Friday, 31 October 2008

Do You Live Safely Securely And Privately?

Add another security scare - software that can analyse a picture of your keys and prepare the cut schema for making a new key.  If your keys can be photographed by someone, they can in theory be copied, and people are being urged to treat keys like credit cards.  But wait - wasn't there some similar panic about a year or two ago about so-called "bump keys?"

Basically, our security is about as vaporous and tenuous as as our fabled privacy.  While we should not let that stop us from trying to stay safe secure and private, we should be aware that it's not always going to happen, and adjust our lives accordingly.


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Thursday, 30 October 2008

How To Fail At Ideas. My Ideas, Let Me show Them To You...

I had an idea, about two years ago.  An idea I stupidly held close to the chest.  Now I see this and I wish I'd posted this two years ago...

The idea was actually to place an oil press and a biodiesel reactor into a 20ft container, making them able to be shipped anywhere in the world that there was something to be turned into oil.  Place a small diesel generator in there too, and once you've generated the power to extract and refine your first batch of diesel, you're running on your own product .  And generating useful electricity as a side effect...

My first target was the olive farms here in Western Australia, because it seemed that all those stones and bits left over from pressing were an ideal feedstock for such a setup.

Second target - and I'm going to put this out now before I find yet another idea of mine developed in parallel but years later - is vineyards.  They throw out tonnes of grape seeds and skins each year...  Those are the same seeds that in other vineyards get turned into grapeseed oil for cooking, yes.

And seriously, I am sooooo bloody tired of having ideas and never getting them off the ground...




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Pear Shaped

According to the news, we're about fifth most resource intensive in the world, our per person use of land for all our needs and wants accounting for quite a few hectares per person per year.  But then too we have a strange kind of land, where we're trying to balance productivity with lower environmental impact more and more.  So a hectare for us may not produce quite as much consumable resources as for some intensively-farmed countries.  In other words, we may be using more land per person but we're not taking as much from it.  I think we do quite well, and as new greening initiatives take hold, we'll start doing more with less, and bring our footprint down.

I remember also that we were among the more polluting people in the world too, with a carbon footprint that put us in the top end of the offenders.  It will be interesting to see how that fares in the next few years, too.

And we're also one of the hardest-working, according to this article.  It seems though that we're perhaps not as productive, because we're still tipped to slide into a recession,  and our dollar is worth less and less compared to the greenback.  Hardly seems fair does it?  America plunges everyone into a recession and their dollar increases in value relative to ours, even though we're supposed to be only heading for a shallow soft recession.

Something's not quite in shape here....




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Tuesday, 28 October 2008

WMML 5

GelatiGate... Much ado about doo doo.


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WMML 2

And for one second I thought we'd found a way to put WiFi into every pair of trousers...


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Monday, 27 October 2008

The Balltower Has No Bells?

So on Sunday the Swan Belltower aka Richard Court's big green erection rang 29 times in a row somewhere in the middle of the hour rather than at the appropriate start/end.  How do I know?  T. and I were sat in a car at the lights as this happened.  This is the first thing I've written about that incident because at the time I hardly noticed it. Trish did, because she picks things like that up.  "25," she said, "26, 27, 28, 29..." at which stage the lights had changed and we were rolling again.  The bell may have pealed more but we were out of there.

I've also NEVER seen anything for the Swan Bells or the Belltower appear in Google Ads - and yet, when I opened Gmail, the sponsored link was this.  Talk about spookily synchronous...  And spookily asnychronous too, because our daylight saving time (another Richard Court favourite) kicked in at 2AM Sunday morning and I have no doubt it bollixed the bell recordings.  
And - I know, people have chipped me about this before, but come on...  Has anyone actually seen any bells in the belltower?  I had a short discussion online with someone who claimed to have worked at the Belltower and they swore that the tower really has bells, not just a big loud recorded carillion. But I've never seen anything that would even vaguely resemble a doorbell as I drive past it, so I prefer to think that just like Dick Caught, this erection has no bells...  

(For non-Western Aussies, the Belltower was commissioned by a second generation premier of the state (Charles Court is Richard Court's father) as some kind of shot at a lasting memorial, I guess.  The trouble is that it is ugly, expensive, a blot on the riverscape, and it was the butt of many jokes, some not really repeatable. Follow the thread of thought I've established, and run with it.  You'll get the idea... )

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Friday, 24 October 2008

Failed War On Drugs?

It seems that drug use is increasing by 12% per year.  The video states that they think that legalising marijuana would prevent young people getting into harder drugs.  In other words, marijuana is the gateway drug.  This is probably true, but let's run with this for a moment...

Say dope is legalised.  So anyone over a certain age can have access to it legally, across the counter.  Haven't they heard of tobacco?  It's a drug too, a legal poison, and it's available to "anyone over a certain age" as well.  But it's not stopping children as young as five from walking around their homes with a cigarette, and not stopping primary school students smoking behind the bike shed.  How did they get tobacco?  Same way they'll get choof if it's "legalised."

Whatever way they can.  As also happens with alcohol and every other drug known to mankind.  Can you see how, in a society where those same kids can buy sixteen different kinds of street drugs, the "gateway" drug will just be one of those others?  If governments were really serious about the drug problem, they'd have a death penalty for supplying harmful drugs, and several tobacco and alcohol cartels would already have been put to death.

But if you "legalise" marijuana, there's another source of revenue and excises....  Do the maths people.  The only way to stop bad things like tobacco, alcohol, drugs, petrol and fossil fuels - is to take personal responsibility, take a stand, and say no...


