Poetry for kids: The Cataract of Lodore

Website of the Day: Friday July 30th

lodore>> The Cataract of Lodore
Bear with me here. A bedtime story for Henry (8) and George (nearly 4) is an important ritual at Website of the Day Mansions. We love the Dr Seuss books (current favourite If I Ran The Zoo), but a couple of months ago we discovered this fabulous old poem about a waterfall in the Lake District and it’s become a real bedtime favourite for us.
I’d never heard of the poet, Robert Southey, but a bit of research revealed that the poem was written in 1820 when Southey was Poet Laureate. It turns out that Southey kept good poetic company – his brother-in-law was Coleridge, and Wordsworth was a neighbour.
Anyway this poem is a particular hit with 4-year-old George who may not understand much of the language, but loves the rhythm and the way the whole poem sounds like a waterfall, starting gently when the water is only a trickle, then becoming more urgent as the waterfall itself gains momentum.
If you enjoy reading to your kids, this comes with a huge recommendation – but you have to read it aloud to really appreciate it.

>> More about Robert Southey

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Free website for Charity

Website of the Day: Wednesday July 28th

charityweb>> Free Website for Charity
This site gives you all the tools you need to get your own site online to help your charitable cause. There’s no need for any special software or technical expertise, as you can create the whole site through your web browser.

The service is ideally suited to shorter term fund-raising projects or ideas because the site you build is free for 6 months. If you want to keep a site live after the initial 6 month period you’ll start paying a monthly fee of £7.

It’s one of the quickest and easiest online site builders I’ve seen to date. The whole service is driven by a companion site called Quick on the Net who specialise in providing a similar (paid-for) service to small businesses and home users – and they reckon that you can get a basic site online in just 5 clicks.

To start putting your site together, just choose from a large range of templates, site layouts and colour schemes and that instantly creates a basic site which you can preview with no commitment before you sign up. When you’ve got the look you like, then you enter in the text that is specific to your charity and upload your own logo or photos. And Bob is indeed your genial and charity-supporting uncle!

If you want to try out a free online web-building service aimed at home users rather than businesses or charities, take a look at my guide to weblogs for beginners, or my selection of free web building software on Radio 2’s Webwise pages.

How to safeguard against the Virus that crashed Google

mydoomComputer viruses have been all over the news again as a result of the virus which attacked the world’s most visited search engine Google earlier this week. The virus responsible has been named MyDoom.M (or MyDoom.O) and is a variation of a virus that was especially prolific in February this year. But in the reams of press coverage so far, what has been lacking is a simple explanation of what damage this particular virus does and how to tell if you’re infected. So we called leading Anti-virus firm Symantec, and asked them to explain in technophobe-friendly language.

How serious is this latest virus for home users?
Don’t Panic! MyDoom.O does not leave lasting damage to your computer, but it will cause it to mass email from your machine – possibly causing slow performance on your computer.

Is that all the damage it does?
It will also create a security loophole on your computer, which potentially leaves you vulnerable to hackers accessing your PC at a later date.

How can I protect against this virus?
The good news is that if you’re already running anti-virus software and you update it at least once a week you should already be protected. Update your anti-virus software immediately to ensure protection, and also download and install any other outstanding updates for your firewall and for Windows as a matter of precaution and as part of safe computing practice. For more jargon-free advice about ensuring that your Windows security is up-to-date, follow the advice on this page

I’ve never got round to installing or updating anti-virus software… How can I tell if I’m already infected?
Unless your PC is running unusually slowly there is no immediately obvious sign of infection. However Symantec have a free downloadable tool which will scan and disinfect your computer.

How do I disinfect my computer?
Full instuctions are available on Symantec’s site, but here’s the abridged version:

1. Click here to download the My Doom removal tool: Save the file to a convenient location, such as your downloads folder or the Windows desktop,
2. Close all the running programs before running the tool.
3. If you are online, disconnect the computer from the network and the Internet.
4. VERY IMPORTANT: If you are running Windows Me or XP, then disable System Restore. Refer to Symantec’s instructions for further details.
5. Double-click the FxMydoom.exe file to start the removal tool.
6. Click Start to begin the process, and then allow the tool to run.
7. Restart the computer.
8. Run the removal tool again to ensure that the system is clean.
9. If you are running Windows Me/XP, then re-enable System Restore.
10. When the tool has finished running, you will see a message indicating whether MyDoomhad infected the computer.

