Monthly Archives: December 2018

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Jamie Elliott to miss again for Collingwood.

Collingwood will have to find alternative avenues to goal again this week after small forward Jamie Elliott was all but ruled out of Sunday’s critical clash with Essendon by Magpie coach Nathan Buckley.

But in better news, Buckley confirmed that veteran Nick Maxwell, who hasn’t played since straining a calf in round 11, would return to the senior line-up after only one game back in the VFL, while Luke Ball, who also missed last week with a calf injury, was a good chance to return as well.

Elliott, who with 30 goals from 14 games is behind only key forward Travis Cloke in the Magpies’ goalkicking, missed Collingwood’s narrow loss to Gold Coast last week after straining a hamstring against Carlton. He proved a costly absentee as the Pies managed only 10 goals against the Suns, and only two in two full quarters.

“I don’t think Jamie will get up,” Buckley said on Wednesday at the Westpac Centre. “Bally should be right”. Asked if Maxwell would definitely come back into a defence which has begun to struggle under the weight of opposition pressure, Buckley was unequivocal. “Yep,” he declared.

But Buckley believes the names missing or those returning to the Pies’ best 22 are secondary to his side regaining its defensive pressure and appetite for the contest, which has slipped during its run of three losses from the past four games.

“We were playing better footy before the bye with similar names, so it’s got nothing to do with personnel, it’s got a lot to do with how we execute and the way we play, and we’ve got to do it better starting Sunday,” he said.

Buckley said while Collingwood’s forward set-up has come under much scrutiny, the Pies’ poor skills of late had been pivotal to the lack of scoreboard pressure.

“We provided plenty of opportunities for ourselves [against Gold Coast] as we have throughout the whole year. There’s a focus on our forward line, and we could definitely score heavier, but it’s not about who, it’s about how we go about it and how we move the ball.

“Our disposal inside 50 was really poor last week, and we’ve worked on that and discussed it. We need to have our forwards working hard in front of the ball, but we need to use the ball better by hand and by foot, and that’s how we’re going to score.”

Buckley said the failure of his midfielders to hit the scoreboard as hard in 2014 was also a reflection on poor defensive pressure all over the ground. The core of Collingwood’s midfield has collectively kicked 50 goals in the Magpies’ nine wins, but in six losses, has managed just 16. The Pies are also averaging fewer individual goalkickers per match than all bar a handful of teams.

“Our defence was good between rounds two and seven, but hasn’t been as good consistently since then,” he said.

“And when you’re not defending as well, the ball spends more time in your back half. We haven’t controlled field position as much because our defence hasn’t been as effective, and we’ve turned the ball over when we shouldn’t.”

The Magpie coach said Ben Reid, who hurt a calf again in his comeback in the VFL last week, would need to train to be considered for reserves selection, and that Patrick Karnezis, yet to play a senior game for the Magpies after transferring from Brisbane, faced more time in the VFL to build his match fitness after being restricted pre-season by a groin injury, then injuring a hamstring when he was on the verge of senior selection.

“Ben is still pretty sore in the calf from the cork,” Buckley said of the important Magpie swingman, who has injured his calf three times this year and his thigh twice, and is still to play a senior game. “He can’t take a trick. He planned to get through half a game [last week] and he got through about one-and-three-quarter quarters. He’ll need to train to prove his fitness to play this week at any level.

“Patrick had his second game back. He’s building, and he hit the scoreboard at the weekend, which is good, but he understands he’s got to keep putting those consistent performances in at VFL level and continue working on his fitness to have the ability to run out four quarters at senior level.”

Tenth case of meningococcal disease reported in WA this year

As of March 2014, there are vaccines available which protect against all major strains of meningococcal disease. THE WA health department has reported that an older teenager has been diagnosed with meningococcal disease and has now been discharged from hospital.

Meningococcal disease is an uncommon, life-threatening illness due to a bacterial infection of the blood and/or the membranes that line the spinal cord and brain.

Therewere 16 cases notified in 2013, the lowest number recorded in more than 20 years. This is the tenth case reported to date in 2014.

The department has identified the person’s close contacts and provided them with information and antibiotics that minimise the chance that the organism might be passed on to others.

To read our story about a Capel mum’smeningococcal scare, click here.

