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Showing posts from September, 2010

Aspergillus Niger In Corn And Peanuts

Aspergillus fumigatus is common in compost heaps, hay, and all kinds of decaying vegetation.
Some aspergilli fungi cause Aspergillosis - an infection that gets in via the lungs and compromises various organs, particularly in people with suppressed immune systems, such as those who have had transplants.
Some aspergilli fungi are useful - aspergillus terreus is a source of statins that are used to reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart attack. If you find that mushrooms and grapes affect you and leave you feeling a bit breathless and a bit 'odd' - blame the fungi.

From Black aspergilli species responsible for infecting corn identifiedU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in Athens, Georgia, have reported for the first time that several species of Aspergillus niger, or black aspergilli, are capable of infecting corn and peanuts as endophytes. The researchers also showed that, under laboratory conditions, these species produced mycotoxins.
Read m…

Wordpress.Com was never moving to Microsoft's Azure Cloud.

"...WordPress is also a tremendous ISV who's been working extensively with Windows Azure during the CTP...."
"A: No., which is Automattic's hosted blogging service, is going to stay on its existing infrastructure." from "One company I'd like to highlight is Automattic, developer of WordPress. WordPress is one of the most successful and pervasive blogging systems in existence today, used by tens of millions of bloggers worldwide. WordPress is also a tremendous ISV who's been working extensively with Windows Azure during the CTP...." Internal Microsoft emails show that most 'Live Spaces' blogs were isn't getting 30m Live Spaces users - think of a much smaller number. No, smaller than that. And Microsoft isn't getting Wordpress to shift to Azure either. (Updated)Is getting all those Windows Live Space users really that much of a coup? Ther…

About Tax Freedom Day In The UK

Definition: 'Tax Freedom Day' is the day in the year when the average income earner has earned enough to pay his taxes. assuming he doesn't spend a penny - the rest of the year is all gravy (sure...)
This article about Tax Freedom Day in the UK mentions Gordon Smith's stealth taxes (e.g. increasing National Insurance contributions, air passenger duty,...)
A recent program on Radio 4 that I heard, describes three periods since the end of the Second World War.
1945-1965 - income tax to pay for health service and other Welfare State benefits.
1965-1985 - no tax increase and letting services coast along.
1985-2010 - services grinding to a halt because equipment, building, etc breaking down but no-one can win an election by proposing an increase in income tax, (that is how Labour failed in 1990) - so when Labour won in 1997, they used stealth taxes to pay for social programmes. from A history of tax freedom day Tax Freedom Day came later and later in th…

French court orders Google Inc to pay 5,000 euros ($6,750) in libel damages

I cannot see how Google would fail to win on appeal. As it said "It is important to point out that Google Suggest is an aggregate of the most popular searches based on past requests from users. Google does not suggest these terms," from A French court has ordered Google Inc to pay 5,000 euros (4,263 pounds) in libel damages to a man who claimed that searches for his name automatically yielded a list of harmful suggestions. Skip related contentThe man, whose name was not given, said the suggested terms that came up when typing his name on -- including the words "rape," "rapist" and "prison" -- were damaging for his reputation, court documents showed.The man had previously been condemned to a prison sentence on charges of corrupting a minor, the documents showed.The decision, reported on Saturday in the online edition of Le Monde newspaper, was published in court documents dated September 8 on the French legal web site …

Protest the proposed badger cull in Britain

Here is the link to the DEFRA page that describes the Coalition Government's proposal for consultation on a limited badger cull. This is despite the fact that the scientific advisor to the Government (and to the previous Government) said the weight of evidence is that a limited cull would not work and would worsen the situation.
A wholesale, nationwide cull is not going to happen. Who would stand for the idea of killing all Britain's badgers?
According to some, it is still not established what the route of infection, if any, is between badgers and cattle.
So why does Government want to have yet another consultation on the proposal to conduct a limited cull against the weight of scientific evidence that says that if TB is spread from badgers to cows, then killing some badgers will make the situation worse?
Is it because the people in Government at the moment (remind me who they are) would rather use the cull as a scientific experiment to test what the outcome of killing some b…

