Tuesday, 10 May 2022

How To Keep Customers

 Or, How Not To Lose Them

Sometimes, the irony just writes itself, sometimes the line between a truth and a satire is very faint. . .

This Will Be A Short Post

I don't run a business anymore, but I still subscribe to the odd newsletter from business 'gurus' and SEO tutors and website design - after all, there's no harm in keeping up with these trends. So this newsletter was about making websites for clients and said something along the lines of:

"Beware of promising much and delivering little."

No, really? Being dishonest about what you can and will deliver might be seen as a negative by your client? I'm not sure when actual delivered output stopped being the yardstick you'll be judged by. And even in the positively prehistoric times when I worked, there was always that business that promised jet airliners but ended up delivering a kite.

"Businesses have had it with bullshit promises. A bad reputation for under-delivering will really hurt your business."

Again. Say WHAT? Really? I never knew... If I'd known this back in the day, I could have been a good b2b in my time. (Hang on - I was . . .

Oh, and you realise I'm paraphrasing so you can't look this mob up, don't you? They still managed to even pussyfoot around those words of advice, I've condensed their vaporous BS into slightly solid chunks. 

But the solution to all your woes - apparently - is dead simple:

"Underpromise, then you'll look better and more honest."

I can't even. It sounds like a satire but sadly these people make their living giving business advice like that. . . "Lie to your client another way, and you'll look more honest." . . . Imma go out on a business guru limb here and say this:

"KNOW THY SHIT."

That should be the little motivational sign on your desk, above the smoko room hot water urn, and graven on your inner eye.

If you *know* your business, then you can tell the client what you can do for them and then do it. That's the best way I knew to keep clients coming back and I'm guessing it's still the best way.

That's it. If you have to learn some new aspect of the work on the job, tell the client and offer them a time discount to cover your learning curve. That's pretty much my advice. 

I'll also say that I think I do deliver, giving you articles that are worth reading, or that provide a smile, or tell you something new, or help you to get into recycling and sustainable energy and living.

So please - if you can at all spare some time, take a look at my News Stand where you'll see live updated links to everything I publish; Or get a subscription to my weekly newsletter where you'll receive the same information; Or contact me via the webform; Or donate either directly or at my Ko-Fi page for the price of a coffee, or even make a regular monthly donation there. 

Monday, 28 March 2022

What Is Printed Circuit Boards Fatal Flaw?

Have We Hit Peak PCB? 

This person thinks it's coming close to that point, and asked the question of what will happen next. If you're the slightest bit techie you'll already have some idea where this is going, you folks may as well skip the next few paragraphs.

What Are PCBs And Why Are They Inadequate?

Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are those generally green or orange things inside devices that are studded all over with electronic components and gizmos, and they are one of the oldest pieces of technology in that picture. 

About a hundred and some years ago it was cool to just mount electronic and electrical parts (usually with some good stout bolts and pieces of varnished wood because those suckers were generally large and heavy parts) wherever and then string wire between connection points. (When a computer less powerful than a school calculator took up two rooms, you know that those components were huge, and the whole technology for mounting and connecting them in a space-saving way was still a ways off.)

A (sort of) timeline of printed circuit boards


If you've ever been fortunate enough to peer inside a really old 'parlor radio gramophone console' you'd have seen the next step - a sheetmetal chassis, with strips of insulating phenolic material with metal tags attached to them, and the components (that were by then several orders of magnitude smaller) would be soldered between tags, and then the wiring soldered from one tag to another to connect those parts to form the needed circuit. 

Then came the next thing, being able to affix thin copper sheet to insulating sheets and etch it to the shape the wiring would have to take, then soldering the components to the copper in their respective positions. In effect smushing all those metal tags and wires flat onto a piece of insulating material and so turning the old console into a smaller and much flatter sheet, with just a few wires going to speakers, lights, and controls. 

This was better (for the manufacturer) than the console because it did away with the cabinetry required, the sheet metal chassis that the tag strips were attached to, and reduced the size of the cabinet to a much smaller flat package that needed less wood and cabinetry craftsmanship, and the most important thing of all - 

* It was soooo much cheaper to print and populate that board than it would have been to assemble a hodgepodge of tagstrips and parts and metal cases and huge old wooden cabinets because you could mass produce the circuit boards by that stage, parts had become smaller and consumed less current, and technology hadn't stood still so there were ever more inexpensive PCBs, small components,  and cabinets. 