Meningococcal bacteria are carried harmlessly in the back of the nose and throat by about 10-20 per cent of the population at any one time.

Very rarely, the bacteria invade the bloodstream and cause serious infections.

Meningococcal bacteria are not easily spread from person-to-person.

The bacterium is present in droplets discharged from the nose and throat when coughing or sneezing, but is not spread by saliva and does not survive more than a few seconds in the environment.

Invasive meningococcal infection is most common in babies and young children, older teenagers and young adults.

Symptoms may include high fever, chills, headache, neck stiffness, nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, and severe muscle and joint pains. Young children may not complain of symptoms, so fever, pale or blotchy complexion, vomiting, lethargy (blank staring, floppiness, inactivity, hard to wake, or poor feeding) and rash are important signs.

Sometimes – but not always – symptoms may be accompanied by the appearance of a spotty red-purple rash that looks like small bleeding points beneath the skin or bruises.

Although treatable with antibiotics, the infection can progress very rapidly, so it is important that anyone experiencing these symptoms seeks medical attention promptly. With appropriate treatment, most people make a good recovery.

The incidence of meningococcal disease has decreased significantly in WA over the past decade, with around 20 to 25 cases reported each year – down from a peak of 86 cases in 2000.

Therewere 16 cases notified in 2013, the lowest number recorded in more than 20 years. This is the tenth case reported to date in 2014.

A vaccine to protect against the C type of meningococcal disease, which in the past was responsible for around 15 per cent of cases in WA, is provided free to children at 12 months of age.

First Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner delivered to Air New Zealand

American country music group The Band Perry plays at the handover ceremony for the first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to Air New Zealand. Photo: Bret HartmanAir New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon might well have emulated Batman’s alter-ego Bruce Wayne when placing an order for the new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and asked “Does it come in black?”

It does, and Air New Zealand has become the first airline to take delivery of the new 787-9, a stretched version of the revolutionary Dreamliner aircraft.

The plane was handed over in front of more than 1000 Boeing employees and guests at the aircraft manufacturer’s facility in Everett, near Seattle in the US.

“It’s a privilege to be the global launch customer for this aircraft and our team is looking forward to flying it home to New Zealand.  The 787-9 is a real game changer,” Mr Luxon said.

The fuselage for the 787-9 is stretched by 6 metres over the 787-8, and will fly up to 40 more passengers an additional 450 nautical miles (830 km).

Boeing’s Dreamliners feature several major differences from other major passenger aircraft.

It is the first airliner to be made of carbon fibre, not aluminium, and promises airlines more fuel efficiency – a saving of 20 per cent. It also offers 20 per cent less carbon dioxide emissions than comparable aircraft.

The aircraft promises a better experience for passengers too. The cabin air is, unlike other aircraft, drawn directly from outside, rather than through the engines, meaning it is fresher. The air is also more humid, and pressurised at a lower level – the theory being that passengers will feel better at the end of their flights. There are also larger windows and a more spacious cabin.

This week, Traveller’s Flight Test review of Qatar Airways 787-8 declared that the Dreamliner’s features made a big difference to the travelling experience.

Twenty-six customers from around the world have ordered 409 787-9s, accounting for 40 per cent of all 787 orders, Boeing said.

The Air New Zealand aircraft is scheduled to depart the US on Thursday morning, local time, and arrive in Auckland late afternoon on Friday.

This is the first of ten 787-9 Dreamliners to join Air New Zealand’s fleet.  The aircraft will operate the Auckland-Perth route from 15 October 2014 and to Hangzhou and Tokyo later this year.

Another of Air New Zealand’s 787-9s will be displayed by Boeing at the Farnborough International Airshow later this month.

Delayed for several years, the Dreamliner has faced criticism over its reliability from some carriers. All active aircraft were grounded for three months last year after a battery fire on one Dreamliner. The incident forced Boeing to re-design the powerful lithium-ion battery and enclose it in a tough new steel containment box.

Boeing admitted in January it was not satisfied with the aircraft’s performance. The Dreamliner’s reliability rate was at about 98 per cent – this meant that two out of every 100 flights were delayed for mechanical problems. The rate was higher than the 97 per cent recorded in October but was still short of Boeing’s target. The company aims to have the aircraft’s reliability up to the level of its long-range 777 model, which has a reliability rate of 99.4 per cent.

