Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Tips On Using Public Computers While Travelling

A close family member is heading overseas for 3 months. I contacted the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy for advice in respect of accessing the internet while travelling overseas.

Below are the main points from the response:

  • Don’t save your user name and password – always make sure that you turn off the option to save them when logging into your email account and other websites. Always click “log out” when leaving a website.
  • Make sure no-one is watching you – when you are using public computers, people might look over your shoulder to obtain your personal information.
  • Log out if you leave the computer – even if it is just for a moment. If possible, do not leave the computer unattended.
  • Delete your browsing history before you log out of the computer – internet browsers store information about your passwords and the pages that you visit. Go to the tools menu of the internet browser and select “options” or “internet options”. Make sure that the browser has any auto-complete function turned off, delete any cookies, and clear the history.
  • Don’t type in sensitive information – even if you take the precautions listed above the public computer may have malicious software called a keystroke logger installed on it. These can steal your password, credit card number and bank details. Avoid doing financial transactions that could reveal sensitive information.

To stay informed about e-security risks, the Department recommends that people subscribe for free to the Stay Smart Online Alert Service www.ssoalertservice.net.au

Monday, 13 April 2009

What Patterson’s Curse Tells Us About the Soil

We have 4 paddocks on Ochre Arch were Patterson’s Curse (Echium plantagineum) was prevalent during the spring toward the end of 2008. My previous research had suggested that it was a symptom of compacted bare soils that were deficient in copper. On this last point I’d heard that the plant actually attracted copper and by so doing is helping the landholders by addressing a soil deficiency. It was this feature that tended to cause copper poisoning in horses – especially where set stocking and low biodiversity is evident i.e. the horses have nothing else to eat. Another story I heard once was that the name Salvation Jane was derived in South Australia as the plant in some parts was at one point pretty much the only green plant that survived at different times of the year and kept stock alive.

In the latest edition of the Farming Secrets Digest Volume # 2 (See http://www.farmingsecretsdigest.com) under the heading ‘Weed of the Month: Paterson’s Curse or Salvation Jane’ Hugo and Helen Disler have included the following explanation which they’ve granted me permission to publish on Ochre Archives.

“Paterson’s Curse or Echium plantagineum is an introduced herb native to the Mediterranean region. The seed heads are up to 3 cm long. It flowers mainly late winter to early summer. Dispersal: Spread by seed. Long distance spread often via fodder.

Why does it grow?
Paterson’s Curse grows in compacted, acid soils with low levels of lime. It has a deep tap root which brings up copper and makes it drought tolerant.

Is it dangerous to stock?
It is if overgrazing occurs and stock consume excessive amounts of it. The following problems may arise: Liver damage, Reduced Weight, Gain, Reduced Wool, Clip Death in severe cases.

Solve the problem!
Provide supplementary dolomite as a stock-lick in conditions where stock has to graze. Seaweed is also recommended. Don’t overgraze so good ground coverage remains. Chip out rosettes and leave on the ground as a message to the soil. Get the soil biologically active so that other plants grow to replace the Paterson’s Curse.”

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Vehicle Refuelling Tips

Occasionally I’ve found that the fuel nozzles on some bowsers at service stations seemed finicky in that the automatic shut-off cuts off all almost constantly with the result that it takes ages to fill the vehicle. My usual reaction has been to let the attendant know when paying for the fuel and avoid using that bowser in the future. Recently I had trouble filling the car at the United service station at Cowra. When I told the attendant what had occurred he was most helpful and explained what to do in the future.
The shut-off problem occurs mainly with unleaded fuel because of the safety insert just inside the fuel cap. The purpose of the insert is to reduce the diameter of the pipe to prevent motorists from using the wrong type of fuel. They were installed in vehicles manufactured after Australia made the decision to switch from leaded fuels to reduce the health hazard from the old fuels. The inserts have a small flap that is designed to stop fuel flowing rapidly out of the tank in the event that the auto-shut off does not function properly. The auto-shut off mechanism works off air pressure. There is a very small tube in the pipe at the top of the nozzle that provides the mechanism for the detection equipment to function.
To effectively stop the auto-shut off function from working two changes in the way the nozzle is positioned and used are required. The first is to insert the nozzle so that the end is only just past the small back-flow flap mentioned above. The second it to turn the nozzle 180 degrees from the normal position i.e. turn it upside down. I tried this yesterday when refuelling our utility vehicle, which is notoriously difficult to fill, and it worked superbly.
WARNING: Using the above method turns off the auto-shut off. This means that unless the motorist is extremely careful there is a high likelihood that the fuel tank will overflow, creating extreme risks of the motorists ending up with fuel all over themselves … with obvious fire risks. To avoid fuel spillage the motorist should reduce the flow into the tank from what might normally be the case, ‘listen’ to the sound of the fuel going into the tank and watch very attentively to stop the fuel flow early. When listening to the fuel flow it is normal that the pitch of the sound increases when the tank is almost full. This was the main mechanism we used to rely on before the introduction of auto-shut-off bowsers. It was the auto-shut-off mechanism that allowed service stations to change from having staff available to fill up vehicles to what we see almost everywhere today - self-service.