Online Insights on fiveAA, Sunday, January 25, 2009

January 25, 2009

Ants, ants, ants

Through the week we battled an ant invasion. I mentioned it on Facebook and got told how wonderful ants are (in other people’s houses).

In particular, there were two great links. One is actually for a software company that has based some software on the way ants search for food and lay trails for the rest of the nest to find the food. The site is The insight this site gives, as pointed out to me by Liz, is that using boiling water on your benches and wherever you see scouting ants will cut the scout off from the nest and leave you in peace. It is quite involved and includes diagrams. In particular, it shows how ants are not very efficient because when one ant crosses another ant’s path, it cannot tell which direction is the home direction and which is the food direction. It means there are many wasted trips.

The other site is dedicated to ants and in particular the “diet” section is eye opening. Did you know they can eat small insects (some nests in the UK go through 100,000 insects per day), the bodies of insects and animals left behind by other insects and animals, fruit, vegetables, and sugary substances. They sometimes eat their own dead and even ant eggs.

But the most amazing thing is that some ants keep “herds” of aphids just like we keep cows. They place the aphids onto stems of roses and similar plants and allow them to feed on the sap. Hungry ants then stroke the aphid on the back, producing a drop of “honeydew”. In return, the ants protect aphids from predators and even create shelter for them in the nest.

You can read more about this at Ant Nest.


I have found the perfect online photo editing tool for people who are not tech-heads or savvy photo software users already. It is pixenate and it has come to the web with a very simple interface for playing with your photos online.

You can crop, change exposure, and all the usual things, plus you have access to some fun tools that are very popular these days, such as rounded corners, polaroid effect, and even the “lomo” effect which is part of a fad at the moment of shooting shots on film with a “lomo” camera – they are like cheap cameras with “toy” lenses that do lend a sense of fun to photography.

You can see it for yourself at Pixenate.

Baby Gamer

Well, it had to happen. Children are starting with computers at a younger age and now there is – a site dedicated to online games for babies. You might go crazy after hearing “boing” for the 2,000th time but you might also have enjoyed a distracted child for five minutes.

Fisher-Price is behind a number of these games along with Crayola and many of the big baby names. But the site is not made by a corporation. In fact, it has been put together by some parents who wanted to pool all the good, free, online games for babies into one place.

Along with the boing-boing games, Crayola’s fireworks show is fun, as you plan a fireworks display – probably not for the really little babies because it has a small degree of complexity as you set fireworks to go off on a timeline, but it is in the “infants” category so maybe I am reading more into it than there is!

My favourite is Pom Pom’s Shell Game – a bright, colourful version of the pea in the cup game.

On the whole, these games are simple and delightful and worth a visit by parents. You can find them at Baby Gamer.

Adelaide Now’s Viral Images

Every now and then, you find an interesting list or gallery of material that makes you think or is entertaining. This one is both. It is a collection of 100 images collected from viral emails.

There are plenty of classics here and I am sure there will be many you have not seen. My favourites include:

  • The “dogs allowed” photo
  • The film crew standing in the path of a rally car that has lost control
  • The sheepdog leapfrogging over sheep
  • The baby monkey hugging a dove
  • The two window cleaners dressed as spiderman
  • The classic is the battery powered battery charger from NaiveTek J

You can see all the pics at Adelaide Now Viral Image Gallery.