State of Origin 2014: Game 3PHOTOS

State of Origin 2014: Game 3 | PHOTOS A “balletic” Billy Slater. Pic: Getty Images

NSW fullback Jarryd Hayne grits his teeth. Pic: Getty Images

NSW Blue Greg Bird gets the leg drive into overdrive. Pic: Getty Images

Three, almost, on one at Suncorp Stadium during Origin III. Pic: Getty Images

Billy Slater holds on tight to the ball as NSW Blue Ryan Hoffman is sandwiched. Pic: Getty Images

Queensland skipper Cameron Smith scores. Pic: Getty Images

Cer-unch. Pic: Getty Images

Greg Inglis spots a familiar face in the crowd after Cameron Smith’s try. Pic: Getty Images

Daly Cherry-Evans chips ahead. Pic: Getty Images

The wrestling continues over the line at Suncorp Stadium. Pic: Getty Images

Greg Inglis attracts some attention from the NSW defenders near the stripe. Pic: Getty Images

The Maroons huddle up after skipper Cameron Smith’s try. Pic: Getty Images

Queenslander Justin Hodges does his best to shrug off NSW defenders. Pic: Getty Images

Paul Gallen stops referee Ben Cummins to ask a question in 2014’s third State of Origin match. Pic: Getty Images

Jarryd Hayne on the fly. Pic: Getty Images

Maroon Billy Slater has his sights set on scoring at Suncorp Stadium in the third State of Origin clash of 2014. Pic: Getty Images

Queensland players celebrate one of their five tries in the third State of Origin clash of 2014. Pic: Getty Images

Legs a-go-go. The NSW defence swarms. Pic: Getty Images

Aaron Woods celebrates with his Blues teammates after Josh Dugan’s try. Pic: Getty Images

The Maroons celebrate Aidan Guerra’s four-pointer. Pic: Getty Images

Dave Taylor feels the love as the Blues defence closes in. Pic: Getty Images

Beau Scott takes on the Queensland defence during game three of the 2014 State of Origin series. Pic: Getty Images

NSW Blues skipper Paul Gallen holds the State of Origin Shield aloft at Suncorp Stadium.

The State of Origin-winning NSW Blues camp. Pic: Getty Images

The Queenslanders celebrate a strong win in game three at Brisbane. Pic: Getty Images

Darius Boyd celebrates scoring a try with Queensland team mates Greg Inglis and Billy Slater. Pic: Getty Images

Darius Boyd celebrates his try. Pic: Getty Images

Darius Boyd evades Jarryd Haynes’ clutches to score. Pic: Getty Images

Queenslander? Pic: Getty Images

Nate Myles is put on his back. Pic: Getty Images

NSW skipper Paul Gallen knows one way – forward. Pic: Getty Images

Excuse me, says Billy Slater as he leaves Josh Dugan on his hands and knees. Pic: Getty Images

Greg Inglis motors upfield. Pic: Getty Images

Greg Inglis of the Maroons palms off Josh Reynolds. Pic: Getty Images

Josh Dugan celebrates scoring the Blues try with a quick pogo dance. Pic: Getty Images

TweetFacebookThere would be no “bluewash” or fairytale finish to the 2014 State of Origin series as Queensland gatecrashed the NSW party.

The Maroons left Suncorp Stadium 32-8 victors but, for the first time in eight years, a NSW skipper finished the series with the State of Origin Shield.

Blues players celebrate their series win after game three of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the NSW Blues at Suncorp Stadium on July 9, 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. Pic: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Is someone drunk tweeting from the CIA Twitter account?

The clandestine world of espionage isn’t normally known for self-deprecating humour and social media gags, but try telling that to the people behind the official Central Intelligence Agency account.

After joining the network unfashionably late last month, the agency’s Twitter team has rubbished the catchphrase “we can neither confirm or deny” by commenting on issues ranging from Tupac Shakur to US goalkeeper Tim Howard’s efforts during the World Cup.

The CIA had opened up on its Twitter page briefly, announcing it would answer the top five questions in 10 minutes – including if they knew the whereabouts of Tupac, to knowing someone’s password.

