Niall’s virtual diary archives – Tuesday 18th March 2008

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Tuesday 18th March 2008: 4.17am. As you have probably barely noticed, I have been busy "monetising" my website during the past month - the summary of which you can find on a new page "How to Monetise your Website". Lest you think me in terribly bad form given that nedprod hasn't had adverts previously, in fact back in 1998 when this site was first launched it had adverts almost from the start. Do you fancy seeing nedprod back then? Here's back on the 2nd December 1998! - as you'll see, not a great deal has changed - the site still looks quite similar, maybe not quite so polished, and yes there is the adverts at the top.

Back then in fact it was dead easy to have ActiveX controls run in Internet Explorer, and it was trivial to write a control which loaded on every nedprod page one visited. This control then went off and pretended to click on banners for a whole host of advertisers which obviously enough earned a person some cash. I never got much out of it - too few people visited the site back then - and also US dollar cheques were an absolute pain to work with. Nowadays the situation has at least improved that Paypal don't fuck non-US citizens over quite so quickly as they used to - I remember some ignorant Paypal fuck wit telling me that European banking systems were highly insecure and therefore they were going to impound my Paypal bank balance - I forget precisely why, but this guy was absolutely adamant that European banks were so unsafe that drastic treatment of myself was absolutely necessary. I pointed out that Switzerland was world renowned for strict banking laws, to which Paypal knob jockey actually claimed that Switzerland wasn't part of the practically "third world" European banking system. They're a lot nicer now to non-US citizens, but that's only because still competition from the likes of Moneybookers scared them. They still charge twice the fees for foreign currency conversions than anyone else - and far more than if your own bank did it for you despite that most banks would torture their own mothers to gain an extra penny (witness the recent subprime fiasco - and yet more taxpayers money bailing out the banking system - again!). I have absolutely no love for that company - they are just evil, even more so than banks.

Things have trundled along fairly okay last month or so. I've had two major fights with Megan, which is about par for the course, and all is currently generally well. I got one of the lads' stags in Budapest next weekend which has been very, very expensive but the recent sharp rise of the Euro against Sterling has made me well over £100 richer a month which is a rise of 40% in my disposable income - which literally feels like I have become vastly richer, as I only had about £250 a month left over after rent and bills. A lot of money has gone out recently - I bought a cheap Chinese knock off Holox BT-541 Bluetooth GPS receiver for £25 inc P&P and have been having much fun watching myself walking in real time on a hires satellite photo on my mobile phone which I stole from Google Maps using a perl script. It's actually a much better GPS receiver than its price suggests - it's a cheap implementation of the SkyTraq Venus 6 chipset which is very highly regarded by professionals and it happily keeps a eight satellite signal lock whilst in my pocket inside my house on the ground floor! That, quite simply, wasn't possible even three years ago with a GPS receiver costing thousands even military spec - and I contracted on missile guidance systems back in the 90's. I bet my father would be annoyed given all the money he's sunk on those fancy receivers he has. It's also very accurate, pretty close to 0.5m and it certainly knows when I cross the road on the tracking software. My only annoyance is that there's about a four second lag between me changing direction and it noticing - and of course its altitude tracking isn't reliably much better than a 300m resolution. The new European GPS replacement will fix these issues and then some - I hear it'll do 1cm accuracy!

My other big expense apart from the GPS receiver and the stag was finally acquiring a copy of the extremely rare The Self Organising Universe by Eric Jantsch. It cost me over £50, but that was a bargain given they usually go for over £100. I sadly haven't had time to read it yet - spent much of last week writing a PI generator using the ingenious Bailey-Borwein-Plouffe algorithm which was for my Masters application in High Performance Computing to Edinburgh University - the BBP formula lets you calculate any digit in PI you like without having to calculate any of the preceding ones. This week it's mostly been course readings for Creative Industries - you can see my latest coursework submissions here - and I have also been reading the highly depressing and famous Limits to Growth - the 30 year update for my dissertation which is on the topic of modelling the costs of climate change. Speaking of which, I have changed the subtitle of my upcoming book to Freeing Growth: A Neo-Capitalist Solution to Environmental Degradation and Social Ills as climate change is an inductive conclusion, whereas absolutely no one can pretend we aren't causing the next mass extinction of life on this planet as I type this. Here are the big (>20%) mass extinctions during the last billion years of planetary history that we know of:

? @ 850m-630m 49% @ 488m 49% @ 447m-444m 70% @ 380m-360m 70%-96% @ 251.4m 20% @ 200m 55% @ 65m
Glaciated Earth? Cambrian-Ordovician Ordovician-Silurian  Late Devonian Permian–Triassic Triassic-Jurassic Cretaceous–Tertiary

We're now into our eighth mass extinction in the sense that we have already passed 20% extinct - what they like to call the Holocene mass extinction. If we're sensible, it would be a good idea to try to avoid the worst of it while we still can. BTW, when I say that say "70% of all life died out", I more mean species not numbers of incarnations of those species - the latter fluctuates rapidly over time with little effect for the planet.

Anyway, it's now 6am so I'm going to go to bed as I gotta get up early and get the next creative industries seminar done ...

Later that morning at 12.42pm ... God I feel like a pig has shat in my brain - despite no alcohol consumption last night! I've worked hard last few days, trying to clear stuff for the stag this weekend and while I'm drinking this wonderful Honduran coffee, I'll finish what I began last night before I got distracted reading about mass extinctions, because I was going somewhere with it.

We know that glaciation (ice ages) are actually times of great vitality for the planet - though due to lack of hard evidence, it's very tough to know whether the 850m-630m very long glaciation was as severe as the rock evidence suggests - we do know that life in the seas was pretty good at least around the equator, so I'm going to assume that as with all ice ages, it was pretty fantastic to be alive even all that time ago. I know that's not common wisdom, but as I have mentioned in this diary before that has far more to do with our cultural preconceptions about cold than scientific reality. After all, it's not by accident that most extinctions happen right after an ice age when the planet is warming - and not before - because the amount of life on the planet shoots up massively the colder it gets, so it has to die off the warmer it gets. There are about 40% less in quantity now since the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago! - but as just mentioned, it's the number of extinct species not incarnations of those species that matters.

If all that quantity dies off, then that means there is a lot of stress inside the system - certainly the most evolutionary change happens right after a great loss of quantity, so you tend to get explosions of new forms of life after glaciations for whom life is very easy because all the competition got killed off (eg; the post-glaciation Cambrian explosion at around 588m when something other than complex slime first evolved). One sits on the exponentially rising early part of the sigmoid curve and things are good - after all, that's how homo sapiens evolved. Interestingly, as my upcoming book shows, that exponentially rising part is also the beginning of falling in love - and even more interestingly, continually finding new curves to rise up is how one stays in love, with a single failure quite sufficient to break the system. Having realised this, and to some extent mastered it, is why I have been so blessed with being in love with quite a few women here in St. Andrews who, feeling the same in return, have looked after me and made my life very much worth living these last few months. I am extremely grateful!

If I get time next entry, I'd like to talk about how cooling = usually good and warming = usually bad translates into financial systems, specifically how we arrived at our current sub-prime liquidity problems. I'd like especially to talk about how money doesn't actually exist and never has done.

It's 1.30pm ... ok .... stupid seminar time, this time on Intellectual Property which I am looking forward to proposing a complete replacement thereof in my upcoming book. Y'all be happy!

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