.me

July 18, 2008

With the launch of the new .me domain names there have been plenty of decent new names available.

Godaddy has had a few problems with people trying to buy up the really popular addresses.  Think Awso.me.

Well, I couldn’t be left out of the loop.  But with the .me’s going for between £20-£25 for two years as a minimum, I could only really afford one.  And that was at a push.

I’m sure you can guess which one it was.  No?  Surely you can…

Munch.Me is now my property.  Well at least for two years.  At the moment both addresses, ie munchme.net and munch.me work, with munch.me being a web forward.  I will keep them both up until I have the chance to move everything over to Munch.Me permanently, which shouldn’t be too long.  I’ll of course post as and when.

Any other webmasters out there reading this, there are plenty of great .me domains left up for grabs.  I would have had them by now if only I had the funds.  Be quick!


The Climate Change Myth

May 28, 2008

This myth has been doing the rounds since the first time global warming surfaced as a possibility.  People who believe that the human race has nothing to do with the climate change or, even more unbelievably, that climate change is a myth altogether, can often spout an array of ‘facts’, ‘figures’ and studies to back up this insistence.

There are plenty of reasons why these misguided and misused facts and figures surface to be used by the naive.  A huge reason these misguided people have this ammunition is companies with a vested interest in the further proliferation of fossil fuel usage plow cash into ‘scientific’ studies to protect their interests.

The oil giant ExxonMobil has admitted that its support for lobby groups that question the science of climate change may have hindered action to tackle global warming…

…shareholders including the Rockefeller family will urge ExxonMobil to take the problem of climate change more seriously. Green campaigners accuse the company of funding a “climate denial industry” over the last decade, with $23m (£11.5m) handed over to groups that play down the risks of burning fossil fuels…

…A survey carried out by the UK’s Royal Society found that in 2005 ExxonMobil distributed $2.9m to 39 groups that the society said “misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence”.

Source: The Guardian

The reality is crystal clear I think.


Conservative Blast

May 28, 2008

People on the right wing of politics around the world annoy me.  The further right the bigger the annoyance.

It seems to me that the conservatives of this world, by their nature, veer off into a closed bubble of self.  The very nature of conservatism is to be introvert.  Amass wealth and superficial sundries.  Look after nobody but yourself.

The further people drift left the more they see the injustice on this tiny planet, the socialist tendency allows facts like:

“Richest 2 Percent Own Half the World’s Wealth.”

…to sink in.

I would go so far as to say most conservatives are so consumed in their own personal bubble that they are beyond caring for anything or anyone who doesn’t in some way come into contact with them.

Superficial actions do not count.

Most people vote based on a surface tension layer of understanding, formed from tabloid red top head lines for the most part.  Xenophobes who think that people worse off than them should not be allowed in to their respective country.  They of course forget that if the positions were reversed they would leave their nation of birth and seek something better.  That of course is irrelevant to them.  Xenophobia creates many of the worlds issues and ruins many lives.  But I again refer to the ‘bubble’.

Let’s not be silly and say everything that is proposed by right wing parties or organisations is sensible.  But the essence of the philosophy is correct.  The morality at the core should speak to a society based on ethics, morality and the good of mankind.

I have little faith in the human race as a whole.  Not to say I haven’t been in my own bubble of self indulgence, but I like to think that I learn from mistakes and evolve in my own understanding of this small planet we all inhabit.  I suppose my urge to study the arts, philosophy and politics in relative depth rather than showbiz, soap and tabloid news stands me in a better stead and I think that is where the general population of the western world falls down.  But I generalise.

I suppose I can sum up by saying that I wish the population of our wide ranging societies would spend less time looking in their own wallets, at their own selfish desires and more to the bigger picture.  You may only have £50 in your bank, but someone else only has £1.  You may want that bigger house or other belonging that you don’t really need. Someone else wants for the means to survive.  Even in your own country.

I recently listened to a podcast that made an impression.

It focused on spending an hour thinking about what you could do without and still be happy.  I think if most people were brutally honest with themselves it would be a lot more than they would initially realise.  We live in an ultra capitalist society here in the west.

Is it really good for us as a species, individuals, on a planet of limited resources?


The Eve of the Champions League Final

May 20, 2008

The build up began the day after the semi-finals finished, but we are into the final push.  I have to admit that it is a very exciting time for us Chelsea supporters and no doubt for the reds too.