And while there’s no suggestion the CIA’s tweeter was actually drunk, they’ve certainly taken it upon themselves to poke fun at the agency, and some of the questions hurled at them via social media.  No, we don’t know where Tupac is. #twitterversary — CIA (@CIA) July 7, 2014

Ogilvy managing director Yiannis Konstantopoulos said “they’ve been pretty tongue-in-cheek and have kinda been taking the piss out of themselves and what they do”.

“Everyone tends to think an agency like the CIA wouldn’t be too good on Twitter but it turns out they’ve got a pretty good sense of humour,” he said.

But Mr Konstantopoulos, who decided to follow the CIA earlier this week, said we shouldn’t expect the account to go anywhere near the contentious issues of privacy, Edward Snowden, or data security.

“It’s surprising to me that they’ve been able to push this account through given the nature of the work that the CIA does,” he said.

Mr Konstantopoulos said there was most likely a number of people behind the account with content being routinely reviewed by someone internally before publication.

The intelligence agency began their charm offensive on June 7 with a promise to share “great #unclassified content” and has since clocked up a touch over 700,000 followers.

Of course, the official WikiLeaks Twitter account hit back immediately saying “we look forward to sharing great classified info about you” – touché. . @CIA We look forward to sharing great classified info about you http://t杭州后花园/QcdVxJfU4Xhttps://t杭州后花园/kcEwpcitHo More https://t杭州后花园/PEeUpPAt7F — WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 7, 2014

But it’s not all punditry and puns, the account kindly informed its followers that human blood boils at 63,000 feet and that it would take 33.7 million soccer balls in a row to span the distance between Washington DC and Rio de Janeiro. At altitudes above 63,000 ft human blood boils. Solution: Pressure Suit http://t杭州后花园/wfkcmUdCJn#U2Week#4July1956pic.twitter杭州后花园m/vAZQEauS45 — CIA (@CIA) July 3, 2014

The social media manager was smart enough not to follow the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose phone calls and text messages had been read by the National Security Agency for more than a decade.

In fact the account only follows other government and defence departments like Homeland Security and the US Department of Defence, whose drab engagement accentuated the mysterious social media manger’s wit. It would take 33,707,520 soccer balls to reach from DC to Rio #Brazil2014#WorldCup#worldfactbookhttp://t杭州后花园/MOgGJgTuaI — CIA (@CIA) June 17, 2014

Film review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

(M) ****

Director: Matt Reeves.

Cast: Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Judy Greer.

ONE of the biggest cinematicsurprises in recent years was Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes – another unwanted reboot/reimagining/prequel that turned out to be one of the best films of 2011.

So here’s the sequel to that movie no one wantedand – surprise, surprise – it’s also really good.

While not as tautly scripted as its predecessor, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (known as DOTPOTA from here on in) is another great balance of emotional punch, great characters (all apes), and action thrills.

Eight years after chief chimp Caesar (Serkis) led his fellow chemically enhanced apes to freedom across the Golden Gate Bridge, the world is a very different place. A virus has wiped out much of humanity, with the survivors eking out an existence in small communities, such as one in San Francisco.

At the other end of the Golden Gate Bridge, Caesar’s colony is thriving, unaware any humans remain alive.

However a run-in between Caesar’s forces and a small group of human survivors led byMalcolm (Clarke) sets in motion a chain of events that will lead the two species to either mutually beneficialpeace or bloodywar.

DOTPOTA pulls a few of the same tricks as its predecessor (which we will call ROTPOTA), but it’s a very different film.Its misty forest and dark broken city settings give a suitably ape-ocalyptic (sorry) vibe to proceedings that’s a starkcontrast to the warm homely tonesand bright clinical labs ofthe first film.

This is also very much the apes’ film. Whereas Caesar (a combination of Serkis’ motion-captured performance and some CG wizardry) and hissimian sidekicksstole the show last time, this time theyown the show.

Theinterplay and relationships between Caesar, the tortured human-hatingbonoboKoba (Kebbell), the wise Bornean orangutan Maurice (Konoval), and Caesar’s son Blue Eyes (Thurston) are far more fascinating than thoseof the humans. While Clarke gets a lot to do as a sort-of go-between for the humans and the apes, Oldman does little but givevaguely rousing speeches and mourn for the past and Russell is a plot device disguised as a doctor.