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Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Location, Location, Lights, Camera!

What colour are your dreams?  Apparently if you dream in black and white you're likely to be in a specific age group that was exposed to B&W TV and film programs a lot.  The fact is that either side of the B&W film and TV era, most people dreamed in colour.  It kind of makes sense, too.

Before the advent of B&W, the only monochrome experience people were likely to have was the odd charcoal or pencil sketch - and they hardly have much impact, generally.  And afterwards, TV and films were in colour.  Actually, I can kind of prove it.  The people who were in their formative years in that era, were people as young as my age, and upward.  Luckily for me, there was a brief encounter with B&W TV in the early Sixties when I was still quite young, then I had no access to TV again until I was about 13 - 14.  (Because we lived in rural Australia in the late 60's and early 70's when TV coverage was still mainly confined to cities.  My parents didn't remove TV privileges, they removed us from the TV...)

And my dreams are in glorious colour.  I'm sure had I been exposed to mono telly and films I would also be having drab dreams.

Which leads to a bit of an understanding of how environment affects and shapes us:  Suppose you lived in a drab place with little colour other than the greys whites and blacks of permafrost - you're 25% likely to have monochrome dreams.  Actually - since B&W TV would only have taken a few hours a day of your life while living in permafrost is - permanent - I'd say you would find that people in such environments are 50% or more likely to dream in monochrome.

These people were the drivers of technology and modern life.  They had to be, because the land was inhospitable.  And maybe it's easier to think logically in B&W.  Whatever - I've just noticed and drawn your attention to what may well be an important correlation:  People who lie in drab colourless environments invent things.  And people who live in wonderfully friendly environments with a riot of colours (think jungles and tropics) were more content to adapt to life rather than adapt life to them.

Who knows if that's true, it certainly makes sense and explains the wide spread of stages of technological development of the different races.  All it took was location...


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Friday, 17 October 2008

Can haz gremlin?

My first boss was a great one for "gremlins."  Way before the movie came out, a gremlin was a mischievous imp that caused things to fail.  Dave and I worked on B&W TVs and later on colour TVs, and the odd car radio, stereo, and two way radio, and "gremlins" were responsible for about half the failures we repaired every day. 
I'm still very much in that kind of frame of reference, to me, there are still gremlins that haunt particular TVs, or certain poor cellphone reception spots, and yes, even the odd vehicle here and there.  So would I buy this:
This is supposedly a picture of a 2010 Prius, and it has this gremlin right there, in the press materials.   I wonder if the 2010 model will have a string of failures, problems, and recalls?  I'm pretty sure I won't be able to afford one when they are released, but even if I could, I wonder if this will make me reconsider?
BTW no that is not a photoshopped picture - here it is on its article page on Wired.  

The Wallet Is The New Tinfoil Hat.

The new tinfoil hat is...

Your wallet!

Yep, where once we stuck our heads into clumsy inelegant home-made Faraday cages to prevent someone getting in and changing your identity, now this article shows you how to make a clumsy inelegant "tinfoil hat" for your RFID cards and prevent your identity getting out...

I love duct tape, don't get me wrong.  Duct and gaffa tape are the kings of clumsy inelegant solutions to many of life's little problems.  But that's just it - they are clumsy and inelegant.  They are meant to be temporary.  Also, I prefer to keep the solutions arrived at with duct tape, very very hidden...

In these days of conductive threads and circuits printed onto cloth, leather, and flexible plastics, there have to be a dozen solutions that look better.

Also - and call me radical for thinking this - I think privacy is a thing that was a brief fad between the Victorian Era and the Industrial Revolution, either side of that there wasn't much of it around, and no-one actually cared.  I'd much prefer my SmartRider card to be available without having to dig a duct-taped folder out of my wallet, try and separate the oozy melted adhesive-glazed sides, rip my SmartRider out, wave it at the card reader - and get it stuck to the screen.  All while fifteen other riders are lined up behind me, tut-tutting and sighing loudly and pushing me ever so politely past the reader...

I'll accept that people can probably make a copy of the RFID part of my passport and probably make a decent copy of it, too.  But they could do similar things to me before, too - skimming my letterbox at home for personal details, or in a public place, a bit of pickpocketing isn't exactly unknown, you know?

So I'll take my chances I think, keep identifying stuff at home in a lock box like we're supposed to, and if I absolutely have to carry some kind of secret agent ID I'll hold out for a nicely woven metallic cloth folder or something.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Meta-Meta-Meta-Post. Thanks TechCrunch and Scoble!

Now this is a twist!  FriendFeed (where I have a stream , yes) has an embeddable page.  TechCrunch has the article, Scoble made me aware of it via a Twitter post, and I looked it up from those leads.  This is an example of how things ricochet around the place.  Wheee!  

The only problem is, why am I going to embed someone else's blog into mine?  FriendFeed is already doing that, and I think that's where it would stay for me.  If an article popped up that was of interest of me, I think cut and paste would be fine thanks.  I want people to come read my blog, yes.  But I don't want to do it by collecting other articles, nor do I want to do it by being an RSS aggregator.

So the article Michael wrote is about blogging (making it metablogging) - but hang on, this is a blog article about a tool that collects blog articles.  And now I've written an article about it.  After seeing it on a microblogging site...

Just tickled my sense of humour I guess... I'l go back to writing now...

Broadband, U Doin It Rong...

Okay - a few linkable articles have showed up, I'm happier.  Then I read this and I get sad again.

