Sunday, 20 December 2009

Its Energy, stupid

So the great, frustrating debate lead by the UN in Copenhagen has finished. With no conclusion. Why?

Because they are trying to solve the wrong problem. The problem is not increasing CO2 and Green House Gasses leading to global warming. You thought it was, no?

No the problem is where do we get our future energy from to sustain our lifestyles!

And this is where we need to focus, solving this problem will automatically solve the Global Warming problem.

Fossil fuels will peak in 2015-2025, and before this the price will rocket. If we switch to the hugely expensive (both in capital need and clean up cost) nuclear energy, then we will face another crisis, a peak in Uranium about 20 years later. Then the world will start fighting again (like we are in Iraq for oil) for domination of those countries that have plentiful Uranium.

So nuclear is not the way forward. It is just a desparation measure of this government - and to implement it we must ask the French (Energie de France EdF)) to build the reactors, as we have little expertise of our own.

We must turn to energy solutions that come from the only source the world has, the sun. In the end all energy comes from the sun, coal and oil were products of photosynthesis millions of years ago. Wind, Solar heating and Solar PV (electricity) are the energy of today. This is what we must focus on. The most productive of these is Solar (both thermal and PV/electric). Notably in UK we have NO industries producing either wind turbines or solar panels! That's government for you.

Here's a couple of charts that show the oil peak and the energy gap that will hit the UK in 2015 (yes just 2015 when the lights could go out, if our wretched government does not stop sitting on its hands and do something, after fiddling around and doing nothing for 10 years or more). And the second chart shows our consumption and the possible energy we could get from sustainable sources.

So if we in the West build sustainable energy sources, we will reduce CO2 and save the planet for everyone else. So developing nations stop belly aching and asking us for £1000B's to combat Global Warming, and start contributing your selves. Start by stopping de-forestation.

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So, in my opinion:

- Forget Hydro, Wave, Tide & Geothermal. Ignore all publicity, claims and bullshit about them.

- Focus on Wind & Solar (Biomass will take up all our agricultural land, I would rather have food). PUSH, PUSH, PUSH these solutions Mr Politician.


- Change your car to electric, or a smaller one at least (the new VW?). Stop building motorways, Mr Politician.

- No more flights, gosh, disaster. Have to take the train - its only x20 more expensive - have to do something about that Mr Politician! Stop building airports to start with, plough the money into railways Mr Politician.

- MAJOR DOMESTIC ISSUE: we need to insulate 25million UK houses to save heat loss. Crash action plan needed, Mr Politician.

- Drastically reduce "Stuff" - packaging is typical first target here. Supermarkets take note, many other issues here... Mr Politician.

Easy eh? Except for the politicians. Grr!

Global Warming - a UK hopeless case?

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Ever wonder about the state of play of the UK in the struggle against global warming... or our future energy security?

Well this chart shows our energy consumption - 74% from fossil fuels which all give out tons and tons of CO2. [and don't forget that nearly 50% of our existing fossil fuel electricity sources will be closed by 2015 and we have no plans to replace them - the lights will go out guys]

So we spend 125kWh/day/person (125kWh = a 12.kW heater on for 10 hours), and from renewables we get the miserable total of 18.3kWh/day/person.


Because no one wants energy generation (wind, wave, solar, etc) in their back yard and our planning processes give people too much power to object and refuse to have them near their house. Why? They can only make things better, can't they?

Renewables will give us new, hi-tech jobs, clean energy, much reduced reliance on imported energy (oil, gas, electricity which we import more and more)...

Saturday, 12 December 2009

And more about some country's CO2 reduction offering

This is from the Guardian, it shows the current offering at the conference in Denmark...
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Clearly the position of China is absurd (INCREASE CO2!!!) and there are lots of variations, you would think they could get their numbers on a level playing field, wouldn't you?

I suggest a simple way, first spreadsheet to list Mt CO2 reduction by country, the total to be what they scientists say is needed to keep the world's temperature below 2℃ - keep negotiating until we get there.

