Warwickshire Life 6: Genetic Modification and the Great British Potato

24 02 2014

potatoesUnfortunately my sixth offering for Warwickshire Life’s online magazine was published a little too late for National Chip Week (last week!) but never mind! This article looks at the humble spud, and some of the challenges that face British growers. In particular, I highlight some new research published by members of The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, which describes work to develop and trial genetically modified potatoes.

You can read my article here: Genetic Modification and the Great British Potato.

Warwickshire Life 5: Breeding a British Baked Bean

8 02 2014

This week’s Warwickshire Life post was a difficult one for me to write! The subject was baked beans – which have to be my all-time most hated food! I hate them so much I’m even avoiding putting a baked bean photo on this blog post because even the sight of them makes me feel queasy!

Nevertheless, the science is interesting, and that’s the main thing!

Read: Breeding a British Baked Bean.

You can also view this Youtube video from the University of Warwick that explains more about the research project:

Fake Freelancer Profile uses Photograph of Missing Woman

5 02 2014

AsaffronUpdate 12 Feb 2014: This user profile has now been deleted. Success!

Update 17 Nov 2015: Information about the genuine freelancer affected by this story has been removed on their request.

My quest to get the many fake profiles on Freelancer.com shut down ramped up a gear today, as I made a very disturbing discovery indeed. I’ll explain…

The Freelancer profile ‘Asaffron‘ has been on my Watch List for a few days now – I was initially suspicious because some of the user’s feedback was negative and criticised ‘her’ professionalism, but when I dug a little deeper I found that the content of Asaffron’s profile was plagiarised from the Elance profile of a genuine freelance writer from the US.

I managed to find this writer on Twitter and gave her a heads-up on the plagiarised Freelancer profile. She wasn’t happy, as you can imagine! In fact, she posted a cease and desist project, specially for Asaffron!

But it doesn’t end there.

Madison ScottThough the text of Asaffron’s profile matched the Elance bio, the photos didn’t match. So who was the pretty, smiling young woman with flowers in her hair?

Luckily, Google Images has a nifty reverse image search function that is just perfect for this sort of detective work, so I uploaded Asaffron’s photo to the search engine and hit Search. I wasn’t quite prepared for what I discovered!

Turns out, the girl in the photo is Madison Scott, a young Canadian woman who has been missing since May 2011. Maddy, who was 20 when she vanished, disappeared after camping out at a party by Hogsback Lake, near her hometown of Vanderhoof, BC. She hasn’t been seen since. You can watch a documentary about Maddy’s disappearance here (53 mins): http://vimeo.com/82034871.

Of course, it is entirely possible that the person behind Asaffron’s fake profile didn’t know that the photo they’d chosen to hide behind was a missing person, but whether they did or didn’t, it highlights just how serious this problem of Freelancer identity theft is becoming. This isn’t some harmless little scam, ‘borrowing’ an identity to make out that you are more qualified than you really are, or that you are from a native English-speaking country when you are not.  At best, this is copyright and identity theft. At worst, as we have seen, this has far more serious ramefications.

Find out more about Maddy Scott at http://madisonscott.ca/.

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