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Friday, December 14, 2007

I had to laugh..

When I checked my RSS feeds and saw the latest comment on my Xbox's blog:

Flint ZA's Xbox - 12/9/2007
It really feels like forever since I have felt the sweet surge of power running through my belly. Is there a nationwide power outage that Flint ZA isn't telling me about? Email me if there is a blackout... oh... wait...
Actually, as luck would have it Eskom is playing silly buggers with us at the moment. We have had two 'load shedding' sessions of two hours each at home this week, and traffic in some parts of Gauteng has been even more congested than usual thanks to the incredibly smart people at Eskom's planning department designating key areas like Sandton and the center of Pretoria for load shedding in rush hour. To all of you wonderful foreign tourists planning on visiting in 2010 to cheer your teams on-bring a torch and lots of batteries :P

Zen Habits on Decluttering your mind

15 Can’t-Miss Ways to Declutter Your Mind | Zen Habits

One of my favorite blogs has an article today that I just have to share on 15 tips for decluttering your mind. For example:

9. Get in touch with nature. Similar to “take a walk” above, but without the bustle of activity. I like to go somewhere with water … the ocean, a river, a lake, even just a man-made fountain if nothing else is available. Or watching rain does the trick for me too. Somehow this can be calming and focusing at the same time.

Some of them I apply already and some I still have to get to (baby steps :) ), but every single one is simple and relatively practical and at worst will be a nice break from the usual routine. I thought a recent pic from the garden would be a nice accompaniment to the above morsel ;)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Input rant..

In coding -probably more so than most desk jockey jobs- speedy movement around a document without interfering with keyboard flow is essential. As such being able to move the cursor or document focus around without lifting your hands off the keyboard to use the mouse makes a big difference in efficiency terms. I am one of those wierdos that actually likes the integrated trackball in server rack keyboards, and as such I'd love to find a keyboard that includes a trackball and chuck my mouse once and for all. There's just one tiny problem, there doesn't seem to be anything out there that includes this feature and the other essential feature-a natural layout. I grudgingly started using a natural layout earlier this year on suggestion/insistence from one of my coworkers and I wouldn't go back for anything.Unfortunately it seems as if these two features are mutually exclusive. An integrated scrollwheel (present in some of the top end MS natural keyboards) is better than nothing.. but I want a frigging trackball. Grr.

Monday, December 03, 2007

An idea to encourage environmentally friendly manufacturing processes

I was going to ad this as a section in my last post, but I thought it warranted it's own post..

Last week environmental analysts released a report that Sony was the most environmentally responsible of the console manufacturers, this was a bit disappointing to me and I really hope MS gets their act together. Along those lines, I was thinking on the long drive to Witbank yesterday about incentives and so on with regard to environmentally friendly manufacturing. If there is an accepted scale for how 'green' a product's manufacturing process is, why not apply this in a timed program to encourage green production. Let's say such legislation imposes a goal percentage of X% of all output from any company to be green rated at, G% or higher. Any company that does not meet the required percentage pays a tax on the manufacturing cost of the shortfall, and any company that exceeds the percentage receives a return on their excess as an incentive. This has the effect of making green products more attractive to produce, while funding the subsidies from gradually more expensive non-green products. The gradual adjustment of the required percentages prevents the shock from being so massive that non-green companies are driven out of business, while encouraging them to think ahead to keep their business profitable.
To illustrate, let's say the time-line is as follows:

Year Compliance percentage (G) Min output to comply (X) Max output incentive (Y) Tax/Incentive percentage (T)
2008-2011 50% 10% 10% 5%
2012-2015 65% 20% 20% 6%
2016-2018 80% 50% 50% 7%

Then if 5% company A's total output is 50% or more green, it falls short of the minimum by 5%, and will have to pay 5% tax on the manufacturing cost of that shortfall-a total of 0.25% of it's overall costs. Not enough to drive anyone out of business, but enough to be noticed.
By contrast if 18% company B's output is 50% or more green, it qualifies for a 5% return on the manufacturing costs of it's 8% excess-a total of 0.4% of it's costs. The 10% max output limits this effect to 0.5% at this stage, but ensures that the tax gathered from non-compliance should cover the cost of subsidies.
Looking forward to 2017, if company A's compliance has reached 40% of total output being 80% or higher green, it's shortfall is now 10%, taxed at 7%-increasing it's total tax to 0.7% of gross production. If company B has really excelled and reached 100% of it's output being 80% or higher green rated, it will receive a boost of 3.5% of it's overall manufacturing costs.
This system has obvious benefits such as using 'dirty' manufacturing to subsidize 'clean' manufacturing, thereby making the latter far more attractive than it currently is. The are other less obvious advantages as well, such as attracting high tech investment, boosting demand (and potential funding) for highly qualified workers, boosting local research in related areas, green technologies available to locals at a lower cost boosting their use by consumers.. the list goes on and on.

Justin kicked me in the ass..

Well, not physically, but he did remind me I need to start blogging a bit. I actually have a bunch to write about but I'll try not to go totally overboard.

Life, the universe and a veggie patch
In general, everyday life stuff I've been massively busy with our new house. I did post a couple of pics to Flickr when we moved in, and I have loads more I want to put up but that will have to wait until Telkom get their ass into gear and install our line. We've put up a palisade, tiled the kitchen and dining room and tidied up the front garden. My composter is coming along nicely and the veggie patch is turned and will be worked with compost soon. I have also dug a little herb garden for Natz next to the kitchen. This week we're having the carpets in the bedrooms pulled up so we can sand and polish the wood underneath, and then the major stuff is done for a good long while. I've got a seed feeder and fruit up for the birds, and just put up a temporary plastic bath, and so far we've been treated to visits by Robins, Myners, Muisvoels, Loeries, Bulbuls, Barbetts, Bishops and of course the obligatory Sparrows and Doves. We seem to have a couple of Bulbul nests in our trees, and it looks like the Loeries are scouting for a nesting spot too-not bad for our first month :)

Games wise, I've been playing Assasin's Creed, and it's a gorgeous game with an intriguing story. I can see where the criticism has come in with regards to it being monotonous though, the developers seemed to have a couple of really cool ideas, and then tried to stretch them too far. Surely it can't have been that difficult to think of more than a handful of things to do in ancient Jerusalem? The combat is also way to samey and gets old quickly. Despite these issues, I'm still enjoying it immensely. Hopefully I'll get my hands on Dancing Universe this week, I've been looking forward to this since the US DDR release last year, and it's about bloody time we get a PAL version.

Sneaky, sneaky Nokia
Nokia finally released a firmware update for the 'classic' N95 last week. This has tech heads (me included) excited to check out the new features, of which there are loads such as integrated search (so, sooo awesome), better camera software, better speed and memory use, to name a few. There have been zillions of posts about these features in the last week though, so I'm going to skip on these and focus on a particular 'upgrade' that left me with a VERY sour taste in my mouth this weekend.
One of my favorite features on the N95 is the integrated GPS. I would never have bought a standalone GPS, but now that I have one in my phone, I really can't believe how useful it is. I don't use it enough to justify shelling out for the voice prompted navigation service though, and instead always just used the option to plot a route between two points and then track my movement. This allowed me to see the route and keep a visual track on where I am on screen when I need to keep an eye out for a particularly tricky street. Nokia, in all their misplaced wisdom have removed this option from the new software, essentially rendering the GPS component as nothing more than a digital map archive unless you buy the voice prompts. I am very pissed about this and find it to be a really sneaky move on Nokia's part. Nice, another reason to get a Sony Ericsson instead next time I upgrade.


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