So that's a PCB and how it came about.

Now To That Inadequacy:

Parts became smaller and packed more circuitry inside them. That increased their current consumption again, but allowed the designer place more functionality closer together. To place them closer together, the copper traces ("tracks") had to be made thinner because there were physically just more tracks needing to be squeezed into each square centimetre to carry all the signals and power to those smaller parts, and thus they couldn't carry as much current, had signal bandwidth issues in some cases, and PCB designers began to need and use more and more layers

In re: layers. It's become an art form to place tiny little circuits on a PCB so that they occupy as little space as possible, (so the PCB will fit inside your fitbit or smart watch or mobile phone, for example,) and connect parts with best-path trace routing, and still be able to supply the needed current and signal clarity and still be useable. Some PCBs are now also flexible, meaning more design constraints and more demands made of the PCB technology.

Layer Proliferation

I and other hobbyists routinely use a software program that can create a design for a PCB that I can then either manufacture myself using quite old technology - or I can send it to a PCB manufacturer who can produce a small stack of boards for me for peanuts. 

But if I have a difficult design where a chip has fifty inputs, ten outputs, and needs two voltages, then I'm going to run out of board space pretty quickly and will need several traces to cross over each another - which is impossible on a single-layer board. Initially, the bridging was accomplished by ending the track just before it touched the conflicting track(s) and then resuming it on the other side, and bridging the two points with an insulated wire.

However, every extra bridging wire needed to be cut to size and involved two extra soldered joints to be made, and if you had more than ten of them it started to add up to a fair amount of operator time, and so there then arose a need to design in effect TWO boards that are perfectly aligned and place them on opposite sides of a single board so that the endpoints of traces where a trace needs to cross over aligned, then it can go partly on top and partly underneath and a single via connects the top and bottom traces at an overlap spot. 

A 'via' was just a hole drilled at the time the board was manufactured, and the hole copper-plated through during manufacture so that it joined the trace on one side with its continuation on the opposite side, thus skipping under the bridging point. When that wasn't enough commercial PCBs routinely had 3 - or more - many more -layers inside the board which is printed in a specialised process layer by layer, allowing a lot more wiring to pass by each other. Some computer boards can have more than ten layers sandwiched in them.

These issues - of having to make traces thinner and thinner to pack them in (both on each layer, and also because unless the alternating layers of a board are really thin then the board becomes a plank) and the parts needing more and more current necessitating thicker traces which is s direct conflict of requirements - have come together and resulted in PCBs rapidly becoming as unuseable as point-to-point wiring. THAT'S what that author was referring to, and it's about to become a real issue. 

Because Then Came The Limits

Even with all the design improvements of the PCB, limits are being reached, small complex parts with a lot more signal leads (a CPU chip in your PC or laptop can have 200 pins underneath it)  mean it's getting harder to get by even with twenty layers, and some tiny boards (think the battery charging circuit in your mobile phone) need to carry several amps of current on a PCB that's thin and compact enough to fit inside a device that has to fit inside your pocket. . . 

Making equipment point-to-point started off being sufficient but as components got more complex, this technique hit a wall where the wiring took too much space, too much time, and as parts got smaller, led to difficulties fixing parts in place against the wiring weight. It just got plain unwieldy.

Using sheetmetal chassis and tagstrips worked for simple circuits up the a certain number of components and also hit the wall. You can pack so many parts between tagstrips but then at some point it becomes impossible to add another part without colliding / shorting out / ridiculously long lead lengths.

Single layer PCBs were the undisputed king of the heap for a decade or two before they were replaced by 2 layer, and then multilayer - and nowadays also flexible foldable multilayer - circuits. And now that technology too is hitting the limits of what can be done.

My "What If" Moment:

About the late 1990s, the industry was just seeing the rise of FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays) which were a logic chip that wasn't specifically set up to solve a particular problem but instead consisted of a chip that could be field-programmed to have certain logical parameters and which meant that you could in effect customise the chip to a task.

More recent versions offer a way to create specialised configurations that are less power-hungry for performing some specialised tasks faster than anything except a custom-manufactured chip. (And this is why FPGAs are so useful, having a custom chip manufactured was generally a long and expensive process.)

