Archive for August, 2008

Avoiding Fraud

21 August 2008

Shoppers have been warned to be careful with chip & pin due to criminals using the devices to copy data detailing their account, and cloning the cards to be used abroad in countries where chip & pin has not been introduced. Even cashpoints are prone to fraud, with criminals using cameras and other devices to steal cards, pin numbers or simply data from the card.

There are three ways for criminals to defraud customers using ATMs:

The Lebanese Loop
This involves fraudsters inserting a piece of plastic into the card reader, which stops the card from ejecting. While the customer is confused, the thieves may pose as helpful Samaritans and get the customer to enter his or her PIN again so they can steal it. They simply then remove the card and have memorised the PIN.

lookout for hoodies and baseball caps

lookout for hoodies and baseball caps

Electronic
In this fraud, criminals will install tiny cameras on the cash machine, and a ‘throat skimmer’ on the card hole which scans and records data from the credit or debit card. Once thieves remove these devices they have gathered enough information to clone the card, and have a recording of the PIN being entered to use with the cloned card.
Distraction
This technique involves thieves watching the PIN being entered, distracting the customer at the ATM, usually by placing a ten-pound note on the floor and telling them they have dropped it, while they sneakily scan and copy the customer’s card and remember the PIN. Often thieves will pretend to be making phone calls while secretly aping the buttons being pressed.

But Chip & PIN is not as safe as it was once believed. It has been reported that fraudsters are altering processing machines to store card information so that these can be cloned and used in countries where transactions can still be processed with a signature.

To Avoid Being Defrauded –

ATMs

  • Look for suspicious devices around cash machines. If you see something, report it to the bank and use a different cashpoint. Do not try to remove a device, fraudsters may stop at nothing to get it back as these devices are expensive and incriminating.
  • Cover your hand when entering your PIN. Remember, thieves don’t need to steal your card to make off with your cash. Just a copy of the information and that PIN is all they need.

Chip & PIN

  • Don’t let your card or card details out of your sight when making a transaction.
  • Destroy or shred any receipts or documents detailing your financial information.
  • Do not write down PINs, login details or passwords anywhere, and do not disclose this information to anyone, particularly via email or phone.
  • Only give out card details over the phone when you have called the company before and are familiar with them.
  • Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software and firewall installed.
  • Only shop at secure websites, and only when you enter the url yourself; do not follow links from emails and then enter personal information, it could be a trap.
  • Check your bank statements to detect fraud as early as possible.

10 More Reasons Why I Hate Jazz, By Miriam Nerval, a “Pathetic Loser”

13 August 2008

1. Walking Bass lines. I can’t believe I forgot this first time around! Whoever came up with this is a fucking genius, Mozart’s turning in his grave for not coming up with it first. It’s just so inventive! This is probably my favourite form of walking bass:

Wahoo! I don’t know whether it’s the damn “catchy” step wise movement (it makes me want to shoot a staple gun into my ear drums) or the flattened 7th (god bless that Bb) that signals a revolution, but I’m pretty sure it’s pioneering something, somehow…

2. Trumpets. (I really really hope Malcolm doesn’t see this one)..Trumpets are so loud and obnoxious, they ruin everything- quiet moments, music, my life. Some trumpet playing is more tolerable than others, Jazz (of course) being my VERY LEAST FAVOURITE. Especially muted trumpets; ooooh what a whacky sound, how cool, how quirky, HOW HORRIBLE. Can’t you hear the noise you’re creating? For a couple of bars or so, it’s bearable, I guess it’s always nice to have a bit of a change, but 5 pieces later, I want nothing more than to shove that mute right up you’re fucking trumpet and get to a sick bag asap.

