Cornwall going quackers over invaders

Hundreds of rubber ducks are expected to appear in the waters around Cornwall and eventually be washed up on the shore.

No, this isn’t some bizarre PR stunt, the ducks were part of a consignment travelling from Hong Kong to the US that fell overboard along with thousands of other plastic animals during a storm in January 1992.

Rubber DuckThe rubber duckys have been floating the seas for the past 15 years, covering 17,000 miles with some finding themselves washed up on shores as far flung as Alaska and Austrialia. Collectors are willing to pay up to 1000 per toy, far outweighing the reward of 50 offered by the manufacturers!

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Desktop Tower Defence – super addictive gaming

It’s not often an online game gets my attention like Desktop Tower Defence has, so I felt it was only right that I share it with you.

DTD is war. War against creeps – tiny little critters that scurry around the game screen from one side to the other. Your mission is to stick weapons in a minesweeper-meets-maze style layout, forcing the creeps past all your firepower and hopefully kill them all before they make it out the otherside and escape.

Being flash based, the puzzle/strategy game doesn’t need anything installed other than the Flash plugin. High scores can be saved online for all to see and you can even create high score groups so that all your work colleages/schoolmates scores are listed together.

Desktop Tower Defence screenshot

Every few seconds sees another wave of creeps launched into your maze, each with their own characteristics. You may be fighting against speedy creeps, slow but seemingly invincible creeps or even creeps that fly above your towers ignoring your fiendish maze layout.

Once you get the hang of it, a flawless victory can be had on the Easy setting but it will take some practice and clever maze construction to master Medium and Hard!

Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

Sniff Petrol facelift model on it’s way

Automotive piss-taker Richard Porter’s Sniff Petrol website is undergoing a bit of a change.

The old version has been around for as long as I can remember and never fails to disappoint with some classic news, quotes from industry execs and of course the adverts – all spoofed for your reading pleasure.

Sadly Sniff Petrol died when Richard’s PC went tits up (where were the Tech Guys with their Phoenix-style consortium, rushing in to sell the website to the Far-East?) he took the initiative and decided a revamp was in order. Sniff Petrol MkII is here.

Using the Blogger engine means jibes at the latest BMW model and TVR owner Nikolai Smolenski can be posted immediately for us all to see, rather than wait for the site to be updated once in a blue moon.

Have a look for yourself and see what you think.

Sniff Petrol Mk2

Hull Floods

A friend in Hull as sent me photos of their house and surrounding streets, completely flooded by the heavy rains we’ve been having in the UK.

It really does hit home how serious this is when someone you know is affected. The Fire Brigade have closed off parts of Hull to traffic and yes people are stupid enough to try and drive through it!

Hull FloodsHull floodHull floods

DIY SatNav

I recently went on a campervan holiday and decided I would get some SatNav to make it a bit easier to get around.

After considering offerings from TomTom and Garmin, I stumbled upon the free Nav4All software which the manufacturers promised would work with my Sony Ericsson K800i – all I would need is a GPS receiver and I would be away.

The Software

Downloading Nav4All was easy, simply type the address into your mobile’s web browser and accept all the download messages you get. Once saved, you can run it as you would any Java application (check the Nav4All website for phone compatibility).

Nav4All has a few nice features over it’s mainstream rivals – the best being their online account where you can create your destinations. You can then access these via your mobile’s Internet connection when you’re out and about. Searching for new destinations is also easy through the mobile software’s search engine.

Nav4All has all the usual options for setting units based on your country preferences but also your driving style so if you prefer to hammer down the back roads, avoiding the motorways, the software will work out a route for you.

The Hardware

For the GPS receiver, I decided on the Navicore Slim SiRF III from Mobile Fun as it offered Bluetooth connectivity to the K800i. It’s no larger than a pack of Wrigleys Juicy Fruit and comes with a USB cable and car 12v adaptor for charging up on the move (although battery life is a claimed 8 hours when in use).

Turning on the receiver gives you two lights – a blue Bluetooth symbol which flashes when it’s paired and an orange GPS symbol that flashes when it’s locked onto satellites. When charging you get a red power symbol.

The pack also includes a bright red lanyard for hanging the receiver from your neck or somewhere in the car, although I found reception was fine with the receiver in the glovebox.

On the road

Using the system was a breeze. Simply turn on the Navicore and when the orange GPS symbol starts flashing, load up Nav4All on your mobile.
Choose your destination from either a list of previous destinations, selecting from your online Nav4All account or by searching from the mobile.

Once calculated, your route is displayed on screen with simple arrows and information showing the distance to the instruction, total time for the journey, etc. You can also set the voice commands from a number of included voices (female, male, etc).

Accuracy is good, giving adequate warning for turnings.

Verdict

For a solution costing a fraction of the price (plus you can use the Navicore for other GPS uses you may have), this is a serious contender for a TomTom et al. and you don’t need to worry about having a windscreen cradle on show to intice would-be thieves.
Get one today.