With the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) investigating the failure of the “indelible” ink used to mark voters’ thumbs, enabling illegal double voting, perhaps microchips could be a safer bet in future.
This is of course if South Africans are willing – or could afford – having microchips implanted. About 3 000 Swedes have had a single microchip inserted under their skin, which is as tiny as a grain of rice, so that they would have no need to carry IDs and daily necessities such as key cards and train tickets, Agence France-Presse reported.
The IEC says it will be seeking answers from its supplier about what could have gone wrong with the so-called “indelible” ink pens used in Wednesday’s election.
Tender documents show that the IEC awarded a tender worth R2.7 million for the supply of the pens in February last year, Business Insider SA reported.
The supply contract went to Lithotech Exports, a division of the JSE-listed Bidvest, which beat out six other security-product and printing companies.
The ink used to mark the left thumb of every voter is supposed to remain visible for at least seven days and not meant to be easy to remove. This has led to political parties lodging official concerns about the double-voting they believe may have resulted.
Experts and tender documents suggest there are multiple ways indelible ink can fail, especially if you skimp on the silver nitrate. It’s believed a stockpile of 165 000 pens were needed, suggesting a per unit price of just more than R16 a pen, a price that raised eyebrows among experts as low.
According to Justin Howard, of specialist voting ink manufacturer AP Africa, which has previously supplied the IEC but was not involved in the current contract, voting ink pens can fail because of mechanical problems with the pen itself or because the ink is not properly applied, or even if voters’ fingers are oily enough.
As for micro chips, the state-owned SJ rail line in Sweden started scanning the hands of passengers with biometric chips to collect their train fare while on board.
Inserting the microchip is similar to that of a piercing and involves a syringe injecting the chip into the person’s hand. However, the chip implants could cause infections or reactions in the body’s immune system, Ben Libberton, a microbiologist at MAX IV Laboratory in southern Sweden, told AFP.
About four years ago, Swedish biohacking group Bionyfiken started organising “implant parties” – where groups of people insert chips into their hands en masse – in countries including the US, UK, France, Germany and Mexico.
Typically, when one sees faded printing, it indicates that that your ink levels are low or that the ink has been exhausted from a cartridge. If ink levels are full, then the problem may be caused by something faulty inside the printer, such as a blocked jet head or ink sticking to a roller instead of a page, which can sometimes happen if you are printing in an area with high humidity.
But in all those cases, the issue would happen across the board, not selectively depending on the program you are using.
If you are able to print normally via one channel (Works, Quicken) and not another (a web page or email), then the problem would most likely be caused by an incompatible version of the programs you are using, a default printer calibration found inside a program’s print settings or an outdated printer driver.
Start with the programs themselves. Please go to the manufacturer websites for your browser and email program, respectively, and download and install the latest versions of the programs. This should ensure the issue is not one of compatibility between the programs and Windows 10. You can find the latest versions of each program by performing a Google search on the applications, such as (latest version Google Chrome Windows 10).
After doing that, try printing again and see if the problem continues or not. If so, then update the drivers for the printer.
Drivers are programs that help your computer communicate with its hardware peripherals, like printers and monitors. Sometimes, after completing a Windows or program update, device drivers will need to be updated manually so they can stay in sync with the updates.
In Google, type “latest printer driver Windows 10 (your computer make and model).” This should lead you to the printer manufacturer’s support site, on which you can download the latest drivers for the device.
If you already have the latest drivers installed, then the installation program will tell you so and you can move to the next step. If they are not installed, please install them and see if the problem continues or not.
If so, then see if a print setting in your web browser or email program is causing this to happen. Launch your email program or browser, open a page or message you are having trouble printing, and click file, then print, then properties, and scour through the print settings console there, searching for an odd setting that may be activated. Given the information above, you will want to look for a line that tells the printer to avoid or conserve black ink or something similar to that. (Each printer has a different setup for this, so without knowing your printer make and model it’s hard to offer more specific instructions than this.)
If you find such a setting, modify it accordingly and the printer should print normally again. If you cannot find such a setting, then contact your printer’s manufacturer support team for additional suggestions and advice.
Anirudh Sharma is a Singaporean who has pulled ink from thin air.
Polluted air, to be exact.
For those who haven’t heard of Air-Ink, it’s this nifty invention by Anirudh Sharma (co-founder of Graviky Labs), and it’s the world’s first ink created by collecting soot emitted from vehicles and purifying it into a carbon pigment that can be used to manufacture various types of inks and paints.
So basically, it’s air pollution that’s transformed into ink — and it’s a pretty cool way of contributing to saving the environment.
The wonders of technology never cease to amaze us.
This ad released by Japanese infrastructure company Kandenko features a pen from Japanese startup AgIC, containing ink that can conduct electricity.
