Posts

Showing posts from 2012

Don't Pirate, Support Alternatives

People just consider the marginal cost of the media when they steal it and don't consider it as theft. But most of the cost is for the licence, you've stolen a piece of data, just like one can steal an idea or steal a name or steal a title. You don't deprive the owner of the item, but you do deprive him of the value of your extra copy.
If I steal your idea without your permission and implement it and gain from it, without giving you your cut, then I have deprived you from those gains.

What really disgusts me is when people justify piracy this way as their means to acquire material if they don't agree with the price and distribution mechanism. That's the same kind of thinking as that of a thief, a thief doesn't want to pay the price of something so steals it instead. That is bad for everyone. If one is really angry at the movie, music and software production and distribution industry or their prices and media, stop consuming their stuff.

For …

We Don't Need No Population Control

Yes, the world can't sustain the current level of growth of population forever if everything else continued to be done in the same way.

The reality is, everything else doesn't continue to be done in the same way.

If we kept on using wood like we did 100 years ago, we would have run out long ago. It's not because we suddenly came to this realisation, it's because we ended up in a position that other materials are better and cheaper to use and used more of that instead. You know, economics.  Population growth through birth is also subject to the same economics, these things adjust themselves, it's beautiful.

Starvation is not an issue of a lack of resources today, it's because of the lack of efficiency and distribution and horrible economic atrocities committed by the governments of some third world countries.  We produce more food than we consume, and waste some, yet people go hungry in other places.

Just because the problem in these areas would affect…

Life in the First World, and London

You leave the house, with your car parked in the garage, where you could get to the garage through an inside door. Garage door opens electrically with motors.  You drive to work, you park in the parking garage underneath the office, get out and walk to take the lift up to the floor where you work.  After work you can drive past the ATM and get some cash out, and to the drive-through take out and get some food, and drive home, and park in the garage.

When you go shopping, it's to a mall, where you can park. The mall has a roof over it, so when it rains the water doesn't fall onto your head when you move between shops, and has air conditioning so you don't break too much of a sweat doing your shopping in summer, or heating in winter.

It's only when I moved to London that I realised this way of life is not obvious, and people spend much more time just getting the basics done like getting to work and back and shopping, and also less free time to spend with …

Redistributing Wealth in the Eurozone

I find the dynamics of the expectation of countries having to bail out other countries in the Eurozone quite interesting.

Normally, inside a nation, say France, you have wealth distribution since politicians and the public can, through taxes, take money from the rich in order to help the poor. This works where the notion exist that it's fair to take money from the rich, because the rich are rich because of luck or power, or whatever and the poor are those who are less fortunate.

Now it gets interesting where you get the same dynamic in the Eurozone, where the countries that can't manage their economy well because of their bad policies, corruption, incompetence, etc. want to get financial assistance.  They want countries that have managed their economy well to bail them out.


It gets extra interesting, since Germany is a country where wealth is not something that was created because of imperial conquest or the likes, or because of abundant natural resources. They lost …

Piracy Crackdown Doesn't Need a Strong Case

In New Zealand news today it is reported that the warrants for Kim Dotcom's raid weren't exactly legal.  There have been a lot of reports of the weakness of the charges brought against Dotcom.

The reality is, having a strong case was never a priority to the FBI.  It's just part of a crackdown effort.  This tactic is not new, and has worked in the past.  I'm thinking of a piracy crackdown about 20 years ago. Back in those days, it was a network of dial-up bulletin boards, and people who would commit phone fraud to upload and download data, operating as couriers, in groups. The boards would often fund their hardware through credit card fraud, and many of them made money selling tapes full of pirated material.

The crackdown involved raiding the boards, getting the user details, tracking the phone numbers of the users, and getting various people raided in various countries.  A lot of the time the cases would collapse in court on various technicalities, but it wou…

Baby Boomers and Generation X and Y in the Workplace

Some people try to categorise the behaviour of people in the workplace with what generation they are.   Like Generation X people do this, and Baby Boomers do that.  Personally, I think that behaviour at work have little to do with the period that people grew up in and more with the age these people are at the moment.

When you're young and start working, you have grown up spending most of your teens being exposed to the latest trends in information distribution, whether it's computers and the internet now, television before that, radio before that, newspapers before that, books before that. You have a hard time comprehending the world without these sources.

There is always a new source of influence for a newer generation. Any group, regardless of generation type, usually benefit from better access to information and education and mental stimulation than anyone before them.  Whether they use it is a different matter, but the options are there.  The point is that what de…

Random Visitor

One evening, many years ago, when I was living in Johannesburg, I was sitting talking on the phone when I saw movement on the side of the house where no one ever walks. Next thing I know, this blonde woman, not bad looking and nicely dressed, walks into my house.   Past me and my housemates, into my bedroom and climbed into my bed and promptly fell asleep.