But in the late 1990s, another term was also trending - nanotechnology. Nanotechnology was promising to develop little machines and materials and revolutionise industries and our lives. Sci-fi authors had already foreseen them coming and posited the famous 'grey goo' idea and of course, I was hooked

Between those things an idea came to me, and while I like to think outside the box, I'm not the only one in the world that does this, and I've generally found that if I have an idea, several other people around the world have already had it or are about to. 

This is a technology which might well see the next step up in technology from the PCB. Nanobots are becoming ever more possible and they could in theory perform the internal programming functions of a FPGA only to a much greater depth.

I was envisaging a CPU all inside a single epoxy or ceramic block with only a handful of connections needed - power, inputs, outputs, and arteries. 

Whoa. Back up there - 'arteries?'

Yep. Imagine a device very similar to a FPGA but with added flexibility - it can actually remove sections of itself and replace them as required with different sections. The chip can grow itself both in the flat plane and in the vertical thanks to some light silicone oil inside it, and this 'blood' would carry a stream of nanobots from a materials area to the active area. 

The materials area would have a collection of circuit modules that perform logical functions, nanomaterials for connecting and affixing them physically, nanobots, and two areas that are isolated, one for inbound new materials and one for outlet of nonfunctional or outdated components, nanomaterials, and nonfunctional nanobots.  

In effect, the chip would be upgradeable just by injecting new modules and bots and clean silicon oil, and allowing all the wastes to drain out. In this way it would become like a living system, able to take in 'nutrients' and 'excreting wastes' and consuming energy to do so. Unlike any living system though, it would be able to alter itself to the 'environment' it found itself in. 

Put it in an aircraft and it could add Inertial Movement Units to become aware of 3D motion it undergoes, a series of input channels so that it could take signals from the aircraft's existing guidance systems, and outputs to operate that aircraft. It could download the Operation Manual for the aircraft and all relevant regulations and geospatial data for airports, and you'd have a plane that could fly itself. Add redundancy by using dual systems (and adding several redundant dual systems on hot standby) and theoretically you'd never have an operator-induced aircraft incident ever again.

Put such a system into a spacecraft with sufficient "sustenance" suspended in silicone oil and a supply of energy from solar panels and you could send this spacecraft to the next solar system to explore or become our ambassador. Put it into your home automation system and it will specialise itself for your house and your habits and your needs.

Exactly how it was going to do that was just a kind of 'black box' in my theory at the time, because while AI (artificial intelligence) was a sci-fi staple, the smartest thing around was a really stupid chat-bot whose name I can't even remember. Back then, this step of micromanaging the internals of the chip was the big stumbling block.

Possible? Maybe Not Back Then...

Only . . .  We now do have tiny prototype nanomachines that can be 'programmed' to do a particular task, we do have nanomaterials that make nanowires and building blocks possible, we can build chips in sections or in one assembly, and AI has taken some huge leaps forward and is now diagnosing patients better than a human, identifying faces better than a human can, and taking control over sensitive and finicky industrial processes far more accurately than a human. 

An AI can be programmed to run millions of combinations of molecules and look for potential drug cures for many ailments, they're performing better than humans at working on COVID vaccination variants and detecting COVID and cancers in xrays and predicting stock market fluctuations and predicting weather and . . .  

You get the idea - for a limited narrow process, AI performs extremely well these days. We could let an AI evolve this chip idea in a simulation, evolve the guidance AI that this chip would need, the processes for making the building blocks, and every other facet of producing such a chip. 

The easy part would be to get an AI to design a 'living chip' such as I've envisaged, and designing an AI to inhabit that chip. The hard part, to me, would be to answer the question "Should we?"

Sunday, 20 March 2022

New Strange World

Hacktivism

Like it or not we're in "Interesting Times" indeed. . . The loosely-connected hacker activist collective known as Anonymous have been attacking Russian cyber properties wherever they can. Russian government Twitter accounts have been astroturfing fake news and propaganda items about the Ukraine. People who maintain 'open source' software modules and software suites have planted logic bombs in their software

Unfortunately sometimes this hacktivism has created problems for non-combatant computer systems, but I'm going out on a limb and say that there will always be collateral damage of some sort, and some companies really bitched but look - even I can see that there are going to be hacks and some of them might have unintended consequences and therefore I've got things as backed up as a private individual on a shoestring budget can attain. 

