Sunday, December 6, 2015


I confess, I have not watched teevee for a long time - well, okay, I watch something while I eat dinner  - but not SERIOUSLY watching any shows for years. No kidding.  . . . . . until MR. ROBOT.

But don't take my word for it,  have a look for yourself. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Secret War

Here is my "conspiracy theory": The Secret War is the real war, the war of the rich on the poor. This war is not fought with guns and bombs as much as it is fought with insult, uncaring and blatant attacks on everything that represents caring, kind society.
It is working because the warmakers have all the money and power to prosecute it: they have even managed to convince some of the "enemy" (those who are not really, really rich) to attack their own fellow commoners with the same kind of elitist intolerant crud they spread themselves.

The clearest evidence for this war is the activities of big money: but let me make myself clear here, those who do these things are not necessarily deliberately settting out to destroy, they are are not even that smart or deliberate: they only want to make more money even though it is insane to destroy whole countries for a few more luxury yachts - but there is currently no control system or force of international policing that will find and either stop or prevent this insane behaviour from continuing.  

Once again, the horrible truth of human nature is exposed: we are quite limited in our intellectual capacity but there is no shortage of madmen and idiots in positions of control who are content to carry on abusing their fellow man.

Of course, most of this won't matter in the long term as the oceans rise and the price of oil rises too: we can almost be certain that the latter issue alone will provoke wars and thus lead to massive depopulation (which might even slow down the destruction of our ecosystem ) but none of that will make humans any smarter, or more importantly, any wiser.  A massive superintelligent computer devoted to fixing our mess would not be so bad in comparison to our track record - but then what humans are going to happily surrender national and international control to a machine?  We couldn't build one anyway.

A Real Sci-Fi Story

Check out this story. Who needs cheezy Sci-fi movies when reality is so amazing if you just look into history?   It might even make a good movie with the settings and props maded to look futuristic.

From Scott Adams (he of "Dilbert" fame) comes this article: "How to beat ISIS with a hoax"
What do you think: is Scott's analysis of human nature and media true?  

Friday, October 30, 2015

Totally . . . . .

Today I found some musicians that I really like. It does not matter to me that I cannot understand their lyrics, they are the essence of the future: two Japanese ladies who make accordian music in an eastern european style (well, something like that) - and, well I just like them, they are fun.

Charan Po Rantan

The world is now a mixture of styles thanks to the internet - maybe it gets more mixed up every time I look, and some of those combinations are wonderful.  These lovely ladies definitely fit that category.
There are one or two translations of their songs such as this one for "Beauty and youth"

Loads more vids of these two on Youtube too.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Bloody Tourists

People in Barcelona, Spain are marching in protest at the flood of tourists that are turning their city unlivable for them according to this article.  This is not a unique thing either: as pointed out in the article, Venice is almost depopulated now: only tourists go there. 
This looks to be disturbingly common - eventually every city with cheap, easy travel connecting it will get this surge of drunken backpackers, rubbernecked sightseers and cheap flophouse dwellers which will make a big mess. This is crazy. Another hopeess attempt to make business that depends on foreign money coming into the country supporting such "industries" as gambling and drinking . . . . leaving a big mess behind.
I agree that we all need jobs but this is not what I call a legitemate industry to keep a country going - not unless the country is something like a tiny pacific island that has no other industries.

Ah, but why worry? soon the housing bubble will burst and the waste matter will hit the ventilation device  . . . .  and maybe the Yanks will start World War Three. . . . . . but the Super- Rich will be fine in their secret hideout in the New Zealand Alps, far from nasty atomic fallout, secure in the knowledge that they have bought their immortality  . . . . a bit like a very old telly show made in Enzed in the seventies, called "The Alpha plan". 