This doesn’t matter though becausethe apes are the reason to watch. They are wonderfully realised charactersbuiltfrom nuanced performances (particularly from Serkis and Kebbell) and some near flawless special effects.

The moral questions raised, the themes of trust and power, and the emotional moments are no less effectivefor being provided by a cast of CG primates.

As with ROTPOTA, DOTPOTA (yep, it’s ridiculous but stick with me here)takes usto a destination we’re expecting – a planet of, well, apes – but does so in an unexpected manner. It’s this that helped make the first one so enjoyable and intriguing and the feat isimpressive once again here.

Whilethe humans are the weakest link, the apes more than make up for it, creating asequel that’s well worth watching.

The union royal commission is too little, too late

Full coverage

Any watcher of the union royal commission should be questioning why police and regulators appear to be missing in action in the building industry.

On Wednesday, Boral chief executive Mike Kane alleged that union boss John Setka may have been committing blackmail by threatening to ‘black ban’ his company if it continued supplying the union’s arch enemy, building firm Grocon.

Whether the blackmail allegation is fair or not, the alleged offence should have been investigated when it arose last year.

Over the last few years, policing agencies have gathered significant information about organised crime in the building industry and the involvement of some union officials and building company managers in illegal activity, including bribery.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has also begrudgingly mounted an inquiry into the Boral black bans, after stalling for months.

But proactive investigations into potentially illegal conduct have been minimal or non existent.

The announcement of the royal commission earlier this year led some crime fighting agencies to believe they could handball the building industry’s problems to the royal commissioner. But that is no fix.

The commission appears to have chosen not to employ police powers (like phone taps) and is on an incredibly short time frame (it must report by the end of the year).

It may expose bad behaviour, but eradicating it is a different proposition.

Complicating things is the fact that information sharing laws, and resistance from some senior Victorian police (in contrast to NSW police), has stopped some key information even reaching the royal commission.

As the union has rightly pointed out, the royal commission has also heard allegations of builders ripping off workers through the non-payment of superannuation and exposing workers to safety hazards.

Again, this suggests regulators responsible for ensuring workers are paid properly and kept safe are not doing the job they should.

This is why the union argues it has to be militant, although this hardly excuses the CFMEU from allegedly demanding the employment of Setka’s mates, threatening companies that don’t comply with its demands, and cosying up to gangsters.

The commission has this week sought to expose a union with pervasive influence over the building industry.

Whether that influence is good or bad depends on an assessment of the evidence and witnesses, their accusations of union law breaking, and the union’s defence that it is forced to act tough to protect the interests of its members and safety.

What is troubling for the CFMEU is the growing number of witnesses who have alleged that its officials intimidate or stand-over people to achieve an outcome.

Still, final judgement about this alleged abuse of power can not be made until all commission key witnesses are cross-examined.

It has been a mistake for the commission not to allow this to happen immediately because it denies Setka and his officials natural justice and plays into the hands of the CFMEU’s defenders.

But even they should have no hesitation rushing to judgement to condemn the organised crime figures lurking in the building industry.

Crime figures like Mick Gatto, in Victoria, and George Alex, in NSW, have made a fortune by leveraging off their willing contacts in building firms and the CFMEU to work as ‘union fixers’ and help builders obtain work, eliminate competition or collect disputed debts.

This sort of racketeering should be outlawed in Australia as it is in the United States, where Racketeer Influnced and Corrupt Oganizations (RICO) laws have helped combat mafioso, along with their corrupt associates in building firms and the union.

Of course, the problem in Australia isn’t confined to the strength of existing laws.

It is the failure to enforce them which makes the building industry one of the last bastions of racketeering in the nation, helps keep the dodgy unionists and corrupt builders in business, and, leaves ordinary workers out of pocket.

Mick Gatto, who drives around in a Rolls Royce, knows this all too well.

Follow Nick McKenzie on Twitter @Ageinvestigates

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Best rule of thumb: Keep it simple

Simple maths? With all the complex factors influencing stock markets, it’s best to follow your intuition and some simple rules. Photo: Motley FoolTake a look at a baseball player or cricketer getting ready to take a catch in the deep. They’re doing something extraordinary.

