I would say sighting a straight line is a common practice used by builders and joiners to determine if a piece of timber is straight or bowed. It can be used to test any length of timber, but long pieces in particular. The practice requires no tools, just eyesight with a good depth of field enabling focusing along the whole length of timber to be checked.
In December 2009 the European Union obliged Microsoft to offer a choice of browsers to their European customers when they installed new versions of Windows. This browser choice was also delivered in updates to Windows and so the Browser Choice screen was born and has been with us ever since. See my featured image of Microsoft’s browser choice screen offering Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Mozilla Firefox and the Opera browsers amongst others.
Browser Choice Ends
It turns out that this requirement by the EU had a time limit of five years which has now expired. Consequently Microsoft have quietly withdrawn the option to choose other browsers and returned to providing Internet Explorer alone. People can of course continue to use other browsers with Windows as they see fit but Internet Explorer is now what comes out of the box.
I’ve had a Nespresso Pixie since June 2012 and at the same time I acquired a Nespresso Aeroccino milk frother (Aeroccino 3 to be precise). These devices are very nice to have and work well even after 2½ years continual use. The coffee is very nice too.
However there is a slight problem with the Nespresso Aeroccino milk frother but it is not insurmountable. It’s very easy to burn milk on the bottom where the most intense heat is applied. You can see it burnt on in this picture where the whisk has been removed.
This article advises how to keep a Nespresso Aeroccino milk frother clean. There are pictures portraying the burnt milk problem and advice is given on how to avoid it.
Robot Controlled Chemical Evolution, “It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it.”
Glasgow scientists studying Robot Controlled Chemical Evolution have created a robotic system where chemicals can evolve. I read about this in Gizmag, but followed it up with a quick read from the horses mouth at Nature magazine. The featured image is a picture looking down at the heart of the researcher’s robot.
Although thousands of asteroids have been discovered and their orbits determined there are thought to be many undetected ones. This asteroid will cross Earth’s orbit of the Sun every three years and is called Asteroid 2014 UR116. It was recently discovered by a Russian professor at Moscow State University, Vladimir Lipunov. It is the size of a mountain (400m across) – much larger than the 164 feet (50m) across mentioned in my post about Asteroid Day.
Having read about Asteroid 2014 UR116 in The Telegraph I can’t determine how much of a threat it is. On the one hand NASA says this Near Earth Object (NEO) doesn’t pass near enough to earth to be a threat, but on the other NASA says it will be an impact threat for the next 150 years.
Updated 19th Feb 2021 (Originally Published 5th Dec 2014)
It’s Been Proposed To Get Asteroid Day Established Annually On The 30th June
There is a movement by astronomers, scientists, astronauts, artists, business leaders, and others, concerned for the long term safety of our species, other species, and our planet, to get Asteroid Day established on the 30th June each year commencing in 2015.
The 10,000th Near Earth Object (NEO) was discovered in 2013 and by 30th November 2014 11,937 NEOs had been discovered. More are being detected all the time and by 17th February 2021 the number had risen to 25,157. Still there are hundreds of thousands more undiscovered. When they are discovered their orbits can be determined. From their orbits astronomers can determine if and when they may collide with Earth.
My wife and mother-in-law both prefer a long thin calendar like this in A3 format so that they can easily make notes on it (see featured image). My wife’s hangs around the coffee table all the time. She doesn’t want to bother with an electronic one, although she has that option. Her mother has a similar one lying around in the corner of her kitchen worktop with a pen at the side. It’s very easy to scribble daily items down. There’s no shortage of room on it. Any extra notes can always be written on the back of the pages.
As the months tick by the pages can be folded over at the top so that the next month becomes visible but the past is not thrown away. Do you want one? Then read on and I will explain how to download one for any year in your lifetime and print it out.
A recently discovered Backdoor Trojan Regin is a computer bug found by the software security company Symantec. Its purpose is to spy on the activities taking place on computers. It can collect passwords, capture screen images and even recover deleted files.
The Backdoor Trojan Regin has been made to operate in five stages the last two being encrypted to make it very difficult to discover and understand. If any stage were to be discovered it would say little about the other stages. Two stages are specifically given over to loading each other and the other stages. You can download a comprehensive PDF file from Broadcom describing Regin in detail at this Broadcom (previously Symantec) site. Selecting this link may automatically download the regin-top-tier-espionage-tool-15-en.pdf file into your download folder and display it in your PDF reader. To get access to this file manually go to:
Select that link on the page to download the file.
Backdoor Trojan Regin appears to have been developed as far back as 2008 and by its sophisticated nature was probably developed by a nation state as opposed to criminals. It appears to have been withdrawn from use by its masters in 2011 and a new version reintroduced in 2013.
Regin infections have been found in the following countries:
All Regin infections have been shared by these sectors thus:
Airline – 5%
Energy – 5%
Hospitality – 9%
Research – 5%
Small Businesses & Private Individuals – 48%
Telecoms Backbone – 28%
The Backdoor Trojan Regin has been made extremely stealthy so that it is very hard to determine what it is up to even after discovery. It could go undetected for years. For those interested it uses RC5 encryption which isn’t commonly used.
If you didn’t already know it the 1st January next year will always be on a different day to the 1st January this year. This comes about because:
for ordinary years with 365 days there are 52 weeks and 1 day remaining,
for leap years with 366 days there are 52 weeks and 2 days remaining.
This means that:
if the 1st January is on a Monday in an ordinary year then so is the 31st December. So the next year must have the 1st January on a Tuesday,
if the 1st January is on a Monday in a leap year then the 31st December is on a Tuesday. So the next year must have the 1st January on a Wednesday.
If there had been 364 days in every year the 1st January would always be on the same day of the week.
As a consequence of all this movement around the week, by the 1st January, next years calendar is always different to this years. That leads to the question: “There’s only seven days in a week so how many different ones do we need? Just seven.” Well the answer is, “No, you need another seven as well, for all the leap years. They too can start on any day of the week.”
It was a nice summer and I enjoyed a family day out travelling from Hythe to New Romney on the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway (RH&DR) in Kent on 5th July 2014. We travelled on an overcast afternoon and the breeze was slightly chilly when it whistled through the carriages. We travelled West from Hythe as far as New Romney, where we alighted to look at the model railway and take refreshment.
The original plan was to go all the way to Dungeness, part of Romney Marsh1, where the line ends. It doesn’t end in the usual sense with buffers at the end of the rails. The outbound line loops around the countryside until it becomes the line running back to Hythe. Trains don’t have to manoeuvre to make the return journey. They just keep going forward.
Unfortunately we travelled too late in the day. We realised that if we continued our journey, from New Romney to Dungeness and back, we wouldn’t have time to get back to Hythe. Perhaps I’ll get to see Dungeness next time.