But I'll always back hacktivism because it's a popular vote rather than anything on Party lines, and besides, you need to be sure you're secure from ANY attack when your work involves data as sensitive and important as that supposedly was. 

The Guy Fawkes mask these days signifies Anonymous but they
took it as a symbol from the movie "V For Vendetta"
- which was about bringing down a Fascist regime.
Talk about relevant.

Also - and relevantly - since the attacks on Ukraine, it turns out that a lot of software has had updates hacked to damage Russian and Belarusian computer infrastructure. There purports to be a spreadsheet out there that details 20-something pieces of software that have had hacks introduced via the normal updates and that target Russian infrastructure. 

Back and Future

There are a lot more articles out there which undoubtedly bear on this post of mine - people using AI software to develop better weapons, others developing better and better deep fakes to propagandise one side or the other, and hackers outside the Anonymous collective are taking sides and are really fierce about their support of each side. 

There are definitely going to be collateral damages in that war. You or I or our neighbour may be affected by some hacktivism or similar, directly or as a result of that attack on another system we depend on. The best thing you can do is tinplate your arse. Make backups of anything important right now, any way you can and keep that backup safe. 

That complaint about the software developer before - it runs a bit like this: "... person ... work for a US-based organization ... server in Belarus, 'resulted in executing ... code and wiping over 30,000 messages and files detailing war crimes committed in Ukraine ...' " and again - it's not effing rocket science that there WILL be hacks and therefore you need to keep your ass tinplated and this "US-based organisation" needs to re-evaluate their attitude to security.

You'd think we had plenty of intimations that hackers could do some damage for the last twenty-five years from movies like Wargames, Hackers, and the whole hacker movie genre. 

Now we have exactly such situations with individuals, groups, collectives, and State groups all busily hacking the shit out of everything and anything - think about Stuxnet that was repurposed to attack centrifuges in Iran's nuclear program. And that was now twelve years ago that it was discovered and probably fifteen years since it's predecessor was programmed.

Will we ever just LEARN from stuff in the past instead of having to re-learn it to our chagrin? 

I write a lot of these sorts of articles and don't get paid for them. If you enjoyed this article and it got you energised and activated and wanting to do something, do anything to bring the world back from the craziness and disaster after disaster then please - share this article, go to my News Stand and subscribe for a newsletter, and if you'd prefer to be in charge of your own news, I've also written an article that can get you into the wonderful world of newsreaders and leave your inbox newsletter-free.

Cheers!

Monday, 14 March 2022

Why The Wealthy Stay Wealthy

It's down to us, consumers!

I've noticed one sentence cropped up in half a dozen news items tonight: ". . . leaving the consumer to foot the cost . . ."

  • The inflationary shock on SPC baked beans.
  • The Great Nickel Short That Failed.
  • Transport Fuel cost inflation.
  • Fuel costs for consumers.
  • Elon Musk about Tesla and Space X's inflationary shock.

In every one of those, it was NOT a consumer that initiated the events that caused those stuff-ups. 

For example in one case the blame can be placed squarely at the feet of the guy behind Tsingshan Holding Group Co, a Chinese rich guy Xiang Guangda made a bet and lost. By all rights he should have paid that shit out of his own pocket but the London Metal Exchange cancelled that day's trading which pretty much bailed his arse out but of course now they'll be ". . . leaving the consumer to foot the cost . . ."

To be rich, you have to be rich.

Seems like everyone can screw up hugely and not really face much of a setback from it. Because you can ". . . leave the consumer to foot the cost . . ."

How good is letting everyone else bear the brunt of your failures but not share in your successes? 

Capitalism's fucked, the idea of a fiat economy ditto, and we are soooooooo ditto ditto...

Cheers, fellow cash cows. Hi ho hi ho hi ho. . . 

Saturday, 12 March 2022

Someone Done Something Bad.

 You know you've done bad things when Meta (aka Facebook aka Zucktopia, the place where nipples are considered a cardinal sin) says people can say nasty things about killing you,  and even Switzerland adopts sanctions against you.