The names of the mutes are almost as bad as the sound they create- Buzz-wah and Wah-Wah being the pick of the bunch. I’d like to take this opportunity to point out the suffix “wah” is ONLY acceptable following the prefix MIZ, blatez.

what a fucking twat

what a fucking twat

3. Miles Davis. This year I had to study “Four” in A-Level music. This opens with a trumpet cadenza, which due to my teacher’s assurances that old Miles was a virtuoso, I expected to blow me away. No. No. NO. I was sourly disappointed when we were instead presented with what was essentially an upwards rising scale, played in triplets, just to add that je ne sais quoi. My teacher LOVED how he’s improvised such a thing, across such a wide range of notes. Well done. Would you like a fucking medal for knowing all the notes on your instrument? You’re meant to be a virtuoso ( Virtuoso n. a person who has special knowledge or skill in a field.) A special knowledge? A SPECIAL knowledge?! Point me too a good trumpet player who couldn’t whack out a scale spanning 3 octaves or so? I think a new jazz king needs to be elected. If this is what you’re presenting us with, it’s no wonder you look like a fucking joke. NOTE: I’m not just hating on miles, there was a number of other contenders, including Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Minger and Howlin’ fucking wolf.

4. Stop time. What a RADICAL creation. No really, my whole life has been turned upside down because of it. I’m not even going to go into that one, it’s just ball bags. Absolute ball bags.

5. Scat. Although it’s scat that really makes me want to rip your vocal chords out using a shard from a smashed Charlie Mingus record, Jazz Vocals as a whole probably win my award for WORST noise EVER to come out of someone’s mouth, and I saw blazin’ squad twice when I was 11, so that’s really saying something. You sound like a warbling old lady whose started to loose control over her vocal chords, you really do. And scat is even worse! EURGH! It’s hardly revolutionary improv when all you’re doing is making stupid noises to a little tune. My three year old cousin can do that, but it doesn’t mean I’m hailing her as the next big thing. Ella Fitzgerald was a right jerk off.

6. Any swell blues song that opens with “I woke up this morning..”. Cool. I wish you hadn’t.

7. Stupid stage names. Last time around I touched upon the stupid names of the pieces, but the names of the people writing the stupid pieces are even worse. The ONLY “Dizzy” that should be tolerated is that Rascal; and as for Howlin’ Wolf- I don’t think it wise to so openly invite comparisons between yourself and a wild dog when you sound like you do. Then there’s “Duke” Ellington, you are NOT a Duke. “Pretentious Idiot” Ellington, or “Some one should tell me to shut the hell up” Ellington may have been a more appropriate choice.  (I realise that as I wander around calling myself stupid names like “Mizzee” I may not be one to comment- but then I’m a youf of today, fucking gangsta, and so off the wall I’m hangin’ from the ceiling man)

8. Bebop. So off the wall you can forget my ceiling, this baby can’t even be boxed into a room. Most of the Jazz Musicians I know get a bit excited about bebop, it’s like so frantic I can TOTALLY see why… Like, the metronome has been tweaked up a couple of knotches and wait, oh here’s a radical idea, why don’t we rename the themes “head”- cool man, I’ll grab my dancing shoes.

jazzy geoff

jazzy geoff

My ears are bleeding.

9. I read once that “jazz, by its very definition CANNOT be orchestrated”, isn’t that a bit elitist? Cutting off an entire genre, making it only accessible to those lucky enough to have the talent for improvising, and with a good ear? What about the millions of competent musicians who aren’t so good at that kind of thing, but want to play a little jazz? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to musicians not reading music, that’s not the point I’m trying to make. Some of the best musicians I know are stave-illiterate, and I play by ear 80% of the time cos I’m just too lazy to read the notes. But I think to start something with the intention of NOT letting it be written down, even by someone else, is a bit ball bags really isn’t it?

Having said that, I kind of wish no one ever did write down jazz, then we couldn’t have it forced upon us at numerous points in our musical education.

10. Jazz Cafes. Talk about putting me off my food. What’s the appeal? We aren’t living in the 1920’s, move the hell on. My auntie took me to a little jazz café once, there was a lovely squeaky violin treating us to a sharp rendition of Rhapsody in Blue, I’d pretended to be sick in the toilet to get out of there within the first 16-24 bars. Sometimes I still have nightmares about it. I wake up screaming. The haunting screech of the violin’s E string echoing around my head ’till the early hours.