A ball was hit maybe 50 or 80 metres away, coming off the bat at 140 kilometres per hour. In only a few seconds the outfielder ran to the exact location the ball landed, down to the centimetre, catching it without a moment to spare.

This is extraordinary because of what he or she needed to figure out in those few seconds: The ball’s initial velocity, spin, and angle. The exact speed and direction of the wind, since it would alter the ball’s trajectory. Exactly when the ball would switch from vertical ascent, lose speed, stall for a moment, and begin its decent.

The calculation necessary to know where a ball will land is a monster – just look at our graphic.

This is nearly impossible to calculate in your head. Yet players do it all summer. According to Inside Edge, 84.7 per cent of baseballs that hang in the air for five seconds end in an out. Stephen Hawking could not calculate this equation in five seconds, but cricketers do it thousands of times. How?

A rule of thumb

Players don’t actually do this calculation in their heads, of course. In his book Risk Savvy, Gerd Gigerenzer writes that, whether they know it or not, players use a rule of thumb to know where a ball will land:

Align a flying ball in the centre of your gaze.


Adjust the speed and direction of your run so the angle of the ball stays at the same spot in your gaze.

That’s it. As long as the ball’s angle remains constant in your gaze, you’re running to where it’s going to land. All the complicated math is captured in that rule of thumb.

Sportspeople intuitively understand something more investors should: complicated problems can be tamed with simple rules of thumb. And the more complicated a problem is, the lower the odds you’ll calculate it with precision, making rules of thumb indispensable.

Keep it simple

Thirty years ago, Pensions & Investment Age magazine made a list of US money managers with the best 10-year returns. Few had ever heard of the winner, Edgerton Welch of Citizens Bank and Trust, so a Forbes reporter paid him a visit. Welch said he had never heard of Benjamin Graham and had no idea what modern portfolio theory was. Asked his secret, Welch pulled out a copy of a Value Line newsletter and told the reporter he bought all the stocks ranked “1” (the cheapest). The rest of his day was leisurely. His only secret was taming a complicated problem — which stocks should I own? — into an effective rule of thumb: the cheap ones.

Investors should use more of this kind of thinking. Markets are endlessly complicated, investors are endlessly emotional, and there are no points awarded for difficulty. Overthinking things like valuation and modern portfolio theory can be the equivalent of a cricketer pulling out a calculator after each ball is hit, desperately trying to track its landing point with precision. Any time you can tame a complicated system into a simple rule of thumb, you will be better off.

A list of Don’ts

Don’t try to calculate when you should buy stocks. It’s too complicated a problem with too many unknown variables. Instead, dollar-cost average, buying the same amount of stocks every month or every quarter, rain or shine. Over time you will beat almost everyone who doesn’t follow this approach.

Don’t try to calculate what the market might return over the next year or two. You’ll never figure it out. Instead, assume it’ll return 6 to 7 per cent a year after inflation over a multi-decade period (with a lot of volatility in between), because that’s what it has done in the past.

If you do try to predict shorter-term returns, use the rule of thumb that the worse the market has done over the last 10 years, the better it will do over the next 10 years, and vice versa. Over time this rule of thumb will humble nearly every Wall Street strategist.

Don’t try to predict when we’ll have another recession. No one can. Instead, use a rule of thumb that we’ll have three or four recessions at random times every 20 years.

Prefer companies that reward shareholders with consistent dividends and share buybacks. Trying to calculate whether a chief executive is effectively reinvesting profits in his or her own company is hard, and evidence is persuasive that most are bad at it. Cash handed to you directly is more likely to accrue in your favour over time.

Don’t try to calculate exactly how much money you’ll need to retire. You have no idea what the future holds. Instead, save at least 10 per cent of what you make, and as much as you can while still living comfortably.

Foolish takeaway

You might think successful investors are brilliant minds who can calculate complicated things with precision. They rarely are. The best are more like cricketers or baseball players, able to solve complicated problems by using simple rules of thumb. “Simplicity is a prerequisite of reliability,” said famed computer scientist Edsger Dijkstra. Try doing less.

