Tuesday 24 May 2011

Inflation and Growth

Is it just me that questions the need for growth in the economy?

Surely I can't be the only one? Economic growth is the annual rate of increase in real GDP, where GDP stands for "gross domestic product".
GDP is the country's production of goods and services, valued at market prices (or at cost when the goods are not sold). The figures are then corrected for inflation.

Why do we need to constantly produce more and buy more? Isn't this just rampant consumerism? I understand that if the population is growing then output needs to grow so that we can employ everyone and they all have a decent living standard.
People (generally) want more, ask someone if they would like to be richer and very few would say no.
Some people are so keen to consume more stuff that they just borrow more and more, rather than borrowing and getting deeper into debt, it would be much better if everyone could earn more. But that takes economic growth.

What things give you a sense of happiness and fulfillment? Many (Most?) of them do not involve consumption, they will involve relationships with other people and giving rather than taking.

Growth in GDP can also lead to more pollution and use of limited resources. If you drive to work you will need to buy a car, buy fuel and insurance. All of these things are counted in GDP, but a long commute is more likely to decrease your well being than if you walk to work.

Maybe the question we should be asking is not "how fast is the economy growing?" but "should it be growing at all"
Update: Maybe I'm not the only one who thinks this, I think George Monbiot agrees with me.
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Monday 15 February 2010

Oh no!

It doesn't matter how many times people say you ought to backup data you always leave it until another day (or week ... or year). If you knew your hard drive was going to fail tomorrow what data would you not want to lose, what data could you not afford to lose?

Last week I was cleaning the dust out of the inside of my PC when I slipped and dropped it. Doh! After carefully finishing off the cleaning process I plugged the machine back in and I could hear a funny noise coming from my 1TB drive - the computer fail to recognise it was even connected (oh dear).

I have managed to retrieve some data that I had backed up to DVD a while ago and but there is some that is now (almost certainly) lost for good.

I suppose the one upside and it is a small one is that I got the chance to test the restore feature of Mozy, for several year I have used Mozy to backup data on my machine to a server on the internet - it is secure, it is offsite and most importantly you can set it to run and just forget about it.

The Mozy client program will sit in your taskbar and keep the selected directories or files backed up transparently to the user. You get 2Gb of storage for free if you want more you have to pay for it. The "gb of data I had backed up resotred flawlessly. I recommend you give them a go - if your pc dies you'll be glad you did.(either that or do some manual backups now!)Link
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Monday 1 February 2010


What makes for freedom? The ability to do what you like? or is it the ability to say "I hope apple continues to allow..."
People rave about the iPhone and those that have a Mac seem to love them, don't get me wrong I appreciate the fact that they 'just work' but I prefer a little more freedom, the ability to run any application I chose - regardless of if it is 'bugggy' or prone to crash my system (or my phone)
I'd love to run linux but so many little things just don't work quite right (or at all).
At the moment I can't log into my adsense account using Firefox so I can't see when ads have been clicked on - or if I'm going to ever get paid.

Much as I love to hate it windows is a good middle ground between the complete freedom (without boundaries) of Linux and the (Dictatorial) policies of Apple.

A dawning realisation I actually like windows, even windows mobile.
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Tuesday 26 January 2010

Best duct tape story ever

During a private "fly-in" fishing excursion in the Alaskan wilderness, the chartered pilot and fishermen left a cooler and bait in the plane. And a bear smelled it. This is what he did to the plane.

The pilot used his radio and had another pilot bring him 2 new tires, 3 cases of duct tape, and a supply of sheet plastic.

He patched the plane together, and FLEW IT HOME !

Duct Tape ? Never Leave Home Without It.
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Wednesday 13 January 2010

Can't go back

Yesterday I went to see Avatar in 3D at the Empire Cinema in Hemel, I haven't seen a 3D film for ages - at least 10 years. This was absoloutely fantastic. The 3D effect was incredible, if you haven't seen the film yet get yourself down to see it. My only problem with 3D technology is that you have to watch what the director is expecting you to watch, several scenes have stuff in the near field which is out of focus because you are supposed to be watching the action in the middle field. However if you try to focus on the near field stuff it is still out of focus which is quite disorienting until you learn to follow the action.
Doe this mean that we will all become even more passive viewers? Or will you have to learn to use your peripheral vision if you want to 'see' the extra bits?
Either way I'm all for it - bring on 3D TV (though if it ends up being 3D HD REALD TV then someone needs to make a nice snappy title.)

