Green energy and #wavepower

Baseload is a word that’s bandied around a lot when proponents of fossil fuel energy plants talk about green energy. Essentially, the argument states that modern, technological states require reliable energy to thrive. This, they say, cannot be provided by green energy sources such as solar and wind because neither is available all the time.

There is some truth to that argument, and until reliable green energy storage becomes available – e.g. massive batteries of some kind – we will need some form of regular energy production. But…that regular energy production need not be from coal or nuclear. Geothermal has been around for a while but while it’s reliable, it isn’t necessarily cheap. This is where wave power could provide the magic bullet that finally weans us away from fossil fuels.

Wave power technology harnesses the constant rise and fall of ocean waves to turn the generators that actually create the energy we need. The technology is not free, but once in place, the driving force behind it is. Better still, that driving force – ocean waves – is constant. Some days may see more energy generation than others, but the waves never completely stop. And that’s important because that minimum level of power generation can be calculated and used.

The new wavepower plant built in Gibraltar [read the Gizmag article for full details] may be small, but it’s cost effective now and can be added to in the future.

Wavepower in Gibraltar

Wavepower in Gibraltar

Congratulations to Gibraltar for taking a small step towards greening the planet. Hopefully one day, all countries with access to an ocean will harness wavepower for their own energy needs.


This is a bus? New technology from #China

As a science fiction writer, I’m always on the lookout for unusual and innovative technology, and this ‘straddling bus’ ticks both of those boxes for me. Sadly,…it may not be sci-fi for very much longer.:)

 

Happy Sunday,

Meeks


The new, improved #BBQShapes – YUCK!

The name on the pack says ‘Arnotts’, but that venerable Australian biscuit maker was bought out by Campbells some years ago. At first, nothing seemed to change, and flavours such as BBQ Shapes remained a family favourite, at least in this family. Then the little flavour sprinkles on the shapes became thinner on the biscuit, making each Shape taste blander.

Cost cutting?

XX number of flavour sprinkles less per biscuit probably did add up to a dollar saving over squillions of biscuits…

-sigh- We grumbled a little but continued to buy BBQ Shapes because less of a much loved flavour was still better than no flavour at all.

And now this…

BBQ shapes throw up

In the interests of my own breakfast, I took a screenshot of this VINE instead of displaying the original* [he really does throw up, not pretty]. Sadly, the point he makes is all too true – the new, improved BBQ Shapes are revolting. I know because I bought and tried them yesterday.

So what’s so very wrong with them? Two things:

  1. savoury biscuits should not taste sweet – the new BBQ Shapes do. I know Americans are used to having everything much sweeter than we do here in Australia – I remember being shocked at the sweet aftertaste of scrambled eggs during a visit many years ago – but why would Campbells buy out a highly successful Australian company only to homogenize the product to something the original customers will hate?
  2. the new flavour plastered over the back and front of the biscuit is like…I don’t know, those horrible Maggi instant noodles? I can’t quite put my finger on the flavour but it overpowers the ‘proper’ flavour with a really unpleasant aftertaste. To me, the flavour tastes like something concocted in a test tube – chemical and…horrible.

And the biscuits now look disgusting too. Okay, I know that makes three things not two, but who’s counting? The new, improved Shapes look as if they’ve been sprinkled with kacky brown ‘dirt’.

I was going to show a before and after shot of the BBQ Shapes, but in searching online for a ‘before’ pic, I discovered that THEY have brought back the original flavour – obviously in response to public outrage. Unfortunately, I don’t know where the new stocks have gone because at the moment, my local Coles only stocks this disgusting rubbish.

Anyway, whilst it’s nice to know that Campbells has bowed to public demand, I’m still outraged at having to go through all this in the first place. One box of Shapes may not cost much, but I buy very little processed food so I may never buy another box – even if the ‘original’ does come back.

-grump-

Meeks

 

*If anyone is desperate to see the entire thing, Google ‘Christian Hull’ or ‘#bbqshapes VINE’.

 


The photographer I wish I were….