As the pen traces along line drawings of houses, buildings and infrastructures on paper, the bulbs light up once the ink connects the circuits. Watching the lit-up paper come to life as 3D miniature structures will make you feel like a kid all over again.
According to RocketNews24, the producers of the ad drew inspiration from children’s pop-up books.
Teachers in the United Kingdom have complained about a “ridiculous” marking system which forces them to use pink ink for negative comments because it is “less aggressive” than red.
The bizarre system is being implemented by some head teachers who believe pink is a softer colour which will make children feel less like failures.
Many are also making staff use up to six different coloured pens to give different types of feedback to pupils as part of a “triple” or “deep” marking strategy.
In one example, a school has asked pupils to respond to teachers’ comments in purple or blue, and if teachers want to give encouragement they have been told to use a ‘positive’ green pen.
It is thought the system was inspired by Marking Matters, a guide from Ofsted, the schools regulator, issued in 2011 but withdrawn last year.
At the conference of the NASUWT teaching union in Birmingham at the weekend, teachers voted to escalate industrial action over the pressures of the marking system.
Chris Keates, the general secretary of the NASUWT, says: “Too many schools are continuing to impose marking regimes which pupils and teachers find debilitating.
“Teachers are being subjected to policies which dictate when to mark, how to mark and even the colours of the pens to be used.”
Michael Parsons, who teaches at Roath Park Primary School in Cardiff, said his school uses a system of pink and green pens for marking.
He says: “It’s green for growth and pink for progress. To be honest it’s lost on me . . . and I know it’s lost on the children.”
Lee Williscroft-Ferris, a modern languages teacher from Durham, said that in one school he worked at he had to draw a pink box at the end of each piece and insert positive comments in green ink and suggestions for improvement in pink.
According to a recent survey, primary teachers on average spend 10 hours a week on marking.
The government this weekend accepted recommendations made in an independent report to encourage teachers to give more verbal feedback in lessons.
Teachers have long complained that the complicated marking systems create unnecessary extra work and detract from actual teaching.
It is understood heads have adopted them so that they have written evidence of rigorous feedback to show to Ofsted inspectors.
But education secretary Nicky Morgan is against the practise and is working on strategies to reduce teacher workload.
A source close to Mrs Morgan told the Sunday Times: “The notion that we expect books to be marked in a particular colour of ink is ridiculous.”
Imagine being able to draw or write with any colour in the world, and not just the colour(s) of the ink that come with your pen.
Say hello to the Scribble Pen, a smart pen with a special ink cartridge and scanner that can replicate any colour.
Billed as the “last pen you’ll ever have to buy”, the Scribble Pen promises to let you “scan” colours simply by touching the RGB colour sensor built into the top of the pen onto a coloured object.
Want to doodle with an exact shade of red from a rose? Touch the pen’s scanner to its petals. Must colour your BB-8 drawing with the right orange? Just touch the Scribble Pen to a BB-8 toy and get colouring. Itching to make a poop emoji masterpiece for your loved one? Go ahead and scan that turd you just squeezed out. OK, maybe don’t do that, but you get the idea.
The pen’s smart ink cartridge “connects to a smart micro pump that recreates the colour you have scanned”. According to the product’s Web site, the ink is water-resistant and won’t ever fade. We have no idea how long the ink will last, only that you’ll be able to “write for miles with each generous, affordable ink cartridge”.
The Scribble Pen comes with three tips for different stroke weights.
You can also connect the pen to smartphones and tablets running iOS 7 (and higher) and Android 4.0 (and higher) to save the colours that you’ve scanned.
Battery life for the pen is said to last up to seven hours on a single charge. The pen charges with a standard Micro USB cable.
The Scribble Pen is currently available for pre-order for $249. There’s also a $119 version called the Scribble Pen Stylus that only works with tablets and doesn’t contain the smart ink cartridge. A combo paper and tablet version of the Scribble sells for $300. All three pens are available in your choice of five different colours: black, white, silver, blue or green.
Before you hit that pre-order button, you should maybe know one thing: The pen may be too good to be true. Before you hit that pre-order button, you should maybe know one thing: The pen may be too good to be true.
The Scribble Pen launched as a Kickstarter project in 2014 and received $366 566 after asking for $100 000. The project, however, was cancelled by Kickstarter after Scribble (the company) failed to show details on how the pen worked and produce a working prototype; backers were never refunded. Scribble then moved the project to Tilt, another crowdfunding Web site, and after raising $227,540, it also was cancelled, but backers were reportedly refunded.
After two failed crowdfunding campaigns, the company’s now selling the pens directly to customers on its Web site. How well do the Scribble Pens even work? Who really knows.
Some of the best inventions actually started out as accidents, and such is the case with the world’s first “Chia Pet” pen. Its creators were trying to create an eco-friendly alternative to printer ink using algae, but ended up creating invisible ink that magically appears after a few days exposure to sunlight.