Surfing safari right on your desktop

Dying to hear the call of the wild from your desk? Internet surfers can now pay a virtual visit to the forest – without bug spray – thanks to the German hunters’ association Web site, which began broadcasting live footage of the forest in time for the opening of the hunting season.

The

site, www.wildtiere-live.de, features images from cameras mounted in the forests of the Eifel region of western Germany showing deer and wild boar in their element (and perhaps the odd oomph band). The site, which plans to show a live feed year-round, aims to foster wildlife protection and allow non-hunters a unique view of the animal kingdom. Pages for children will explain how the red deer is related to the giraffe, or how stags manage to cross the autobahn safely. The answer to the latter: Very, very quickly.

There was no word on whether National Rifle Association head Charlton Heston plans to invest in the on-line venture.

Former smokers trying to avoid falling off the wagon may soon be able to fight cravings for a cigarette by looking at flickering dots on a handheld computer.

According to news reports, a British team of scientists have developed a computer program using blinking dots, and are working on a smaller version that former smokers would be able to carry around with them on a Palm device and call up whenever they crave a cigarette.

The grid of black and white squares, which randomly flicker on and off about 1,000 times a second, interfere with parts of working memory that are used in building up mental pictures that enforce the craving.

In studies of smokers who had been deprived of cigarettes, the flickering dots reduced the strength of their cravings.

The scientists are planning further tests to determine whether reducing cravings can also cut cigarette consumption. If they do, they believe they can develop a cheap, non-drug way to help people quit smoking, which may also be useful in fighting other addictions – like using Palm handheld devices, perhaps?

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