I just don't think I'll be able to go back to 2D

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Tuesday 24 November 2009

Global warming rigged?

George Monbiot from the guardian comments on the evidence necessary to discredit human induced climate change. Very amusing. 'nuff said Link
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Monday 23 November 2009

Do you? Should you?

If there was a simple easy and free way to backup your important data without having to remember to do it manually would you use it?
Most people I know understand that they ought to backup their computer, and the majority of those don't actually do it; even the few that do backup don't do it very regularly.
Mozy provide such a service, a little backup utility will sit in your task bar and encrypt and backup your data to an online server. Files can be retrived by the utility or from a web interface. You get 2Gb of free storage, if you need more you can pay for it.

Disclaimer: I do get some more storage by referring people, but I wouldn't do it if I didn't think the service was great.Link
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Friday 9 October 2009

Secrets of the ultimate car

Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, commissioned Kirkham Motorsports build the ultimate, cost is no object, roadster.

The result is this car and you can see how it was built.
This car looks lovely with a capital LOVE, I want one, not that I'm likely to be able afford it. The chassis and most of the hardware is milled out of billet aluminium and it looks incredible.
The body is made from sheet aluminium and then polished to a mirror shine, the stripes on the bonnet are just sanded into the polished surafce.
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Tuesday 15 September 2009

Cheep Cheep Cheep

It's time to ditch dial-up. Get up to 8Mb broadband from PlusNet. Free setup now available - terms apply. PlusNet broadband.
People who know me will know I like to check comparison websites in order to make sure I'm getting the best deal. My broadband provider is plusnet, they are pretty good value for money (the best I can get from my exchange) and their customer service is top notch, they have responded quickly to my queries and I don't hesitate to recommend them. Oh and they do my landline too.

Join GreasyPalm - the site that PAYS YOU to shop!I also use greasypalm, this site gives you cashback for shopping or changing your provider for energy or insurance (among other things), so far I have got more than £100 from them (which is nice). Not only do I have a nice fixed deal from E.On but I got £30 cashback too - bargin
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Thursday 10 September 2009

Thursday 27 August 2009

What is 'Good' energy?

What exactly is Good energy? is Wind better than Solar? Is Hydro ok? What about Nuclear or Carbon Capture and storage?
Most forms of renewable energy are generally thought of as good and most fossil fuels are thought of as bad. Where does nuclear fall in this range? Atomic energy after all emits no C02 (at least during power generation) but it is not normally seen as all that safe.

Is it suitable to look only at the carbon emmisions of a technology to determine if it is good or not? should other things be considered? Wind farms seem to be the most economically accessible - each turbine can be built for a relitvely small investment which will pay for itself within the lifetime of the device - but some people think they are a blot on the landscape and the fact that they are often in mountainous (and therefore picturesque) areas makes this worse. I think they actually look quite majestic as they slowly turn generating 'clean' power.
Tidal power is another similar issue, the severn barrage could be built to produce nearly 10% of the UK's electricity requirements but in doing so would adversely affect a delicate ecology. Is this good? (would the ecological balance be affected by global warming anyway?) At least tidal power is predictable.

Solar power, wind power and wave power power are not prdicatable - geothermal power is not very viable in the UK (so far as I know) Are we always going to need some dirty power as a base load to cover when tidal power is at an ebb?

I don't know the answer to many/any of these questions. If you do let me know
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Monday 24 August 2009

At seat power?

I read this blog whenever it is updated, he works for the mozilla foundation and is involved in Firefox - so he knows a bit about user interface design.
I normally take what most people say with a pinch of salt, but this analysis of the A380 interface is very telling.
Just to be clear - I have nothing to do with the design of this system.

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Tuesday 11 August 2009

How small is too small?

Is it just me or are somethings just made too small, miniaturisation can give you some incredible looking pieces of work. Like this stove.
I have long been a fan of the beverage can stove as it weighs next to nothing and works really well.
This stove is so tiny it can be worn as a necklace, there isn't any detail about how long it will burn for but I don't care. it is worth it even if only for aesthetic value
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Friday 10 July 2009

When is French British?