They haven't figured on the locals though: once WW3 hits, tribes of big, muscular, really pissed off  Maoris won't be stopped by electronic gadgets for long - they are a resourceful people, if it's Angry Maoris vs. technogeek billionnaires, I'm betting on the Maoris. ;)

Friday, June 12, 2015

It's Not Happening

This is a direct quote from The Register:
In a frankly-startling interview given to radio shock-jock Alan Jones, the PM (Tony Abbott) said among other things:
  • “What we've managed to do through this, admittedly imperfect ... is reduce the growth rate of this particular sector as much as the current Senate would allow us to do”.
  • “What we did recently in the Senate was reduce, Alan, reduce, capital R-E-D-U-C-E the number of these things that we are going to get in the future.”
  • “I would frankly have liked to have reduced the number a lot more.”
  • And, in spite of there being no scientific research that wind farm noise endangers health: “I do take your point about the potential health impact of these things; when I have been up close to these wind farms not only are they visually awful but they make a lot of noise”.
I can only theorise that either (a) He is following a script provided by some unseen master ro (b) he is a mistake and not fit to run a chook raffle.
See here for all the details

But then this thursday there was a global meeting of climate contrarians - it looks like Tony is making the same noises as the members of that gabfest did. Yeah right, just like smoking is prefectly safe - or so the spindoctors told us all.  . . .which brings me to this:
Merchants of Doubt, a film by the same man who made Food, Inc. all about the Spin Doctor business and how they twist things around to con people into thinking pretty much anything they want them to think . . . . . .    (thanks to Boing Boing for that link!)

Sign of the times: This young man became a pro racing driver at this year's Le Mans 24 hr by training in a game. I kid you not. Expect more of this in future.

Finally, today's newspeak from Wired, a site that I once visited often, but not so much now - it seems to have slumped:
Until now the only "solids" I did went down the toilet. Where do they get this stuff?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Two Theives and a liar

I just discovered that the NYSE is going to list rates for Bitcoin.
If you have not been looking, Bitcoin is a purely electronic currency that carries with it an index of where each amount came from and where it resides, and that index is freely available.
The value of a Bitcoin was originally set by the difficulty of "mining" it, that being computationally intensive since Bitcoins are basically a huge complex number (without going into detail).
I have been follwing the whole thing because the money system as it exists now has become a huge mess and yet we all depend on it for everyday life. Locally things look okay at the moment but our currency is linked to all others just as our "economies" are linked so if one falls apart it will affect everyone connected too.

The title of this post comes from a song by Gary Clail many years ago. Here are the lyrics:
"I’ve done a few dealings in the city
met a number of stockbrokers
and i can tell you in all my life that i’ve never seen
such dishonesty and greed
it’s like a big betting shop a bookies a casino
where the’re all screwing each other and the rest of the world"
the devil is here in the city
and the city wakes up with the devil
the devil is here in the city
the poor man comes and can’t get a look in
the poor man comes and he can’t get a shout
the rich man comes in his brand new car
bought on credit from a leasing house
the con men come and try to have us over
selling us shares that we already own
accountants came and juggled with the numbers
that’s how they became two thieves and a liar
that’s how they became two thieves and a liar
that’s how they became two thieves and a liar
the devil is here in the city
and the city wakes up with the devil
the poor man comes and can’t get a look in
the poor man comes and he can’t get a shout
the rich man comes in his brand new car
bought on credit from a leasing house
the con men come and try to have us over
selling us shares that we already own
accountants came and juggled with the numbers
that’s how they became two thieves and a liar
that’s how they became two thieves and a liar
that’s how they became two thieves and a liar
pack it up?, pack it up, pack it up, pack it in
the devil is here in the city
and the city wakes up with the devil
"when the jews and italian communities went to america right
they landed in a new country that was ripe for organisation and for rackets
now in this country thats not possible
because the real power the real money the real rackets
have been going on over here for hundreds of years
all stitched up and passed on from generation to generation
and the american gangsters right,
theyr’e still struggling to get the respectability that theyr’e after
but we’ve had three centuries headstart on those buggers
and look haven’t we done a beautiful job of it an’ all
i bet you there are millions of people right that think
that the blokes who work here in the city are really good blokes
hard working who have got the economy of this nation deep in their hearts
what a load of cobblers it’s the best confidence trick in history"
the devil is here in the city
and the city wakes up with the devil
the poor man comes and can’t get a look in
the poor man comes and he can’t get a shout
the rich man comes in his brand new car
bought on credit from a leasing house
the con men come and try to have us over
selling us shares that we already own
accountants came and juggled with the numbers
that’s how they became two thieves and a liar
that’s how they became two thieves and a liar
that’s how they became two thieves and a liar
the devil is here in the city
and the city wakes up with the devil
I thinnk the song is quite accurate, and lately things have only got worse: Now governments across the globe are madly printing money trying to claim that it will all be fine . . . . . . but it cannot possibly turn out that way.  
For a while I thought maybe something like Bitcoin would replace the funny munny but as soon as it becomes another speculation item for the stock markets it is doomed. Market speculation destroys the whole point of actual markets where money is borrowed to improve productivity or products - and here I mean actual, physical products only.