For anyone else suffering similar symptoms, I find that a good dose of Stiff Little Fingers will whack it straight out of you.

Just as a side note, I would like to make it public knowledge that once I’ve discovered I’ve failed A-Level music tomorrow, it is the Jazz module that will be COMPLETELY to blame. It’s a bit hard to take anything in when you wince and start vomiting every time the teacher presses play.

Please don’t letter bomb my house for this. It’s not my fault if you’re warped enough to like Miles Davis.

Peace and Yellow Things.

Corrosion & Rust

13 August 2008

Corrosion describes the breaking down of essential properties in a material due to chemical reactions with its surroundings. It is most commonly known in terms of metals which corrode when affected by moist air. This oxidates the metal and creates rust.

But corrosion does not just describe the oxidisation and disintegration of metals, but also the dissolution of ceramic materials, and the discolouration and weakening of polymers by ultraviolent light.

Rust

The weakening of Iron due to the oxidisation of its iron atoms is the best known example of electrochemical corrosion, but most metals corrode from exposure to moist air. Rust is a general term for a series of iron oxides formed by the reaction of iron with oxygen in the presence of water or air moisture.

Rusting is the common term for corrosion of iron and its alloys, such as steel. Other metals undergo equivalent corrosion, but the resulting oxides are not commonly called rust. Given sufficient time, oxygen, and water, any iron mass eventually converts entirely to rust and disintegrates. The corrosion of aluminium is extremely slow because the resulting aluminium oxide forms a coating, which protects the remaining aluminium from corroding. This process is known as passivation.

Rust in Action!

Rust in Action!

How will Rust affect me?

Whether it’s your home, car, bike or motorcycle, rust is bound to effect you at some point. The process is greatly accelerated by moist or salty air conditions, such as those found by the seaside. CC Technologies calculated that corrosion costs America $276 billion per year, speculating that this was mainly due to the misconception that corrosion is inevitable.

Rust Prevention

There are two approaches to protecting against rust. Barrier methods, and sacrificial protection. The former places a barrier between the metal and the moist air. Grease, paint, plastic or an unreactive metal such as copper or tin can be used.

The latter covers the metal being protected in a more reactive metal or material, such as zinc or magnesium, which will corrode before iron or steel.

So if you live by the sea, make sure you protect those precious metals from the corrosion that faces them due to their exposure to moist, salty air. Don’t wait for rust to remind you to act!

Alternatively let nature run its course and achieve that rustic look you’ve been looking for. Rust can also make car and bicycles look less appealing to thieves, as Dominic Wilcox has utilised with a crafty anti theft device which uses fake rust stickers in exactly this way.

My Top Three Jazz Albums

12 August 2008

In defence of jazz, here are my top three jazz albums. I’m no expert, but I know what I like, and these three would probably find a placing in my top ten albums ever.

If you’re going to listen to jazz, listen to jazz on vinyl. If you’re going to listen to jazz on vinyl then accompany it with a jazz cigarette. If you’re going to smoke a jazz cigarette then any old bollocks will sound amazing.

Charles Mingus – The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady

My copy of this just arrived last week but I have been enjoying the mp3s for years. Six tracks of varying confusion and befuddlement. The liner notes on the sleeve are penned by a clinical psychologist who documents Charlie’s mental state at the time of recording this album.

Charles Mingus - The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady

Charles Mingus - The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady

Written as a score for a ballet, Black Saint is divided into six tracks, although this division is not really clean cut, with many tracks having no discernible gap between them.

The horns sound genuinely like they are talking to you. All the noises are so deep and textured, nothing sounds floaty or thin, yet the composition itself is actually very chaotic. I always expect the arrangements to fall to pieces and descend into DuRT-style avant-madness but it never happens, the chaos is controlled and carefully structured.

This is one of the first jazz albums which utilised overdubs, which shows that even the wackier, more unpredictable elements of this masterpiece had been very meticulously planned by Mingus as a composer.

