Category Archives: Uncategorized

Internet Findings of the Week for September 18, 2015

This week I was moved by the plight of refugees, I was shocked by revelations that Volkswagen may no longer be a trusted car manufacturer, and I learnt about the history of autism research.

Video of the week

Help Is Coming

This is a moving and compelling video about the struggles of the 19.5 million refugees around the world. It shows the real terror that those people are leaving behind, and really helps you understand why these people are absolutely desperate. The video starts with a very apt poem read by actor Benedict Cumberbatch which ends with the chilling line “no one puts children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land”. Then you see clips of children talking about their lives as refugees, and see real footage of the war in Syria and other countries. The soundtrack to the video is a song called “Help Is Coming”; a hopeful message to both reassure those in need, and encourage others to provide that help.

Article of the Week

EPA Says Volkswagen Software Circumvented Car Emissions Testing

A 2011 VW Jetta. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

I was shocked to read the news that Volkswagen apparently installed software in their diesel cars to cheat emissions testing from 2009 to 2015. An independent clean-air testing group recently did some in-depth testing of two diesel VW cars, and found the nitrous oxide emissions were five to 35 times the standard allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. VW has been claiming for years that these diesel cars are “powerful, clean and efficient”, but now it seems like this could be a lie. My first car was a Volkswagen Golf, and my sister has a diesel Golf. I thought VW was a company with high moral standards which I could trust.

Podcast of the Week

The History and Myths of the Autism Spectrum

I had no idea that important autism research was stalled by the Nazis at the start of the second world war. This podcast starts in 1938 when an Austrian pediatric doctor named Hans Asperger was starting to realize the size of the autism spectrum and how people with autism often had unusual and interesting talents and abilities that should be valued in society. But his research was cut short when the Nazis targeted his clinic in Vienna, because the Nazis wanted to do horrifying testing on children with disabilities. Asperger’s vital research was lost for many years, at a time when autistic children around the world were often being shunned. The podcast then follows the progression of research in other countries, until Asperger’s research resurfaced in the 80s and helped form today’s understanding of autism.

10 last-minute Christmas gift ideas

Don't have time to go to the mall before Christmas? You still have options!

Don’t have time to go to the mall before Christmas? You still have options! (Photo: Imogen Crispe)

What do you get someone for Christmas when you realise it’s too late to go to the mall and too late to wait for something to be mailed (where are those Amazon drones when you need them)? Never fear, you still have options! There is a huge variety of gifts which can be delivered instantly in an email, meaning even Christmas Eve or the early hours of Christmas morning are not too late to get your gift. Print out the information about the gift and pop it inside the recipient’s Christmas card, or if you’re creative make a little personalised gift card for them. If you’re not going to see the person, then you can send the gift in an email with a Christmas greeting.

Here are some great ideas to help you out:

1. Online store vouchers

This is an easy option if you can’t decide on a gift or if you don’t have enough time to find one. Most online stores have good gift card options which can be sent to the recipient via email, or you can print out a copy of the gift card and give it to your loved one personally. Choose their favourite store and select an amount! Some good ones are Etsy, The Body Shop, MYHABIT and Victoria’s Secret.

2. Ebooks and audiobooks

You can easily choose an ebook online and then send it to someone as a gift. You can buy Kindle books as a gift, where a link to download the book will get sent to your recipient. Or if your recipient prefers listening to books on the go, get them a subscription to Audible, where they can choose to download one audiobook per month. Apple’s iBooks Store sells both ebooks and audiobooks for download and although it doesn’t have the option to gift a specific item, you can always send someone an iTunes gift card.

3. Show tickets

This is great for people who love music or theatre. Find tickets to a future musical show, rock concert, play or ballet online. Then buy them and either print out the tickets and give them to your loved one, or email them the instructions for how to pick up the tickets from a box office. A good place to start is your local Ticketmaster site or try for discounted tickets. For music concerts you can also try Songkick.

4. Charity gifts

Helping someone in need is a great gift for that caring and selfless person in your life. Many charitable organisations around the world allow you to donate to a good cause on behalf of your gift recipient. For example you can buy Christmas gifts from Unicef like vaccinations or mosquito nets which will go to children who really need them. Or Oxfam lets you send goats or chickens to people in third world countries. You can then choose to have a personalised card emailed to you or your gift recipient, telling them what has been donated.

5. Magazine subscriptions

This is an awesome option for anyone who has a favourite magazine. I’ve received subscriptions to Vanity Fair in the past and always loved them. Magazines seem like such a luxury and you can easily order the subscription online by putting your recipients home address in. Order them a 12-month subscription – it will seem like Christmas every month! If you order in December, the first issue will usually arrive in January or February, but you can put a message in the recipient’s Christmas card or send them an email to let them know it’s coming.

6. Dinner

What’s your friend or loved one’s favourite restaurant? Lots of restaurants have gift vouchers available to buy online, and some have a set menu or buffet price so you can make sure the whole meal is on you. If the restaurant insists on posting you a physical gift card which won’t arrive in time for Christmas, you could make your own little card to give them on Christmas day with the details, then give them the actual one when it arrives.

7. Spa vouchers

This is a great gift for both ladies and men, especially if they have had a stressful year! Get them a massage, a manipedi, or a full day of pampering at a spa. Websites like sell a range of different spa vouchers which can be sent to you or your recipient in an email.

8. A holiday or excursion

If you want to give a special someone a very exciting surprise, why not get them a trip somewhere? From one night in a fancy hotel, to a weekend getaway or wine tasting tour, you can book it all online and email the details to your recipient. Just make sure you book one with flexible dates, just in case your loved one is not available on the dates you’ve chosen.

9. Theme park tickets

Running out of time to find a great gift for your kid or young friend? How about tickets to a theme park? Theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios sell tickets online which you can have sent to you via email, then send them to or print them out for your recipient who can use them whenever is convenient within one year (check the terms and conditions just in case).

10. Fun class

Does your friend love cooking and want to improve? Or have they been complaining about their golf swing? Then the perfect last minute gift is a one-off class. You can book fun classes online for all interests, ages and skill levels including cooking, cake decorating, sport, dancing, art and more. Once it’s booked, just forward on the details or print them out for your recipient.