Thursday, 27 April 2017

Gorgeous Photographs Of Rare And Colourful Birds

I am always saying how magical Mother Nature is and how amazing all the colours are that she paints the world in. What better way to capture and immortalise these colours than through the glorious art of photography? Below I shall be sharing with you some gorgeous photographs of the most rare, beautiful and colourful birds on our planet; with some added facts. 


1. Red Cardinal / Northern Cardinal

The northern cardinal is a North American bird. The female cardinal will sing from the nest to inform the male that she needs more food. 

2. Bohemian Waxwing

The Bohemian waxwing can be found in Eurasian forests, as well as certain areas of North America. What is interesting about these birds is that they regularly get drunk! How this happens is they often eat the already fermented fruits/berries of mountain ash, juniper and holly, which causes the intoxication (and sadly also often results in death). 

3. Rainbow Lorikeet

The rainbow lorikeet is quite a reclusive species of bird that spends most of its time hidden in trees. This species lives on a diet of nectar, fruit, pollen, insects and seeds. 

4. Golden Pheasant

The golden pheasant is a species of bird often kept in captivity due to its majestic plumage. It is interesting to note however that only the males have such gorgeous brightly coloured feathers; the females in contrast are very plainly coloured in hues of black and brown. 

5. Quetzal

The amazingly beautiful quetzal bird can be found in the mountainous tropical forest regions of Central America. They might seem delicate and dainty however, quetzals are omnivores capable of eating small lizards and other creatures! During mating season, the males of the species grow majestic long double tail feathers that can grow up to one meter long! 

6. Bali Bird of Paradise

These birds are quite the acrobats in that they are capable of hanging in all sorts of interesting positions; needless to say, they are very fascinating to watch. All species’ of birds of paradise are reclusive and isolated, spending time together only when it is mating season. 

7. Mandarin Duck

Mandarin ducks originate from East Asia. Once again, as with many bird species, only the males are brightly coloured. 

8. Paradise Tanager

Found primarily in the Amazon, the paradise tanager is a songbird that is capable of producing a variety of ‘songs’. 

9. Peacock

Peacocks are kept throughout the world as additions to formal gardens, due to their gorgeous plumage. The feathers of the common peafowl are often used as fashion accessories and decor items. 

10. Blue Fairywren/Superb Fairywren 

Native to Australia, these birds are extremely shy and reclusive, which is probably a good thing since they only grow to a total of 14 cm in length, making them susceptible to predators. 

11. White Peacock

The white peacock is a genetic variant of the common Indian Blue variety. It is interesting to note that these birds are in fact not albinos as many people believe them to be; they are simply a variant of the traditional green/blue varieties of peafowl the world has come to know more commonly. 

12. Frilled Coquette

The frilled coquette is actually a species of hummingbird that is found in South and Central America.  These birds are unfortunately endangered due to the fact that their habitat is under threat. 

13. Bee-Eater

The name of the brightly coloured bee-eater bird is quite deceptive in that this species will catch and eat most any flying insect; not only bees. 

14. Broad-billed Hummingbird

The broad-billed hummingbird lives on nectar from flowers as well as insects. The female of the species is much less colourful than the male and usually has a white eye stripe. 

15. Victoria Crowned Pigeon

The Victoria crowned pigeon is renowned for is gorgeous head crests.  This pigeon can grow up to a staggering 74 cm, making it the largest pigeon in the world!

And there you have it; 15 of the most colourful and beautiful birds known to man. I hope you enjoyed the images and facts!

Till next time

Debbie Nel


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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Celebrities: A Few Famous Faces You Did Not Know Were Related

What very few people realize is that many Hollywood celebrities are related to each other; albeit true that many are only very distant relatives.

Below I shall be sharing with you a list of famous faces you might have never known were related:


1. Madonna and Ellen DeGeneres 
    Genealogical tie/relation: Eleventh cousins

2. Madonna and Lady Gaga
    Genealogical tie/relation: Ninth cousins, once removed

3. Madonna and Hillary Clinton
    Genealogical tie/relation: Tenth cousins

4. Hillary Clinton and Angelina Jolie
   Genealogical tie/relation: Ninth cousins, twice removed

5. Barack Obama and George W. Bush
    Genealogical tie/relation: Tenth cousins, once removed

6. Barack Obama and Brad Pitt
    Genealogical tie/relation: Ninth cousins

7. Snoop Dogg and Brandy
    Genealogical tie/relation: First cousins

8. Prince Charles and Ralph Fiennes
    Genealogical tie/relation: Eighth cousins

9. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
    Genealogical tie/relation: Tenth cousins, once removed

10. Quincy Jones and Rashida Jones
      Genealogical tie/relation: Father and daughter

11. Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson
      Genealogical tie/relation: Mother and daughter

12. Jenny McCarthy and Melissa McCarthy
      Genealogical tie/relation: First cousins

13. Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty 
      Genealogical tie/relation: Sister and brother

14. Julia Roberts and Emma Roberts
      Genealogical tie/relation: Aunt and niece

Do you know of anymore? If so, please add them in comments.