Team Green Britain is the new advertising campain launched by EDF energy. EDF stands for √Člectricit√© de France and is owned by the French government. Of the Big six energy providers they sit at the bottom of the green spending league.

So ... not Green ... not British

What is worse is that they have hijacked the logo of Ecotricity who are (as far as I can tell) one of the greenest energy providers around.
The Ecotricity Van
 The EDF van

    Some EDF facts
  • 85% owned by the French State.
  • The worlds third largest producer of toxic Nuclear waste – but the two producers ahead of them are actually whole countries, rather big ones too – The US and Canada. So EDF are the world’s biggest corporate nuclear polluter.
  • They have some 5 million domestic customers in the UK.
  • They produce about 30 million Tonnes of CO2 per year (in the UK). No small amount.
  • Recently they bought British Energy – might explain why they suddenly feel so British.
  • They sit at the bottom of the green spending league (of the Big Six anyway, Good Energy pip them to the very bottom…:) ) spending the least per Capita (per customer) building new renewables. A measly £10 last year.
  • EDF have never met their minimum legal obligation under the RO – how green is that?
  • Fred Pearce from the Guardian has some useful info on that front, including the fact that - EDF Trading boasts of being “one of the largest participants in the global coal market” and it imports 30M tonnes a year in to the EU, for burning in it’s own and other peoples coal fired power stations (the ultimate CO2 producers of course).

It's just not cricket!
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Tuesday 7 July 2009

Microsoft Furniture

A salesperson walks into your office today and tells you that you have to buy a new, pre-built, expensive desk for every one of your employees. You have to buy a new desk today and replace it every three to five years. Additionally, there are no options for the desk and you may not alter it in any way - one desk is all we make and you have to buy it from us. You see, you don’t really own the desk; you’re simply purchasing a license to use the desk. Chairs are sold separately and we have the corner on the market for chairs that are 100 percent compatible with the desk. The chairs are also very expensive.

Does that sound like a scenario in which you wish to participate? Preposterous, you say? Is it? Now, what if I told you that you do have a choice of desks? In fact, just across the street from your office is an entire mall filled with desks and chairs from which to choose. Here’s the exciting part: The desks in that mall are all free. That’s right, free. Take as many as you want. You want chairs? They’re free too. If you want to customize your desk - or even build one from scratch - you can. What’s stopping you? Go pick up your free desks and chairs.

I’m feeling your reluctance to load up on those free desks and chairs. What’s the problem? Do you believe that there’s something wrong with those desks because they’re free? The free desks and chairs are just as good as the expensive one, plus they’re customisable down to the most minute detail.

If you’re like most, you’ll opt for the “one size fits none” expensive desk. Having choices, even if the other choices are free, often doesn’t make it any easier to choose. Sometimes it’s a “follow the crowd” mentality. For example, if your insurance company, family physician, elementary school and engineering company all bought the expensive desks, who are you to go in some other direction? A mind of your own is a terrible thing to waste.

Who cares if, while using your expensive desk, you occasionally have to open all the drawers and reclose them for the desk to work properly. Again, it’s what everyone else bought and it’s good enough for him or her, so why should you go to the trouble of learning how a new desk works or messing about with some new-fangled chair? After all, if something goes terribly wrong with the desk, you only have to call the manufacturer and someone will fix it, right?


The desk manufacturer assumes no responsibility for the workmanship or the maintenance of your desk. That’s left to independent businesses or individuals who’ll charge you to fix the desk. The manufacturer releases semi-annual patch kits to fix any anomalies you find with your desk. However, there are numerous manufacturer freebies: Cute drawer handles, holographic arm rest decals and fun paperweights to make your desk-using experience more enjoyable.

One word of caution: You should make nightly copies of all your desk’s contents and store them in a larger, more expensive desk that no one uses. Yes, you have to buy a chair with that desk too. Don’t become too attached to your current desk (now that you have it arranged just as you want) - you have to upgrade to a newer, heavier and better version in a couple of years. Not to worry, if the new one is so cumbersome and unstable that your productivity slows to a crawl, the manufacturer will have a better version in a couple of years for you to buy.
You’ll buy it and again you’ll be just like everyone else.
Via LinuxPlanet
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