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The Weird Week in Review

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Man Fights Off Shark, Stitches Up Leg, Goes to Pub

James Grant of Colac Bay, New Zealand, was spear fishing with friends when he was attacked by a shark. He stabbed the shark with a knife, which caused it to leave. When he got out of the water, he saw a deep gash in his leg where the shark bit him. Grant, a junior doctor, removed his wetsuit and stitched up the wound, using supplies from a first aid kit. Then he and his friends went to the Colac Bay Tavern. The bar staff gave him a towel because his wound was bleeding onto the floor. Sometime afterward, he went to a hospital for a proper re-stitching. Grant plans to return to the water as soon as the stitches are out.

Genius Gets Free Lunch for a Year from Airline

This scheme would never pay off with an American airline, but it was well worth it for an unnamed man in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China. He bought a first-class ticket for a flight, then went to the airport and showed the ticket for admittance to China Eastern Airlines VIP lounge, where they serve complimentary meals with complimentary drinks. Then he left the lounge and changed his ticket to a flight for the next day. Then he returned and got another complimentary meal, with drinks. He changed his itinerary and took meals more than 300 times! When the ticket was about to expire, he cancelled it and got a full refund. The airline acknowledged that he did nothing illegal. What do you want to bet that China Eastern Airlines will change its policies soon to be more in line with other airlines that charge a fee for changes in itinerary and for cancellations?

90 Farting Cows Start Fire in Germany

This is what happens when you put too many well-fed cows in one shed. Maybe it was cold outside, but close quarters do not stop cows from farting. And the gas from 90 cows can be dangerous.

High levels of the gas had built up in the structure in the central German town of Rasdorf, then "a static electric charge caused the gas to explode with flashes of flames," the force said in a statement.

The report says the roof was damaged. We can imagine it being blown clean off. The cows fared pretty well, with only one animal being treated for burns.

River Flows with Scotch Whisky

It wasn’t a truck spill, but a serious mistake. A truck carrying 27,500 liters of Scotch whisky emptied its cargo into the wrong vat at a bottler in Scotland. The vat overflowed, and 6,600 liters went into the River Ayr. Don’t head to Scotland to take advantage of the situation, because the spill happened in 2011. This week, a fine of £12,000 was levied against Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Limited for polluting the river (need I say, one man’s pollution is another man’s Scotch and water). The company has set systems in place to ensure that such a mistake doesn’t happen again.

Thousands of Chickens Cross the Road

Why did all the chickens cross the road? To get to the other side, silly! And also because they were escaping from the truck that was transporting them when it overturned. The truck was filled with chicken coops when it turned over on a highway in Guizhou province. Coops containing about 3,000 chickens broke open, and the birds made a run for it. Police jumped in to help round up about 900 of the chickens. The rest are presumable wandering the countryside. Let’s just hope they look both ways before crossing the road again. With video.

Town Buried in Tumbleweeds

The residents of Clovis, New Mexico, were surprised when they woke up Monday morning to find they were buried in tumbleweeds! A wind from the north brought tumbleweeds to Clovis, and they settled up against the houses on the north side of town. Some homes had tumbleweeds up to their roofs, and doors and garages were covered. City crews went to work, and neighbors pitched in to help dig out the homes that were obstructed by the weeds. They are in the process of hauling them all to the city landfill, and hope to have the town cleaned up by the weekend.

Marijuana to Be Judged at Denver County Fair

County fairs are traditionally the time to show off garden produce and livestock, and maybe ride a ferris wheel and eat fried food on a stick. The tradition spread to Denver only in 2011, with a fair that started out to be new and different. What will be new and different this year is marijuana judging and a joint-rolling competition.

There won't actually be any marijuana at the fairgrounds. The judging will be done off-site, with photos showing the winning entries. And a live joint-rolling contest will be done with oregano, not pot.

But county fair organizers say the marijuana categories will add a fun twist on Denver's already-quirky county fair, which includes a drag queen pageant, tattoo competitions and a contest for homemade robots.

The Denver County Fair will run August 1-3.