I couldn't believe that the military could be doing the things they're doing without fairly specific exonerating orders so I have to presume that they've been ordered to push boundaries and commit atrocities. And if those orders do exist and did come from the highest, there'll always be a few conscientious objectors among the ranks that are not happy about what they're being asked to do - and I do suspect that 'frontline leaks' may have contributed to Ukraine scoring a few high-value targets.

There's also been unusually fast worldwide intelligence direct to public which has given us all a front-row seat in the Russian military's war room and it seems that they are really desperate for an excuse to just take Ukraine and feel justified in committing the atrocities to date. No matter how these things are committed, the blame falls up the chain of command, and VVP can't fail to be aware of that.

Just now, "Ukraine has established an "international" legion for people from abroad and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has publicly urged foreigners to "fight side-by-side with Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals" to show support for his country." -- ABC News Australia 

It seems that while the major powers are hanging back, the rest of the world, the mercenaries and soldiers of fortune, war-hardened medics, and those who feel the need to go and bust heads, are pouring into Lviv to help.

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Grumpy Old Postal Whinge

I 'fess up - I multiblog. (The three audients I have all go "Well duh Ted!") I also write on Grumpy Old Guy among others and put this on that blog yesterday: Australia Post Cracks A Funny and now I'd LOVE to expound and expand on that. Because while I know everyone has a whinge with their postal and courier / delivery services, how many have had this many in ten years? 

Australia Post did deliver on the weekends but that was over a year ago when the pandemic had them more on the ropes than normal mail has apparently always had them. But they stopped doing it that time they announced that they were so busy that they'd made a record profit but rather than hiring more staff to cope they'd just stop picking up local packages for three days while they had a jolly good cry and a Bex powder. 

Since then they've been backlogged, have - seemingly, from the results I've seen - NOT made any progress in improving and growing to meet the challenge of a post-pandemic country with a LOT more people using online ordering and delivery, and weekends haven't been done for around a year.

So when I got a text message on Saturday morning telling "you parcel from Xyzzy Co will be delivered today" I was wondering what had changed. 

The text message sort of gave me hope that they might have finally got the message that we would really like to see those record profits to be returned to us in the form of better faster service, at last. Hmmm yeah well, colour me naive . . .

But surprise surprise, the item from Xyzzy Co didn't arrive Saturday, nor even Sunday, despite the Australia Post text message quite specifically stating that the parcel was to be delivered that same day. 

But a second, different, unannounced parcel arrived - it's just that it arrived on Monday. I received it, checked the consignment number and realised that it still wasn't the parcel referred to. But that's about par for the course with such a shambolic mess of a company, so it didn't worry me untowardly. 

Then the parcel from Xyzzy Co arrived later that afternoon.  

And then later that evening I read that article about AP's "improvements" to their system so that they'd have far more accurate delivery time messages. . . It seems they can talk the talk, but the walk's still just a series of jerks and spasms and a lot of thrashing about.

Back to the roast.

When we moved house a few years ago, our redirection was - hit and miss . . . - to say the least. From that time to the present they've attempted to deliver parcels for us to a similar looking address - but in another suburb we've never lived in - and then returning the parcel to sender because they read the street name and number - but the postcode and correct suburb name I N   L A R G E   C A P I T A L   L E T T E R S apparently are just a suggestion. 

And

They've claimed to be unable to find a safe place to deliver a parcel when we have a delivery point and it's in the delivery instructions we attach to posted items and so we've had to pick it up at the PO anyway.

And

There was a letter that had mistakenly been sent here I clearly wrote NATA (Not At This Address) on - and which promptly arrived again. Three times before I took it into the local PO and said if I had to take it out of our letterbox again I'd be sending them a bill for my delivery services. 

And

One delivery was declined because apparently we had a "large unfriendly dog." At the time we had two cats that had a secluded cat yard out the back, the gate wide open, and not a dog to be seen for miles around. 

And

Then going back a few more years there was a letter from a place less than a kilometre from our house in town and that person phoned me angrily and asked why I hadn't confirmed my appointment nor shown up for it, after all it was a week ago they sent me the forms. The letter reached me the following day, meaning it had averaged 105m a day on its journey across town. 

And Now, one of their best SNAFUs

In one of those events that should happen once in a lifetime or less, I ordered some electronic hobby parts, some in late November ("shipment A") and then some more in early December ("shipment B") and . . . 

Waited. And waited. . .  