A few hours later she got up, walked around the house a bit, and realised she didn't know anynobody. She introduced herself as Dr Conneley and seemed somewhat embarrassed. We told her it's fine, we don't know her either. She went back to sleep in my bed.  My one housemate was out, so I slept in his bed instead.

The next morning she woke up and realised she was so drunk the night before, that she walked into the wrong house one street away, and promptly left.

Receiving Signals from a Distant Civilisation

I think receiving signals from a civilisation, that has gone extinct by the time we received it, would still be a very exciting.   Mainly because if we're lucky we might receive hundreds of years worth of signal, and we can learn a lot about them, e.g. their culture, their technologies and language etc.

It's going to happen regardless, if we pick up a signal we can assume the society has either died out already or advanced significantly. We'll also know it's likely a very long time before they'll even be able to detect that we exist

In other words there's no point for making contact, but the amount we can learn from it will be tremendous.  It will also change society dramatically knowing that we are not alone, and would put more importance on space travel for us.

Online Gambling Industry

I've worked for a very large online gambling company for a couple of years, and I wrote this during my last week employed by one.  This was in response to someone commenting about the fact that they have an IT job at a land based casino in Vegas and really shouldn't be in that job because they don't know what they are doing, but get paid fairly well anyway.

I think this kind of thing is normal in the industry. First you have an industry where many land based casinos have little competition because of license restrictions making it hard for new entrants, and many online casinos had little competition because they were brave enough to operate in a legal gray area that any well run business wouldn't dare enter. That's apart from the fact that it's a type of business that takes money quickly off the majority of people who mistakenly think they're luckier than probability theory determines.

The industry is slowly maturing and the margins are getting lo…

Swimming in post-Apartheid South Africa

I grew up in South Africa as a white boy and saw the whole end of apartheid thing. Because of the previous regime a town would generally consist of white suburban neighbourhoods not unlike you'd expect in the US with a commercial centre with malls and whatever, and then just outside of town would be a black 'township' that had dirt roads and most people lived in metal and wooden shacks and basic brick houses and would take the bus or minibus taxi into the main white town if they had work.

The town I lived in had a public swimming pool, and as facilities were being opened to all races this was opened too. The white population of the main town was about 8,000 people and the township had about 25,000 people in it. The black kids from the townships were obviously very keen to try out this swimming thing, especially since they had no pool up in the townships. The pool became very busy with lots of black people. None of them had any swimming experience but the …

A Trip Down a Gold Mine.

I travelled down a gold mine once. A proper gold mine in South Africa. First we went down 2.3km, changing elevator half way because one elevator can't go that whole way. Once at the bottom, we got onto a little train that travelled 6km down a little tunnel to where one of the more profitable parts of the mine was, it produced 40 grams of gold per cubic tonne of rock. We saw the people working there and had a go at the drill ourselves.

Apart from it being very hot and humid, the most striking thing to me about the whole trip was not the depth and engineering achievement of all of it, but the people. This mine worked around the clock, 8000 people worked down there in a 24 hour period. They did very hard work, and very dangerous work. This affected them psychologically.

We travelled down the elevator with some miners, and with them was a guy who tried to kiss everyone in the lift. Like a crazy person. We were told that's not unusual, there are people that w…

Roll your own Unix or something similar

I came across this very interesting tutorial by James Molloy on how to roll your own Unix like clone, with nice, detailed, step by step instructions.  It assumes your development environment is going to be a GNU/Linux environment.

It's aimed at developing a *nix like operating system on x86 architecture.  All the way through setting up a development environment, boot loader, interacting with the screen, dealing with interrupts and the timer, user mode, etc.

This tutorial can be used as a guide for creating any operating system, or simply boot programs, for x86 and x86-like architecture, for example the RDC CPUs used on devices like the Bifferboard.

Introduction to VMWare vCenter Operations

I'm busy looking at VMWare vCenter Operations Enterprise.  I've never dealt with it before so it could be interesting.  I'm going to give an overview of what this product is, where it comes from, and what it tries to achieve.  I'll also give some first impressions as a user of it.

It appears that VMWare bought a lot of products in order to give their customers various comprehensive IT management capabilities for their software and platforms.  Like with most big vendors buying other software products and integrating it with their own offering, I expect some quirks with the integration.

VMWare vCenter Operations started life as a product called Alive by Integrien.  Integrien was acquired by VMWare around August 2010, so VMWare has had some time to assimilate the product to make it their own.  vCenter Operations comes in a few different sizes, Standard, Advance and Enterprise:
The smallest is Standard which handles up to 1500 vSphere deployments, so it's not that small…