Then another spreadsheet with the costs, and the offer of each country towards the total needed.

Third a final spreadsheet allocating the money to who needs it, both for ameliorating the effects of global warming + the cost of implementation.

Job Done.

Only UK & Germany are reducing CO2

Lets be honest and look at the figures: USA emitted 64166Mt (million tonnes) of CO2 in 2007, up 7% since 1997, China emitted 45301Mt, up 102% (!!!!).

But UK emitted 6281MT (a tenth of USA) and it went down -1% since 1997. Also Germany, the industrial power house of Europe, who emitted 9487Mt was down -6%.

So two of us in Europe are reducing CO2 (Europe as a whole is up 5% a failure of Kyoto), and USA, China (and all of South America +26%, Middle East +59%, Asia +64% and Russia +17%) are increasing it. So let them sort themselves out, fast.

New nuclear strategy???

Submarines and icebreakers have for many years used nuclear power. Small reactors capable of providing electricity and heat.

While we are looking at building lots of wind farms, why not nuclear reactor farms (NRF)?

The advantage of an NRF is that is can be located anywhere, not just where the wind blows. This is important because a lot of the investment in wind is on the network of wires needed to distribute the power into the national grid, which historically is designed to carry power from a few large stations, not small ones off-shore or located in remote areas.

But NRFs could be placed anywhere at strategic locations around the existing grid to add quick and easy nuclear power to our portfoliio. Lots of companies are in the business - but sadly, yet again, none are UK based - have we no more knowhow????

Here's a list of makers:

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Music night out Greece


We had a great night out yesterday evening, at a small restaurant in Mesolonghi Greece. Amazing musicians and singing and dancing! Food not wonderful but wine flowing freely.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

ABCD - Graphic - 5 (the last one)

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So we get to "Z" and all the alphabet has been written down. Hope you enjoy it.

ABCD Graphic - 4

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This one may be a bit of a puzzle, or maybe you can imagine that it reads a word. What word?

ABCD Graphic - 3

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Here's graphic number 3, two to go to finish the alphabet

Monday, 7 December 2009

Ganymede in Mesolonghi

We are over-wintering in Mesolonghi, Greece. Ganymede is covered up as we have been suffering from leaks of rain into the cabin! I hope I have fixed these now by re-sealing all the hatches. But I have always meant to get some covers to protect the boat and these ones are very good value, bought at the local hardware store, just €50 for each cover of 4x6m.

Mesolonghi is a very pleasant town, full of students at the local university, full of bars and cafes, full of bicycles as is it completely flat - probably no more than 2m above sea level!

Our regular daily activity seems to be to cycle into town, have a coffee at a very interesting cafe called Cafe Nero. This place is amazing, it is completely 1930's style in decoration with continuous jazz music playing.

Later, after some shopping, we often end up at the Sugar Cafe, where they serve the most amazing Meze, bringing 2-3 plates free (fish, beans, meat, chips...) for every couple of glasses of white wine ordered. So two glasses of wine each and lunch for €8.


ABCD Graphic - 2

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Here is the second in the series of ABCD graphics, which are based on the alphabet using a series of letters to form juxtaposed lines of twisted letters.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Digital Music, the way forward

We are at a turning point today, where several factors are coming together

1 CD sales are dropping, the CD is now getting on in years (it was born in 1982)

2 Wider and wider bandwidths are coming to home broadband connections (20mbps is now on offer in UK, 100mbps in more advanced countries like S Korea)

3 The music industry has tried offereing us MP3 and Apple's AAC lossy compressed tracks, which are relatively small and thus fast downloads but sadly lacking in audio quality

So what is the way forward? Read more... (PDF files):

Digital Music

Whither Creattivity



1710 Statute of Anne - Author has right to control copy of work for 14 years. Work is any physical recording.

1787 USA Constitution, Copyright clause authorized copyright legislation

1886 Berne Convention gave recognition of copyright among sovereign nations. Not ratified until 1988 in UK and 1989 in USA. 1995 incorporated in WTO.