Then in mid March I asked the company, and they agreed, to resend the same order again ("shipment C") as it had obviously been lost in transit. 

In April, Shipment C arrived. Still no shipment B, mind you. But I decided to be patient for a week or two longer.

And then just as I was about to ask the company for a resend of Shipment B, it too arrived - after a mere 18 or so weeks in transit. But hey - I had all the parts for the project after almost five months so I could finally get cracking.

Then in late May, Shipment A showed up. . . 

I'd kept the wrappings with the tracking numbers on them because I wanted to keep the sender details and order numbers etc, and so I decided I'd phone Australia Post's service people. The representative I spoke to seemed to be Australian (okay, a grudging point awarded to AP for that) but very detached from reality. I asked if they kept a history of tracking numbers and he said they did, so I asked him about Shipment A. 

"Oh yes," he said, "that shipment got on an [airline Xyzzy] flight in China and then seems to have vanished." Oh boy. It "got on a plane in China" and then just - poofed. Vanished. Bloody cosmic rays. . . This guy wasn't backing down. I pointed out that if the thing got scanned ONTO a plane in China, no-one could have just thrown it out in flight, yes? 

He agreed, and I said ". . . and our airline cargo staff aren't all incompetent, are they?" and again got a "m'yup" out of him. 

"So where do you reckon it might have been lost then?" 

"Look, I told you it got on the plane in China and didn't arrive in Australia "

I gave up and asked him about Shipment B and he was right back on the ball:

"Tracking number . . . um . . . flibbetty-number-umpteen  . . . got from China to Australia and then - oh wow - it's no longer on the tracking system, perhaps it wasn't a conformant tracking number or something and got returned."

When I mentioned that I was reading those tracking numbers off of parcels that I was currently holding in my hand because they'd arrived, he spluttered a bit and said something long the lines of "Well I don't know how they could have gotten to you, they're not on any of our records" and when I told him that the Australia Post Postie had handed them to me out of his Australia Post post bag, he just muttered something and - hung up.

He couldn't deal with it and instead of doing the right thing and escalating it, he hung up. Such an ignorant prick I've never had to deal with before nor since. 

The best bit? I could see where Shipment A had been, it was received in Australia and then there was a postmark of someplace like the Seychelles a few weeks later, and finally another postmark when it was sent back to Australia in late April. The lovely folks at AP, hammered as the poor dears must have been at Christmas, kindly sent my parcel on an overseas holiday, perhaps to give themselves time, or were incompetent, or both and more. 

So

I ended up paying for two lots of Shipment A because I'm honest and I told the company the earlier order had arrived, they said maybe I should just keep it but I suggested they raise a second invoice or let me order it again and immediately mark it received, I've honeslty never heard anyone more surprised than the company rep I was speaking to. I still have Platinum customer status (or equivalent, I'm not going to give away which company this is) with them despite being thousands of dollars worth of trade short per year. 

Prior (dis)Engagements

From that episode back to 2011, I can remember vaguely that there were quite a few other incidents, the best of which was when we moved to a road not services by AP posties. We decided we'd like a PO box at the next major PO, they claimed they were out of PO boxes so we could get a free PO box at a little franchise outpost nearer to our street.

The franchise office turned out to be even worse than the official AP organisation and it caused 90% of the incidents including returning several items of redirected mail because they didn't have a clue and the address on the mail was "for some other place, how were we sposed to know?" - and they only got worse from there. At least a dozen, possibly up to twenty, incidents and failures, and we were only at that address for 14 months... I don't have time to list all that lot, but none of them have made it into this post because that one franchise PO alone would fill a post - and one day it might... 

Australia Post are an example of what happens when you don't appoint competent management - you end up like the LNP Coalition, and your company ends up as screwed as Australia currently is. . . .

Cheers.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Slipping Past - again the glyphosate issue

 22/02/2022 - a date in the balance... Amateur numerology aside, it's also a date that has just frustrated me a lot. Because of a radio news article on our national broadcaster. About farming. And careful choices of words.

Bullshit Makes Good Fertiliser

According to the report, farmers who've just had a bumper wheat crop and are now in the process of getting ready for a winter crop, are (as farmers are especially good at being) pessimistic. (cf: "We'll All Be Ruined Said Hanrahan"

Apparently the cost of glyphosate is going to ruin these farmers, the interviewer spoke sympathetically to the farmer they were interviewing, and there was a bit of background on how glyphosate prices have been affected by COVID-19 issues, then back to the topic of how poorly this affected the outcomes for farmers.