See, I have for almost five years fought with my ISPs and with Telstra about getting new copper line or something because, frankly, my ADSL connection sucks the big one.  Right at the limit for ADSL, the line wasn't even good for dial-up, with every modem I ever tried having to reconnect ten to thirty times a day.  (Yes, that is definitely THIRTY on some days, costing around $8 in dialling fees on those days.)

When ADSL became possible I used an ADSL modem that had given great results in the city of Perth, and watched the connection stay unconnected up to 12 hours a day, in annoyingly random chunks.  Sometimes there would be a whole hour of staying connected, sometimes the connection would drop out after five minutes and stay unconnected for an hour or so...

Multiple complaints over many many months produced a slight improvement when a technician replaced water damaged connectors in the comms pit, but it was still dodgy and slow.

Oh and did I mention that this was NOT country WA, but still in the capital city, Perth?  Yeah, that's right, I feel very sorry for people in rural areas but come on, why talk about doing rural areas right when you still haven't mastered basic urban areas?

Oh - and lastly - I will be minding a friend's farm which is within 30km of several midsized towns.  It has satellite Internet, a lag of 2 seconds for everything you do...  Broadband?  She wishes she could have dialup speeds as long as it didn't take half a day to do the banking online. 

(exits stage left muttering something about utter balls-ups...)

Some Days Just Have No Links

So far it's a "No Links Thursday" here - not much going on online that seems comment-worthy, but listening to a "science" show on the radio just now got me thinking along some weird lines.

The presenter made the odd comment that films are like a fertility cycle, or something close to that.  We have a certain "fertile window" during which we can usefully (from the point of view of evolution) get into relationships, and there was some mathematical strategy that gave the best times of one's life to go looking for The Partner, etc.

It's a load of wossname, as in the very next breath he admitted that arranged marriages are more successful than random social marriages, which knocks the whole matter out of the realm of biological cycles and fair and square into the realms of social norms, which is where it belongs.

But he then went on to say that various films have revivals - I think X Files was the example - and of that he said that 2018 or some such time would have been the ideal time to release a sequel, based on the cycles above, somehow.

Which I suppose is why the Terminator series used their own cycles, the Star Wars series used *their* own cycles, and so forth.  Yeah right.

The fact of the matter is that social things like advertising, publicity, and hype are what determines whether a sequel will fly, as much as the actual quality of that sequel,.  It's the same factors that shape whether a particular site, meme, or video will go viral, similar factors to what decides whether the stock market follows the economic trends or diverges from them.

I generally like he idea of science shows and books.  Done right, they make science much more accessible to a wide audience.  But many of them propagate myths that are not based much in science, like the cycles of films thing above.  That's a dangerous kind of science to teach, and will lead to inevitable mistakes.  We're currently reaping benefits (if you can call global warming a benefit) of a scientific generation, composed of people who know the importance of starting with the right assumption, the right hypothesis, proving it, then using that to build further science on.  Things like transistors and modern medicine arose out of solid science.

So it's sad to see this kind of misdirection - seemingly, designed to dumb the next generation down.  As our need for better science (to deal with the bad applications of reasonable science, such as petrol engines and food additives) increases - and indeed, becomes imperative for control of the climate crisis - the generation that's growing up to deal with it are being fed this particular kind of haphazard science.  It bodes ill for survival beyond this generation.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Ah "Mac"Cain...

If I see more things like this in articles online I may just revise my opinion of the States.  "In case you just woke from some kind of a coma (or you are a certain older gentleman running for a particularly prominent public office), today Apple revealed new additions to the MacBook family" - so funny that even all the way over here in Australia I know they didn't mean Barak Obama...   Quick thought - if John McCain was a computer ... 

Not so funny - All Apple, All The Time...  My eyes just glaze over, and I think I'll just mark all my feeds as read for a few days...

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

The High Cost Of - Bull?

Well - what else do politicians seem to produce in quantity?  Such as K-Rudd's fine gesture to pensioners, wow give them a whole $1100 (if they're a couple, that's what each gets) just before Christmas.  The fact that they've all had to make do with about a $100 a week shortfall for the last year and are already $5200 short of where they should be, let's not worry about that.  Just give 'em a lump sum and then tell 'em to piss off until I'm good and ready, okay?

Not that I'm bitter Mr Rudd - but dammitalltohell here's this article in the news which shows that the public service can quite happily do without $34,000,000 a year's worth of senior bull slingers, and I'm thinking - that is just one state!  So if we did that for every state and territory (NT, WA, SA, VIC, TAS, NSW, ACT, QLD hmmm times eight so that's ummm hummm...) $272,000,000 that could be put towards those troublesome pensioners...  Every year!

Oh yeah and also - with a pensioner's annual income being somewhere between $12,000 and $15,000 - which you have to admit is pretty shitty - that $34m is for 171 senior public servants who obviously didn't do an awful lot cos they won't be missed - and they were earning an average annual salary of $198,800 each.

I'd say there is some inequity there somewhere.  You may not have authored this problem Mr Rudd - but you sure as shit aren't dealing with it too well...

Added FeedBlitz

Hey all - I've put all the blogs together on FeedBlitz if anyone wants email delivery of all articles on all blogs nightly.  You can go to http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f.fbz?Sub=245899 to subscribe, the feed for all the blogs seems to vary between 5 a day all up to maybe 2 a week sometimes.  All depends if I have access to the Internet, have time, and if there is interesting stuff going on in the world.