A Serious Man – Being A Fool When Everyone Is Smart

from A Serious Man – Being A Fool When Everyone Is SmartI was thinking about the film A Serious Man, made by the Coen brothers. The film is unusual because it ‘begins’ with a short film shot in sepia about a poor Jewish couple in nineteenth century Russia who are visited by a dybbuk (a malicious spirit) that has inhabited the body of a recently deceased rabbi.The wife is fearful and practical. The husband is ambivalent and hesitant. There is not much of a story but the thread that runs through it is that the wife is certain that she and her husband will be visited by more bad luck.Then we segue into the main film – A Serious Man – about a man who watches his life fall apart around him. Set in the present day, the main protagonist is a lecturer at a college somewhere on the East Coast of the U.S. – an intelligent man with a responsible job.His wife is leaving with another man and doing it right under his nose. His daughter ignores and derides him. His son, who i…

Honey At Google

There's a video on the official Google site. from We’re also relieved that none of the hives have succumbed to Colony Collapse Disorder, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on them over the winter months to ensure that they stay happy, healthy and ready to start work again in the spring. We're already looking forward to next year!Read more at

Fuji X100 - I am posting the picture because I lust after this camera and can stare at the picture

from This is certainly the most enjoyable camera news I've gotten in a long while. Fujifilm has made a "development announcement" at Photokina for a camera to be called the X100: a high-quality, fixed-lens, 12-MP, viewfinder-window compact digital camera with an APS-C sensor. The lens is a 23mm ƒ/2 Fujinon...exactly equivalent, in 35mm terms, to a 35mm ƒ/2.

Colony collapse disorder in Scotland - Q&A in Scottish Parliament #bees #honeybees

No CCD (colony collapse disorder) in bees in Scotland - I wonder why not?
I've send the info to the U.S. Agricultural Research Service which works with the Apiary Inspectors of America to survey CCD from Bees Peter Peacock (Highlands and Islands) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive whether there have been any cases of colony collapse disorder reported with regard to Scotland’s bee population since 1999Richard Lochhead: No cases of colony collapse disorder have been reported in Scotland’s bee population since 1999. Peter Peacock (Highlands and Islands) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive whether it considers that colony collapse disorder is a threat to Scotland’s bee population.Richard Lochhead: Colony collapse disorder describes a number of symptoms rather than a disease with a single defined cause such as virus or bacterium. With our current limited understanding of colony collapse disorder in other countries we cannot say that it is a threat to Scotla…

Justified Text - Coming to a web near you

Soft hyphens - sounds so nice. from The Look That Says Book by Richard FinkThe vast majority of books and magazines are typeset using hyphenation and justification (written as H&J from here on in). In print, it’s everywhere: All lines of text except the last lines of paragraphs are stretched out to the same length. Flush left and flush right. Hyphens are used to break words at the end of lines to help prevent gaps in word spacing. Like this: We hold these truths to be self-ev­i­dent, that all men are cre­at­ed e­qual, that they are en­dowed by their Cre­a­tor with cer­tain un­al­ien­a­ble Rights, that a­mong these are Life, Lib­er­ty and the pur­suit of Hap­pi­ness. That to se­cure these rights, Gov­ern­ments are in­sti­tut­ed a­mong Men, de­riv­ing their just pow­ers… Using hyphenation and justification todayWhen it comes to new browser features, Flash-y effects get the glory and so it’s no surprise that support for a special unicode font character called …

"If key infrastructures are not hardened, the next such flare could have world-wide, catastrophic impact."

I wonder what 'hardened' means?
Does it mean encasing the electronic switchgear in some pulse-resistant material to prevent the solar flares reaching them?
Does it mean Jim and Arthur from the repair department on double-overtime and twenty-four standby to switch the grid manually?
Any ideas? from In recent years vital national infrastructures have evolved toward increasing automation, dependant on complex computer control networks, and fully integrated with the electric grid.  This process occurred remarkably quickly, and little has yet been done to address vulnerability to potentially catastrophic risks.  Based on new information about the scope of severe natural threats and new concerns about vulnerability to potential malicious threats, it has become increasingly clear that addressing these issues will be essential to the continued health and viability of our nations.Two issues have become a focus of concern.  Based on a recent U.S. National Aca…

A long explanation of the first few milliseconds of an HTTPS connection

You'll enjoy this  from In the 220 milliseconds that flew by, a lot of interesting stuff happened to make Firefox change the address bar color and put a lock in the lower right corner. With the help of Wireshark, my favorite network tool, and a slightly modified debug build of Firefox, we can see exactly what's going on.