1910 Buenos Aires Convention required "all rights reserved" on the work.

1911 UK Copyright Act

1952 Universal Copyright Convention, less demanding than Berne, ratified by Russia. & developing nations

1988 UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act

1992 UK Copyright (Computer Programs) Regulations extension to cover Computer Programs

2002 WTO/WIPO Copyright Treaty, restricted version of Berne

2007 Negotiating ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), broad scope including "internet distribution" - 2008 proposed agreement leaked by wikileaks

Scope of copyright

Wide range of works, including computer files. Does not cover ideas, but form of expression.

Duration in UK is Literature Life + 70 yrs, Sound Creation date + 50 Yrs, Film Life + 70 yrs, Broadcasts Date + 50 yrs.

Obtain & Enforce

Any work must be original (skill, labour & judgement). Copyright automatic but expires after a time. Copyright obtained by proof of creation, e.g. mail to self, deposit in bank... Copyright owned by employers, if "work for hire". Enforced in civil courts by holders. Collectives such as RIAA/MPAA are seeking "criminal" (i.e. not civil) damages for mass copying.


Copyright gives, amongst others, these rights: Produce copies, Import/export, Create derivative works, Perform/display, Sell or assign rights, Transmit by radio/video/internet.

Fair use/dealing

UK: Research, Education, News, Copies/lending libraries, Legal, Time shifting recording, Computer program backup, music for non-profit orgs. Purchaser may resell (e.g. book, CD) copyright work, but not copies i.e. computer file copies

So what?

There are two issues:

1 Copying a work is illegal, lending it, reselling it or giving it away is not. This includes copying a computer file - or downloading (so called file sharing) it from the internet without payment to the owner of the work.

A lot of people refuse to acknowledge that copying is illegal, many photocopy books or music files from CDs or from the internet by downloading. The problem comes in prosecuting them as it is difficult to get identify the culprit and get the proof. It is also not clear whether the person downloading the music file or the person putting it on an internet server for downloading is also the guilty one.

There is another issue that is muddying the waters. Is it OK to copy a CD to your own computer? After all when you have done this you have made a copy, and you could then give the CD away to someone else, but retain the copy, which would then become illegal. In some jurisdictions this "fair use" is legal, providing you retain the original, in others any copying is illegal - but widely tolerated by the rights owners.

2 DRM (Digital Rights Management) where an owner of a work uses technology (for example encryption) to enable only the original purchaser to play/view the work. An copy will not be usable by any other person who does not have the key for decrypting it.

DRM has been used to lock music files, but has mostly fallen by the wayside and is not used anymore by any major distributor. It is however being used to block higher quality reproduction of music and video. The standard CD quality (16bit/44.1kHz digital PCM files) have no DRM. But every other higher quality audio recording standard (DVD-Audio, SACD, Bluray) uses very strong DRM to prevent copying the higher quality files - much to the frustration of audiophiles who want to keep their material on home network servers.

But this DRM is used for no obvious reason! Or is it?

Yes it is used to create a closed environment, where collusion between creators and equipment makers ensures that only specific, licensed players can play the music. This closed environment is also being promoted for HD TV broadcasts by the public BBC, as they are being forced to adopt it by the major studios as a condition of broadcasting the work - the irony here is that the BBC is not legally allowed to encrypt the actual broadcasts but the receiving equipment will create a closed environment in the home before allowing you to record or watch. Such a closed environment carefully controls what you can do with a work e.g. record one copy, feed it in encrypted form between your own equipment or on your own network, but not make it available on the internet.

This is creating a strong "closed shop" for studios and equipment makers. Much to the detriment of users freedom of use of legally purchased work. Sure it prevents anyone obtaining a non-encrypted copy that can be sharing on the internet, but then this is at the cost of the individuals rights - for example the right to resell a work.