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iPhone’s ‘Do Not Disturb’ Feature Is Actually Reducing Distracted Driving (a Little)
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While it’s oh-so-tempting to quickly check a text or look at Google Maps while driving, heeding the siren call of the smartphone is one of the most dangerous things you can do behind the wheel. Distracted driving led to almost 3500 deaths in the U.S. in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and even more non-fatal accidents. In the summer of 2017, Apple took steps to combat the rampant problem by including a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” setting as part of its iOS 11 upgrade. And the data shows that it’s working, as Business Insider and 9to5Mac report.

The Do Not Disturb While Driving feature allows your iPhone to sense when you’re in a moving car, and mutes all incoming calls, texts, and other notifications to keep you from being distracted by your phone. A recent survey from the insurance comparison website EverQuote found that the setting works as intended; people who kept the setting enabled did, in fact, use their phones less.

The study analyzed driver behavior recorded by EverDrive, EverQuote’s app designed to help users track and improve their safety while driving. The report found that 70 percent of EverDrive users kept the Do Not Disturb setting on rather than disabling it. Those drivers who kept the setting enabled used their phone 8 percent less.

The survey examined the behavior of 500,000 EverDrive users between September 19, 2017—just after Apple debuted the feature to the public—and October 25, 2017. The sample size is arguably small, and the study could have benefited from a much longer period of analysis. Even if people are looking at their phones just a little less in the car, though, that’s a win. Looking away from the road for just a split second to glance at an incoming notification can have pretty dire consequences if you’re cruising along at 65 mph.

When safety is baked into the design of technology, people are more likely to follow the rules. Plenty of people might not care enough to enable the Do Not Disturb feature themselves, but if it’s automatically enabled, plenty of people won’t go through the work to opt out.

[h/t 9to5Mac]

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Apple Wants to Patent a Keyboard You’re Allowed to Spill Coffee On
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In the future, eating and drinking near your computer keyboard might not be such a dangerous game. On March 8, Apple filed a patent application for a keyboard designed to prevent liquids, crumbs, dust, and other “contaminants” from getting inside, Dezeen reports.

Apple has previously filed several patents—including one announced on March 15—surrounding the idea of a keyless keyboard that would work more like a trackpad or a touchscreen, using force-sensitive technology instead of mechanical keys. The new anti-crumb keyboard patent that Apple filed, however, doesn't get into the specifics of how the anti-contamination keyboard would work. It isn’t a patent for a specific product the company is going to debut anytime soon, necessarily, but a patent for a future product the company hopes to develop. So it’s hard to say how this extra-clean keyboard might work—possibly because Apple hasn’t fully figured that out yet. It’s just trying to lay down the legal groundwork for it.

Here’s how the patent describes the techniques the company might use in an anti-contaminant keyboard:

"These mechanisms may include membranes or gaskets that block contaminant ingress, structures such as brushes, wipers, or flaps that block gaps around key caps; funnels, skirts, bands, or other guard structures coupled to key caps that block contaminant ingress into and/or direct containments away from areas under the key caps; bellows that blast contaminants with forced gas out from around the key caps, into cavities in a substrate of the keyboard, and so on; and/or various active or passive mechanisms that drive containments away from the keyboard and/or prevent and/or alleviate containment ingress into and/or through the keyboard."

Thanks to a change in copyright law in 2011, the U.S. now gives ownership of an idea to the person who first files for a patent, not the person with the first working prototype. Apple is especially dogged about applying for patents, filing plenty of patents each year that never amount to much.

Still, they do reveal what the company is focusing on, like foldable phones (the subject of multiple patents in recent years) and even pizza boxes for its corporate cafeteria. Filing a lot of patents allows companies like Apple to claim the rights to intellectual property for technology the company is working on, even when there's no specific invention yet.

As The New York Times explained in 2012, “patent applications often try to encompass every potential aspect of a new technology,” rather than a specific approach. (This allows brands to sue competitors if they come out with something similar, as Apple has done with Samsung, HTC, and other companies over designs the company views as ripping off iPhone technology.)

That means it could be a while before we see a coffee-proof keyboard from Apple, if the company comes out with one at all. But we can dream.

[h/t Dezeen]

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