The blogs in the FeedBlitz email are:

TEdALOG Lite - General commentary, bullshit, yarn spinning, and what have you. I enjoy seeing such articles, and I enjoy writing them.  I hope you also will enjoy them. 
TEdADYNE Systems - Cyborg Ethics - with technology and our bodies seemingly destined to get mingled, what are going to be ethical questions we face, what technology is around to make it happen now?  Also, ideas for IT and technology - I tend to have quite a few...
Zencookbook Blog - Anything that's eco friendly, green, good for your body - this blog is a companion to the book.  Some ideas for sustainable living, occasional DIY projects that will save your money or your environment or both, and links to great green ideas out there.
TEdAMENU Tuckertime - Recipes I've developed, tried out, or enjoyed. Generally healthy-ish and very varied.  Some of them fit into the Body Friendly Zen Cookbook range, they will usually have a list of active constituents at the foot of the recipe.

You can also go to The Body Friendly Zen Cookbook site.  It's not a blog though (not yet, at any rate!) so it stays pretty static.  That said, I will be updating that site over the next few months though.

Please refer anyone you think might benefit from these sites - the ideas may well be just what some business has been looking for - in which case they are welcome to use them, if they will only attribute them to the right person, i.e. me.  Recipes for healthy easy meals - you're more than welcome to them.  A neat project for yourt home or garden that will save power, or water, or money?  Take the article and have fun!  And everyone can do with a laugh in their lives - so if TEdALOG Lite made you grin, I feel happy too.

US Politics. Irrelevant, But Fun To Analyse.

Political things in the States is slowly culminating.  Climaxing, even.  I have to say that it seem to me that either way they vote, the people of the USA are going to be screwed.  Putting a politician in power is like putting a kid in charge of a candy store, a glutton in charge of the pork barr...  Oh yeah - they already know that, they invented the term I think...

Anyhow - the States are faced with a choice of a Bush clone whose running mate is a hausfrau, or a black african american who grew up to be more upper crust than Lord Milquetoaste, and whose running mate is pretty much out of the news.  Biden who?  What?  And the ridiculousness doesn't end there.

Really.  Ah McCain, you've done it again.  I believe sales of pit bull bitches and lipstick are through the roof, while sales of Canadian Justice have just about exhausted the justice available.  Because, that was an indictable offense. The only reason I can think of that they didn't sling Sara's ass in jail is because either elitism is alive and well (oh! never!) or else that stocks of justice and commonsense have run  out.

And McCain's not above getting someone else to do his dirty work either.  It's a textbook smear, placed right at the right time, to take advantage of the fact that Jews and Arabs don't get on so well.

Mind you, poor old Obama BA bin Barak has been copping it even from local government.  Poor sod is doubly tarred with that brush.  Interesting sidetrack:  Will they reprint and resend, will people get confused by having two sets of ballot papers?  Consider that probably half of them won't know which is the correct set of papers if they do...  And then - if they leave the papers as they are, will McCain be able to say that a vote for "Osama" is not the same as a vote for "Obama" and thus invalidate those votes?

Luckily there's also support for Obama in the form of video, pity it limits itself to the "Florida vote."  As Sarah says in the video, it's probably the last chance for America to lose the title of assholes of the world.  It'll be interesting to see what the USAians choose...

Update: Sara Palin has her own fan club!

Last observation on the American sense of "justice:" It's not okay to use the word "niggah" there to refer to black americans - but it's fine to use the term "redneck" because let's face it, it's almost a term of endearment...   Wonder how the votes will go?

Monday, 13 October 2008

SMS charges - another rip-off...

Fark!  And I thought Telscum were bad with their charges!  No wonder Twitter are not giving us SMS here in Australia, we're pretty close.  Read some of the comments, they mention prices per SMS on their regular plans that would make you weep, 1c or so...  

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Rethinking Freelancing In A Recession, Take Two

I follow a lot of blogs.  Maybe not all the blogs I should, all the time.  But I do try.  I haven't caught up with this blog for a while, but I think just as well I did.  It's something for me to think about.  This article, specifically , has caught my attention.

I'm sort of in this situation.  I've worked freelance and short term contracts for a few years due to ill health, and now that I'm on a medical pension I can still work, but these days my efforts have to be somewhat less strenuous than a fulltime freelancer.

I like "don't panic" as a leitmotif but really, the current economic situation is unlike anything we've ever experienced in recorded history.  It's also more than an economic situation - we have a global climate crisis, a population explosion which is causing some serious re-balancing problems for a significant percentage of species on earth, and political climate going wild all over the world.

Be conservative?  I prefer to say that we need to be frugal and each one of us take responsibility for our contributions to the current situation.  What?  You didn't?  Let me just say that unless you have been living off planet, you're full of it if you think you aren't a contributor.  In the current environment, you'd better consider the impact of EVERYTHING you do or consume or use.

Last in, first out - try contracts - post grads - all well thought out.  I personally consider short term contracts and freelance to be equivalent kinds of work, in both cases you're working short term, and the difference between a freelance job and a contract spec is minimal as far as practicality is concerned.  Studying is my least preferred option, because it's the one where you are least productive in the short term in exchange for a later increased productivity.  And that, as I'll explain a bit later, may not be nominal.

The last four or five points I won't cover in detail.  Suffice to say, there's arguments for and against each of them.  For now, consider them in light of the analysis I've made so far:

The lower part of Australia has been in an ongoing and steadily worsening drought for what is claimed to be 12 years but which I from my own experience can safely say is closer to 25 years long by now.  Our farmers also used the most modern tools at their disposal (newspapers, the postal mail, telephones, travelling to meetings which today we'd call "unconferences" or something similar) to develop strategies and methods to deal with the weather crisis they were undergoing.