Till next time

Debbie Nel


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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Technology: Ransomware - The Virus That Can Hold You Hostage

We are living in a day and age in which our computers can hold us hostage; demanding ransom in exchange for release.

I am talking about ransomware – one of the biggest threats the internet holds for us.

But just what is ransomware and what is a ransomware attack exactly?

Ransomware is a form of malware (malicious software or virus) which encrypts documents on computers and across networks. Once infected, the victims of ransomware can very often only regain access to their files/computers by paying a ransom to the criminals behind the attack, hence the name ransomware.  An infection often starts by a simple attachment click, making this type of virus a very serious and worrying problem indeed.

A whole new era of cybercrime 

According to an article by Danny Palmer on zdnet.com entitled “Ransomware: An executive guide to one of the biggest menaces on the web”, which is the main source of the information used in this article, “cybercriminals didn’t use to be so obvious [in the past]. Hackers would do everything possible to avoid detection as it was in their best interest not to alert their victims of their doings”. However now, ransomware attackers shamelessly announce to their victims their intentions, holding them hostage via their data, until they pay up. It is said that cybercriminals pocketed over a staggering one billion dollars from ransomware attacks in last year alone!

How long has ransomware been around for?

Although ransomware occurrences have increased drastically in the last two years, it is by no means a new phenomenon, the first cases of which appeared as far back as the 1980’s already! According to Palmer, how this virus worked back then was “the virus was sent to victims on a floppy disc. The ransomware then counted the number of times the PC was booted and once it hit 90, it encrypted the machine and demanded the user ‘renew a fictitious license’ with 'PC Cyborg Corporation' by sending $189 or $378 to a post office box in Panama.

How Ransomware evolved

The early versions of ransomware (such as the floppy disc version mentioned above), was quite easy to overcome because it relied on very basic cryptography in its functioning. However, these days the cryptography involved in the sophisticated ransomware in use now is so advanced that the mere mention of the word ‘ransomware’ is enough to make the corporate network world cringe.

What are some types of ransomware in existence today?

Today there exists many different types and forms of ransomware; some of which are more menacing in nature (and difficult to remove) than others. On example of an incredibly menacing form of ransomware is Locky, which often features in newspaper headlines due to the severity and cunningness of its nature. But just what is Locky exactly? According to pcrisk.comLocky is ransomware distributed via malicious .doc files attached to spam email messages. Each word document contains scrambled text, which appear to be macros. When users enable macro settings in the Word program, an executable file (the ransomware) is downloaded. Various files are then encrypted.” What further makes Locky so successful is the fact that those behind it often update the code that runs it, with changes which makes its detection near impossible.  Other equally menacing ransomware viruses doing the round include Cryptowall and Cerber. Just do an internet search on these if you wish to find out more.

How to avoid being infected with ransomware? 

Danny Palmer has this to say regarding ransomware attack avoidance: “With email being by far the most popular attack vector for ransomware, you should provide employees with training on how to spot an incoming attack. Even picking up on little indicators like poor formatting or that an email purporting to be from 'Microsoft Security' is sent from a obscure address which doesn't even contain the word Microsoft within it might save your network from infection. There's also something to be said for enabling employees to learn from making mistakes while within a safe environment. For example, one firm has developed an interactive video experience which allows its employees to make decisions on a series of events then find out the consequences of those at the end. This enables them to learn from their mistakes without suffering any of the actual consequences. On a technical level, stopping employees from being able to enable macros is a big step towards ensuring that they can't unwittingly run a ransomware file. Microsoft Office 2016 -- and now Microsoft 2013 -- both carry features which allow macros to be disabled. At the very least, employers should invest in antivirus software and keep it up-to-date, so that it can warn users about potentially malicious files.

