Online Insights on FIVEaa Sunday June 3 2012

June 3, 2012

This month on Online Insights, we teach kids to play with electricity, see some guys who play life or death with electricity, investigate a tool perfect for terrorists and anxious loved ones, and we investigate that food in your fridge – when should it be thrown out.

Still tasty?

Still Tasty but is it safe?
Still Tasty but is it safe?

I have always tended towards throwing leftovers away if in doubt about their integrity, or if 24 hours has lapsed since they were first prepared.

However, a little site called Still Tasty is a very handy resource for checking shelf life, checking storage tips and having questions answered.

The site is a very simple one to use.

Simply go to the site, type your food or beverage in the big box you can’t miss and click ‘search’.

You then get to qualify more details about your food such as whether it is fresh or prepared commercially, how you are storing it, etc.

After that, you get the low down and it does seem to be squarely in line with what I have seen on food labelling here in Australia.

What has struck me by surprise though, is the interesting mix of questions. Here are a few I would never have thought to ask:

  • Can you freeze raw eggs? Seems that you can, with a little preparation.
  • Do you have to thaw frozen chicken before cooking it? The answer is no, as long as you allow another 50 percent of the usual cooking time, ie, if the recipe says bake chicken for 40 minutes, allow an hour.
  • Do you have to keep opened bottles of sauce and mustard in the fridge. The answer is no but you only get about 40 days before they start breaking down and losing flavour. I guess that means the answer is yes.
  • Is bottled water safe to drink after the expiration date? Yes. It is safe forever, according to US authorities.

Another intriguing section in ‘shelf life’ where you get all sorts of tips and articles including the intriguing – nine foods that will outlive you. Interested in what they are? Here they are:

  1. Honey
  2. Rice (but not brown rice)
  3. Sugar
  4. Hard liquor
  5. Maple Syrup
  6. Pure Vanilla Extract
  7. Distilled White Vinegar
  8. Cornstarch
  9. Salt

The site qualifies this list with specific tips for keeping each one of these staples – worth a look.

I note there is also an iPhone app for this site for $1.99 which includes food timers as well as the database. Still tasty is definitely work bookmarking for later reference.

Darwin Airport’s Flight Radar

Darwin Airport Flight RadarTalk about wiring your own circuitry does make me think of terrorists, which makes me think of flying, which makes me think of waiting anxiously to either land or have a loved one land safely.

And that most bizarre segue brings us to an interesting part of the Darwin Airport website – a realtime map of the world showing every flight’s location. It even includes regional operators like REX.

I had always thought that this sort of information was not allowed to be publicly available for security reasons, but it appears Darwin Airport is simply passing along information made available through a service called, Flight Radar 24.

It does make fascinating viewing, however.

The snapshot here is just a brief glimpse on a Sunday afternoon over Adelaide and surrounds. If you scroll across to the eastern seaboard the map is littered with yellow darts.

Each dart gives you the flight number (I instantly recognised the flight from Darwin to Adelaide that brings me home each month) and if you click on a plane it shows you the flight path taken thus far.

Not only that, if you scroll to the left of your map, when you click on a plane you get a picture of the jet in its full brand livery, information about departure and arrival locations/times, altitude, speed and the radar the latest information came from.

So, if you are a terrorist, anxious loved one, or plane aficionado, this great little service will keep you enthralled. I do hope it is used for good, not ill, but I am sure wrongdoers would find the information anyway so I am glad Darwin Airport has taken the step of making this available so that we can track loved ones in the air.

You can visit the flight radar on the Darwin Airport website.

Squishy Circuits

Sylvia from the Super Awesome Maker Show on Squishy Circuits
Sylvia teaching kids how to play with electricity

Winter is here and there’s no better way to entertain kids (and invest in a better future for them, you and planet) than to do some science experiments.

There are also few things more intriguing to children than electricity.

So let’s bind the two together and see what sparks of creativity the concept ignites.

However, let me be clear, we are going to be playing with squishy circuits at very low voltage, so everyone can remain calm and have some fun.

There is a TED Talk on Squishy Circuits which came out of a project developed at the University of St. Thomas in the USA.

In short, Squishy Circuits use two forms of simple playdough to create material that can conduct or restrict the passing of electrical current. Connect them together then bridge them with small LED lights, motors, etc, while being hooked up to a small battery pack, and kids can experiment until the cows come home without killing themselves or setting fire to the house.

But what caught my attention was a link from Free Technology for Teachers to a bright, cheery video by Sylvia, a young girl who is building quite a reputation online as a science experimenter.

Here she is, taking you through the steps for setting up and playing with Squishy Circuits:


Let me know what your kids (or you) get up to.

A different playing with electricity

high-voltage-workerSylvia does play it safe when it comes to electricity but here are some guys who don’t but do but don’t.

This little clip of a moment in a life of the high voltage line maintenance workers in America turns my stomach a little each time I see it.

In short, these guys sit on the edge of a helicopter which nuzzles right up next to those high voltage lines that span countries above the treetops and across mountain tops.

They then reach out, grab the wires, connect themselves and the chopper to them before disengaging the chopper, leaving them to crawl along two wires suspended high above nothing.

They then crawl along, looking for damage and doing whatever they can to repair the damage.

DON’T watch this if you are scared of heights.


Hope your dinner is still where it should be.