New York Times Image, 19 Nov 2014


Are You certain your “Likes” on all the social media platforms are human? Or are they robots? (Bots)


Some years back I read the bots were on the rise  but a recent article in the New York Times should give all of us a ‘wake-up’ call about buying popularity. Seems as though, 'don't believe everything you read on the Internet'.


First, a definition: a bot is an application -- a few lines of computer code that will do a task. . . an automated task without the intervention of a human. It’s a web robot. Ever asked a question of Siri on your mobile? Siri is a bot – it will ‘do’ tasks for you – multiple tasks. From here it gets a little complicated, so rather than attempt a feeble explanation, let’s go back to the ‘buying likes’ example.


At first, I assumed buying followers meant promoting my tourism websites to a list of ‘real’ people. And a webguy I know recommended that I buy some to push up my ‘like’ numbers. It somehow felt dishonest, so I dropped the webguy!


Still this article, ‘The Follower Factory’ (New York Times, 27 January 2018) is a bit of a shock. The Follower Factory 

“Facebook disclosed to investors that it had at least twice as many fake users as it previously estimated, indicating that up to 60 million automated accounts may roam the world’s largest social media platform.”


Back in the day of 2014 thousands of these fake accounts, known as bots, were up for purchase for as little as $5. Voila, you are popular, but buyer beware: this is a giant pyramid scheme of fake friends and, hang on to your hat, all the platforms Instagram, Vine Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube Facebook are in on the game.


Just a few lines of computer code and your Bot is ready to retweet certain topics. . . follow a tweet or follow anyone who follows them.


Multiple Bots are commonly called ‘Bot Farms’. A farm is up for sale for the cost of a cup of coffee, writes Nick Bolton Vanity Fair 2018.  If you have time, read those articles. But in the future, don’t ‘go on’ about how many followers you have – you do want real people 'liking' youl


 Thanks to NY Times 19 Nov 2014


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Another week or so of school holidays remain!

Has boredom grabbed your household? Heat and humidity mean caution in the great outdoors, so what's a parent to do? We've suggestions: there are some terrific activities in the Hawkesbury and the Hills. Hang your 'what to do' hat on Rouse Hill House & Farm (Rouse Hill) or Museum Discovery Centre (Castle Hill) or Blue Mountains Botanical Garden (Mount Tomah on Bells Line of Road)




Let's begin with the renovated smashing Museums Discovery Centre.  

Address: 172 Showground Road, Castle Hill 

Phone: 02 9217 0111 

Hours: Open Mon–Fri 10am–5pm



The showpiece of The Hills is newly renovated Museums Discovery Centre. This is a collaboration between three great Sydney museums — the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney Living Museums, and the Australian Museum. The Castle Hill Discovery Centre displays treasures, thousands of them. But, the big secret is that millions of items are housed at the Discovery Centre and you can see more when you enroll in a 'Deep Collection tour' with a volunteer guide. Volunteers here are no less than brilliant.

For now, what's new at Discovery Centre. The entrance is an architectural delight leading to interior and colourful steps that suggest Dorothy's 'yellow brick road' and the amazing adventures she will encounter in Oz. Here in the Discovery Centre, amazing objects and specimens — in museum-talk, 'artefacts' — wait for all who enter. Great for kids, great for grandparents who can recall many of the items on display! 

The collection has been curated using a specialty-store concept. Store #3 is home to big, big machines: trains, trains, fire engines, planes — all types of transport. Most are Really Big! 

Store #4 is home to creatures, great and small: insects, beautiful butterflies and birds -- and the many scientific instruments that revealed knowledge about the world around us. 



Each store is special — everyone will have a favourite. 

There is so much information we can't include everything here, so take a trip to the Discovery Centre's website.


Rouse Hill House & Farm -- LEGO BUILD YOUR OWN!

Address: 356 Annangrove Road, Rouse Hill 
Phone: 02 9627 6777 
Hours: Open Wed–Fri 10am–4pm, Open daily during NSW school holidays Tours: 11am–2pm




In 2017, a LEGO® 'explore and build' exhibition opened in the visitors' centre and a detailed model of the house and the surrounding buildings along with the farmyard animals was set up. Children, parents, grandparents, teachers and LEGO® enthusiasts have participated, creating with more than 200,000 tiny bricks their own houses and out-buildings. 
The exhibition will continue through May 2018. This is a Sydney Living Museum favourite house in Western Sydney.


Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Our Final Suggestion: If your brood still need the great outdoors to work off the pale of boredom, Blue Mountains Botanic Garden has a shaded and covered picnic area -- bring your own -- and lots of paths for running (carefully, of course) and examining skinks and other creepy crawlies resting among the rocks.The little creatures prefer to sleep when it is really hot but you are likely to see them scurring around when they are hunting for food. Respect them, be kind, do not chase or touch!  This is their home and you are in their environment!


Address: Bells Line of Road, Mount Tomah 
Phone: 02 4567 3000 
Hours: Open Mon–Fri 9am–5.30pm Sat–Sun 9.30am–5.30pm 

We think kids are wise enough to grasp the early days of environmentalists discovery of our wild and wonderful places.


  Young Bontanists


Downstairs in the Visitors' Centre is the Botanists Way Discovery Centre.  It fascinates us most. Through film and the narratives of those early botanists, we were introduced to places and spaces we could never reach. Kids will be excited and perhaps thrilled to see what opportunities in the mountains lie ahead for them when older and skilled. Introduce them to our great outdoors!


      Botanist Way




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