For more information about the latest developments with MyDoom and associated viruses, see this story on BBC News.

Camel Conundrum Solved: The final word?

camel2Thanks for all your emails offering solutions to last week’s Camel Conundrum. There were far too many responses to quote from everyone’s messages, but read on for a couple of extracts. But first, in other Camel news, Anthony Capstick emailed to say:

I lived in Western Sudan for a while and the best racing camels are bred there – used for racing in Saudi Arabia. The Rashida tribe breed them, and like a guy said to me, everyone knows the best racing camels come from Sudan!

camel_limoWe’ve yet to get a definitive answer on whether you can still ride camels in Somerset c/o the Bridgwater Camel Company but we did hear from Bruce Wright of North Yorkshire’s Llamatreks.co.uk who says:

You can walk with pack llamas (llamas are one form of South American camel); To get an idea of how to really enjoy wine & champagne in the countryside, take a look on our Gallery pages

… but then he would say that, as they’re in the business of selling llama treks! Special thanks also to Tony Priest who emailed me the camelly photo to the left of this text, which he took in a car hire office in Tunisia last month.

And now without further ado, onto the conundrum itself. The most concise solution comes from Roger Horsgood, who says

50%, one third and one ninth don’t add up to one – which is why adding one camel in then removing the allocations leaves one over again.

But you may remember that at school, we were always encouraged to show our working, so here’s some extra detail from Russell Baum, who explains

The trick is that one half plus one third plus one ninth does NOT equal one.
In fact it equals 8.5 ninths (or seventeen eighteenths).

In order to split the camels in the ratios provided with only 17 camels, one 18th (a hump) would have to have been left behind.
By increasing the number of camels the sons can easily take their correct proportions of an incorrect value.

What has happened is that each brother has taken a larger proportion of their father’s camels than he said they should.

Son 1 now has 9 camels out of 17, (52.9%) which is clearly more than 9 out of 18 (50%).
Son 2 has 6 which is actually 35.3% instead of the 33.3% his father wanted him to have.
Son 3 has 11.8% instead of 11.1%.
The leftover bit has now gone.

And the moral is: Write a proper will and get some tax planning advice and you might be able to stop a proportion of your estate from going to the camel tax man!

But the final word goes to Rob Wilson, who found this site which not only solves the conundrum but fills in a bit of back-story:
>> The Riddle of the Vanishing Camel solved.

More Camels

Website of the Day: Monday July 26th

coolcamelsClearly the Radio 2 audience’s appetite for camel links and trivia remains insatiable as your camel-related emails continue to flood in following last week’s absurdly popular Camel Conundrum. Several messages describe Somerset as the UK’s camel capital thanks to an organisation called the Bridgwater Camel Company … We’ve been unable to contact the Camel Company directly… If you know how to contact them please email us.

Thunderbirds: The Movie

Website of the Day: Friday July 23rd

thunderbirds>> Thunderbirds official film site
It’s safe to assume that celluloid Thunderbirds will attract a keen audience of parents who grew up hoping to be pilot Thunderbird 2. What remains to be seen is whether the live action film will work for a generation weaned on Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh and The Simpsons. But I’ll certainly spend a while this weekend exploring Tracey Island on the film’s official site which has full specifications for the entire International Rescue fleet, a bunch of 3D challenges, and all the trailers downloads and profiles you would expect.

thunderbird2Meanwhile for those who’d prefer to stick with the original marionette version there’s still a terrific range of features on the Classic Thunderbirds
site and on BBC Cult’s guide to the TV series.

>> Classic Thunderbirds | >> Thunderbirds on BBC Cult

One hump or two?

Website of the Day: Tuesday July 20th

camel>> All Camels | >> Mathematical Camel Conundrum **
After last week’s whale related excitement. it seemed like the right time to speak up for camels, who until today have been shamefully underrepresented on Website of the Day. AllCamels.com proudly bills itself as The Comprehensive Camel Resource Site, and few could argue with that claim. You’ll find answers to those all-important questions like “Where can I buy a camel?”, “Where can I ride camels around the world” and "What’s happening in the news with regards to camels?". Most importantly, please email us with your solutions to the Mathematical Camel Conundrum on this page **, as it’s beyond me!

** link opens in new window