Even Rupert Murduch agrees that things have gone badly wrong:

Friday, May 29, 2015

Singularity? What singularity?

Have a read of this (courtesy of   Here is the original post by Zeljko Svedic.
I must agree with Svedic's claims: most of the worry about "singularity" or smart mchines are based on anthropocentrism and irrational human ideas. This is the main reason that I have not read all the hype by the fear merchants about this supposed techno-apocalype.  If the machine is so smart why would it bother having anything to do with a bunch of insects?

There is also a whole of baloney about some machine that has the purpose of making paperclips, but ignore that - if it only has the purpose of making paperclips and it has not thought beyond that then it is not intelligent at all, certainly not smarter than a human. We know what the paperclip is used for, and we know the greater purpose of paperclipping: an intelligence does not obsess over one tiny goal, it survey the bigger picture to see what the greater purpose is, and it probably would not care about humans except as a footnote in it's history.

Thankyou Zeljko Svedic.

There is also another lesson here for humans:  Nick Bostrom, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and various other important people are no smarter than you or me.  Don't ever be fooled into thinking that someone else is soooo much wiser than you: none of us are and we can all be fooled and manipulated by emotive content if we are not watching out for it.

Scarey huh?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

No robot takeover this year

No doubt you have heard of the Singularity preachers or the fear of robots turning into Terminators and wiping out all those stupid, inefficient humans  . . . .  well, just in case you are concerned about that happenning,  here is a video that will spell out just how far, far away that mythical event is.

Don't get me wrong, I admire the work these people are doing - but it is quite clear how far we are from a robot that can do the simplest domestic duties.  Check out the Darpa Robotics Challenge on June 5th to see the best they can do too.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Wanting To Believe?

Getting around in space is very wasteful because the only known way to do so is to take some mass (matter) and throw it out the back of your ship as fast and hard as possible (thus "Newtonian motion": action producing reaction). 
The reports of a device that claims to derive thrust without throwing matter away can be seen here on The Verge  (The EM drive) I am not surprised if it doesn't work, since the idea behind it seems to be vague and it is hard enough to make a real object from a clear idea.
But . . . . 
There are also a number of variants of a mechanical thrust-producing device loosely termed The Dean Drive.
Look here and here at Steve Hampton's site.  This is very different from the previous example which featured microwaves bouncing around in a metal container: the site includes video of mechanical devices that can and do provide thrust without exhaust or movement of the outside medium (air or water).

Okay, I amit that I want to beleive this, but there is something more to it: on the Dean Drive page we see simple diagrams explaining how it works.  If Steve Hampton has faked it, why did he keep building more versions and models if the first one didn't work?

I fully expect that this type of drive will not be able to get a ship into space or levitate a car against gravity - the thrust derived for weight of the device would make that very difficult, but it could be used to drive things in space provide it works as shown in the video . . . . so the question then becomes "Why is this not getting researched by NASA and others?"

