Guides)l" at the local library as I was preparing for my first overseas trip. It emphasized how to accumulate and work the frequent flyer system to get upgraded and get better and better treatment. It could have been a template for George Clooney's character in "Up in the Air [Blu-ray]".

The book was in my big backpack of travel-ready goods including new glasses and contact lenses and new camera and so forth, which was stolen from my locked and occupied shared office at the University of Technology, Sydney. I normally don't carry much of value, but I probably had more than $800 worth of stuff with the new glasses adn contact lenses. UTS insurance doesn't cover thefts of employee property from their offices.

I booked around the world tickets, because they were cheaper than direct flights from Australia to anywhere. The airline could save money by placing me in empty seats from Australia to the USA to Europe to Asia and back to Australia. So I spent less money. I built up more mileage, I earned more frequent flyer points. And no flight was over 12 hours, so I got to rest between stops, instead of a mad 27 hour dash.

There are two main frequent flyer systems in the world. I chose the Star Alliance. In 2000 this meant I got a free upgrade to First class on the flight from Canada to Britain. This was unfortunate, because Ansett were the only Star Alliance presence in Australia. Ansett was bankrupted and stopped trading after I accumulated many many points from several years of around the world trips to Canada. No other Star Alliance airline took their place.

The Star Alliance, through Air Canada, remembered my frequent flyer points, but they had no way for me to redeem the from Australia. Only flights within Canada were available. Last year they emailed me that if I didn't make a transaction on my account, I'd lose all my points. So I surfed their website and ordered a very sweet geeky 10 megapixel Pentax Optio M60, and had it delievered to a Canadian friend who shipped it to Australia for me. 9 years later I had a new camera, care of my frequent flyer points.

I had booked the tickets with my credit card, which accumulated mere reward points. This year I cashed out my credit card reward points for a return flight to Melbourne for a convention.

Naturally I've registered the flight with the Qantas frequent flyer program for free by getting a Woolworths Rewards card. Now I just need funds for a few more trips around the world, and I can get back to getting upgraded to better and better treatment by airlines. Just like "Up in the Air [Blu-ray]".

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