In the meantime, every year more farmers walked off their properties and left them to the banks.  For them, the situation never ended, they became victims of a series of conditions which have cost entire fortunes.  When they started strategising, they assumed the situation would end soon, or at the very worst, end before it had completely ruined their chances.

Farmers presumed that if they stuck to wheat, for example, they would be the ones with the best crop when the drought finally lifted.  Others diversified into canola and other crops, and a few basically said to hell with traditional crops and went for things like macadamias, olives, and other non-traditional crops.  At this point, many of those farmers are now still in business whereas their more traditional counterparts are in dire straits.

And therein lies the lesson for IT and web workers today, in this situation.  There may not be a "breaking of this drought" in our lifetimes.  There may not be a break, full stop.  It's just too early to predict whether this will be a fairly significant bump on the graph or a new median.

Meanwhile, non-traditional endeavours will have payoffs.  Web work will be around, yes.  But so will lots of people to do it.  And while you may have regular clients, that's subject to change just as everything else is.  Short term contracts building applications and online presences will still be around, for sure.  Just maybe under a lot of competition and with a much lower financial return than you can live with.  Working as a system or network admin, a helpdesk droid, an IT technician - there will be work in the field, yes.  But ruling economic climate may well make those jobs overly lowpriced.   Don't forget, one thing that the new frugal living will do, is make high tech less popular and IT less desirable.  That's what the new green awareness will do for us.

So think about how to make whatever you're doing, truly green and environment-friendly.  Thought of a way to use existing IT resources for longer or make existing IT resources do more?  Clients and employers will be more likely to take your solution if they can be seen to be green because of it.  Same server, double the amount of your web applications can be run on it without needing an upgrade?  You can see how something that would have just been the cherry on the icing on the cake a few months ago can now be a significant selling point.

Also, of course, there's that social responsibility - we should all be thinking in terms of the difference we can make.  That's what may well be the difference between this situation easing or going on.  The difference will be made by being pro-active and not waiting for "someone else" to "do something..."

Friday, 10 October 2008

Trading in the Face of Recession - U Doin It Rong.

Ding! "OMG it's another TEdALOG!  Drop the feed, 42 so far this week and counting!  Sheesh the most opinionated tosser in WA's blogging scene."

Yes it's true, listeners and losteners.  I managed 42 posts in a week, and that may not have included them all because I really only added one blog to FeedBurner a few days ago. (And it wasn't all that graet an experience, ackshuwally.)

This would be #43, or #1 of a new week, not sure which to call it.  And it contains a burning, timely, incisive, insightful question which confuses the utter shyte out of me.  Here's the setup.  K-Rudd says we'll escape the recession because our resources market is still strong.  The world'd stock markets plunge, ours takes a bit of a dive, but it's alright because K-Rudd says we'll escape the recession because our resources market is still strong.

Then comes that nasty news that our largest market may be wanting to take a rain-check on a lot of that natural resource.  Now, what K-Rudd said, is no longer so certain...  "But hey!" say Portman, "They're asking us to reduce the amount we send.  But we stitched them up good, there's a firm contract they can't get out of, yay for our sales and legal teams!"

So now I wonder - if a country is feeling an impending recession (and who knows, China may well be in such a situation given the prodigious amounts of projects they have on the stove at any time) and says "uncle" that's a sign right there.  Maybe shoving the contract in their faces will keep income coming in now - but how much damage will it do the Chinese economy?  And will that add to the recession domino falls?   Cos if it does, then we're definitely going to hit our recession.  And some of our trading partners may not feel quite o enthusiastic and loving towards us once we've dunked them.

Just a thought...

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Almost Obligatory Crap Article

This article has been broken out of another article today, due to the proliferation of bodily function humour to be gained from so many posts on similar topics.  It's here now because it brought a huge grin to my face as I kept reading, and so I hope you too will get at least a "hehe" out of it.  Also, if it makes just one more person ecologically aware, that makes this whole article worthwhile.

From "Solar. Now U Doin It Right.":
First, a random thought about "poo humour." Why?  hehehehe when someone has an article like this one, why mess with the words "poo power" when they could just come right out and say "shitricity, fo shiz!"  Much better "ring" to it.  (oops, no pun intended.  yeah.)  

UPDATE: Awwww crap!  Just too many articles on this topic for me to 'void it, must be a movement... 

From there, the day just got better:  We've all referred to toilet plumbing as "the shit-pipes" but that's just alimentary...  (Hmmm, why did the phrase "no shit, Sherlock" just cross my mind?)

Slightly less crappy is the drive to convert waste to energy, as in this article. They can do it more simply - I mean, we had goats and chickens and other animals when I was a kid, they turned almost all our rubbish into this neat, pelletised fertilizer for the garden... 

And just when you thought it was safe, here's an article which will lead to an urban myth that goes something like "you'll wake up in a bath of ice, with a dull ache down below.  DO NOT GET OUT OF THE BATH, they have put you there to facilitate the natural retraction reaction!" 

Stay tuned.  Today can only get better! %)

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Perth City Council Fails Disabled, General Public Responsibility

Way to FAIL, Perth City Council!

Took these pics today at PRAWNHEADS lunch .  On our wheelchair/stagger from food overload/walk from the Saigon  restaurant to the Dome coffee shop, the wheelchairs nearly got stuck in:
... some nice traps that were even hard to walk through, I can only imagine how nerve wracking it would have been for the people in chairs.  There is no alternative access, and also this is a now covered-over Telstra connection pit.