However this post is to be a simple dig at those who like to make a big deal of the fact that Chelsea ‘buy’ their titles and silverware.  It is always targeted at CFC, so lets have a look at the finances of Chelsea’s opposition tomorrow and compare them to Manchester United’s.

….According to the latest accounts of Chelsea Limited, the company which owns the football club, Chelsea owed £736m to all its creditors. United’s accounts, also recently filed at Companies House, showed total creditors at £764m…..

Funnily enough, 500+ million of that is a loan from our owner.  Kind of puts things into perspective, the league champions owe that sort of money outside of their own club, doesn’t it….. Maybe the fingers should be pointed elsewhere in future.  But, of course they won’t be….

Hopefully my next football post is about my joy at seeing my team win the Champions League for the first time in our history.  By this time tomorrow I will know the answer and Roman, if everything goes to plan, will have had his win in Moscow.


Vista haters

February 11, 2008

These people really get on my nerves. Why?

Well Vista is designed for the ‘United Radio Op’s’ of this world. People who are pretty clueless when it comes to anything computer related. Not only them though. Vista is aimed at every walk of life computer user. So bearing that in mind it is going to be difficult to please everyone all of the time.

I’m going to list a few points and deflect them as best I can.

  • Vista is buggy, doesn’t work et al.

This is simply wrong. Vista is more stable than any other version of windows at it’s same time of life. Drivers? Yes, it was a problem, but you can’t expect a new operating system to have every driver covered, and that is less of an issue now. I just installed Vista on someones laptop and everything worked ‘out of the box’; from graphics to wireless. The driver argument simply isn’t one anymore. It’s stable and it works exceedingly well.

  • Vista is resource hungry

Compared to xp, Vista is resource hungry. What would run xp easily, sometimes will struggle to run Vista with all it’s bells and whistles. But. I don’t advocate ‘upgrading’ to Vista unless you have a pressing need, such as Direct 10 gaming, not that that has taken flight yet. If you aren’t upgrading, which the majority of everyday users wouldn’t do anyway, when else would you come into contact with Vista? If you bought a new machine. Well if you have bought a new machine, the specs will run Vista. People then complain, well what ran xp like lightning, runs Vista slowly. Yes, that is true, but then the price of a new PC reflects that. Prices of hardware have tumbled as usual for what you get. You can pick up a stick of 1gb of ram for £20 and get change these days. As is always the norm, if you splash out for a new cheap pc, you will get the performance of a cheap pc with regards to today’s software. If you buy a midrange to highend pc, you will get better performance. It was the same with xp. Times change and computing specifications reflect the advance. Software requirements increase with time as do the available high end components.

  • Vista is annoying with all it’s pop up windows

Security, security, security. It’s all people complain about these days. ‘Windows xp is soooo insecure’. So Microsoft add features to deal with this in Vista and we get. ‘Vista is soooo annoying with all its confirmations and pop-ups’….. Make your mind up….

  • DRM and phoning home

This is one aspect of Vista where I am not so happy. DRM I can accept from a 2007/2008 commercial OS, that’s the way the market is. As much as I dislike it MS couldn’t have released it any other way. The giant’s of intellectual property law / companies are focused this way and until something changes globally that’s the way it is. If you don’t want drm, install Ubuntu Linux, which is in many ways far superior to Vista and pirate your music and film. Microsoft could have tried to go in a different direction, but it simply isn’t viable until there is a commercial shift wider than one company, no matter how big they might be. Phoning home? Well this is something I can’t stand and one of the main reasons I don’t use Vista. Once you have activated your copy of windows, that should be that. No need to pry any further into your computing habits, ie every time you switch on your computer.

  • The frontend

It’s different than xp. Is that a reason to hate it? So some things are in different places and somethings work a little differently. Not really. As with most new products, there are changes and it takes a while to get used to them. That’s the way it works. If it were any other product it would have a settling in period and people would get used to it and that would be that. With Vista? Of course not. It’s a deal breaker, it’s awful, etc etc. Get over it. Use it for a few days and get over yourself. Things change.

Those are some main points. There are plenty more out there of course, and people are bound to disagree with me. But, in my opinion, Vista haters, for the most part, hate Vista because that is what they are conditioned to do, via peer pressure and for no other reason than it’s the cool thing to do.

Vista works, it works well, it’s stable, it’s frontend is very pretty to look at. It’s user friendly, all the features for the more experienced user are under the bonnet. The improvements over xp are up front and inside for all to see.

