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Ant Bytes — AA17

Illustration: Sam Griffin

If you’ve ever received an invitation to a wedding being held interstate or overseas, you’ll know that sharing the love can be expensive and time consuming. But with technology doing more and more of our leg work these days, more palatable options were bound to emerge.

The latest trend sweeping the US is webcam weddings. Just picture it: two star-struck lovers elope to Las Vegas where they are married by ‘Elvis’. Except, instead of just sharing the blissful moment with each other (and a boozed up King), their relatives and friends all over the world are huddled close to the glow of computer monitors, watching the whole thing on webcast.

As the New York Times reported recently, LiveInternetWeddings.com is just one of several new businesses offering to organise and produce a digital wedding for around US$400. Included in the cost are digital invitations and production of the wedding video, which is streamed live and hosted online for two weeks in case anyone misses the occasion.

One wonders how long it will be before every moment of your honeymoon will also be captured on webcam and streamed back to proud family members, friends and ‘acquaintances’.


It’s official (at least until someone can produce research to the contrary): entrepreneurs are born, not made.

Researchers from Imperial College, London and US Case Western Reserve University recently examined the self-employment rates of 609 pairs of identical twins and 657 pairs of same-sex non-identical twins in the UK. Same-sex non-identical twins share, on average, half their genes, while the genetic make-up of identical twins is, well, identical.

Researchers compared entrepreneurialism within pairs of twins, then compared the similarity rate between the identical and non-identical sets. The similarity rate was greater within the identical twins set, suggesting that genetics plays a significant role.

For all those entrepreneurs out there, it’s time to start thanking (or blaming) your parents. But before you reach for the phone, the study did point out that life factors (such as being made redundant, winning a large sum of money or a chance meeting) can also significantly influence a person’s entrepreneurialism.


Do you fear death? Perhaps what you really fear is not your own mortality but the prospect of being forgotten. Well you’re in luck, because 65-year-old Dutchman, Henk Rozema, has invented a digital tombstone with an in-built LCD screen for displaying pictures and films from a deceased person’s life.

Rozema came up with the idea after several friends requested their own copy of a DVD he produced about his own life and screened at his birthday party.

The digital epitaph is activated by a sensor when someone walks in front of the tombstone, rasing the possibility of quite a din if one was to stroll through a cemetery filled with the new technology.


In a sign of the new media times, Melbourne-based serial entrepreneurs, Ryan Trainor and Carlo Romanin, have launched Movers&Shapers (M&S), a website that enables anyone to sell multimedia globally and bypass traditional production costs.

Like all good ideas, the concept behind M&S is simple. Now, anyone can release a CD, DVD or digital download at the click of a button. M&S takes care of the duplication, inventory and fulfilment. The site charges an initial setup fee, but the most attractive feature is that a small fee is debited from the sale of each unit rather than the traditional model that requires providers to pay for copying, printing and distribution upfront. M&S also tracks inventory, with up-to-the-minute stock and transaction reports available on the site.

M&S has also set up an online trading network called Trader, which allows providers to sell their CDs, DVDs and downloads on anyone else’s website, or host anyone else’s on their website in anticipation of royalties.

With creators only paying for the production and distribution of units once they are sold, M&S effectively removes much of the risk from commercialising media .




Our report last issue of a Chinese man’s attempt to sell his soul on the popular Chinese online auction site, Taobao, inspired us to trawl around for other intriguing things that people have posted for sale on eBay in recent times. Hold onto your hat…

  • “Three images of the Virgin Mary on a bar of soap!! Miracle!” (UNSOLD)

“It has changed my life, and now I feel it is my spiritual duty to share this with one lucky bidder. It all began in my shower one Sunday morning…”

  • Cursed! Sunglasses Shades! Women keep hitting on ME! (WINNING BID: US$5.50)
  • A bag of air (WINNING BID – £0.01)

“Air is so versatile, you could blow up a balloon with it, use it to breathe, make a bubble in the bath, the possibilities are endless.”

  • Weekend with 2 Aussies (Ecca & Simmo) in US. Postage: US$4,000. (UNSOLD)

“What you need is a weekend with 2 crazy Aussies!! We GUARANTEE you plenty of beers, great conversations, a lot of laughs and an unforgettable fun time!!!!!”

  • Make a wish cup (UNSOLD)

“Need a new tool belt? Are your drapes looking a little, eh? Do your in-laws visit too much? Then drop a coin in this cup and take back your life. About a month ago I was playing poker online…”

  • Forehead Advertising-NEW-Tattoo (Whole family) (UNSOLD – starting bid: US $8,124.16)

“Introducing the next step in forehead advertising. Imagine a whole family sporting your logo on their foreheads. We will wear your logo for 30 days in your target marketing region…. We are the fun extroverted parents of an equally outgoing 3 year-old boy and an adorable 1 year-old girl. That’s right ‘four’ heads for one price.”

  • I will pee your initials in the snow 20,000+ feet! (WINNING BID: US$51.00)

“Here is the deal… The highest bidder will get their initials peed in the snow at their bid amount in elevation. Example, if your bid is $17,399 then I will pee in the snow at 17,399 feet on Alaska’s Mt. Denali (Mt. McKinley). I will have a picture taken of your initials peed in the snow, a picture of my altimeter, a photo looking out towards the scenery from that spot along with a copy of my climbing journal, which will mention your name and this crazy event.”