How to rid yourself of ransomware

The zdnet.com article by Danny Palmer goes on to offer this valuable advice/information on how to rid yourself of a dreading ransomware infection: “The 'No More Ransom' initiative -- launched by Europol and the Dutch National Police in collaboration with a number of cyber security companies -- offers free decryption tools for ransomware variants to help victims retrieve their data without succumbing to the will of cyber extortionists. The portal offers decryption tools for ransomware variants including Crypt XXX, MarsJoke, Teslacrypt, and Wildfire. It's updated as often as possible in an effort to ensure tools are available to fight the latest forms of ransomware. Another way of working around a ransomware infection is to ensure your organisation regularly backs up data offline. There are those who say victims should just pay the ransom, citing it to be the quickest and easiest way to retrieve data -- and many organisations do pay. But be warned: if word gets out that your organisation is an easy target for cybercriminals because it paid a ransom, you could find yourself in the cross-hairs of other cybercriminals who are looking to take advantage of your weak security. And remember that you're dealing with criminals here and their very nature means they may not keep their word. There are stories of victims paying ransoms and still not having files returned.”

Can ransomware infect other devices, such as a smartphone or android device?

The scary answer to the question above is yes it can. In fact attacks against such devices have increased massively of late since many people are unaware of the possibility of attacks, only realising the reality of them, once it is too late. It is a fact that any device that is connected to the internet can be a potential infection risk, including our modern day smart televisions!

For more on ransomware and to read the full article by Danny Palmer, visit the following link.

Till next time, be safe

Debbie Nel


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Monday, 6 March 2017

Health: Scientists Discover A New Organ!

Just when you start to think that you know it all, science has a wonderful little way of popping up and surprising you with some new, unknown little fact. 

One such fact is the announcement of a recently discovered organ in the human body. What makes this discovery so amazing is the fact that it (the organ) has always been there, hiding within our digestive system. 

Named as the mesentery, this new organ was originally believed to be made up of various fragmented, separate structures, however recent findings have proved that is in fact one continuous organ.

Although we now have much more knowledge and understanding of the mesentery, its actual function is not yet quite fully understood. Scientists however believe that studying it might be able to aid in the understanding and treatment of various digestive and abdominal diseases as well as other disorders and health concerns such as diabetes and obesity, which makes it quite revolutionary in the field of science, as well as the future of human health. 

The mesentery also serves to link our gut to the rest of our body, whilst keeping our intestines in a particular arrangement so that when we move about, they stay intact. Without a mesentery our intestines would run the risk of collapsing into the pelvic area.

Since the discovery, that the mesentery is in fact one continuous organ as opposed to just being a set of separate structures, medical textbooks and journals (including the world renowned Gray’s Anatomy) have been updated to include the new definition. Even new med students have started learning that the mesentery is a whole distinct organ. 

Till next time

Debbie Nel


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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Health: An Alternative Healthier Sweet Tea Recipe

The popularity of sweet tea is rising in both America and internationally. However the high sugar content in most sweet tea recipes makes them incredibly unhealthy.

But don’t despair! There are alternatives to the traditional recipes that won’t put you into a diabetic coma or make you pack on [too] many pounds. 

If you are a lover of “All Things Southern” then be sure to try this recipe: 

Debbie’s Honey Bee Sweet Tea
What makes this recipe healthier is the fact that it makes use of natural honey as opposed to refined sugar. The ingredients are:

3/4 Cup of raw honey
2 Iced tea bags (any variety will do so pick your favourite)
3.5 Litres of purified water 
4 Litre glass jug / pitcher
1/8 Teaspoon baking soda
Lemon (to taste) – Optional
Ice for serving


  1. Boil 1.25 litres of the purified water (in a kettle or on the stove)
  2. Remove water from heat and steep tea bags in it for 6 to 10 minutes
  3. Remove the tea bags from the water and add the ¾ cup of honey and the baking soda to the mix and stir again. 
  4. Add the rest of the water (1.25 litres)
  5. Pour the mix into the glass jug / pitcher (once the mixture is cooled enough so the pitcher does not crack or explode from the heat) and place in the fridge
  6. Once chilled / cooled, serve with ice and lemon (to taste)


1.A trick to making the perfect sweet tea is to add the honey (or sugar if you opt for the unhealthier option) while the water is still boiling or just as it is removed from the heat (note: Do NOT add honey/sugar to an electric kettle; pour the water out first).
2.Another alternative to using honey is to use maple syrup. Although it is viewed as being a bit unhealthier than honey, maple syrup is still a better option than using refined cane sugar.
3.Be sure to stir the 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda into the mixture whilst adding the honey/sugar (when the mixture is still nice and hot) as this will help to remove the bitterness from the tea. 
4.If you like your tea flavour stronger, just add another teabag to the recipe. 


Debbie Nel


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