Thursday, January 5, 2012

Keeping my word - Funds for Solar

Hey everyone,

I'm guessing most of you might be wondering what I am talking about.

When I begun this blog as a pastime and sort of like keeping a journal I recognized the potential to make a bit of money from it too. Hence the non-invasive (I hope) advertising hosted on my pages which I receive a percentage of when/if I strike it lucky (??) and create some content that attracts not only my regulars and followers but also new visitors and casual browsers.

Too my surprise not 12 months in from creation I was paid - Mmm incentive :D

Anyhow...from the very beginning I promised money generated would be used towards converting to Solar Power in efforts of removing my relevance on energy providers.

I was given a minimum payment...which isn't enough to do anything with, so it has been put into a safe lower interest bearing account so it is not only being put aside for it's purpose but slowly but surely getting me closer to the end goal.

Below is a picture of solar cells and rechargeable batteries I got out on a particular sunny day during the festive season which I hooked up to various electronics in attempts to get me more motivated to create the best content I can and provide it on a regular and ongoing basis :)

Please note that money generated from ads hosted on this site were not spent on this set up - The set up planned with proceeds from ad revenue will be a efficient system with a designated task which can have addition cells added to where more finance becomes available - One concept is to power a computer 24/7 which contributes to a distributed computing project such as Folding@Home

Digital Swiss Army Knives

I've been doing a lot of de-cluttering of my home it a Feng shui attack - a lot of 'crap' is gone, a lot is lined up ready to ship out. If the last box remaining isn't the last of it, it's very close to it.

I've done the same to my car which was a mess inside and out (now it's looking good) and my work space at work.

Something about work is I finally feel as though I am fully equipped to take on any challenge that comes in for me. I feel my major clean up (after 5 years of hard work, living and travelling) gave me a condensed look at what I have achieved. Usually I don't stop to take time and appreciate what I have done.

As most regulars might have already picked up on :P is that I have a background in 'Information Technology' and I still have a strong interest in developments in most, if not all, aspects of what is known as simply 'technology'.

I've been at my current place of work for over 7 years now - To young people that sounds like a lot, to others...they'd say that time passes so fast 7 years would have went by quick.

Anyhow in 7 "short" years (I still consider myself somewhat 'young') the reduction in size for pieces of technology and their increased abilities is really quite fascinating...not to mention the prices.

When I first started I had a 'tower' PC with a 15 or 17 inch CRT monitor, then during computer upgrades it became a 'desktop' computer with a 17 inch flat screen display that outperformed its predecessor AND took up less I have a i5 Laptop which outperforms its predecessor and takes up even less space.

Now I think I could almost, perhaps get away with working with a current, or upcoming generation 'smart' phone running Android. Why not get a tablet? I imagine some of you are thinking. My answer to this is the issue is size, I want something that takes up as little of possible but is still usable.

If I were provided with one it would replace the following tools of my trade both out in the field and in the office.

- Digital Camera (with ability to capture location)
- Audio/Video recording
- Clock/Watch//Stopwatch/Timer
- Clip board and pen/pencil
- In car navigator
- Phone Directory
- Calendar
- Communications (Phone, SMS/Pager, Email, GPS)

And no doubt potentially a lot more It sounds like I'm preparing my speech to management doesn't it? :P All I need now is USB input, better software support...and an everlasting battery!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"Junk Mail" - A Collection Experiment

Ever wondered how much unaddressed 'junk' mail a mailbox not displaying a "No Junk Mail" sticker gets?

Well obviously it's going to be different everywhere. There are far too many variables to come up with any sort of meaningful figure. But in any case I started to put every piece of junk mail that I received in my mailbox into an old postage box I had lying around. I forget exactly when I started but I believe it was leading up to Christmas 2010 in say late November 2010 and it occurred in an area outside of the Sydney Metropolitan Area in New South Wales, Australia :)

So roughly it's a years worth of junk mail - I say 'roughly' knowing it's more like 13 months, however I believe I lost some to the recycling bin due to it being left out in the rain and 'helpful' people.

Anyhow I'm sure you're curious to know how much was deposited.

...Well that box is full and that's a AA Battery to the bottom on the right hand side for some sort of scale for the size/room it occupies...or of course you could go off the bricks.

I weighed this (sorry, no evidence photograph you'll just have to trust me) using the highly accurate method of getting on the bathroom digital scales, waiting for the number to stabilize than held onto the junk mail - it weighed 22.5kg (including box...). That's 49.6 pounds - And that's a lot of resources.

Perhaps it doesn't sound like much to some but just think about how many letterboxes receive some sort of regular junk mail:

Sorry it's a bit blurry, but I think this photo sums things up. There are 19 mailboxes (in the first complex) with one that has a visible NO JUNK MAIL sticker - 8 rolls of junk mail reside in the others and it is assumed the other residents already retrieved theirs. Where those 18 mail boxes received 22.5kg of material, as I did, that adds up to a total of 405kg  ~890lbs ....4 Ton worth where 180 mailboxes got the 22.5kg.
"Recycling just one tonne of paper saves approximately 13 trees, 4100kwh of electricity and over 30,000 litres of water"
- National Packaging Covenant by the NSW Jurisdictional Projects Group

One image I evidently don't have available to me right now is the recycling bin for private Post Office (P.O) Boxes provided by Australia Post. I also have one of these mail boxes...and every time a batch of flyers comes out that goes to PO Boxes, these bins literally overflow. I do have a picture somewhere which I can edit in when it is rediscovered.