That's two photos, two resounding FAILs - you may not obstruct access to disabled person nor may you fail to provide some means of disabled access.  This site failed on both counts of that, as there are no ramps by the kerbs for wheelchairs, and there are those holes in the footpath endangering people who use shairs and mobility scooters.

Second resounding fail, and actually totally illegal and punishable by hefty fines, is in the first picture, obstructing a public telephone booth is an offense that can cost up to $10,000 per phone.  Thats's $20,000 worth of FAIL right there.

More picture among the last few on this album on Picasa , you can see they've blocked off about 40 metres along each street, blocked off public phones, provided no access for disabled people, and it's been in place for weeks now, it's not a one day disturbance.  Perth City Council needs their asses kicked over this!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

LiFi?

Honey!  Turn the light back on, I was just downloading!

How's this for a very clever idea?  This is pretty clever.  Put the network transmission and the control circuit in the light bulb.  Things that are not so hot are the power vampire effects of electronics in each bulb, even a few milliwatts of radiated signal can cost a few whole watts of energy, and of course there has to be a signal receiving portion of the circuit switched on for a definite period every few milliseconds to capture any commands that come along in case the light and the wireless AP are both turned off.

And before anyone says "they will switch it off when not in use, dummy," I refer you to the light switch in their diagram which mentions it will provide "encoded data - on/off" and that means the power on power off signals will only put the LED bulb in a kind of suspend mode, not switch off current altogether.

The other thing I can think of is a bit more prosaic.  Even LED bulbs will fail from time to time, and that means some areas will be without light - and without network coverage.  I can still work at my desk if the lights go down to quite dim, but I couldn;t do much if my network connection vanished.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Someone At Google FeedBurner Please Read This!

RESOLVED: Problem resolved. How?  Used IE.  And FF.  In fact, it seems almost any browser other than Google own Chrome, works just fine with their FeedBurner pages.

How's this for fail?  Google bought FeedBurner, right?  I've had a FeedBurner account for about a year beforehand, everything worked just fine, I have my blog on another Google acquisition, blogger.com, and the ad code fitted right in the sidebar code for the site.

Then I saw a bit on the FeedBurner site or support pages, you could now link your FeedBurner account to your Google AdSense account and save a lot of mucking around and loading up pages with multiple lots of code etc.  It all seemed to make sense.

Until I went to do it.  The only way to do it is to go to the FeedBurner contact page, and the only link there is a link to submit your FeedBurner account name and your Google account name so they can link your accounts for you.  That was about a month ago now, and there's been no follow-up whatsoever.

Apparently, at any rate...  Because weird things are now happening:

Now a check of my FeedBurner stats yields 0 subscribers, - reach, yada yada.  For all the feeds...  I figured something pretty simple has to be wrong, go to the feed setup tabs for one of the feeds.  "Site stats are not active for this feed."

So I click on that link hoping to figure out why the one reason for me to use FeedBurner would be switched off.  Down the bottom of the form is a button that says "SAVE".  And next to that is the text "This service is always active."  Damn I wish someone had told the sidebar about that.

Meanwhile, clicking on the Statistics tab again brings up the subscriber stats.  For a second, then when I reload the page it's all zeroes and dashes again...  *sigh*  All this, mind you, has only started happening since I stupidly submitted my account and email to Google because they didn't trust me to be smart enough to do this on my own, but were too ignorant to actually tell me if they had done it, were going to do it, or had just lost my request among a million others.

Go back to FeedBurner Support pages, oh yeah - "and the only link there is a link to submit your FeedBurner account name and your Google account name so they can link your accounts for you." how could I forget that there IS NO WAY to contact FeedBurner Support?  So I go to the FeedBurner blog , hoping they have comments switched on.  Yay!  They do!  I may be able to ask in a comment why there's no support at all for anything at all...

Until I open the latest (several months old) blog article and trail down the comments, which are now closed, so I can't actually enter anything.  Oh - and did I mention that the blog is not hosted on blogger.com?  Hehehehe, right down the bottom of the page is this little gem:


Maybe Google needs to take ownership of their property and do some of the scut work instead of just developing Chrome-y Androids and invading people's Streets...  %)

Open letter to Kevin Rudd

I wonder how hard it would be for Australians to demand a new election?  I thought I liked what K-Rudd stood for, initially, until I realised how little he carries in the way of testicular fortitude.  But right at this point, I'm less for a re-election and more for a taking down of the existing government.  It needs to be dismantled - to remind it that it's the representative of the people, not the lord and liege thereof.  That went out in Middle Ages England and is no longer appropriate here.

What other country has as much budget surplus, as much raw income, as many resources - and lets its old folks live on cat food?  What other country has so many people working and bringing in foreign trade dollars - but lets the banks and petrol companies run amok amongst them and rob them of their share of the wealth they helped create?

Mr Rudd - right now, you truly suck at everything, you are Teh Fail.

You might be doing wonderful things overseas, and I don't begrudge that overseas travel which the Libs try to tar you with, because we need a good foreign diplomat after the dismal pond slime that was John Howard.  At least you've taken a few firm stands against some issues, and have not been the obsequious  kiss-ass that he was.

I'm glad that you said you'd take the environmental issues bull by the horns, too.

I'm just not too pleased that you then patted said bull on the head and then (in Army parlance) retreated to a safe distance.  Because, waiting for the rest of the world to reduce their greenhouse footprint first may be all well and anal retentive, and may ensure that our precious producers are not "disadvantaged" in the short term, but in the long term it means we'll all be that much more stuffed.