Here are my probable answers, you can choose among them for yourself.

1. Science has become a bureaucracy and it has rules, the most fundamental being Newton's laws of motion. Anyone claiming to modify or otherwise alter these holy laws is automatically wrong.

2. Trendy scientist don't like mechanical devices any more - they are too "last century", and scientists have already discovered EVERYTHING about mechanical devices. If it were solid state and involved electronics, that would be okay. 

3. Something to do with patents, lawsuits, ownership and so on: someone already has claimed this and will sue the ass off anyone trying to use it for serious commercial gain.

4. NASA has already tested it and it didn't work in space - so show us the proof - the Youtube vid where they tested it  on rails (or whatever) in a vacuum chamber and it DIDN'T move.
DON'T give me any long winded "explanation" by a Ph.D about why "it won't work".

Ah, but I really don't expect any replies to this.  Nobody reads this, it's just my own example of one hand clapping.

The Sprout

I haven't bought a 3D printer yet, but I'm looking . . . .  I just stumbled onto this: The HP Sprout.

It's a PC with built-in 3D scanner (in the unit overhanging the screen along with a projector and lights) and a huge touchpad which the overhead projector can turn into any control interface you can imagine.  It runs a Core i7 and a 1TB Hybrid drive and Windows.
You can check out a review of it here and here is HP's own video ad for it.

I'm guessing this is part one of HP's 3D strategy: part two, the HP 3D printer, is due next year and should be really interesting: how will they deal with two big issues of 3D print at the moment, colour and speed, while making something ordinary folks can afford? 

Regardless of that, nobody else seems to have noticed that this device has a pretty darn amazing interface  - if that pad had a soft surface and an LCD under it instead of the projection over the top, it would be the interface design I imagined as a kid - an infinitely flexible, design-your-own  approach to control.  Apparently the interface needs some tweaking but that's to be expected from a new idea, and I'm sure HP geeks are hard at work on it right now. This is the first new idea to actually excite my nerdiness for a long, long time.  Great work HP. 

What? That other computer company? no sign of them in 3D space so far. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Web Teev gets Betterer

The grand non-event that was Netflix free for a month is nearly up. It was a non-event because when I went to use it, it installed MS Silverlight  (which I already had) . . . .  then nothing. Not a soss . . . nor could I find any help that would allow me to figure out why it didn't work .  . . . . but then I really don't care,  I stopped watching telly a long time ago.  Netfix and it's ilk are really Teevee on a computer - and we have a Teevee already. 
The one thing I saw recently that I enjoyed watching was a cartoon show from Adult Swim called "Rick and Morty".  It was free over the net of course. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Intelligence? You must be joking!

Have a look at this: Someone has assembled a large database of people from data publicly available  on LinkedIn, Facebook and other sites who claim to have experience using Spook grade software and work experience in  Spookery.   I can see a whole lot of people getting dismissal notices if this is true: seroiusly, you would have to be pretty stupid to post online in publicly available databases anything relating to your job if you really were a spook, right? I can imagine that some poor idiots might post claims to work for Security Organisations in attempts to impress people or counter their personal sense of insignificance . . . . It would be nice to think that REAL spooks would not be so dumb . . . . .  but then human nature is what it is.  Oh well, look on the bright side: anyone looking for a job in spying can probably expect a whole lot of vacancies coming up real soon.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam.

I always thought Farcebook and Twitter (it doesn't need a parody name) were corrupt, but the level of corruption is well beyond what I thought. Have a read of this:
The Bot Bubble

It details the work going on in a company in the Phillipines where staff create fake Farcebook accounts, roughly one every three minutes,  which are then sold on to click farms.
Amazing stuff.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

I'm with Neil

Yesterday there were protest rallies in our major cities by anti-Islamist group calling itself "Reclaim Australia", counterpointed by vocal group of counter-protesters.
See here and here in The Guardian for details.