Way back at the start of the millenium, I used to lurk on the edges of a wonderful geek forum called Guru3D. I learned a lot about computer hardware from Guru3D, I also made friends with some wonderful geeks, two of whom have remained online friends ever since.

One of those old friends is George Panayiotou. George is a talented photographer and graphic designer who pops into this blog every now and then. He also uses Maya, the same top end graphics package the Offspring uses. The thing I envy the most though, is George’s ability to see, and capture, the breathtaking in the ordinary. Here are some favourites from amongst his older photos:

IMG_281501

stormIMG_8083

And here’s one I had on my desktop for a long time:

desktopgolden

You can see some of George’s more recent work, including another stunning photo, here:

http://ready-aim-click.blogspot.com.au/

-sigh- I think I’ll just stick to words.

cheers

Meeks

 

 


Australia Post #scam email

This one really had me going for a sec. Have a look:

Australia Post scam

We’ve been getting a lot of parcels lately, the Offspring and I, so when I saw this email, my first thought was that it was genuine. Luckily the weight shown below the bogus tracking number – 1.67 kg – made me suspicious as nothing we’ve bought has been heavy.

The very next thing I looked at was the ‘From’ line which reads:

Australia Post <clientes@gourmetconcept.es>

Quite apart from the weird email address for a supposed national postal service, the country code is ‘.es’ and that stands for Spain, not Australia. So I think I can safely say this was not from my friendly post office.

I can also say that as a scam, this looks bloody good. The graphics are all correct. I couldn’t see an obvious typo or poor grammar. No attachment to be wary of, and no obvious links taking you god knows where… BUT…have a look at that big red ‘Print out package info’ button. It doesn’t look like a link, but I’ll bet that it takes you somewhere that requires some kind of ID to be entered [I didn’t click so I don’t know for sure but I’m pretty confident].

So…a very clever scam email. If any of my aussie friends get one – delete, delete, delete!

cheers

Meeks

 


#Internet #Addiction – guilty as charged?

This article is about e-addiction. Don’t reach for your dictionaries, I just made that up. The addiction, however, is very real and I’ve experienced it myself, both as a gamer and as a netizen.

According to this article in the Washington Post :

‘[internet] Addicts lose interest in other hobbies or, sometimes, never develop any. When not allowed to go online, they experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, depression or even physical shaking. They retreat into corners of the Internet where they can find quick success — a dominant ranking in a game or a well-liked Facebook post — that they don’t have in the real world, experts say.’

The emphasis on ‘success’ is mine, and I believe it is the foundation of this psychological addiction. If real life sucks, go online and become a ‘god’ who is respected and adored by everyone. Or words to that effect.That kind of ego stroking is very hard to ignore because we all want to be respected, admired, liked.

The real problem, however, is not that we find ‘success’ online, but that we do not find it in the real world.

In a way, I guess this is just another First World problem, but it is real, and it will become more prevalent as the mobile generations swap their Smartphones for SmartJewellery, or SmartClothing, or SmartGoggles…or whatever. All these future devices will be fantastic, but they will not make living in the real world any easier.

Definitely food for thought,

Meeks

p.s.in Korea, the pressures of real life have already created a whole society that is more ‘connected’ than any other. And they’re starting to have serious problems. This case is unusual but brings home the message.


#Innerscape part 10 – Real time vs Innerscape time

-grin- Venting in the previous post worked like a charm! Brain refocused and came up with this:

innerscape time spreadsheet

 

Thank goodness for Excel! I could never have nutted this out manually.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 


#Innerscape part 10 – the thriller I had no intention of writing

I’m in way over my head! I write sci-fi, not thrillers or mysteries…so how did I get to a point where I’m having to work out time differentials for the plot?

Before I try to explain what’s been driving me crazy, I need to say that all of my favourite sci-fi books weave together a mix of history, culture, psychology, politics, technology, conflict and an element of mystery. Think Dune, and working out the relationship of the great worms to the planet’s ecology. All of that is normal because good sci-fi creates worlds, and worlds are full of people, and people do ‘stuff’.