You see - saying you're going to do something commendable and then only half doing it, that falls short of even being halfway competent.  Competent people don't fail or falter.

I'm a pensioner myself so the pensions issue does weigh on me.  But then, so does your decision not to put the boot into the banks and "strongly encourage" them to pass on that rate cut, because at this pension rate and without that interest rate cut, I can't afford both my rent and my food...

Also I find that your handling of your government in regards to the petrol price and excise issues has been less than I'd expect from someone who's supposed to be the head of the country and thus have some control over the political process.  Because that directly impacts how often I can drive to get my shopping and how many times I have to walk my emphysemic ass to the shops and then gasp and pant my way back with two shopping bags.

I realise that you have a lot of issues to sort out - but that's why we elected you.  You seemed to be a member of the PDA set, able to prioritise and multitask and deal with multiple issues.  The trouble seem to be that you've set yourself the goal of just coasting at each of the multiple tasks.  Right now, Australia has shown that despite your less than strenuous efforts at home, we can weather a global economic disaster better than almost everywhere else.  That's not thanks to you, that's despite you and your predecessors.  Australia is better than you and JWH have been.

We've for decades shown that we have brilliant ideas and technologies, which then end up overseas because of restrictions and funding shortfalls here at home.  That's something that has been due to lack of government support as much as it has been due to all other factors combined.

We have some of the world's most plentiful sunshine, making Australia an ideal place to harness clean solar energy.  Yet our solar rebates, while extremely good, could be much better.  And our subsidies for electric vehicles that could use that clean solar energy, are so poor as to be absent.  Our incentives to develop solar/electric vehicles are non-existent, the assistance for these technologies is poor, and even more poorly policed when given out.

We're now in an economic climate when faith in stock markets and banks and high finance has been shaken to the point where world economics will never be the same again.  A political climate where the United States is plummeting down the political top ten chart, where political power will soon boil down to what a country truly has in the way of resources, intelligent innovators, and a population willing to sacrifice in order to ensure that we have a world to pass on to our children and grandchildren.

In this climate, Australia could so easily become a respected world leader in every aspect.  Australia could be the example which other countries aspire to become.  Our technology could power nations.   Our policies could become the blueprint for a new world with a healthy future.  But it needs to start here, now.  Not all this stalling and pandering to the very organisations that precipitated the economic crisis, that caused the ecological crisis, and which stand behind every war or atrocity ever committed.

For all those reasons, Kevin, I'm asking you as a favour to me and the Australian people to either start acting in our interests or else resign and let's have another election.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Indie Pete's Label.

"Have fun using all that indie cred to pay the theoretical mortgage on your hypothetical house."
"More imaginary soup, dear?  No thanks, I'm figuratively stuffed!"
- Diesel Sweeties, archives

Now officially one of my favourite online reads , thank you Sara for finding it!

(close runner-up:  "Every song's a bonus track if you steal the album!")

Pi-house Rock

Dancing to a calculation? That's what artist and geek nerd Paul Slocum has done, turned a boring repetitive calculation into a very smooth dance track.  I'll let the article over at NoiseAddicts explain it.  I suggest you download the short segment but I bet you download the longer one too....

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

OpenID For Dummies? Yes It Is.

What a day, so much happening, so much goin' on!  I'm sitting in the bus watching really crap weather outside, so I'm refreshing my news page often.  That's led me to a few sites to investigate stuff and research further, then post.

Now - this.

I'd love it if their glowing prose were true, if the gorgeous pink fluffy bunnies cavorting in the clouds and green fields kind of optimism were justified.  But it just isn't so.  Speaking purely as an OpenID user, I can say that I've never seen a more shambolic implementation of something supposedly secure and user-friendly and open up the web to authenticated use.

My experience?  If I have an OpenID on one provider, there will be some sites that eschew all other OIDPs in favour of their own.  The reason for the distrust is simple - OID is hackable.  Not in the sense of Microsoft's wonderfully insecure learning aids for serious system crackers, but in the sense that everything is hackable given enough effort.  And they are not willing to extend that much trust to a competitor.

So I end up logging into some sites manually using the old userID/password authentication scheme anyway.

Then there's the whole "name as a URL" thing.  I've used my email address for almost 15 years, now I also have a URL.  So I have to remember a URL when I want to log into an OID enabled site.  Now here's a thing...  When I go to a new site that requires authentication, they ask me for my OpenID URL...  Before, I'd just type a username like "cyclic57" and a password like "shamb0l1C" and that would be that.

Signup info like addresses and so forth, you ask?  Even on OID enabled sites, I get asked to enter that crap again and again - that ole trust issue, I'd say.  So there's no advantage to me in that, either.

Now I go to another site, one I've previosuly logged into with OID.  Nine times out of ten, I have to type in my OID URL.  Dunno why, but it's my experience more often than not.  So instead of typing cyclic57 shamb0l1C I now have to type in http://myOpenIDProvider.com/cyclic57...  Lovely.  Double the typing, for a "convenience."

And that generally takes me to the OIDP loging screen where I have to type in at least my password, anyway.

Oh and that's not the end of it.  Remember how some applications will only allow certain OIDPs?  Well, so to use all my web applications, I now have three OID URLs and passwords to remember.

So - simple its' not, easy it's not, and convenient it's not.  Given the way some application providers won't accept certain OpenID Providers, it's not even very open. Summary?  Its definitely still at the for dummies stage.

McMarketforce?