What is the big deal? It's all about religion, or personal beliefs and how they affect others.
Perosnally I cannot see where Islamic beliefs have any effect at all on modern Australian white folks apart from their visibility in our shops and streets.

Recently I read an article, I think it was on The Verge where Neil De Grasse Tyson defended Scientology by saying that it is no different from the numerous other religions around  - and therefore has the same rights to exist as them. The point he emphasised was that any religious belief must be allowed provided the believers don't try to force their beliefs on everyone else.

I'm with Neil: I don't think any religion should have tax-free status but I agree that  any religion or set of beliefs has the right to exist. 
Our planet is spead with different groups who all live according to differing sets of local rules but there are principles we all have in common and these are what we share.  Personally I don't believe anything and have made a point of detailing my disbelief but it seems my un-religion is not very popular, and I'm guessing that it is because people like the idea of shared fantasies of importance. 

The intolerance of other people's beliefs is creating a big stink. These people are stirrers and worse still they are deluding themselves if they imagine that Australia is going to become some sort of White anglo paradise: it never was, and never will be - and it certainly won't become an Islamic state unless some Islamic nation invades us, and I really can't imagine why they would want to do that.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Max Headroom

Do you remember Max? Here is a page devoted to the show and Max, with details of what happenned and why . . . . . it was one of my alltime favourite Teevee shows as it mocked the media madness . . . and was strangely prescient for it's time. Enjoy it here courtesy of The Verge.

. . . . and don't forget "Paranoimia" by Art Of Noise.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A glimmer of intelligence

No, I am not talking about Artificial Intelligence, I mean Andrew Ng as reported here.
Finally, a sane comment as opposed to the loonies worried about comic-book robot nasties taking over.
Maybe, just maybe Stehpen Hawking is good at theoretical mathematics relating to black holes, (those thing that cannot be easily detected because there isn't much there to detect ). . . . but he does seem to have overstated the problem of malignant AI  - but then if you have read any of my previous posts you will know that I can't see any "machine intelligence" appearing soon. [ No, although I am sorely tempted I won't make a snide remark about human intelligence here. ]

All you need to do is look beyond the hype about how fantastically powerful the next generation of computers will be (and it's always "the next generation") and look at the real progress being made and you will see that it is slowing down as we hit some serious barriers, and these are not financial, they are physical barriers to more miniaturisation. Of course, there are still plenty of new or different techniques to try but this means more time, more research and no guarantess that any of those options will pay off.  We have already done most of the cheaper, easier things to squeeze more transistors onto a chip and now each step is harder, more expensive and gaining less.
Once they started talking about "Cloud" computing I suspected that Personal Computers were hitting some sort of limit anyway.

Actually I'm kind of glad since my current PC cost me a heap and if it didn't last a few years more I would be very annoyed.

 Note the button that says "Space Phone". This is a very old remote, not sure what the space phone was.

Here is ashot of new Apple Laptop's innards: the small square top centre is all the mobo there is:
They sure skooshed all the working bits down -hey wait: that looks about the same size as a phone. . .

The wonder of reverse image search

I have known about it for a while now but only recently I have found some use for TINEYE.

Tineye does "reverse image search": what that means is basically that you can give it an image and it will find all of the places that image can be found on the net. Useful? well consider that you have a low res picture and you want a better copy of it. You could try using "de-blurring" software on a zoomed up version of hte one you have but the results are less than great . . . . . or you could try Tineye. 
It can also be useful if you make original images and you want to see if anyone else has been posting them without telling you . . .

And now a public apology to my friend S. who really is innocent and didn't deserve the cruel comment I posted previously. I chalk it up to having my trust clobbered recently by being robbed over the net and some other trust issues that I won't discuss here. Suffice to say that I hope things will be straightened out soon.