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GPS technology gets you from A to B by the most scenic route

A road less travelled: Taking the scenic route. Photo: David Fulmer / Flickr The Boston GPS route is compared to it’s scenic alternative. Photo: Yahoo Labs

UrbanGems: Crowdsourcing quiet, beauty and happiness Photo: UrbanGems杭州后花园

Researchers in Barcelona are changing the way we think about GPS.

For the past two decades, GPS users have been moving from A to B via the most direct way possible.

Now, Daniele Quercia, a researcher at Yahoo Labs, has engineered a piece of technology to direct users via the most “beautiful” way.

“The goal of this work is to automatically suggest routes that are not only short but also emotionally pleasant,” the Yahoo team 

While motorists may still be more interested in the fastest route, the technology could have significant implications for pedestrians, particularly tourists.

Quercia and her team have worked out an algorithm to measure the beauty of specific locations.

“Compared to the shortest routes, the recommended ones add just a few extra walking minutes and are indeed perceived to be more beautiful, quiet, and happier,” the researchers found.

The user is faced with 10 sets of photos and asked to choose the most beautiful of the two. 

The results are then crowdsourced, in an attempt to eliminate some subjectivity.

The recommended scenic route comprises the 10 most “beautiful” photos along the path from A to B.

At the heart of the idea is that a user can enter a start and final location and the algorithm will be able to map the most beautiful route between the two.

Currently, the only two routes available are through Boston and London, but expansion plans are under way, particularly through the mass photo-sharing website Flickr.

The team chose 5 million pictures of specific areas and tried to work out what data could be associated with beauty.

As it turns out, the more beautiful the place, the more photos are taken of it.

There are also far more positive comments under the photo, so qualitative sentiment tools were used to track more beautiful routes.

The algorithm does have a couple of pitfalls however.

It currently has no way of differentiating between locations that are more beautiful during the day or at night.

APN News & Media tipped to lead radio revenues by end of year

Credit Suisse says APN News & Media will soon lead radio revenues, while rival Southern Cross Austereo could face challenges.  The companies look similar: they reach one-quarter of Australia’s radio audience each, and both have a market value of more than $750 million. But their shares prices tell a different story. Since January, APN News & Media shares have soared more than 75 per cent, whereas Southern Cross Austereo – owner of top-40 stations 2Day FM and Fox, and rock station Triple M – is down by more than a third. Australia’s capital-city radio stations attracted a record $697 million in revenue in the year to June, Deloitte figures say. Melbourne and Sydney attracted a combined $425.9 million of that figure, with about equal revenue. Radio ratings released this week showed APN’s stations – WSFM and Kiis FM in Sydney, known as Gold 104.3 and Mix in Melbourne – held the No.1 position in the metro market with 26 per cent national audience share. Southern Cross was next with an improved 25 per cent. Their rival Nova Entertainment, owned by Lachlan Murdoch, dipped to 22 per cent. Fairfax Media, owner of 3AW in Melbourne and 2UE in Sydney, stayed steady at 17 per cent. Macquarie Radio Network, owner of 2GB in Sydney, also stood still at 8 per cent. Credit Suisse analyst Samantha Carleton has told clients: “APN’s KIIS FM and WSFM have gained considerable audience share over the past twelve months, particularly in Sydney. We expect this leading audience-share position to translate into a leading revenue-share position over the next six months.” “We see the potential for a $50 million national revenue and a $20 million EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation] shift in the 2015 financial year.” On Southern Cross Austereo, she said: “2DayFm and Triple M have lost audience share over the past 12 months in Sydney and while both stations appear to be recouping some lost ground over the past two surveys, it does not appear to be enough to reclaim the dominant market position. We expect some revenue headwinds as a result.” But CIMB analyst Daniel Blair said Southern Cross Austereo was the winner of survey four, pointing to its strong performance in Melbourne where Triple M is the dominant FM station. He also said the company had recovered 40 per cent of the ratings loss suffered when star hosts Kyle and Jackie O defected to the Australian Radio Network at the end of last year. “From Southern Cross Austereo’s perspective, while there is still work to be done across the programming schedule … overall the ratings gains versus the first three surveys of the year are very important,” he said. “This indicates to us that a line in the sand may have been achieved, limiting the revenue-share loss that was implied by surveys one and two. While we will need to see a continuation of these trends in future surveys, this improvement puts a floor under the share price, in our opinion.”