It veers from upbeat and beautiful to slow, sparse, loud and ugly. It takes the listener from complete and utter despair to shiny hope, and that’s a pretty powerful, if cheesy, journey.

Alice Coltrane: Ptah The El Daoud

I don’t know quite what to say about this, other than Alice Coltrane’s piano playing is unbelievable. On the laid back blues inspired Turiya & Ramakrishna, the ease with which she manages to roll notes into simple refrains is staggering. This is probably one of my favourite song ever.

Nuff said.

Bad Plus – These are the Vistas

I remember exactly where I first heard this decidedly modern Jazz trio. I was at Tom Symes’s house at a party, hiding in his bedroom smoking pot and listening to Radio Three with Lottie. A slow, meandering piano part accompanied by double bass and jazz drums slowly crept into our ears, before we realised it was a cover version of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana.

Upon running home, loading Soulseek and downloading the album, I realised that the Nirvana cover is a relative lowlight of this debut album.

The Bad Plus - These Are The Vistas

The Bad Plus - These Are The Vistas

Piano, double bass, drums. Quite hard to be original but I think The Bad Plus achieve just that. The drumming is more reminiscent of math-rock or electronica than trad jazz, and the piano playing is fucking retarded. The bass holds it all together but the song structures tend to include really fucking crazy messy bits along with soulful, rhythm-less sections and up beat, feel good reprises.

The undisputed highlight of this album is their cover of Aphex Twin’s Flim, where drummer David King makes Aphex’s computer sound prehistoric in comparison with his tight, technical yet charming banging. It sometimes sounds like he’s banging lots of pots and pans but it’s actually just him using the same drum in a million different ways, all within the space of a few seconds.

The cover of Blondie’s ‘Heart Of Glass’ is nearly ruined by 3 or 4 minutes of complete sludge in the middle, but is happily rescued with a catchy upbeat 7/4 reprise which takes the song to it’s conclusion.

And there’s some pretty good originals on there too. From hectic and disjointed to slow, blues inspired fade ins, I’d be too shy to call this a masterpiece. But it is.

———————————-

OK. You tell me. Look at this pic. Tell me who the pianist is, who the bass player is, and who the drummer is.

The Bad Plus

The Bad Plus

OK so the drummer and bassist are the two big fat guys, and the pianist is the little thin guy with a big nose, Right? WRONG! Skinny geek plays a fat double bass, and the big fat guy with a goatie actually fits his chunky fingers onto the piano keys. I only realised this upon their appearance on ‘Later with Jools Holland’.

Their second album was a big fat, chubby fingered disappointment.

Alan

Where was my invite?

8 August 2008

10 Reasons Why I Hate Jazz, By Miriam Nerval, A Pretentious Classical Musician

8 August 2008

1) Jazz Musicians. You know me, I’m not one for blatant prejudice, or horribly sweeping statements (evidence backing this is currently unavailable), but Jazz Musicians as a whole really get under my skin. All such people I have EVER encountered have all turned out to be pretentious idiots, who seem to be living under the impression that they are God’s gift to music. They’re really not. “oooh look at us, we can improvise and play our quavers with a dotted rhythm”. Sweet. I hate you.

2) “The ability to play good Jazz is the only true measure of character”. A musician told me that, but not just any musician a JAZZ pianist, would you believe. How on EARTH could you back this up? For a start, where’s the line between “good” and “bad” jazz? I could spend weeks arguing the point that there is no such thing as GOOD jazz, but suppose for a minute there is, you’re not necessarily a better person for being able to play it. In fact, if you turn into a Jazz musician, there’s the destruction of your character right there. Besides, I bet Charlie Mason played some sick Jazz.

3) Being directed to swing my quavers. Arrrrrrrrgh! I DO NOT appreciate being told this. What’s wrong with straight quavers? I happen to be rather fond of straight quavers. I do NOT dig this swingin’ rhythm it creates. If you’re going to play a dotted rhythm, at least play it properly; as our favourite Baroque forefathers would have intended.

