Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The sentient beings of Proxima Centauri are laughing at us

In their Hydrogen powered 'lighter than air' aircraft while we here start to worry about
Aircraft Emmissions of the CO2 sort. We are constantly thinking of ways to use Hydrogen on the ground, but still have the taboo against Hydrogen power+levitation of the air. This is singularly attributable to the Hindenberg. Similarly, Hydro power is also taboo at least for green groups that spent decades fighting against them. What green group would suddenly turn araound and say, gee.. if we consider the carbon credits, maybe Gordon-Franklin wasn't such a bad idea! If the first hydrogen powered bus crashed and burst into flames, would we never consider hydrogen power for road vehicles again?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Thermodynamics - It's more than just a good idea. It's the LAW

I do think that the 2nd law of thermodynamics is one of the fundamental rules of the universe. In some ways it defines the direction of time. Other fundamental rules (such as the first law) and laws of relativity and gravity distort perceptions and models of time. In some ways I don't really want to get into the mathematics of it all as to whether it excludes a continually existing universe. I can either take the cosmologists word for it that they have done their science right and accept what they come up with as a consensus, or I can just latch on to whatever dissenting view there is and claim the question as an unknowable.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

So, what about Geothermal energy

Well, it's a pretty handy power supply. Already now it is being used in the most favourable locations (geothermal vents + cold weather which hot water can be used for heating and greater temperature differential for power generation). I can only surmise that it will grow as a proportion of energy sources. But it really will follow a trend of all power sources, surmised as follows:

Hey, gee it's windy here -> Let's build some wind farms.
By golly there's a lot of cheap sugar source here -> lets make ethanol fuel.
Gee there's three spectacular gorges here -> let's build some hydroelectric dams.
Hey we're near the equator and near some deep water -> lets build some ocean thermal differential power-stations/desalinators/cold water airconditioners.
Does the sun ever stop here? -> Let's build some big solar power generators.

Already, service stations have to supply auto-gas, unleaded, diesel, ethanol blends etc. They will just have to make more options.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

When I sent my daughter to a Catholic school

I didn't think that I would have to help her research information on the Big Bang theory.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

It's not global warming

It's civilization's practice run for the rare but certain future catastrophic events. A warm-up run if you like. If we can't handle everything that global warming throws at us, how can we ever hope to cope with the next asteroid strike etc.

It's like my previous post. If we're too afraid to get ourselves embroiled in local minor conflicts, how are we ever going to cope with the big ones.

I think this is the strongest argument for listening to young Bjorn and lower our priority of counteracting greenhouse gases over other environmental concerns. Unless of course that means we won't build any more hydro or nuclear power stations :)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Lonely sherrif

Policing the pacific is something Australia is doing well. I would argue that it isn't really costing us in the long term. What better possible training can an army get than policing a small neighbouring country. Relatively moderate risk operations like this mean that almost all of our army (including reserves) has experience in overseas conflict situations. Neighbouring Asia/Pacific countries' armies/police end up further and further behind in their deployment effectiveness as they continue to refuse to give any more than token help. Money invested in such neighbourly peacekeeping deployment is extremely well spent. Australia's army recruitment is working in overdrive again and plenty of ordinary people are tempted to join.

I unashamedly prefer Hydro-electric power

The simplicity, permanence, renewable status and engineering advantages at economically suitable locations speak for themselves. The environmental "costs" are all one off's.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Happy Environment day or whatever

Planet Ark made a series of statements on the Sunrise show that separately are based on current conclusions from environmental researchers; but balance any against another brings either contradiction or super-optimism in ad-hoc choices. For instance, in adjacent sentences he mentions global warming as the highest priority to address, then suggests that gas power stations are a better next step than nuclear. If global warming really was the highest priority, his next sentence does not follow from the last. Later, he states that Australia should sign on to the Kyoto protocol, yet if it is binding, drastic unpopular measures may or may not be required which environmentalists are loth to take credit for if other environmental factors are played off (eg nuclear,hydro,wilderness encroachment) Last he states that Hydrogen will be the future energy format. As usual, environmentalists lean on "the devil they don't know" as the panacea. In the past Nuclear was touted in its infancy as a clean fuel. Wind farms and tidal energy are already falling foul of green groups when their issues become discovered as they become large scale. Large scale Hydrogen fuel infrastructure will certainly be seen as environmentally damaging if it ever happens. Plus it denies the certainty of severe fragmentation of the energy industry, with horses for courses energy and all formats considered, started and continued without the ending of others.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I Blog because nobody listens

I just want to say what a great game of beach volleyball I had on thursday. It was the third last game that I will have for a long time. It has been over 6 years that me and Sandor have been faithfully playing week after week. This last game we had some very memorable rallies, including one "Impossible" hit that I made on the third shot after a second that hit the net and fell straight down. Somehow, I punched it with some topspin and it curved over the net beautifully from practically ground level with a dive. We lost the point eventually, but I feel our fighting spirit demoralised them.

Friday, June 02, 2006

MYOB and CBA have colluded uncompetitively

For 18 years now, I have used and loved the accounting package MYOB (Mind Your Own Business), and in the last two years have used their so-called M-Powered services. These pay-per-use services allowed our business to accept payment methods such as BPAY, @Post billpay etc., with the supplied software generating the required numbers. However, to use this service, we essentially were forced to open up merchant services with the CBA (Commonwealth Bank of Australia) for the virtual EFTPOS terminal which does the back end clearance of funds. Now this would be all well and good if the CBA charged at about the market rate. They don't - their fees are well above the rates I got offered by another bank for doing the back end stuff. The problem is, the absolute most basic things that MYOB software would have to do to make it easy to change banks, they refuse. They have intellectual property rights on the generation of the check digit generation code they use for the Customer reference numbers, so they cannot be used with any other bank. Basically, the software company and the bank are colluding to keep their charges higher than the market would dictate. One thing that I hate more than being ripped off is anti-competitive behaviour. I would recommend people to avoid M-Powered services, and arrange biller BPAY services directly with the bank, and find ways to enbed Customer Reference numbers within each customer's details with whatever accounting software is available. After several days of effort I am finding ways around this fortress, and can generate my own CRN's and sooner or later I can tell MYOB and CBA to stick it, and perhaps help others to do the same.

Update September 06 - They have improved slightly their (CBA) fees which is already a help, especially for large payments. However, MYOB fees of $2.00 per transaction is still highway robbery given that we are talking essentially about electronic transactions. Any non-electronic aspects of these transactions are extremely minimal. The fact is, that reducing these per-transaction fees, they would actually make more money because businesses would more readily join this fairly easy to set up and maintain process. A level of about $1.00 per transaction may even get me back to actually praising MYOB again, and consider using this service also.