Sunday, August 28, 2011
The thieves were seeking valuable rhino horns that can be sold in illicit markets for their purported aphrodisiac and medicinal use, but they left with worthless replicas instead.
Officials at the Natural History Museum at Tring had replaced the real horns with replicas because of a recent surge in rhino horn thefts at museums, galleries and auction houses throughout Britain and continental Europe.
Police believe organized crime gangs using mainly smash-and-grab techniques are behind the rash of rhino horn thefts.
"We have been made aware of approximately 20 thefts of rhino horn from museums and auctions houses across the UK and Europe in the past six months," said Ian Lawson, a Metropolitan Police detective specializing in arts and antiques.
"Additionally we have been made aware of incidents in the UK where premises that have rhino horn on display have been subject to hostile reconnaissance," he said, advising museums to consider removing authentic rhino horns from public viewing.
Rising demand for the horns and a crackdown on the illegal trade of them have made rhino horns extremely valuable. U.K. officials say the real horns sought by the thieves Saturday would have been worth about 240,000 pounds ($391,000) on the open market.
The horns are now twice as valuable as gold, police said. They are often used in powdered form by Asians or other people who believe they can cure serious diseases or boost sexual performance, claims that are strongly denied by rhino conservation activists.
Nothing else was taken from the Natural History Museum at Tring during the break-in between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Saturday. The thieves apparently used a large hammer to remove the bogus horns from the two rhinos' heads.
The museum, located 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of London in the county of Hertfordshire, was closed Saturday while police investigated and museum workers repaired display cases. It planned to reopen Sunday.
A museum spokeswoman who asked not to be identified because of security concerns said the replicas, made of resin, were put in place three months ago as a precaution.
"Just looking at the quantity and spread of thefts since February shows that this is a real and serious threat to museums with rhino horns," she said.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Well, to be fair, your laptop's batteries probably aren't completely dead. But since Lithium Ion batteries tend to lose about 20% of their capacity each year, a typical three-year-old laptop might only get about an hour or so on a charge, which might not even get your folks through an entire meeting. Here are four simple tips to forestall the day that you need to replace those batteries:
Keep it cool.
Heat is the primary killer of batteries. Tell your employees to be careful not to let their laptops overheat. One common way that happens is packing a running laptop into a backpack or briefcase. If the laptop fails to go to sleep (and let's face it — sleep glitches are common), then the laptop can get crazy hot in an enclosed space. You can almost smell the loss of battery longevity.
Recondition your battery regularly.
Most laptop manufacturers (except Apple) don't generally tell you about this, but a simple process known as reconditioning (or occasionally, recalibrating) can breathe new life into your laptop battery and add capacity back. To do that, turn off your screen saver and any other power management tools which put your PC to sleep. Fully charge the laptop, and then let it run all the way down — right until it powers down due to lack of juice. Then charge it back up again and restore your power management stuff. Do this every few months (such as three times a year).
Remove it when you're not using it.
When you leave your laptop plugged in at your desk all day every day, the battery never gets a chance to discharge and recharge — which is critical to its long-term health. Thankfully, there's a simple solution: Remove the battery. As long as your laptop is connected to AC power, the battery isn't necessary; it'll run without it. Just remember to pop it back in before you take your laptop on the go.
Start with a super-sized battery.
When you purchase your next round of laptops, upgrade to the extended-life battery. Not only will it give you significantly longer runtime to start with — great for road warriors and anyone else who works away from the office a lot — but the inevitable loss of battery life will have a less pronounced effect. The added cost of the larger batteries is worth the investment, because they end up lasting significantly longer.