Migratory birds (up to 10,000) had become trapped in the light beams

...The problem, however, is not unique to the 9/11 memorial, but posed by tall, brightly lit buildings in most major cities.
To limit the toll, New York Audubon organized the Lights Out New York program, for which many prominent commercial structures — including the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center — turn off or mask their lights during the migration season.
“As soon as they could get any visual horizon, they could use that as a cue and navigate their way out,”
My take: birds spend a lot of time getting into shape for migration - for some species, eating enough and getting their feathers into condition is a fine balance between success and failure. How much energy do the birds consume when they are trapped in the light beams? They may fly off when the lights are switched off, but do they have enough energy for the journey?
"Volunteers from New York Audubon identified American Redstarts and Yellow Warblers. Wood Thrushes, Bicknell’s Thrushes, Baltimore Orioles and variou…

My Online World Is Becoming Fragmented

The mischief that Posterous and then Amplify (and somewhere in there, Google Buzz) were intended to cure, at least for me, was to get my voice heard out there by using the auto-posting features in Amplify and Posterous.
In a way it has worked.
But there is a downside.
As an illustration of what I mean, I wrote a post here on Amplify directly. It was a short post of my observations after a week in Edinburgh.
And commented on it over at Buzz.
So now my post about Edinburgh beards and little old ladies and traffic signals and seagulls is fragmented with comments over at Buzz.
Well that's more enjoyable than no comments, but I sure wish there was a way to pull all these fragmented bits together.

"But the really cool thing that I just got going is doing SSH tunneling with an app called ConnectBot."

from Secure port forwarding with ConnectBot on AndroidAndroid is a pretty hot hacker platform. You can pretty much do whatever you want with an Android device, even to the point of bricking it (be careful with those 3rd-party kernels!). I recently gave in to my irresponsible streak and shelled out for a used Nexus One. The first thing I did was gleefully root it and flash the CyanogenMod-flavored kernel that everybody’s been raving about. Supposedly, CM runs slicker and faster, and is rumored to even provide better reception, on the N1. The custom-kernel thing really excites me; it sounds like the Cyanogen team are going to add in a driver to turn on Wireless-N on the Broadcom chip in the N1 in an upcoming release. That same Broadcom chip also includes an FM receiver/transmitter just waiting to be turned on.I’m not a kernel hacker (I may be some day, but I’m certainly not starting with a mobile device). But I am a hacker, and so the whole portable-console idea of And…

Just got back from Edinburgh where I observed that

Just got back from Edinburgh where I observed that:
There are noticeably more men with beards than there are in England.
There is a glut of very old, very thin, bent-over women who walk around very slowly. They wear eccentric clothing, such as pink rain hats in good weather, and they are very, very tiny.
Traffic lights stay on red much longer than in England. They must of course also stay on green much longer, but I am too busy speeding along to observe that.
There are large grey-backed seagulls that stand on the heads of statues of famous people. {Word to the wise - do not become famous and have your statue erected in Edinburgh unless you like the idea of your statue having a guano-white face.}

expanding comment box invites nonsense stream of consciousness

Pretty Comments brought about this:

...and the end of the addition to the sum of the events was unlikely ever to be seen as the thing that it was and rather that as long as they can raise a rifle or a musket they can fall like the next man and expand to fit the known universe of things that no-one has wanted for a good long while. And all this made out of chromed steel.

How To Get Your Custom Domain Name To Direct To Blogger

I have just changed from to the new custom domain that you can see in the URL address above.

Once I had bought the domain name, I directed the www. to the address to which Google required.

That worked OK but I saw that the non-www version of the site was simply directing to a parked domain at the address of the domain registrar (

I read Google's information on the subject and I read various Question and Answers on lots of forums and they all seemed to think it was impossible to get around this problem or that curing it involved adding a piece of html redirect code in the 'head' section of the blog.

As I say, I registered this domain with and the way I solved the problem was to go into the domain settings at GoDaddy and order the non-www site to forward to www.

It has taken a few hours to propagate and it all seems to be working OK.

Talya Imas was nine months' pregnant when she was killed

from The victims are a husband and wife, parents of six, and two passengers. Their names were cleared for publication Tuesday night by local police:Yitzchak and Talya ImasKochava Even-Chaim Avishai ShindlerThe four were all citizens of Beit Haggai, located between Hevron and Be'er Sheva.
Yitzchak and Talya Imas were the parents of six children, the eldest one being 24 years old and the youngest one being a year and a half old. Talya Imas was nine months' pregnant when she was killed by the terrorists.
Kochava Even-Chaim was a teacher in Efrat. She left behind her husband and an 8-year-old daughter. Her husband, one of�the first Zaka first aid volunteers�to arrive at the scene, discovered that his wife was among the victims when he approached the attacked car.Read more at