And now a small cartoon courtesy of The NIB relating to the dire economic situation in certain nations:

Guess the Titanic already sunk huh?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Drone Wars

Drones are everywhere in the media. Personal drones fitted with cameras are getting cheaper, meaning more people will use them to take pictures or even maybe spy on other people,  and this leads in turn to . . . anti-drone drones.   . . . . which will undoubtably be followed by defence drones, and then . . . . and then I'll be waiting nearby to pick up some expensive technotrash I can turn into something more fun.  As if there weren't enough stupid surveillance going on already.
Go here to see Ed Snowden saying "Spying is necessary  - but it needs oversight and should not be conducted against all of us" (paraphrased) - nice idea Ed, but I can't see that happenning soon.
"Snowden pointed out that mass surveillance is “one of the few places in the global political debate where we have a choice.” If you don’t want a dystopian hellhole where governments around the world can see everything you say or do, there’s something you can do about it: use end-to-end encryption."
Uh . . . . can anyone else see the fault in this? Assuming that end-to-end encryption works, We need to ask what exactly we are going to be encrypting, and ask what the hell is the point of it.

Recently I had a mysterious contact who only ever talked to me via email disappear.  I never for a moment thought that this contact was anything other than a scammer trying to get information but I didn't care, mainly because I didn't give the person any useful information as far as I know: in fact, over the time I spent in contact with Mr. "S" I accumulated details that suggested to me who that person was simply because a person's language and knowledge can't help but leak. (Everything leaks, see elsewhere).
For me, that really  the point: Why should I care if some corporate computer knows my favourite flavour or my long-dead pet's name? It won't give anyone even the slightest hint as to passwords or where I keep some valuable item.  Only on a collective, "blah-blah percent of people in South Park like to eat Brand X Chocolate Icecream" type basis will collecting that information have any value.  Yes, I am concerned about huge multinational corporations bullying nations for thie own gain, but the honest truth is I can't think of anything I do online that would require me to encrypt my messages or other data because I just don't do much of that - the only exception to that is money transfers and guess what? that is already protected and encrypted.

If you are dumb enough to give Farcebook or any other online "service" all of your personal data such as your email password, where you went to school, who all of your friends are etc. etc. you will just have to live with the results.  There is no escape, Big Data already has you, running and hiding won't help you any - you still need to live.
Yes, a big pile of S**t may be coming down the turnpike but that is nothing new. We live under the threat of nuclear war right now, climate change is already here and those Big Players want us to ignore it because that might damage their profits. 
When I was a boy, I noticed that outside the classroom boys formed into gangs around the biggest mouths and the biggest fists.  I learned to hang out in the library at lunchtime and that helped both my health and education - but I imagined that when those kids grew up things would be different: how wrong I was. The same tribalism, thuggery and blatant stupidity I saw on the playground just transferred to the business world . . . . .
Sorry folks, enlightenment has been postponed. Come back in another century, maybe things will be better then.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Safety bad for profits?

Have a read of this article.  In short, it reveals that insurance companies are concerned because they believe self-driving cars will reduce the number of motor accidents and thus adversely affect their bottom line. Also mentioned is auto parts makers with a similar concern.
The article also claims that full self-driving cars probably won't be on the market until at least 2030.

Please note that the following is only my opinion.

Humans love to drive their cars. Even though the car may become pretty much self driving and certainly have a safety awareness and crash prevention system that can override the driver input, I fully expect that many people will still want to "drive" their cars because it satisfies a human desire for power and control. 

Next we have the technical side of things: how close are we to a fully self-driving door-to-door autonomus car? We are not there yet, there are still some serious challenges to be overcome: mainly the ability to self-navigate in less-than-ideal conditions such as unfamiliar roads, rain, snow, at night and any combination of them - in short, computer vision and sensing. Much of the autonomous driving currently being talked about uses an already existing digital map of the roads that the system can refer to: if the computer needs to create its own on the fly the car will need to drive slowly.  In short, the technology is not there yet for full autonomy despite all the hype and sales pitches.
Maybe by 2030 it will be around but I'm not holding my breath: the computer industry will need some impressive new tech to boost system power and squish a lot more processing power into a smaller space to make it work, and that is not even mentioning the software required: remember, this needs to be small, cheap and energy effficient enough to fit in an average car and not price the car too high for people to buy. 

