Dec
30
2008
2

Did February ever contain 30 days?

February 30th on a 1712 Swedish almanac (public domain image)There was once a February 30th, but in rather unusual circumstances. The old Julian calendar wasn’t quite in step with the journey of the earth around the sun, and the seasons were gradually getting out of step with the calendar. Pope Gregory XIII realised that the calendar could be made more accurate by adjusting the [&hel[more...]

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Dec
30
2008
1

If Android is open source, why is the G1 locked to T-Mobile?

HTC Android T-Mobile G1 (photo by Edlimagno - CC-BY)Google sure caused a lot of confusion here! Their very vocal announcements of the Android project on 5 November 2007 raised the expectation that Android phones would contain open software and be readily hackable, but the only Android phone released to date has been locked down. What gives? One cause for concern was that the [&hel[more...]

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Dec
30
2008
5

How do you cook pasta in the microwave?

Mike's Red Pepper Pasta (photo by clairity - CC-BY)It’s very easy to cook all kinds of pasta in the microwave. First, boil a large quantity of water. I use an electric kettle. Tip the dry pasta into a large microwave-safe bowl, such as a glass casserole bowl, and cover generously with the boiling water. You need enough water to cover the pasta even [&hel[more...]

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Dec
30
2008
2

Why did Woolworths fail (go bust) in the UK?

Woolworths closes down (photo by eiffel - CC-BY)In a sense, Woolworths Group plc failed because they did not bring in enough money to cover their costs (they became insolvent). The wider question is: why were they not turning a profit? Woolies started out in Liverpool in 1909 as a “3d and 6d” (threepence and sixpence) shop selling low-priced mass-produced items, and was [&hel[more...]

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Dec
30
2008
0

What is the comment policy at Quezi?

Photo by pareeerica - CC-BYAt Quezi we welcome your comments! Our researchers do a great job, but can’t guarantee that their answers are 100% complete or correct. The comment facility is your chance to put us straight, or to add a new dimension to the answer. We have only a few requirements: No spam – we “nofollow” all links [&hel[more...]

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Dec
29
2008
0

How does GMT differ from UTC?

Tunnels of Time (photo by fdecomite - CC-BY)GMT is “Greenwich Mean Time”, and UTC is “Universal Co-ordinated Time” (the abbreviation is derived from the French “Temps Universel Coordonné”). GMT is directly related to the earth’s rotation. The idea is that noon GMT corresponds to the time when the sun is directly overhead, and midnight GMT corresponds to the middle of the night. [&hel[more...]

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Dec
29
2008
1

What’s the difference between HSPA, HS*PA, HSUPA and HSDPA (for mobile phones)?

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 supports HSPA (photo by tomsun - CC-BY)The terms HSPA, HS*PA, HSDPA and HSUPA all relate to the high speed data access provided by high-specification cellphones and the cellular networks to which those phones are attached. These are “high speed” technologies over and above that provided by “third generation” (3G) cellphone technology. HSDPA stands for “high speed downlink packet access” and is [&hel[more...]

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Dec
28
2008
0

How can Wikipedia work when anyone can just change anything?

Change (photo by Meanest Indian - CC-BY)It’s truly remarkable that Wikipedia has become a valuable reference work. After all, it is the end result of hundreds of millions of uncontrolled edits by anyone who wants to click the “Edit” link. How can it work? Why has Wikipedia not decayed into a wasteland of propaganda, delusions and spam? For sure, there are [&hel[more...]

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Dec
28
2008
0

Do animals other than humans masturbate?

(image by aliarasiii - CC-BY)Masturbation is common in many non-human species. In particular, male and female masturbation is widespread amongst mammals and birds. Masturbation has been observed in dogs, horses, porcupines, cats, chimpanzees, gorillas, bears, goats, ferrets, hyenas, lions, bats, walruses, baboons, bonobos, sheep, deer, zebras and many other species. There are numerous variations in technique, and both males [&hel[more...]

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Dec
28
2008
0

Should the hot tap (faucet) be on the right or left of the cold tap?