Oh hmmm, that article on glyphosate prices . . . Umm isn't that Roundup? Of course it is. And of course that particular dirty word is absolutely not mentioned even once in the interview. Also not mentioned even once in the interview is how poorly Roundup affects outcomes for consumers. 

The stuff is according to most opinions these days toxic and carcinogenic and builds up in our system. It was once claimed that the herbicide would get washed off the crop - until it was pointed out that glyphosate is a systemic poison, i.e. it works within the plants' biological systems not on the outside of them.

Then it was claimed that it only has a short half-life and the time from spraying the paddocks before planting to when it was turned bread gave plenty of time for the herbicide to be eliminated. Turns out that was grade A bullshit too. Firstly, the half-life is longer than claimed, then too the sheer amounts applied meant that for half-life to reduce the toxin to negligible proportions meant that you'd need longer, and then - finally - the primary claim of how long the stuff was applied before harvesting was also bullshit because almost every farmer applied at least one second treatment, just a few days before harvesting, to dry the crop on the stalk and make harvesting more efficient. 

And when there's so much bullshit used to keep a product in use, you know big things are at stake. Farmers under pressure to produce the crop as cheaply as possible. The supermarkets whose huge bottom line might lose some value. The agri-chem industry that probably feels that one tiny crack will bring their stonewalling down and they'll get sued by pretty much the whole world. 

And there was even talk of banning Roundup just a few years back. Surely farmers back then could have 'read the room' and realised that Roundups' days were limited? And so maybe they should start looking for alternative herbicides and pesticides that aren't implicated in death and cancer and banned in quite a few countries by now?

But as usual, the easy way out is what was taken again this time, farmers muttering direly that the price of the winter crops are going to be higher, which is exactly the same thing they said would happen if they couldn't use Roundup. Seems like the consumer's screwed if they do and more screwed if they don't. 

There ARE alternatives

Look - let's accept a few things, okay? Life was always expensive to maintain. We've had a lucky fifty to seventy years where it wasn't, but instead of banking that we kept letting the population explode and chewed up every scrap and skerrick of that abundance and - well, here we are.

Life's no longer quite so good, prices are going up and - I hate to break it to you - are going to keep going up. And that's a result of supply and demand because the Earth consists of just so many billions of acres of useable land, and the days of one human having access to the resources of several million acres of the planet are over.

And most of us are a bit fussy - choosing only the best cuts and leaving the rest to go to pet and livestock food, wanting seasonal vegetables all year round, and water-and-land-intensive ones at that because why would we want to eat weeds? (True BTW. Some so-called weeds are sought after in less-fortunate countries and are more nutritious than the intensive farmed alternative crop we prefer instead.)

So - what are the alternatives?

Well, all herbicides and pesticides are 'icides - they're toxic, they're made to kill things, things like weeds and insects, and because we have a few things in common with moths and moulds, like a seriously large chunk of DNA and sensitivity to these same toxins, also US. Everything from the lowliest one celled organism to the largest blue whales (and that includes us in there somewhere) are Earth Lifeforms. 

Seems weird to be saying that, but perhaps this is the one thing we really, really, need right now, to become us aware - really aware - that we are all interdependent inhabitants of (and parts of) this planet. Every part needs every other part, and balance.

Us consuming everything in sight was probably okay a million years ago when there would have been fewer that 200,000 of us across the whole planet. But with close to nine billion of us, we've hit peak Earth.

And then there's pandemic. . .

Coronavirus can be seen as a balancing. Because populations get ever larger, there are more and more people that are forced further out into what was previously natural habitat. They are generally in no position to be choosy about how they make a living, so they either consume or catch kill and sell bushmeat. Or they just have to live someplace that we didn't live in before and there are a few wild animals that have a virus. And normally we'd never come in contact with that animal and its passenger.

But our expansion forced that meeting, however it actually came about. And it's  working to reduce our numbers just as other plagues and pandemics did in the past. Only now, we're better at winning pandemics, and so the virus is still mutating among the people that can't or won't have vaccinations and quarantines. 