The only reason I can see to hate Vista is Big Brother syndrome. Saying that, MS has been going this way for a long time in xp and if you continued to use xp why not use Vista with your new machine. Like I say, don’t pay for the upgrade, but if you were happy with xp there is no reason you won’t be with Vista. Unless you are the above mentioned ‘Vista Hater’. Dell’s Ubuntu laptops retail for almost the same as it’s Vista products. SP1 is very quickly appearing over the horizon. Vista seems to be on the up and up. If you buy a new system as most people do, it will come with Vista and most people won’t have an issue after using it for a couple of weeks.

So how would I sum up?

Well Vista is here to stay. And unless you want to move to Linux or to a Mac OS, Vista does fine and is better than xp in most respects for the masses. If you have a special need in your computing world that Vista has trampled all over, then make a switch or stay with xp. As for the millions of everyday Windows users, Vista makes a fine operating system. As long as you are getting it by default with a new pc. However saying that, Vista isn’t exactly expensive compared to buying xp.

Vista is fine.

Btw, for those of you who got this far, you might be thinking I am some kind of Vista or Microsoft fanboy.

Well I’m not, I run Linux, and am typing this on Slackware Linux now, I don’t use Vista or xp very often, though I do have them both. The reason I wrote this is simple. I am sick of the sheep, the crowd followers and the idiots who slag everything off because some die hard OSS user who they think is cool does so too or whoever else. Or because they hate Microsoft full stop over and despite anything that they actually create that is good they stick by their irrational opinions.


A day

January 11, 2008

It’s been quite an interesting one today.

I spent a good couple of hours practising playing ‘Snow Patrol – Run’ on my guitar. Almost there with it, just need to put the different sections together and it should be ready for performance so to speak.

The I finalised the First Edition of my poetry collection ‘The Walk’, the first two proof copies should be delivered to me sometime next week. If anyone wants a copy of this first print I should be able to get you a copy at cost. I know that’s not likely, but it is something like £3 plus postage. The retail version when it’s printed will retail at around £4.50.

Once I have gone through and approved it I will allow it to go on ‘general sale’.

Got my free Frostwire T-shirt as mentioned in an earlier post, ordered a 4 gig set of ram from ebay too, which will take my system to 6 gig if all goes to plan.

Oh, and KDE4 was released today so I upgraded to that in Kubuntu.

All in all a pretty full day.


Green Books

September 13, 2007

I have been reading books on climate change for quite a long period of time, a lot of the content is around along the same lines but it does give me a grounding in the current state of scientific research, this is supplimented by daily forages online in well respected articles and documents and I think this is going to stand me in good stead for my latest venture.

I have enrolled on a course which will lead to a diploma in Conservation and most of the reading I’m doing at this point I consider to be prep.

If you haven’t read a book on climate change I highly recommend ‘The Weather Makers’ by Tim Flannery. You can find a direct link to the Amazon listing in the right hand sidebar in the books section of my blog. It’s an eye opener.

So, anyway, at the end of this course I should, fingers crossed, have two qualifications. The Diploma and an ASET Level 3 Conservation Award. After which I should be beginning a course in Java programming with the University of Exeter.

So what’s in the new today, well this caught my eye:

 

Can this really save the planet?

We are constantly told to switch the TV off standby, recycle our plastic bags and boil less water – but does focusing on the small, easy steps distract us from the bigger picture, asks George Marshall

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Why is everyone so keen to believe that tiny actions can prevent climate change? We are given easy household tips by campaigners and the government that will help “save the climate”. You know the kind of thing – recycle your plastic bags, turn your telly off standby, bring your own cup to work. There is usually a little clutch of them attached to the latest grim news about climate change: it’s not all bad news, they plead, you can take these simple steps today and they really do “make a difference”.

But do they? Take the plastic bags, for example. We are pestered to re-use them or use designer “bags for life” instead. People get very worked up about this topic. There are eight online petitions on the No 10 website calling for them to be banned or taxed, Ireland has imposed a special bag tax, and a town in Devon has banned them outright.

Yes, they are ugly, wasteful and deadly to turtles. But their contribution to climate change is miniscule. The average Brit uses 134 plastic bags a year, resulting in just two kilos of the typical 11 tonnes of carbon dioxide he or she will emit in a year. That is one five thousandth of their overall climate impact.

And then there is the issue of electronics on standby. This is an attractive example of consumer waste culture and has been aggressively challenged by, among others, the Conservative’s Quality of Life Group, which publishes its environmental policy document today. But it is hardly a major source of emissions. The electricity to keep the average television on standby mode for a whole year leads to 25 kilograms of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere. It’s more than plastic bags, but still very marginal: 0.2% of average per capita emissions in the UK.