  • My friend’s soul (WITHDRAWN BY EBAY)

“The reason I’m selling it is because he doesn’t deserve one.”

  • Up for Auction is my DNA! (UNSOLD)
    • One piece of hair from my head
    • One piece of chewed gum, wrapped in wax paper
    • The lid to my daily peppermint mocha from Starbucks
    • These items will be included in a sealed envelope, which I will personally lick
  • My best man’s speech – during England’s World Cup quarter final (WITHDRAWN BY BUSTED SELLER)

James Circus, of Essex, UK, sought someone to make his best man’s speech so he could slip away to watch England’s World Cup quarter final against Portugal. As proposed, the stand-in would arrive after the ceremony, get a meal at the head table and make the speech, then take off when the best man returned at around 7pm.

  • Ferrari Enzo sports car – with 26-year-old female owner (PENDING)

“Only a millionaire could afford such a car. I want a man who doesn’t like me just for my money.”

  • Siamese Twins Jelly Baby (UNSOLD)
  • Advertise on the homeless (WITHDRAWN BY EBAY)
  • Name a hippy baby (WINNING BID: US$10,000)

And finally…

    Illustration: Sam Griffin
  • New Zealand (WITHDRAWN BY EBAY)

A playful Australian recently posted the nation of New Zealand for sale on eBay. Despite the seller’s warning that the nation had “very ordinary weather”, the auction quickly attracted 22 bids, the highest being $2,330, before eBay terminated the auction.


Do you ever wonder whether a person is dishonest? Well now you can just stick a picture of some eyes on the wall and let the human ‘crocodile’ brain regulate its own temptation to cheat.

UK researchers have revealed that people put nearly three times as much money in an honesty box when being ‘watched’ by a picture of eyes on a poster. Apparently, the answer lies deep in our biological make up – the brain subconsciously reacts to images of faces and, particularly, eyes.

It all goes to show that the consciences of even the most honourable citizens can benefit from a little supervision from time to time.


You might associate text messaging with frivolous communiqués, such as requests to pick up the kids or a carton of milk. But in the age of the instant message (in all its forms), words are words.

During the most recent round of political troubles in East Timor, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta revealed that he resigned from the government via an SMS to then Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

We all know that when things get a little awkward, it’s tempting to send a text message rather than call. It seems that Ramos-Horta chose that path, as did Alkatiri, who also replied via SMS.

I wonder if it’s possible to govern by SMS…


Chinese state media recently announced that a group of Buddhists from Shanghai have become the nation’s first monks to complete a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) course.

The new MBAs from Jade Buddha Temple enrolled in Jiaotong University to improve their monastery management skills. The monks’ specially designed curriculum included temple management, philosophy and religious product marketing.

And it appears the monks did better than some of their less devout classmates, several of whom failed the course due to poor attendance and late essay submissions.


“Insert into cold milk, Sip, and say Ahh!”

Australian company Unistraw is hoping the next big children’s craze will be Sipahh, their new straws containing naturally flavoured beads that dissolve and flavour plain white milk as it is sipped.

The Sipahh straw range includes six flavours (Strawberry, Chocolate, Caramel, Banana, Toffee Apple, Cookies and Cream and Choc Mint) and contains no preservative and little sugar. It is being marketed to children as a healthy and low cost alternative to pre-flavoured milk and fizzy drinks.

And it doesn’t end there. Unistraw is using the same technology to develop energy straws for athletes, and vitamin and pharmaceutical-infused straws for common medical use.

Watch this one closely.


  • In proof that every commercial trend produces a counter market, German entrepreneur Alexander Schoppmann has announced plans to launch Smintair – Smoker’s International Airways. The luxury airline will cater to business travellers nostalgic for the 1960, when a pack of Marlboroughs and some flirting with the hostesses was a popular way to while away the hours at 30,000 feet.
  • According to a recent study by CipherTrust, people are 280 times more likely to click on porn-related SPAM than the second most successful form of SPAM – selling pharmaceuticals.
  • British scientists have brought science fiction one step closer to reality, revealing that they have developed a way to graft skin onto metal without causing infection. Now we can all sleep safer at night.
  • Tax officials in the Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires meted out the roughest justice imaginable to a local tax cheat, confiscating his large screen plasma television before Argentina’s World Cup quarter final against Germany.
  • Is your boss a bum? The American union movement has invited workers to dish on their employers by entering the “My Bad Boss Contest”. The contest runs for six weeks, with each week’s top vote getters eligible for the grand prize, a one week holiday, with US$1,000 spending money. The winner will be announced on 16 August.
  • A judge in the southern Hungarian town of Pecs has ruled that prostitutes are required to have a tax number and entrepreneurs’ licence. The ruling came after a local prostitute disputed a US$225 fine from the tax authority for tax avoidance.
  • Does your workplace have a pet? If not, you and your colleagues might not be as relaxed as if you did. Office pets – everything from a loveable Labrador to good-luck goldfish – are recommended for decreasing stress levels and increasing office morale. It’s safe to assume that researchers aren’t asking the lowly Joe who has to clean up after them.
  • A BankWest survey has found that one in four Australian parents regularly “borrow” money from their children’s piggybanks. Thirty five percent of mothers and 16 percent of fathers confessed to the crime. That’s some tough, tough love.