Finally, and by far most crucially, the issue of system faults and failures is the elephant in the room: I once wrote a short story where a misbehaving teenager hacks the autodrive system of a car to go for an illegal joyride (he is killed of course): so far we have computers flying commercial airliners but that is still far from the prospect of having cars drive people everywhere on a daily basis. The roads are already packed with cars and trucks and that will not decrease in a hurry, so what happens when those cars either have their selfdrive system fail, or (worse still) get attacked or hacked by malicious operators, be they human or otherwise?
Don't give me any bull about hackerproof systems, there is no hackerproof system and at this rate probably never will be: unless somewhere like Iceland takes over the world in a peaceful revolution, we will all continue to be watched by paranoid secret agencies and they will demand and get "backdoors" into every electronic gadget we have, which means that non-official hackers can and will find those same backdoors and bend them to their own criminal uses. (Hey there's a story or two in there already! - oh wait, who needs fiction? It's already really happenned!)

I'm guessing that by 2030 most of this won't matter anyway: other things will come that will make the whole issue trivial or at least secondary, for instance the endless increase in the price of oil because it really IS running out and only a few people with power and influence are doing anything about the boatload of **** coming down the turnpike towards us.

Keep fighting over those deckchairs on the Titanic, guys. You deserve the best view.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


No-one ever needs to mine coal, drill for oil or gas, dig up and refine uranium or anything else to burn or react: all the energy we could ever need is below our feet.

If people want to have electricity made in big installations that can run 24 hours a day seven days a week that do not emit any pollution, burn anything or create toxic or dangerous waste material there is only one answer: Geothermal power stations.

All of the technology needed to make this work almost anywhere on the Earth's surface has already been tried and proven.

All we need to do is drill a deep enough hole, pump water down it and steam will return which we can then use to generate electrical energy. The only “waste product” is heat, which every other type of power plant (apart from hydroelectric) creates too.

The drilling might cost something but the hole does not close up or “run out of heat” (unlike an oil well) and the water we sent down the well to heat up and drive the generators can be cooled in radiators and sent back down again so there is no need for a continuous supply of water or heat pollution of rivers. It is cheap in terms of generating systems and safer than any other power system (apart from maybe solar panels). All of the generator parts are available off the shelf.

So why isn't this happenning? Why aren't all of the countries of the world installing geothermal power plants? 

There is no technical reason why not.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Not a Bad Network after all

Oh yes: I'm now connected to our NBN and contrary to the previous claims, my service is plenty fast enough. It varies depending on the number of users, of course, but right now I'm getting 23.6 Mb/sec down and 35.3 up which is quite sufficient for anything I have in mind, and as the hour gets later and folks go off to bed it gets faster : I have spotted 1 GB/sec on occasion.
Pretty good, even if they gave us no choice.

I hear rumours that a new, more draconian regime relating to content is coming so the message to you, dear reader is this: get rid of anything that might be considered "copyright infringement" on your computer now, andsave yourself misery later.  Make sure that you secure erase that nasty stuff too: regular trash delete only removes the first few bits of a file and it can be recovered again.
It might sound a bit paranoid, but this is result of laws bieng passed in other countries who then bulldoze local governments to follow along if they want to trade with them.
Personally I think the whole thing is getting way out of hand. Consider a simple theoretical situation: years ago an overseas friend of mine sends me an ebook as a gift. I don't kow if it was purchased legally - how can I find out now? The person who sent it is not there any more.  If I hold onto it I may suddenly get walloped with a court case even though I have not read the thing for years and have forgotten that I had it . . . . . . so as I said above, just delete anything that even might be illegal now and save yourself a whole lot of trouble. I wonder if someone steals my own work and I have a "C" symbol on it, will they police my work for me with the same rigour? Somehow i doubt it.
See here for more on this issue.

