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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Safe Rodent Bait

Someone asked me if there's a rodent bait that is safe to use around domestic animals including dogs and cats.

It looks like Rode-trol may be the solution:

"Manufactured from All-Natural and Environmentally-Safe Products! Rode-trol®, Ro-Con™ and Ro-cide™ are made from all natural, food-grade, corn byproducts. Finely milled and pelleted; molasses and corn oil concentrate are then added as an attractant."

Available from here:

http://www.benedaniels.com/rodetrol.htm

If you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com

Marriage License With Error Legal?

Someone asked me if a marriage license with an error, e.g. their husband's birth date indicating that he was only 7 years old, is legally valid.

If you want to get the error corrected then there should be no problem with filing a new marriage license and the cost is minimal.

If you are trying to escape a marriage using a technicality then I recommend that you talk to a lawyer, which I am not.

If you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cicada Killer Wasp Sting Danger

Someone asked if Cicada Killer Wasps ever sting or bite people and if they are a danger to people or pets.

Apparently the Cicada Killer rarely stings unless they are disturbed. Although males are aggressive and territorial they have no sting. Females are difficult to provoke, but may sting if provoked. The sting descriptions range from mild, and dissipating within an hour, to medium, and persisting for a week; most information that I've found seems to imply the the sting is relatively minor.

However, note that sting allergies may make the situation potentially very serious. Our Great Dane was stung on the face a couple of times and his entire body became covered in lumps within minutes. Anti-histamine, in this case benadryl, was administered orally immediately, to good effect, and we monitored him to ensure that he didn't require an emergency trip to the vet. It would be nice to be able to say that he learned from his mistake but alas no, there were several re-matches and I think he lost every time.

If you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Do Toads Hibernate in Garages?

Someone asked me if their pet toad will hibernate if kept in a garage during the cold winter months.

If the garage is uninsulated and unheated then the temperature in the garage will be quite close to the outside temperature, although it would be a bit warmer, and so the toad will probably go into hibernation. Just ensure that it has plenty of food before hibernation time so it can make it through the winter and provide appropriate foliage for the toad to hide itself under.

If the toad came from a pet shop then they can probably provide you with some great tips on how to look after it, how to house it, and what to feed it . If it's a local wild toad then the best thing to do is to set it free where it will do what comes naturally. It would be much better to create a wild toad habitat in the yard/garden where you can see them in their natural setting, not in a glass bowl.

If you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Katydid versus Cicada

Someone asked what the difference between Katydids and Cicadas is. A Katydid is in the same general family (Tettigoniidae) as grasshoppers, crickets, and locusts. A Cicada is in an entirely different family (Cicadoidea).

Here are some pictures of Katydids:

Katydids in google images
Katydids in Flickr

Here are some pictures of Cicadas:

Cicadas in google images
Cicadas in Flickr

If you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Red and Black Beafeater Uniform

Someone asked me what the purpose of the red Beafeater, Yeoman Warder, uniforms is as opposed to the black uniform. They also wondered why Beafeaters carry an axe and what their duties are.

The red ceremonial uniform is reserved for special/official occasions and the black undress uniform is the everyday version.

The Yeoman Warders carry a pike, a long spear, the Chief Warder carries a staff topped with a silver model of the white tower, and the Yeoman Gaoler carries a ceremonial battle axe. The weapons are traditional but probably effective if need be, but they also carry handguns. The Foot Guards, with their bearskin hats, provide the serious firepower in the form of SA80 machine guns.

The Beafeaters used to guard the prison, i.e. the Tower of London, but now mostly act as guides and care for the ravens.

The Tower of London is certainly a fascinating step back into history and well worth a visit.

If you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com

Monday, March 12, 2007

Music Bad for the Mind

Someone asked me if music is bad for your mind; like anything else, it depends ;-)

The creators of the Baby Einstein and Little Einsteins obviously believe that music is very beneficial to the brain and there was an article in Scientific American that was referenced by wikipedia that claims significantly beneficial brain differences caused by music, although there is an opposing side that may disagree.