4) 12 bar blues. I once had a music teacher who raved about 12 bar blues, about what a notion of musical genius the structure was. ARE YOU KIDDING? Effectively, the basic 12 bar blue structure is based on the chords : I I I I IV IV I I V IV I I. That’s 8 bars of chord I, how can you be excited about 8 bars of the tonic chord?! Simple things I suppose, but still, what a bangin’ party. I wouldn’t blame you for thinking you CD player was stuck on repeat. Sometimes (if they’re feeling really wild) musicians can substitute the last chord for chord V, or even, wait for it IV, what CRAZY kids. Occasionally, they’ll replace the third I chord for any other chord of the scale! WOW! They really live on the edge, that DOES make for exciting listening.

5) Pitch bending on the clarinet. It sounds horrible enough on the sax, but really, was there any need to drag the clarinet into the “off the wall jazz techniques” it’s been exposed too. It has such a beautiful tone! BEAUTIFUL. Why do it? WHY?

6) The pieces have stupid names. One of stage band’s favourites to whip out when we let our guards down was entitled “Green Onions”. There’s a big difference between quirky, and shit. Somebody needs to tell them.

I think that alone establishes my point.

7) Jazz arrangements for non-jazz instruments, for example recorder. My teacher used to make me play these ear-sores in concerts, announcing to the audience it was to “prove recorders can do jazz too”. Why prove that?! I’m happy NOT to be associated with such things. I love recorders, but there’s no way they can compete with saxophones, you’ll look like a joke. Like all the other “jazz musicians” in town.

8 ) Blues scales. Never has a genre been less deserving of its own scale. Apparently diminution of intervals is pretty exciting, off the wall even. Since when has flattening a couple of notes been the signal of a revolution?

9) Improvisation. Woop woop, how flashy. How hard can it be? Really? Swing some quavers from the notes of their precious blues scale, over a chord like to be I IV or V (especially if you’re in 12 bar blues, my absolute favourite). Musicians have to improvise across the genres, so why is it considered so very new and exciting when in jazz?! I HATE it.

10) Jazz fusion. Jazz should not be allowed to “fuse” with anything. Containing it quickly and safely is the ONLY way we can stamp it out completely.

In the next episode of reasons why jazz ruined my life, more bitching’ on the topics of trumpets, stop time and Miles Davis.

I hope Malcolm doesn’t read this, I love a bit of Knapp.

In other news, I’m watching JFK with Kevin Costner in at the moment. I’d forgotten how fucking good this is, Lee Harvey Oswald was such a dish!

A Gd 2 Txt Spk

8 August 2008

Texting and instant messaging is all the rage these days, as is bad spelling, acronyms and using no punctuation or capital letters. The frequency of these exchanges seems to negate the need for adequate spelling, punctuation and grammar. This is to help you get to grips with text speak (or txt spk).

Acronyms

The most popular for of text speak is acronyms. Some are easy and commonplace even in everyday language; ASAP, FYI, AKA, Some originate from internet chat rooms and forums, such as LOL, OMG and BRB and have swiftly been adopted by the texting masses. Some have emerged more recently such as TTYL, BTW, IMO, MYOB, and some are so obscure that they probably shouldn’t be used by anyone unless you share a telepathic text speak dictionary, see YKWYCD, ICCL and IYSS. Meanwhile some of these acronyms (such as LOL and ASAP)are so commonplace that you could be forgiven for knowing what the acronym meant, but not what each letter actually stood for.

Shortening phrases to acronyms, or replacing whole parts of words with single letters, numbers or other characters shortens the message and saves money. The problems arises when the recipient cannot decipher the coded message. Like any language, you need to write messages for an audience, and unless the recipient is also part of the texting elite, it can lead to ambiguity and confusion.

Letters, numbers, symbols

The letters B, C, R, U, Y can be used instead of whole words (be, see, are, you, why) and numbers 2 and 8 can be combined with words or parts of words to form hybrids; 2nite, c u l8a, h8. Sometimes other characters can be used to replace words or parts of words; h&, cheer^, cum/ (hand, cheer up, come down).

