Daily Challenge Day 20

So Fridays admin day, or poets day as my mum calls it. As indicated earlier we have no telephone line or internet connection at the office, only mobile phones and mobile broadband. So on Fridays, tend to stay home and use the ADSL connection to do the banking, and any reporting required on government websites. Could use the mobile broadband except the connections have a tendency to drop out, and otherwise become really slow if the connection is hogged make that hijacked by automatic software updates.

Modified personal workbook for monitoring cash flows, keep having problems explaining the numbers to myself. The problem concerns the use of a credit card. Have less problem with similar spreadsheet for business as have a debit card instead. When I first got my cash management account, several years back, my belief was that the credit card would be automatically paid off at the end of the month. First problem I had was they hadn’t set up the automatic payments, which was the whole point of the account. When they set up the payments I think they set it up to pay on the 28th of the month. When the bank merged and was otherwise taken over, the dates seemed to changed closer to the start of the month. Not overly impressed with the merger/take-over, as seemed to have changed from member to customer, and I don’t remember any vote on such change. Also my account changed from quality product to low quality product:  from high interest, with 55 days interest free, to low interest, and some stupid rewards points system, and less than 55 days to pay. Anycase the problem is that the date of payment doesn’t result in a balance of zero, as there are drawings between the end of period balance and the date the end of period is paid. So I usually have to manually mess around finding which items contribute to the payments. And otherwise trying to explain the difference between the sums I have set up in the workbook and any manual checks I may make. So I need to determine some appropriate conditional tests which overcome the organisation and presentation of the data.

Once again it highlights one of the benefits of a program built around a database, and the use of spreadsheets. The popularity of spreadsheets is primarily because it allows them to do the calculations they are familiar with doing with pencil and paper. A database however allows the limitations of pencil and paper to be cast aside, and allows data to be collected and stored in one format and then retrieved and presented in many different formats.

Now I could probably do some of the things I want using Quickbooks, which is closer to being a database. However, MS Excel is easier and more familiar to use, and I can do calculations which I cannot easily do in Quickbooks. Also data becomes locked and lost in Quickbooks: it is not a general purpose database, and makes it difficult to extract accounts data. For example our BAS  accountant started out with a preference for a new file each year: the consequence is historical data is lost. As cannot install the older versions of quickbooks on current system: incompatible media (eg. 3.5″ floppy disk, incompatible operating systems, and the plain hassle of the licensing/activation system). So generally preferable not to have data locked into some proprietary software system.

For software to be of any real value into the future then should be able to export the data to simple text files, with common data format such as comma delimited (csv) or fixed width/space delimited data files (sdf), and knowledge of the data fields, and data table connections. Could use XML files, however the defaults for Pascal and C are fixed width formats, though preferable that strings and numbers are not on the same line. On the other hand when using Basic, the default for reading files is comma delimited. Anything more complex and need to write a parser to suit the language or hope there is a library providing a prebuilt parser.

Anycase, today as well as messing with cashflow workbook, also got sidetracked watching youtube videos, after reading emails. It started with the following article:

11 ways to protect the intellectual property of your online course

from there I got to watching videos from IP Australia about trademarks, and patents. From there various articles on business and then the following TED talks:

  1. After watching this, your brain will not be the same | Lara Boyd
  2. 7 Ways to Make a Conversation With Anyone | Malavika Varadan
  3. Mathematics and sex | Clio Cresswell
  4. How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes | Adam Leipzig
  5. Go with your gut feeling | Magnus Walker

I also watched several videos from the Young Entrepreneurs Forum, I liked this one about purple cows:


There was also an article from TreeHugger. The abstract to this mentioned making sure that plants be organic: what? Plants are organic, aren’t they? Apparently not if they are drowned in insecticide, and I guess if they are genetically modified to be resistant to undesirable insects then not quite organic.  No wait a minute! Is organic the new word for natural and unadulterated, and uncontaminated? Like rubbish about things should be chemical free. Say what? Chemical free? I don’t want to buy a vacuum, I want some substance. If it has substance then it has chemistry? If that chemistry involves carbon and typically also hydrogen molecules, then it has organic chemistry.

Language is important, admittedly I’m not very good with it, but I do at least question it. As far as I am aware no one in the climate change debate has ever defined climate, they just assume that we have this thing and that it’s clear that this thing whatever it is, is changing. The media show pictures of power stations, not the chimneys,  but the great clouds of steam coming from water cooling towers; misleading. Or is it misleading? It’s misleading if the argument is about CO2, but if about greenhouse gases not so misleading as water H2O is a greenhouse gas.

Life draws resources from the environment, and life exhausts waste back to the environment, therefore the environment of tomorrow can never be the same as the environment of yesterday. So whilst we may have conservation of energy, and energy can only be transformed, we cannot really have conservation of nature. Nature will adapt and be transformed, and therefore the expected conservation will not be achieved. We cannot undo the changes made, revert back to some prior state, and then move forward from that state without making any changes to the environment. If we exist, and live, then we will change the environment: it cannot be any other way.

How can solar panels be green? They will have an impact on the environment, from the chemicals they require in manufacture, to the changes in the earth’s albedo as white roof tiles are replaced by black panels. Likewise wind turbines and water turbines will all have an impact on the environment. The problem is not the use of oil, coal and gas, but the lack of real diversity and excessively concentrated use of such fuels in cities. Spread the population out don’t herd them into cities. Humans have legs they are meant to be mobile. Sure the powers that be may prefer that we are:

Human drones living in concrete beehives, wired to the matrix and assimilated to the borg.

But we should resist.

The car is not the problem causing urban sprawl, it is multistorey buildings and other large facilities demanding centralised catchment over large areas. The other source of problems are the architects and civil engineers, who adopt electromechanical technologies and devise unsustainable infrastructure dependent on such technology. A car is a benefit a privilege , to design and build cities dependent on such is not sensible. Accommodating vehicles in a city is not the same as creating dependency. We should use the fuel we have to change the cities. And just to be clear an elevator to get to the top of a building is just as bad as using a car. A building requiring lights during the day is not acceptable. The need for HVAC not acceptable.

Electromechanical technology is a benefit, it should not become a necessity.