So - we shouldn't try to cover the whole Earth. We shouldn't close our minds to alternative foods, clean energy sources, and clean technologies. We should make it possible for every living person to live a life without desperation and with access to shelter, water, and food - and vaccinations and health programs including birth control.

If we do all that, we might just survive.


Sunday, 13 February 2022

1st Update in 2022

Oh the oddness! I seem to have gained a weird widget in the page code that sends you to the footer. I vaguely remember adding it but it's getting added to! Also, an aggregator site you can check for only updated posts. 

(Because I'm pretty much solo on all these blogs, also doing the occasional Youtube or Twitch video, not all my sites get regular updates, so an aggregator site presents the most recent for you to have a read of)

It'll appear in the footer once I have it set up, it's still a WIP.

Saturday, 7 August 2021

New Format, New Stuff

> New format, new stuff. If you check the bottom of each post in future, it'll have a box with a link to check out my other sites. (Just like the box at the bottom of this post, actually...)

If you follow that link, it'll take you to the bottom of this page of blog posts and there, you'll find a footer named "Footer- Check Out My Other Sites Here!" and a heap of links to some of the other sites I operate.

There's my other blogs on Blogspot, of course - goes without saying. Some of those blogs were born (and laboriously hand-coded) back before blog sites became popular. 
  • TEdALOG Lite II - is the blog I post all sorts of general articles and items of interest to me and that I imagine might be of interest to you.
  • TEdADYNE Systems - I've always had a bit of interest in the ethics of technology, especially where the borders are between humans, cyborgs, and machines, and the ethics of AI. You may find this interesting.
  • TEdAMENU Tuckertime - as a proud geek and a proud Aussie and a proud multicultural citizen of the Earth, what better way than recipes to show the scope and depth of all these facets?
  • OHaiCorona - COVID-19 gave us all a shake-up and will continue to do so for a considerably long time to come. It shook the sh*t out of me and this blog became the place I put all the things I discovered as we uncovered the truth of this little bug.
  • OHaiCorona Fiction - is a blog on the same hosted server (which Tech Pacific is my service provider for) with all the crap fiction ideas that inevitably come up during the lockdowns... As such I should probably apologise for these stories... 
  • Grumpy Old Guy - is a blog where all the things that really p*ss me off go to be exorcised - some things just need the grumpy old guy touch, and now that I'm the age I am, I have EVERY facet of this NAILED.
  • PrawnTech3d (also ptec3d.com for a shorter URL) - is a place where I share everything I'm learning and generating in the strange and absorbing world of 3D printing, from how to print stuff to best places to find stuff, best software for designing and making your own.
  • Youtube - I'm attempting to put a few videos up on Youtube, hopefully culminating in a fairly regular series of vids with some cool topics.
  • DiscordEmail me for an invite to the PrawnTech3D Discord server, where I tend to spend the most of my time anyway, or to arrange a Zoom sesh where we can happily chat one on one or in a group. (To get my timezone, go down to that link because it has the current time and date at my location.)
Additionally, you can buy/donate/help by using any of these links:
  • Ptec3d Shop - is where you can find my models I've designed and made, many available for free download; And also snippets of software, diagrams, and so forth for making cool gadgets and gizmos; And also of course I can print many models on demand for a fee and postage.
  • BuyMeACoffee - you can buy me a coffee and smashed avocado toast here, or
  • Ko-Fi.com - just a latte with two sugars thanks!
  • Patreon - everyone knows Patreon, where people go to support people like me who spend all their time making and developing and disseminating and creating things. (I'll link this up once I have my Patreon up and running. It's a shambles for now...)
There are also a few more places you can find me:
  • I have my models available on Thingiverse, Thangs, Cults3D, Creality Cloud, Prusa Models, My Minifactory, and probably a few others.
  • There's an Etsy shop too. Naturally. 
  • You can direct tip me via Paypal or Stripe.
  • On Second Life I'm teddlesruss Vollmar, also on Dreamgrid where I occasionally run my own simulator at Catsylvania.
  • I've got some others - groups and pages here and there, about everything from rabbits to amateur radio - and will happily share those if you use the "Email me" link a few bullets back. 
I really do hope I'll see you at all these other sites - I've been working on and developing and publishing some of these blogs since before there were such things as blogs, and some of them are quite prescient. And I look forward to chatting with you all.