Removing vowels

A simple strategy for reducing sms length is removing the vowels from certain words. This can lead to some confusion, but is probably easier to deduce than unexpected acronyms. Thrsdy, Mndy, SpcGrls, Mstr, Hppyslp etc.

Whatever you think of text speak, you had better get used to it. The introduction of predictive text might be hailed as a step forward, but really that just gently coerces texters into using more common synonyms when the word they are trying to use is not included in the electronic dictionary. At least abbreviations and acronyms require the texter to write messages character-by-character.

Text speak reduces the characters, and thus the time and cost, of a text message. All the time you are wasting punctuating your sentences properly could be spent happy slapping or at Facebook-organised water fights and stab parties. Embrace the new lingo, reduce your text message bill and confuse your family and friends!

or

wow omg rofl

wow omg rofl

TXTNG AND INSTNT MSSGNG IS AL TH RG THS DYS AS IS BD SPLLNG ACRNYMS AND USNG NO PNCTTN R CPTL LTTRS. TH FRNTC AND FRQNCY OF THS EXCHNGS SEEMS 2 NGT TH NEED FR ADQT SPLLNG PNCTTN AND GRMMR. THS IS 2 HLP U GT 2 GRPS WTH TXT SPEAK R TXT SPK.CRNYMSTH MST PPLR FR OF TXT SPEAK IS ACRNYMS. SM R EASY AND CMMNPLC EVN IN EVRYDY LNGG ASP FY AK SM ORGNT FRM INTRNT CHT ROOMS AND FRMS SCH AS LL OMG AND BRB AND HV SWFTLY BEEN ADPTD BY TH TXTNG MSSS. SM HV EMRGD MR RCNTLY SCH AS TTYL BTW IM MYB AND SM R SO OBSCR THT THY PRBBLY SHOULDNT BE USD BY NE1 UNLSS U SHR A TLPTHC TXT SPEAK DCTNRY SEE YKWYCD ICCL AND IYSS. MEANWHL SM OF THS ACRNYMS SCH AS LL AND ASPR SO CMMNPLC THT U COULD BE FRGVN FR KNWNG WHT TH ACRNYM MEANT BT NT WHT EACH LTTR ACTLLY STOOD FR.SHRTNNG PHRSS 2 ACRNYMS R RPLCNG WHL PRTS OF WRDS WTH SNGL LTTRS NMBRS R OTHR CHRCTRS SHRTNS TH MSG AND SVS MNY. TH PRBLMS ARS WHN TH RCPIENT CNNT DCPHR TH CDD MSSG. LKE NE LNGG U NEED 2 WRT MSSGS FR AN AUDIENC AND UNLSS TH RCPIENT IS ALS PRT OF TH TXTNG ELT IT CN LEAD 2 AMBGTY AND CNFSN.LTTRS NMBRS SYMBLSTH LTTRS B C R U Y CN BE USD INSTEAD OF WHL WRDS BE SEE R U WHY AND NMBRS 2 AND 8 CN BE CMBND WTH WRDS R PRTS OF WRDS 2 FRM HYBRDS 2NT C U L8 H8. SMTMS OTHR CHRCTRS CN BE USD 2 RPLC WRDS R PRTS OF WRDS H CHEER CM HND CHEER UP CM DWN.RMVNG VWLS SMPL STRTGY FR RDCNG SMS LNGTH IS RMVNG TH VWLS FRM CRTAIN WRDS. THS CN LEAD 2 SM CNFSN BT IS PRBBLY EASIER 2 DDC THN UNXPCTD ACRNYMS. THRSDY MNDY SPCGRLS MSTR HPPYSLP ETC.WHTVR U THNK OF TXT SPEAK U HD BTTR GT USD 2 IT. TH INTRDCTN OF PRDCTV TXT MGHT BE HAILD AS A STP FRWRD BT REALLY THT JST GNTLY CRCS TXTRS INT USNG MR CMMN SYNNYMS WHN TH WRD THY R TRYNG 2 US IS NT INCLDD IN TH ELCTRNC DCTNRY. AT LEAST ABBRVTNS AND ACRNYMS RQR TH TXTR 2 WRT MSSGS CHRCTR-BY-CHRCTR.TXT SPEAK RDCS TH CHRCTRS AND THS TH TM AND CST OF A TXT MSSG. AL TH TM U R WSTNG PNCTTNG YR SNTNCS PRPRLY COULD BE SPNT HPPY SLPPNG R AT FCBOOK-RGNSD WTR FGHTS AND STB PRTIES. EMBRC TH NW LNG RDC YR TXT MSG BLL AND CNFS YR FMLY AND FRIENDS

