Friday, 7 April 2006

Newsletter Issue 112, April 2006

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 112, April 2006
Hi guys,
It looks like Bird Flu isn't all media hype. Check out Massey's Modelling Bird Flu below.
Are you 'parking challenged'? Then read on about the Laser Guided Parking System below. 
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Massey's Modelling Bird Flu

Far from the calls of 'media hype' surrounding bird flu, NZ's Massey University’s Epidemiology Centre software team (known as 'EpiCentre' - very cute) is helping fight possible outbreaks, and enable the co-ordination of swifter responses. The Palmerston North team has developed a modeling framework called InterSpread Plus, designed to help authorities control an outbreak and the aftermath.
Roger Morris, co-director of EpiCentre, says that InterSpread Plus will model any contagious disease, based on entry of animal populations and the country's true spatial geography. To model bird flu they would enter all the poultry farms, backyard type poultry and the other birds populations which are at risk from getting bird flu.
Bryan O’Leary, software development manager at the EpiCentre says “The framework allows you to describe the disease — how transmissible it is, how fatal it is, how infective it is to different animal types”. The software allows the user to describe the domain — for example a list of farms. There are a number of sections for input on how the disease might spread, how efficient a country would be in finding the disease and controlling it, says O’Leary. The software makes calculations based on that data and comes up with a prediction of the future.
InterSpread Plus predicts that the risk of a substantial epidemic in Britain is low, according to Morris. “It’s not out of the question, but if it does happen, it would be associated with non-commercial poultry, not with commercial poultry,” he says. In Asia the risk of a large outbreak is greater because of the lack of control, he says. “On the other hand, you can with relatively simple control measures get the number down to only a few [infected] flocks.” Morris thinks North America is probably already infected or is close to becoming infected, but that it will not be detected for some time.
EpiCentre is one of the largest software developers in the epidemiology field, selling software and providing consulting services to interested organisations, recently building a model representing the British poultry population for the UK government. The software has also been sold to Hong Kong, Vietnam, South Korea, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Argentina.
Massey at least is taking the avian influenza threat very seriously, as are those organisations who are buying their product. See the full Computerworld article by Ulrika Hedquist at

Laser Guided Parking System

From the pages of, I spotted this article on a new parking device.
The EZ Park "Laser Guided Parking System can help you pull into your garage perfectly. Mounted to your garage ceiling, the system detects when you come in and emits a laser beam pointing at the perfect stopping point to ensure you don't pull too far forward or to the side.
"You select your own sweet spot — say, a point on top of your dash — and mount the laser to target it. Then when you pull in, watch the beam slowly drift closer and closer to the spot, sort of like Indiana Jones in the map room in Raiders of the Lost Ark (soundtrack not included).
"Once you hit the bull's-eye, put 'er in park. For those who've ever dinged a fender or lost a side-view mirror because of poor garage maneuvering [sic], a laser parking aid is probably worth $25. You just need a Philips screwdriver to install it."
Manufactured by the Peterson Manufacturing Company in the US, the kit includes the laser beam module and a power transformer (110 Volt AC adapter), screws and hook-A-loop tape. It can be operated by AC power with an included US power transformer (you need have - or buy - a 230V transformer to run it in New Zealand), or you can run it from 9V battery if you have one. You can buy the full US kit at
A very USEFUL application of technology.

"Insert File" Dialog Box View Fix

I have been having a problem in both Word & Outlook 2003 SP2, with my folders showing in the "Insert File" dialog boxes as "Music" Folders, despite those particular folder properties having been set as "Documents (for any file type)".
My problem was noticeable when I was in detail view, attaching a file attachment using "Insert file" in Outlook, and on "Insert Picture" in Word. As I tend to work with a large number of files in a folder, I would use the detail view to sort my files by date, and then select the latest file when it came to the top on a descending sort. So not being able to sort by date was quite frustrating and time consuming.
However, I found a fix that I thought I would share with you all, as follows:
  1. Open Word
  2. Go to the Insert Menu
  3. Select Insert Picture | from File
  4. In the dialog box, hovered the mouse cursor over the column headers
  5. Right click and select from the column list "Date Modified", and untick all those items relating to music files
  6. Close the dialog box using the top left x
  7. Close Word.
The next time I went into Word my dialog box changes were still there. And interestingly, changing the "Insert Picture" dialog box layout in Word also changed Outlook's attachment "Insert File" dialog box.
Hope that helps someone!

TLAs for SMEs

Here is this newsletter's TLA for you;
  • RFID, radio frequency identification. Uses electromagnetic or electrostatic coupling in the radio frequency (RF) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to uniquely identify an object, animal, or person, likely to replace barcodes.RFID is sometimes called dedicated short range communication (DSRC).
Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
Over this & the next newsletter, we are going to look at all you can do with "-" (minus);
  • Access "Remove the selected data column form the query output" - (Minus)
  • PowerPoint "End a slide show" - (Minus)
  • Outlook "Switch to week view when using general keys for moving around in day/week/month view" Alt & - (Minus)
  • Windows "Display Document menu from the leftmost icon on the main toolbar of the active document window or display the system menu for MDI programs" Alt & - (Minus)
  • IE "Zoom out. " Alt & - (Minus)
  • Windows "Display the system menu for MDI programs " Alt & - (Minus)
  • Word "Remove a command from a menu; use by typing shortcut key and then selecting a menu command" Alt & Ctrl & - (Minus) Word "Customize Remove Menu Shortcut" Alt & Ctrl & - (Minus)

Hot Linx
For an erudite update on the world situation before beginning your business day, call in at the Economist at
Be careful what teenage discipline you impose, because very sticky situations can result. Read on at
For those of you who are interested in art, you may find Tracy Duncan's online gallery interesting at
If you take public transport, listen to your iPod & get sick of people talking to you when you want to be left alone, check out Marco's idea at

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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