Think about the figure for the USA stock market bailout.  Seven hundred billion dollars - $700,000,000,000 - that's a lot of money.  I can expect to earn around $3,000,000 over my working life.  That makes the bailout worth the entire life earnings of about one quarter of a million people in similar circumstances as myself.  If the whole world were to shoulder this bailout, it would cost a few hundred dollars per each man woman and child alive today.

Then too, the news that the market has lost $1.2 trillion, ($1,200,000,000,000 !!!) in one day's trading.  That's half a million people's entire life output, or several thousand dollars per person alive today, or several tens of thousands of dollars per person in the USA.

I'm mentioning the whole world because the stock market is a global phenomenon and it directly or indirectly or tangentially affects every person alive.  Even though a select few billionaires have reaped the profits and many of those billionaires are citizens of the USA, the money came from my pocket and yours and from the misery of some child in Uganda who missed one too many meals due to extreme conditions of poverty...

I would like to say that, if the senate approves a bailout plan for the relevant banks and institutions, that they make it a condition that this money is repaid in full.  But not to the government - rather, donate it to projects devoted to cleaning up the mess we've made of the Earth.  I'd rather my hundred dollars went towards that, thank you.

When you consider the sheer abstractness of $1.2 trillion and the irrelevance of a sum that large to anything pretty much anyone else does in our day to day lives, it can lead to a decided lack of confidence in stock markets in the future, perhaps leading to the decline of a system of economics which obviously has no accountability and does not scale well.  It can also give you an inkling that the biggest stock market crash in the history of the stock market is maybe the death knell for a great many other "established" things.

Such as USA's importance as a world power:  Already considered to no longer be relevant to many countries, the USA has stretched its defense forces far and wide, made itself a laughing stock by electing Puzzled George, and now it's stock market has a lower credit rating than McDonalds.

Other markets, other countries, are proving much more relevant, much more powerful, and it seems that perhaps a shake-up is inevitable now.  China and India each have larger populations, and look how far-reaching the China Milk Crisis has rippled, to almost every place on the globe.  And most countries above Third World now have better economies than the USA does.   Meanwhile, Russia is rattling swords at the USA and basically saying "g'wan - we dare yaz!" to it's 50 mile distant "super"power neighbour over Georgia.

And don't forget that the USA are in all seriousness accepting life under a political system where a housewife with aspirations, a housewife whose foreign policy revolves around "well, you can see Russia from here," could conceivably become the second most powerful person in the USA.

In this atmosphere, with food and other resources falling short of "sustainability", the shake-up is not only a possibility, it's almost an ironclad certainty. Wherever you stand on these issues, a stand is definitely going to be called for.  Stand on the side of the Earth, because no matter how many "stockmarkets" you dress it up in, that wealth ultimately comes from one place and one place only.  And you're standing in it.

Time, Space, and Weirdness.

What should one do when something spooky happens?  Our scientists take notes and observe.  It's an interesting thing for them to find, an object that just appears one day and then disappears a few months later.  Personally, I'd be very spooked.  I am very spooked.  It's not the first irrational or out of place object I've heard about that's kicking around out there...

How does a destroyed mothership sound?  Just that, well, we can sort of trace the rise of our particular species back to relatively recently, and before that, totally different but similar species.  Homo habilis, neanderthals, cro magnon - there's a discontinuity in our lineage.  Quite coincidentally I'm sure, there's a ring of debris on the outer edges of our solar system which at least one respected scientist I recall as saying could be debris from a moon or possibly a large spacecraft, and which that scientist also theorised may have arrived there in relatively recent times astronomically.

If I was going to seed a world with my successors or my food animals or my science experiment, I'd do that.  Park the mothership just outside the system, make sure there's a planet with conditions and creatures similar enough to my seed stock, make sure the colony was growing, and blow up the mothership.  I'd send observers from time to time of course.  Can't help if they become known as gods or something, just have to hope the seed stock forgets quickly.

And where would those observers stay in between appearances?  Well away and out of sight.  Until the day they come back and find:

(And this is also a story I had told to me and the source of which I have no intention of revealing)
In the late 60's to mid 70's, a satellite named Imp-D was launched and operated.  Something at launch caused Imp-D to have an orbit that didn't end up captured by the moon as was originally intended, and Imp-D was put in a wildly elliptical orbit.  One of the fun things to do with Imp-D was to see which tracking station could track Imp-D the farthest out along its apogee, and bring back telemetry data from it.  And one station tracked Imp-D out the farthest anyone ever had, and picked it up coming back at farther points than all the other tracking stations.

There was a lot of good-natured rivalry and competition between tracking stations, which is why none of the other tracking stations thought much when the champion station said that it might also hold the record for being the last station to track Imp-D, as Imp-D had "stopped" in its tracks, out near apogee.  But then other tracking stations aimed for where Imp-D would first come close enough for them to track - and there was nothing, just empty space...  (Tracking stations had to wait their turns to take a crack at Imp-D due to the Earth's rotation - but they knew where to aim their dishes for all the different satellites.  Imp-D just wasn't there.)

Then, 24 hours later, Imp-D appeared as though it had never left it's orbit.  And the best theories anyone came up with was that someone or something had held Imp-D, realised that the seed stock had somehow mutated into something new and different, and put Imp-D back on orbit in order to avoid detection.  Had it not been for the little tracking station that could, they might well have gotten away with it.  Imp-D tracking wasn't an official thing, it was more an informal competition as far as I've been able to ascertain.  And, having heard this way back in my teens, I think it has prepared me to think in terms of not what if we find signs of aliens, but  when we finally find signs of aliens.

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