Business - News, Music etc

The government shouldn’t save companies that make things customers don’t want, there’s no need for government intervention like we are seeing all over the place right now, the latest being the new proposed laws for internet downloading and copyright control.

The future will be entrepreneurial not institutional; the institutions, like News Corp, and music labels EMI, Sony, etc, had and blew their chance.

What we need from Government is a level lawn where the tender shoots of new businesses can grow without government trampling them on its way to try to protect the legacy players.

News and Music don't need to be saved, they need to be created. Forget implementing laws to control distribution or changing copyright to favour the dying institutions.

This is not a market failure. It’s a market, doing what markets do. Let the market do that.


The BBC has an overblown sense of its own importance. It is rolling out software interfaces. But it is not a software company and so should stop all these silly front-end developments like iPlayer, Radioplayer and Canvas.

The BBC must do what I pay my licence fee for, produce programs.

Other people, commercial organisations, should take care of the distribution.

The current programs, and all the back programs, should be made available as video/audio feeds to any company wishing to make software for viewing on their own platform together with a suitable XML interface for program guides and database search.

For example, the BBC make it difficult and obscure to find the URLs of radio feeds that you can then listen to in your own software (Quicktime, etc). They are here BBC Radio Streams.

The BBC is acting just like the decaying music and publishing industries and believes that controlling the means of distribution is vital to its success, it is not, creativity is what they are there for.

File Sharing

Most copyright in recorded music is not owned by artists, but by recording companies (artists own the copyright of songs, they contract them over to the publishers or labels for the recording).

The bodies against file sharing are the recording industry through Pub. Assoc, Fed. Against Copyright Theft, BPI and many labels (Universal, Sony EMI...). Artists just want a new way to sell their products to the customer, without the lock-in to the labels which occurs today.

Artists want new and better ways to sell music on line, but this is not being done by music publishers! That's the problem.

Labels want to keep the old business models, controlling the means of distribution, i.e. CDs, not create new ones. They also are insidiously clobbering all high quality music distribution with DRM (SACD, DVD-Audio, Blu-ray...) in order to hold on yet again to the means of distribution. This is where they make their money, and why artists suffer under their control.

Labels are complaining because people share files - that is because people want them on their PCs/Mobiles not on CDs. Pirate networks attack the very raisin d'etre of the music business. And until the labels change their business models and make available on-line music, not disabled by DRM, in lower MP3 quality AND CD and HD quality the pirates will continue and people will continue to swap files.

See an interesting article at


Of course it is all about money, here's the breakdown of the CD income and costs:

Music biz.001.pngMusic biz.002.png

As you can see out of the CD cost of £12.99, the artist gets £1.03 + some royalties, AFTER the labels costs of marketing and promotion have been met. The government gets VAT of £2.69!!!


DRM is rife in the music and audio business, it is especially insidious in the HD audio arena. It is being used to create a closed eco-sphere for all new HD media (DVD-Audio, SACD, Blu-ray...).

The music industry previously owned the music delivery format - vinyl or CD, but it no longer does, internet downloading is now widely available, open and free. So they have lost a key element of their business model, and a way to profit from controlling the distribution of an artists product.

Punishing the consumer with DRM will bring about the industry change that they don't want as people will rise up and find other ways to get the product - as well evidenced by pirate file sharing.

Friday, 4 December 2009

New to the Mac

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A few months ago I wrote a book(let) to help people who are new to the Mac, you can find it here

New to the Mac

It is published on the Lulu web site which, incidentally, has thousands of books available.

ABCD Graphics

ABCD Graphic.001.jpg

This is one of a set of typographical graphics that I have been playing with. More to come if and when I get more dreaming time.

First Blog

I thought I would start a blog. For two reasons, first I have just discovered a great Mac program called MarsEdit which is a front end to just about any blog, I use Second this is the very easiest way of keeping you up-to-date with our activities.