Friday, November 16, 2007

Cadbury's Dairy Milk Gorilla

I'm in the UK for a visit with my friends and family, and one of the things I love here is real Cadbury's Dairy Milk, not that near but not quite stuff made by Hersheys. I just saw this advert for Dairy Milk featuring a gorilla and the music of Phil Collins, and loved it. Enjoy...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kakapo to be artificially inseminated

With Summer rapidly approaching in the southern hemisphere, the news from Stuff.co.nz is that the first artificial insemination of Kakapos is planned with hope of boosting the Kakapo numbers up from 86.
Kakapo recovery programme senior technical officer Daryl Eason said he turned to artificial insemination after the last breeding season two years ago was hampered by high levels of egg infertility. Only four kakapo chicks were born from 26 eggs laid on Whenua Hou (Codfish Island), near Stewart Island, and 60% of eggs laid were infertile.
[...]
Just as for humans, kakapo breeding with closely related mates risk genetic deformities, such as infertility. Eason said all but one kakapo, Fiordland kakapo Richard Henry, were from Stewart Island or were their offspring. Genes from Richard Henry were particularly precious in improving genetic diversity.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sony Reader PRS-505: Stephen Fry's blog

I'm thoroughly enjoying my latest toy, the new Sony Reader PRS-505. It's been a very enjoyable experience, and I've already read three books on it. Surprisingly, the short "flash" between page-flips has not been any distraction at all, and I'm finding that I actually engage MORE with the Reader's text than I do with a regular paper book. Once I get comfortable, I never need to move, save for a thumb-blip on the page turn button every few seconds.

The beautiful electronic-ink screen is truly marvellous, and because there is no back-light there's no eye strain at all. When I'm tired at the end of the day, I sometimes boost the font-size up to "Large", so every book can be a big print book. It's a shame that the older generation who would most benefit from such a feature, are the least likely to be interested in such a device, but every "more mature" person I've shown it to really likes it. You'll still need a book-light if you want to read in the dark, but that's not something I do anyway.

It's a great device, solid of construction, but nice and light. It will be perfect for my trip back to the UK in November, and my carry-on luggage will be considerably lighter than it would be normally. I won't need to carry three or four bulging books with me, instead I'll have the three new e-books I bought from the Sony Connect store (Stephen Fry's "Revenge", Alan Alda's memoirs and Ewan McGregor's "Long Way Round"), plus a dozen of the "100 free classics", Jules Verne, Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin etc. In addition, there's also 2000+ public domain books available on MobileRead.com, where I picked up some of the less well known Jules Verne stories.

I also converted Stephen Fry's blog posts for the Reader by copying and pasting the contents to a Word Doc and then dragging them across to the Reader via USB. Stephen Fry's "blessays" are the longest and most entertaining blog posts on the web, and with a little jiggery-pokery they became almost like book chapters on the Reader. Very worthwhile train reading. The good folks at MobileRead.com have lots of other tools that can be used to convert or make content for the Reader.

Below you'll find a quick slideshow of my Reader in action, as well as the home-brew "softcase" I made from a $0.50 clearance item at Staples.
There's no doubt that this technology is still in its infancy, but over the next few years these screens will get bigger and more usable for student text-books. Right now they are a perfect replacement for reading novels on the go, and considerably lighter! I won't be carrying any more hefty hardbacks around in my backpack if I can avoid it.

The Reader is available for purchase at SonyStyle.com, Borders and Best Buy stores, and online in various places. Purchasing from Amazon.com will help me with the up-keep of this site, and some other projects I'm working on.

Mountain Gorillas: Diddy and Innocent

Gorilla Rangers Diddy and Innocent continue their regular updates on the crisis in the DRC. Their reports can be found on the BBC News site and the Gorilla Protection blog.
Innocent Mburanumwe

Head of gorilla monitoring in the Mikeno sector. He has worked in Virunga National Park for nine years. His father is a patrol post chief. His brother was also a high-level ranger, but was killed in the line of service in November 1996.

Diddy Mwanaki

Head of tourism in the southern sector of Virunga National Park. He has been a ranger for 16 years and started working with the gorillas in the Mikeno sector in 1991. He was forced to flee from his work from 1997-2001 during the nation's civil war.

On a related note, do check out one of the Animal Planet encore presentations of Natalie Portman's Saving a Species: Gorillas on the Brink throughout November.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ganges River Dolphins: Bodies of dolphins found in sacks

There was some horrible news out of India last month, when the bodies of about six endangered Ganges River Dolpins were found next to a railway track. The dolphins had been cut up into small pieces and put into eight sacks and then unceremoniously dumped next to the line. The BiharTimes has the story...
The sacks were noticed by the villagers near a railway track and the police were informed.

"The evidence suggests that the consignment was being taken to Kolkata or northeastern states by train. And something must have forced the smugglers to throw them out of the train," a police official said.

Dolphins are locally called sons of the Ganges river, but pollution and rampant fishing have threatened their existence.