Bored

8 August 2008

I remember

bei

ng bored when I was a kid. It was different then. My body ached with boredom, and my brain swelled with nothingness. D

esperate cries of “I’m bored!” were met with deafening choruses of “Only boring people get bored”.

this is getting boring

Inevitably it was boredom which led me to build something out of lego, or slide around on the floor on a Dandy annual. Or draw pictures of humans with animal heads wearing jeans and trainers.

Now I find boredom all pervading. When I’m bored even the things which interest me are boring. It is my state of mind rather than the lack of stimulus. I am a boring person, and that’s why I get bored.

I am bored.

7 August 2008

Bored of Facebook, confused by Twitter, I have become hacked off with all your gay social networking.

There’s no animated gifs or black background, but this is my new Neverlution.

I have no idea what I will post here but it is bound to be more interesting than waiting for a reply from you on Facebook.

Alternative Mobility Aids

6 August 2008

We know about mobility scooters, stair lifts and wheelchairs but what about the cutting edge of mobility aids? In 2008 there has to be some new, hi-tech solutions to elderly and disabled people’s issues.

If you’re looking for an alternative to a standard wheelchair or mobility scooter, perhaps you could consider the following more up-to-date and technologically advanced mobility aids.

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a German research company, has developed a four wheel drive wheelchair, to allow disabled and elderly people to tear up the countryside without continually getting wheels stuck. It looks like a versatile, all-terrain vehicle with large deep treaded tires, four wheel drive, and a roll bar for safety. The chair also has a GPS system, and technology which can monitor the driver’s pulse and blood oxygen, alerting the appropriate authorities if the user is in trouble. It allows disabled people access to terrains normally completely inaccessible.

But as we all know, the ultimate all terrain vehicle is a tank. When Mr. Soden’s wife was paralysed in a car accident, the ex-fire fighter from Phoenix, Arizona set about creating an all access mobility chair for her. Two years later he had developed the tank chair. With 42 inch rubber wheels and tracks, a one horsepower motor and a top speed of 5mph, the Tank chair powers through sand, mud, gravel and eats hills for breakfast. It weighs 300 pounds and is currently retailing for $15, 600 US.

awesome

awesome

There is also a faster, more lightweight version called the 2008 Speedster. This has thick, rugged tyres instead of tracks and is a lot smaller.

If you don’t want a one man tank but a smart chair, the iBOT wheelchair might be for you. According to the company who have manufactured the iBOT, wheelchair users often speak of longing to carry on eye-level conversations with people standing nearby, and be able to shop independently. No tank tracks, GPS or weaponry, but the iBOT does have four wheeled drive, and uses a combination of gyroscopes and sensors to help the user be able to climb stairs, and lift up to standing height. The iBOT will cost $29, 000 US.

the wrong trousers

the wrong trousers

Alternatively, Atsuo Takanshi at Waseda University in Tokyo has developed some rather fetching robot legs. It might sound reminiscent of Wallace & Gromit in The Wrong Trousers but these high tech gadgets are for real. Standing four feet tall, this people mover doubles as a stair lift in its own right.

Takanishi says it could take another five years before this robot is ready to serve the public. Until then, you’ve got a tank and a 4×4 to choose from!