I'm pretty certain of music's effect on myself; certain types of music definitely induce altered brain states that may well be therapeutic and literally give me goose bumps when I hear them. No one style is better than another, it's all personal preference, some may like classical, some my like trance, and some may like something in between.

What do you think, is music bad for your mind?

If you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com

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Friday, September 29, 2006

OpenOffice boolean if function

Someone asked me how they would use boolean statements in OpenOffice's Spreadsheet application, Calc.

In my previous example showing how to calculate the number of days between 2 dates I set cells A1 and B1 to be dates and set C1 to be a formula that used the "DAYS" function to calculate the number of days between the two dates.

If you wanted to only output the calculation if A1 and B1 were greater than zero and output 0 otherwise you could use the "IF" and "AND" functions as follows:

=IF(AND(A1>0;B1>0);DAYS(A1;B1);0)


The "IF" function takes three parameters:

1st - a boolean test, in this case "AND(A1>0;B1>0)"
2nd - a value to output if the test evaluates to TRUE, in this case "DAYS(A1;B1)"
3rd - a value to output if the test evaluates to FALSE, in this case "0"

Spreadsheets are really quite versatile. It's surprising just how much they can do.

If you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com

OpenOffice Calculate Days Between

Someone asked me how they could calculate the number of days between two dates using OpenOffice's Spreadsheet application, Calc.

The answer is to use the "DAYS" function.

Type a date in cell A1, set the format of the cell to be a date, type another date in cell B1, set that cells format to also be a date, then enter the following in cell C1:

=DAYS(A1;B1)


Cell C1 will now contain a number signifying the number of days between the two dates.

If you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fast Velcro Costume Change

Someone just asked me how do performers make a clothes change so quickly on stage?

Simple answer; Velcro.

All those buttons are just for show, underneath it's just Velcro.

If you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com

Periodic Cyclic Cicadas

Someone just asked me a few more cicada questions:

1. What year will the cyclical cicada occur here in Illinois?

2. Do both the annual and the cyclical occur at the same time?

3. If the cyclical cicada egg takes 13/17 years to become a larva and
emerge, how long is the annual underground? Is it a year?

The answers are:

1. Broods III, XIII, XIX, and XXIII will emerge in 2014, 2007, 2011, and 2015 respectively.

2. The annual and periodic cicadas may coexist at the same time.

3. The annual cicada exists underground between 1 and 7 years.

If you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com

Friday, September 22, 2006

Smallest MythTV Frontend

click image to zoom
Someone asked me if I knew of a really small, tiny, PC that could be used as a MythTV frontend. The eBox III 3800 has an 800mhz CPU and 256MB RAM so it should be adequate for a standard definition mythfrontend PC. It can boot from the LAN using PXE, which is great for a frontend, so the lack of hard drive shouldn't be an issue.

You don't get much smaller than that, or do you?

If you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Right Justified Everything

Someone just asked me what they are doing that sometimes causes all their text in MS Notepad to become right justified and, more importantly, how do they change it back to being left justified?

What's actually happening is windows is being told, by certain hotkeys being pressed, to switch from the typical Western left-to-right text orientation to a right-to-left text orientation used in Arabic and Hebrew.

The shortcut keys that are doing this switch are:

CTRL + RightShift - right-to-left orientation

and

CTRL + LeftShift - left-to-right orientation

If you forget the key combination to switch back after you accidently get into right-to-left orientation don't worry. If you close the application down and restart it'll be back to the normal left-to-right orientation that you're familiar with.

There is a huge number of windows shortcuts and I agree that it can be very frustrating to accidently perform one and not know how to get back to the original state that you were in. If you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Dead Toad Hibernation

Someone asked me if it was normal for their pet toad to curl up and remain completely still at the onset of winter. "Is the toad dead?"

Most likely not. Most toads hibernate in the winter and will often appear to be dead only to reanimate in the spring as the weather warms up. The best thing to do is to leave the toad alone and see what happens, hopefully your pet will awaken refreshed and rejuvenated after its 4 month siesta.

Do you have a pet toad which hibernates?