Here’s another tip that sounds more substantial: fill your kettle with the right amount of water. The government made this one of the core messages of its “Are You Doing Your Bit?” campaign in 1999. A very small bit as it turns out. According to the government’s own figures, even if you are constantly boiling full kettles this will save all of 100 kilos of carbon dioxide a year, less than 1% of average per capita emissions.

Please don’t misunderstand me. All of these actions are worth doing as part of a greener lifestyle. And I do all of them – I also turn off my tap when brushing my teeth, share my baths, and watch the telly in the dark – wearing three jumpers if need be. But it is a serious distortion to imply, as the top 10 lists of green living usually do, that there is any equivalence between these lifestyle preferences and the serious decisions that really reduce emissions – stopping flying, living close to work and living in a well-insulated house, for example.

Judging by the latest Mori poll data, people have already acquired a severely distorted sense of priorities. Forty per cent of people now believe that recycling domestic waste, which is a relatively small contributor to emissions, is the most important thing they can do to prevent climate change. Only 10% mention the far more important goals of using public transport or reducing foreign holidays.

The easy tips also undermine the wider message on the seriousness of climate change. In its report Warm Words, on climate-change messaging, the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) argues that simple actions “easily lapse into ‘wallpaper’ – the domestic, the routine, the boring, the too-easily understood and ignorable”. The IPPR is especially critical of headlines such as “20 things you can do to save the planet from destruction” and said that putting trivial measures alongside alarmist warnings can lead people to “deflate, mock and reject the very notion of climate change”.

Lest you think I am being harsh, look at this from a different point of view. Imagine that someone came up with a brilliant new campaign against smoking. It would show graphic images of people dying of lung cancer followed by the punchline: “It’s easy to be healthy – smoke one less cigarette a month.”

We know without a moment’s reflection that this campaign would fail. The target is so ludicrous, and the disconnection between the images and the message is so great, that most smokers would just laugh it off.

So why then do well-intentioned schools, councils and green groups – and let’s face it, Live Earth was an eight-hour tip-fest – persist in promoting such ineffectual actions?

Their logic is as follows. Simple actions capture people’s attention and provide an entry-level activity. Present people with the daunting big-ticket solutions and they turn away. Give them something easy and you have them moving in the right direction and, in theory, ready to make the step up to the next level.

That is the theory, but, as plentiful social research confirms, it doesn’t work. For one thing, making the solutions easy is no guarantee that anyone will carry them out. The government spent £22m on the Do Your Bit campaign and has subsequently admitted that it produced no measurable change in personal behaviour.

And there is a greater danger that people might adopt the simple measures as a way to avoid making more challenging lifestyle changes. With recycling, Mori concluded that it was becoming an act of “totem behaviour” and that “individuals use recycling as a means of discharging their responsibility to undertake wider changes in lifestyle”. In other words, people can adopt the simplest solutions as a part of a deliberate denial strategy that enables them to feel virtuous without changing their real behaviour.

Governments and businesses are, if anything, even more prone to tokenistic behaviour than individuals. Encouraging small voluntary actions by the public, customers or staff looks good and is much safer than passing restrictive legislation or rethinking your entire business model.

So what we need is a sense of proportion. The great advantage that climate change has over other pressing issues is that the gases that cause it can be measured down to the last gram. People can make informed decisions in the knowledge that, say, a return flight to Australia will have the same climate-change impact as 730,000 plastic bags or 176,000 overfilled kettles.

We also need to rethink the way we talk about climate change. It is insulting to assume that people can only be energised with the pint-sized options. We need to present all lifestyle changes as part of a radical vision for a smart, healthy and just 21st century. And let’s be clear that voluntary action will never be enough – we will need radical political, economic and social change. So let’s start by doing away with that wretched phrase “you can save the planet”

· George Marshall is the founder and director of projects at the Climate Outreach and Information Network (coinet.org.uk). Read Bibi van der Zee’s response to this article at blogs.guardian.co.uk/ethicalliving

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Well I do have something quite simple to say to that: I think there is a bigger picture involved that the writer of this article is missing. Sure we should look at doing things on every scale for the major to the minor to help avoid and slow down, with a view to stopping, climate change. But, and this is a big but, if the entire population of the UK actually do the small things, that does add up to a rather considerable CO2 drop in output. One person, maybe it seems like a small result, millions? Well that’s another story.