I understand all that, especially the bit about people doing ‘stuff’. My problem is that I never expected the characters in Innerscape to finish up doing mystery thriller type stuff.

I’ve read mystery thriller type books by the boat load, but there is a world of difference between reading in a genre and trying to write in that genre. I feel as if I’m groping for the ‘rules’ on the fly, and it’s hard. Integrating the requirements of mystery/thrillers into a sci-fi environment is even harder, and at the moment I’m stuck on ‘time’.

To make the plot work, various people have to do various things, together and in sequence, so I have to know when things happen, right down to the last minute. But…in order to make the Residents of Innerscape feel as if they are living for longer, time in Innerscape runs faster than time on the outside. About twenty minutes faster.

As an aspect of science fiction, this time differential between Innerscape and the outside world is not a big deal. I do some hand waving and a bit of arithmetic and the time flows make sense. Easy peasey…until I introduce the twin elements of mystery and thriller to the mix. Suddenly the difference between Innerscape time and real world time matters, a lot. So does how I present this conflict between internal and external time.

Right from the beginning of Innerscape, I’ve worked hard to make the reader feel as if time really is passing, hopefully without hitting them over the head with dates and durations and elapsed blah blah. Now, though, I’ve reached a point where I really am going to have to elevate time to the position of Very Important Plot Element, and I’m struggling.

The pic below is a screenshot of the StoryBox navigation pane for Part 10. It’s one of the reasons I love StoryBox as it allows me to outline, more or less on the fly:

innerscape navigation time

 

As an outline, the pic only makes sense to me [just as well or I’d have to post a Spoiler Alert!]. But it does show how I’m trying to work out what happens when.

Sadly, the reason I’m writing this post is that I’m sort of stumped…and procrastinating. Once I finish the post, I’m going to have to resort to pen and paper to storyboard the exact sequence of events because at the moment, I feel horribly muddled. -sigh-

If there are any thriller/mystery writers out there with tips, I’d love to hear them.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 


#VR – will it need safety standards?

The following quote describes the [current] experience of VR [virtual reality]:

‘“The gap between ‘things that happen to my character’ and ‘things that happen to me’ is bridged,” Stephan said. This distinction can transform an experience from merely flinch-inducing to sincerely frightening. “The way I process these scares is not through the eyes of a person using their critical media-viewing faculty but through the eyes of I, the self, with all of the very human, systems-level, subconscious voodoo that comes along with that.”’

Given how immersive even normal gaming can be, I do not find this phenomenon all that surprising. What I do find surprising is the genuine note of warning sounded in the article. You can find the entire story here:

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-coming-horror-of-virtual-reality

[and thanks to the Passive Guy for pointing the way]

Back to VR. As a gamer, I’ve been thinking about the consequences of addiction for a long time, and in Emmi’s story [in The Vintage Egg], one of the ideas I toss out there is that in the future, legislation will stop gamers from ‘playing’ for longer than a few hours. For their own good.

Will society really impose restrictions on the use of VR and AR [Augmented Reality]?

-shrug- Who knows, but it is gratifying to find that someone else is also thinking beyond the ‘oh goody, a new, supa doopa toy’ to the possible consequences of using that toy. I suspect that we will have to have deaths before the technology is regulated, which is a sobering thought. One thing I am certain about, however, is that next five to ten years will deliver a world-wide, totally voluntary [and probably expensive] social experiment on disruptive technology.😀

We live in interesting times, neh?

Meeks

 


Next gen #gaming for the masses

Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson have been toiling away at augmented reality for years at their startup, CastAR. Their ambition to make a fun AR product has been cooking for a while, and they’re taking a very different approach to the next-generation gaming platform. And given Ellsworth’s background as an underdog, it’s no surprise she’s…

via How CastAR’s Jeri Ellsworth will use augmented reality for fun tabletop gaming — VentureBeat

This post was like a bolt of lightning for all sorts of reasons – it’s about gaming, it’s about everyday people and it’s the vision of an amazing young woman.

Women in technology are still rare enough to make me sit up and take notice. Women in technology who may be creating the very next big thing? Phenomenal!

Go girl.😀

Meeks


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