One of my previous favourite sites (Ars Technica) that provided good info on personal computer security and tech news has recently become a strong supporter of GE with ongoing articles about GE's latest developments. I do hope this does not mean they are now owned by GE and will only provide plugs for them. Yeah, yeah, journalistic integrity is a nice idea but who pays the bills, right? Tell that to Woodward and Bernstein.  I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with GE, (although I think GE Money is evil  - but no worse than any other payday loan sharks) - I just like to imagine that my sources of information are more of a rainbow of viewpoints rather than just one shade.

Who's the coolest robot of all?

Sometimes I look at robots on the net:  I mean real, physical robots, mainly because they are expected to have a big impact on our future lives . . . . . but also because they are great toys, and I freely admit that I love good technotoys.
First, of course, there is Nao. The creators of Nao got one thing right: it looks cute.
Then there is the T8.  I first learned of it from a Youtube video by Adam Savage, and since his video the company who made the original 3D printed version have been hard at work making an injection moulded version with various improvements including a big drop in price.

Here is the T8X:

Yup, it's a spiderbot. There is room inside for a camera and around the "eye" window is a colour changing LED so you can either use it to light your way at night or express moods.
The technology used for it to walk with eight legs and 26 servos is all done inhouse and when you see it walk (see videos on the website) it looks really impressive. The controller will be software you can load onto either an iOS or Android device.  The makers don't yet have a camera for it but I am sure one will be coming just as soon as they get this thing finished.
I am just hugely impressed that they squished three servos per leg into this thing: that is engineering artistry. 
Nobody pays me to do this, of course, but some folks deserve to be promoted for excellent work.
go here for more info at ROBUGTIX.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Anybody seen Dean Kamen lately?

I reccently posted about the "Solowheel" one-wheeled vehicle.  It has a range of about ten miles (hey they are Americans and haven't quite caught up with everyone else and gone metric) - and I can buy one locally for . . . . . about $2,500 Au.
Google search that name and you will see a number of Chinese made knockoffs at about $450. 
Folks, I know what goes into the Solowheel and it ain't rocket science: you could probably buy most of the parts for one for about $150 bucks and cobble your own together if you were really keen . . . . . but just think, look at what it is: motor, batteries and a single wheel and tyre , and a board of electronics that has accelerometers and gyros on it  - hardly worth two and a half big ones. If the Company really want to sell it they better do something about that price, it's crazy.
Now ignore that, and consider the point of the thing: personally I would rather walk since I consider it the best exercise for humans, especially over such a relatively short ranges, it is too small to carry shopping and with a full backpack you might exceed it's load limit . . . . . almost as good as a segway.
Anybody seen Dean Kamen lately? I thought not.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Heisenberg Compensator Already Exists !

In Star Trek, the writers neatly evaded a major objection to the possibility of the "transporter" working as claimed by introducing the "Heisenberg Compensator" - according to the Quantum Physics I learned, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle firmly stated that at a quantum level, the process of measuring the state of a particle would collapse it's state from an uncertain or "superposition" state to the fixed one as measured.
Fine and good . . . . .  but I have just learned that in 1996 scientists found a way around this by Interaction-free measurement.  (Yes, I know, it does seem preposterous but it is true)
Check out the Elitzur-Vaidman bomb tester and go down the page to the "experiments" heading for the heavy stuff.
In short, this means that the uncertainty has been sidestepped - it still exists though.
We are still a long way from building a transporter or extracting all of the information about a mass of atoms in an object in sufficient detail to recreate it somewhere else - and I am not sure it is practical, but I am sure physiscists will find other uses for "Interaction-free measurement".  

Barclay and O'Brien check the Heisenberg Compensator. Image from Memory Alpha website

Hand me the three sixteenths polarised quantum spanner, Igor. No, I don't need to take off my glasses, just because I can't see it does not mean I can't  fix a loose quantum !