Graffiti Tap (photo by Glutnix - CC-BY)There are two standard ways to decide on which side to mount the hot tap. I suggest you enquire locally as to which is in use in your area. The first approach is to always put the cold tap (cold faucet) on the right and the hot tap on the left. The reasoning behind this [&hel[more...]

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Dec
23
2008
0

What present can I buy for a geek?

Andrew, Yoshi and Michael dream of good old-fashioned geek gifts from the "Think Geek" catalogue (photo by Randy Son Of Robert - CC-BY)Geeks like new things, shiny things, things with hidden functions, things that are particularly powerful or clever, things that are surprising, things that no-one else has yet, unusual combinations, and things that make people think or go “wow”. The king of all geek gift sites is surely thinkgeek.com, where you can find drum kit shirts, [&hel[more...]

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Dec
21
2008
0

What’s the difference between SDHC and SD memory cards?

SanDisk SD and SDHC cards (photo by sekido - CC-BY)SD and SDHC cards are small cards that contain non-volatile solid state memory (“flash memory”). SD and SDHC cards look the same. They both conform to the SD (“Secure Digital“) card form factor, and can be inserted into the same slot on the device. The electrical specifications are the same too. They both run on [&hel[more...]

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Dec
21
2008
0

How do I copy and paste on a Nokia Internet Tablet N800 or N810?

Nokia N810 (left), Nokia N800 (right) with bluetooth keyboardYou can select the text that you want to copy in several ways. Double-tap with the stylus to select a word or a string (such as a URL). On the N810, tap at one end of the string then hold down SHIFT and use the left or right buttons on the D-pad to extend the [&hel[more...]

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Dec
20
2008
0

What are all the verses of “God Save The Queen”?

Queen Victoria (photo by ktylerconk - CC-BY)Most people only know the first verse of the UK National Anthem, God Save The Queen. Occasionally, the third is played and sung too, but few people will sing the second “politically incorrect” verse. Here are these three verses: God save our gracious Queen, Long live our noble Queen, God save the Queen: Send her [&hel[more...]

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Dec
20
2008
0

What can I give to someone who doesn’t like flowers, doesn’t drink wine and doesn’t eat chocolate?

Gift boxes (photo by Saquan Stimpson - CC-BY)There are plenty of gifts you can give to someone who doesn’t like flowers, doesn’t drink wine and doesn’t eat chocolate – even though these are the conventional small “thank-you” gifts. First, are all wine-related products out of consideration? What about a bottle of non-alcoholic wine, or a bottle of spiced or mulled wine? Still [&hel[more...]

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Dec
20
2008
0

How do you cook rice in a microwave oven?

Bowl of rice (photo by georgereyes - CC-BY)It’s particularly easy, and just about foolproof, to cook white rice in a microwave oven. Set some water to boil. While it’s heating up, get a mug. Any kind of cup or mug will do, but a coffee mug is about the right size for the amount of rice that I like to cook at [&hel[more...]

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Dec
19
2008
0

Why is the sky blue?

Clouds and corn (photo by Kables - CC-BY)The sky appears blue to us because we are seeing part of the sunlight that has been scattered towards our eyes, and blue light is most readily scattered by the earth’s atmosphere. The sun emits light of all frequencies (colors). Were it not for the scattering of the atmosphere, we would see the sun as [&hel[more...]

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Dec
19
2008
0

What’s the difference between the iPhone 3G and the original iPhone?

Original, left, and 3G iPhone, right (photo by Dan Taylor - CC-BY)The biggest difference between the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G is that the iPhone 3G supports third generation phone networks, which can transfer data much faster. The fastest data transfer supported is 3.6Mbit/s HSDPA which, although not the maximum that HSDPA can support, is fast for mobile web browsing. 3G is supported on the [&hel[more...]

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Dec
18
2008
0

How do you cook sweet corn?

Corn on the grill (photo by ChrisDag - CC-BY)How you cook sweet corn depends on whether or not you like how it tastes! The traditional way method is to remove the husk (leaves) and silk (threads) then vigorously boil the cobs until the flavor and vitamins have disappeared. Fifteen minutes should do, or twenty minutes if you want to make absolutely sure. Drain [&hel[more...]

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