australia

The 404 1,430: Where we flail away with Spotify's Shanon Cook (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Dragnet Seiko wristwatch TV from 1984.

- It doesn't get better: the US has the second slowest 4G on EARTH.

- Google wants to do the end of "The Dark Knight" in real life.

- Follow Spotifier Shanon Cook on Twitter.… Read more

Step into another skin with Everyday Racism app

Not all discrimination is blatant. Sometimes it's an accumulation of smaller, subtler interactions that can make you feel as though you're fighting a losing battle. These are known as microaggressions and, although they may not seem like much to the people who deal them out, they continue to perpetuate harmful attitudes that marginalize minorities.

Microaggressions are the focus of a new mobile "game" developed by All Together Now, a collaboration between the University of Western Sydney, Deakin University, and Melbourne University. It's called Everyday Racism, and it lets you experience just a small fraction of life as a racial minority in Australia. … Read more

Tweeting sharks forestall 'Jaws'-like doom

Aquaphobes still traumatized by "Jaws" can now breathe a little easier.

Government researchers from Western Australia have tagged 338 sharks with acoustic transmitters on their bellies. These tagged sharks set off a computer alert when they're about half a mile from the beach, which generates an automatic tweet on the Surf Life Saving Western Australia Twitter stream. Tweets include size, breed, and approximate location. … Read more

Australia watchdogs to Apple: Give us two-year warranties

Apple and Australia's Competition and Consumer Commission have agreed to terms on how the iPhone maker will handle warranties in the countries.

The ACCC announced Wednesday that Apple has agreed to provide warranties on products purchased within two years. In addition, the company says that it may provide "remedies" to issues after the two-year period, if they fall under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The ACL stands at the center of the debate between Apple and Australia. The law provides consumers with certain guarantees whenever they buy products. Namely, ACL ensures that warranties are kept in effect &… Read more

'Hobbit' villains suffer vitamin D deficiency, researcher says

"The Hobbit" dragon Smaug may be suffering from more than a bad attitude as he sulks around in his subterranean cave dwelling. He may have a vitamin D deficiency that's turning his toothy grin into a frown. Nicholas Hopkinson, a lecturer at Imperial College London, culled through "The Hobbit" for clues to the lifestyle and diets of the Middle-earth denizens.

Hopkinson, in conjunction with his 15-year-old son Joseph, published his findings under the title "The hobbit--an unexpected deficiency" in the December issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.… Read more

Pop music finally put to good use tracking space junk

Australian broadcaster Triple J plays a mix of pop and alternative tunes that are being recruited to serve science -- by helping track space junk orbiting above us.

The station is among FM broadcasters whose signals are bouncing off decaying satellites and other debris and into the giant "ear" that is the Murchison Widefield Array in Western Australia.

The high sensitivity of the radio telescope launched earlier this year allows it to detect objects smaller than 1 meter (3.2 feet), according to its director Steven Tingay of Curtin University. Tingay wants to use the array to improve knowledge of the thousands of bits of scrap that may threaten working satellites. … Read more

Australian postal service introduces video stamps

We're surprised, after Croatia introduced the QR code stamp last year, that the idea hasn't really taken off. After all, stamps are the perfect size and shape for the smartphone-scannable bar codes.

It's awesome to see Australia Post getting in on the action. Unlike the Croatian stamp, which was used to track the passage of mail across the globe, though, Australia Post's version -- called the Video Stamp -- lets you record a video message to send with your post. You can record 15 seconds of footage up to 12 hours after you have posted your item.

When recipients get the package, they can scan the stamp using their smartphone to receive whatever message you want to send. If the recipient doesn't have a smartphone, they can enter an eight-digit code on the Australia Post Web site to view the video. … Read more

Dating site ad ban: Women shouldn't smear women with sandwiches

I am all for freedom of association.

Conventional wisdoms about relationships so often turn out to be unwise, so if older men wish to date younger women or vice versa, I wish them every fortune.

In Australia, however, certain apparatchiks seem averse to older women being portrayed as having more foxy and more moxie than their younger counterparts.

The nation's Advertising Standards Board has banned an ad for a dating site called CougarLife.com.

As its name rather implies, this is a site where younger men pursue older women. At least, I think it's that way around.

In … Read more

Eyewear shopping app turns your headshot into 3D image

The last time I picked out new eyeglasses, I spent about an hour trying out different pairs in the store. Of course I had to drive there, find and pay for parking, and get soaked in the rain.

I would have much rather used Smart Vision, an Australian technology that can create an augmented-reality 3D model of a face from a 2D image.

It can show you what you look like when trying on many different pairs of glasses or sunglasses, and you won't even have to leave home. … Read more

'Attention Powered Car' won't drive unless you're concentrating

Emotiv and the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia have joined forces to come up with a slightly unusual solution for the dangers of driver inattention.

The so-called Attention Powered Car features a neuroheadset made by Emotiv, creator of a range of electroencephalography-based monitoring gear.

When worn, the headset, known as the EPOC, measures electrical activity in the brain to gauge how focused the driver is on driving.

The headset interfaces with custom software installed in the car, with any lapses in concentration resulting in the vehicle slowing down safely to about 9 mph as a way of alerting the driver to his or her inattention. … Read more