If that isn't thought provoking enough consider this...

... fluctuations in weight exist during the year as there are spikes in who and how many business advertise this way. The above image is some pre-Christmas junk mail I got received and weighed. As you can see the roll of junk mail (and rubber band) weighs just under 1kg at 836grams ~1.84lbs

There exists on the internet a large range of information about the benefits of recycling paper but I won't delve into that aspect, but rather encourage you to consider them or look them up yourselves and make up your own mind on this issue.

Something I take into account myself is the time and other resources it took to produce the end product: From growing, nurturing trees and harvesting the wood which somewhere along the line becomes pulp of paper well as the combined distance it traveled including from the forest to the individual delivering ultimately ending up in someone's mailbox before eventually getting tossed (hopefully) in the recycling or used for something else more useful than being landfilled.

It's a tough  thing to comment on...Livelihoods rely on the industry, businesses need to promote who they are and what they provide, and people want to be kept in the loop of all the great bargains; whilst on the other hand it is pretty much a big middle finger to people interested protection of the environment and more sensible uses of natural resources, it promotes perhaps unhealthy purchases and consumer culture and it becomes part of the waste stream when the reader is done with it.

Thoughts? Comments?

Catalogue themes - An illustrated Guide to Consumerism

Just a quick entry this time. For about 1 year now, probably longer, I have been collecting all the unaddressed mail otherwise known generally as Junk Mail with the majority being advertising material.

Looking at what accumulated over time (I will provide another blog entry dedicated to the experiment) and knowing what's in it you really can pick all the events that marketing pounce on. Know what it is currently in Australia? "Back to School" sales - 'School' in my State doesn't go back for at least 22 days I'd say, sometime after Australia Day (January 26th). The sale items are office and stationary supplies. The next sale event here (based on something not cooked up by stores) will be Australia Day where imported crap with the Aussie Flag on it will be peddled...After that? Valentines Day? Then Easter. Clearance of 'Summer Stock', 'Winter Bargins, an so on.

I'll talk about it more in an upcoming blog but the amount of time and resources that must go into trying to push a sale onto someone really kind of disturbs me...then again I'm sure it is an art form, and I find myself bored with free time so what's it matter to me what people spend their time doing? :P

Because it made me laugh recently here is a still taken from the motion picture Cops and Robbersons where Chevy Chase's character lies about smoking and rolling his own cigarettes when the character in fact has strong anti-smoking views. To save face and respect he rolls one in front of his neighbour who he lied to about smoking...the cigarette (if you can't see from the picture) is put together poorly haha Seen it before? It's old fav of mine, it's silly but I like it :)

If you are the copyright owner and object to this image being used please get in contact with me and I will remove it immediately. I am using this still image in good faith.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Cocaine in Australia - Drug of the Summer 2012?

Okay I confess - The story of Cocaine interests me. I remember watching the movie Blow with Johnny Depp shortly after it came out for rent after a recommendation from a mate in Food Technology class :P

In short I loved it and since I have read books about cocaine, seen numerous videos about all aspects of cocaine production from plant to vial, read official documents from authorities such as health departments and enforcement agencies, as well as proported "trip reports" on various open web forums.

Pretty much I am attracted to anything that has anything to do with cocaine...movies containing it, hearing new slang words for it, hearing of the most recent 'record breaking cocaine bust', new distribution methods, technology and routes, the latest public figure to be caught up in association with it...well you get the point...EVERYTHING.

Today I learned something new and I am keen to share it. In fact, it's something I predicted. Cocaine is being effectively distributed between states in Australia...well two at least.

News articles today...

Melbourne Busts

Sydney Busts

...cite cocaine being detected by police drug units in two seperate Australian cities Sydney (NSW) and Melbourne (VIC).

This may come as no suprise however what this means is a substance that has been valued at $450 A GRAM (Source "80g worth $3600 - Implying Cocaine on streets may be heavily cut? Only possessed by those willing to part with and with access to $$$?) and is heavily regulated has not only got into an underground market, but it HAS a market at those prices.

Think about this if nothing else. Most people would know of the nasty side of the illict drug trade which includes cocaine. With the price of Cocaine being reportedly £20 a gram in parts of the U.K (Source) and for the U.S between $20 (b.s?) - $175 (after the "crack down" - Source) why WOULDN'T alleged 'cartels' want to hit this apparent Australian honeypot? After-all the AU dollar has been stronger than the U.S dollar for what? Nearly constantly for 12 months? If Australia = High profit, and where the proceeds are used to finance conflict...that means Australia's influence per user could be the highest in the world. Who knows perhaps New Zealand pay even more, or NZ users visit Australia and there's some 'drug tourism' occurring.

With the Summer starting to kick in and a lot of Festivals  + Australia Day, it'll be interesting to see what else turns up in the news in this area.