Before getting a pet it's a really good idea to do your research. It's a terrible shame to have all the best intentions in the world but still cause harm through a lack of understanding for an animal's needs. If you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Lost Window

Someone asked me if I knew how they could find a window which they'd lost in Windows XP. What happened was that they had been using their laptop in dual screen mode and then went to another location where they only had a single screen. When they ran one particular application it restored its window to the second, now non-existent, screen. Consequently, the window was not visible.

The solution is to move the application back to the visible screen and then remember not to move it to the second screen in the future. This is a bug in the application since 99% of applications check to confirm that they are restoring their windows to valid coordinates before restoring.

What you need to do is this:

1) Press <ALT><TAB> to select the invisible application

2) Press <ALT><SPACE> to select the application's menu

3) Press M to select the Move menu item

4) Use the arrow keys to move the application's window back to the screen where it'll be visible.

The direction which you need to move the application's window depends upon how you set up your secondary screen. Generally the secondary screen is to the right of the primary screen and, in that case, you would simply move the invisible application window to the left using the arrow key in order to see it with the primary screen.

Multiple screened computing is very productive, I'd say that two 15" screens are better than a single 21" even though the single 21" has more pixels, if you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com

Friday, October 21, 2005

Poisoned Rats Dangerous

Someone asked if poisoned rats are dangerous to cats and dogs and, if so, how to ensure that cats and dogs do not eat the poisoned rats. This is a followup question to an earlier answer about rat repellant:

http://bensqanda.blogspot.com/2005/06/rat-repellent.html

Rat poison can certainly be very dangerous to domestic animals who eat the dead rats.

Rat poisons come in 3 varieties:

1) Anticoagulant rodenticides
2) Cholecalciferol rodenticides
3) Bromethalin rodenticides

In the past there have been various other types of rat poison, however, these 3 varieties are generally what are used today. The first type, anticoagulant rodenticide, works by thinning the blood. The second type, cholecaliferol rodenticide, works by disrupting the rat's ability to process calcium. The third, bromethalin rodenticide, works by reducing the rat's ability to control muscle contraction.

Each of these three types of rat poison are very dangerous, and potentially fatal, if ingested by cats or dogs. In addition, if the rats which are killed as a result of eating these poisons are eaten by a cat or a dog the result could also be fatal.

If you are considering using rat poison to contol a rat infestation problem ensure that you have confirmed that no cats or dogs will be able to come into contact with the dead rats and ensure that any dead rats which you find after using the poison are disposed of properly. It would be responsible to talk to your neighbours about your choice to use a rat poison to confirm that they do not have any objections.

If you feel that cats or dogs are likely to find, and subsequently eat, dead poisoned rats then you should not use rat poison. In this case you should use poison free rat traps instead, they are not generally as effective as rat poison, however, the use of a trap will eliminate the possibility of a cat or dog eating a poisoned rat.

If your cat or dog starts acting strangely take them to your local vet immediately and ask your neighbours if they have been using rat poison and, if so, what type. If they have an empty container of the rat poison take it to the vet who will be able to use it to assist in the diagnosis and treatment.

Remember, poison is dangerous stuff and must be used responsibly, if you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Portable Media

Someone asked me if I knew of a device which would allow them to transport video which they recorded using MythTV and then play that video on a TV screen.

It's possible to transport your audio and video media between PCs using a USB external Hard Disk Drive, however, if you want to display your media on a TV screen then the MediaGate MG-25 is what you need, available from Amazon here:



The MediaGate MG-25 will allow you to copy audio and video onto its 2.5 inch HDD and then play that audio and/or video on a TV or stereo though S-Video, Component and Composite cables. It also comes with a remote control.

If you need a mobile video display solution then you could use one of the many LCD DVD players which support video in. One example is the Coby TFDVD7100, available from Amazon here:



Alternatively, the iRiver PMP-120 does storage, transportation and display all in one convenient package, reviewed against other options here, and available from Amazon here:



Have fun viewing your recorded media on the go, make sure you aren't watching TV when you should be driving though, if you have any comments please let me know and if you have any other questions which you'd like me to answer for free please send them to Ben Dash at ben.dash@gmail.com