F0ul Thoughts

Mild mannered on the outside, Free thinker on the inside

Bitcoin – time for a new start

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Bitcoin – the crypto currency that has won most publicity for being a huge growth market, then a bigger crashing market is the future. It is a technical answer to how do you create online coins that can be used as currency.
The basics, are quite easy. A coin is actually a file. It contains the answer to a complex mathematical algorithm, and are stored in other files called wallets. When you spend a coin, its identity is confirmed by matching it on a publicly accessible database called a blockchain. This is how its possible to prove that the coin is valid, and hasn’t been spent by the person who gave it to you before. There are 21 million of these coins, and each coin can be split a million times down to a unit called a Satoshi.

Got it so far? Good. The next issue is to work out how to value it, and for that we use exchanges. The problem recently though has been that there has been one exchange that has been far more popular than others, leading to criminals blocking trading by attacking the exchange with DDoS hacking. This creates a lag, which means an honest trader doesn’t know if the price being quoted for their bitcoin is the current price, or the price 30 minutes ago. This confusion is what led to the prices finally crashing, as traders lost confidence in the valuations being given to them.

Finally, we need to have a way to actually buy and sell stuff using bitcoins. That part is quite easy, but due to the confusion over the price, as well as the legal implications of accepting bitcoins rather than local currency, not a lot of people are doing that bit yet. This means that you don’t have to own bitcoins to buy stuff online, meaning that bitcoin valuations are a little suspect!

Today, we are a step closer to making bitcoins more acceptable because I had an idea to offer a Fiverrr service which worked exclusively in bitcoins – that might work! :)

Written by f0ul

April 16, 2013 at 9:53 am

Broadband – when is it fast enough?

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Everyone seems to want faster broadband, but sometimes the numbers become meaningless. The question is, how fast do you want?

I’m currently running on around 40Mb at home, with an upload speed of around 10Mb. I don’t worry about download time or buffering or having to share my connection with others. Things just happen quickly and quietly. If I wanted to state an ideal, it would possibly be the same speeds that I get with a LAN of 100Mb.

That doesn’t mean that this is the ideal speed, and once everyone is on 40Mb, all our problems are over. Far from it. What it means is that today, broadband works well in our household.

That is actually the crux of the problem. Broadband speeds have become political, either because they get used as shorthand for having a modern lifestyle, or the opposite of being the cause of a digital divide. It really isn’t true, but when we talk about politicians, we are talking about a class of person who doesn’t understand anything beyond popularity and sensationalism.

Technology goes through a few phases during its life, from bleeding edge, unstable but very cool to geeks, through to do people still use those museum pieces? IT, as in desktops, laptops etc used to be only something for the geeks with no social skills but now are currently as cool as washing machines! Everyone has something that works, and if you want a new one, you visit the supermarket!

Broadband is close to this point where the vast majority of urban people have a choice of ADSL or Fibre or Cable and make their choice based on price vs performance. Rural communities can’t do this yet.

Rural communities are still about 5 years behind their urban cousins with internet usage. Dial up is rare, but ADSL is between 512Kb through to 3-4 Mb at its peak. Nobody gets FTTC and ADSL2+ is always being promised within the next 6 months!

Here is the important bit. Whatever speed they are getting isn’t the point. Broadband is at a turning point where the technical details are becoming irrelevant compared to what people do with it. We no longer need broadband just so we can check our emails and visit a few websites. That sort of use is easily possible with a 512kb connection. The turning point is because the internet has become real time.

We now use social media where the news is only a few seconds away. We use streaming TV services so we can see what is happening, where ever we might be. We use the internet for telecoms so we can speak to anyone from anywhere – cheaply! We can now work from anywhere with a broadband connection and pretend to be in the office! We share phone calls, databases and documents with colleagues who can be spread around the globe and its easy and cheap!

However, if you are not used to this way of working, why would you want it? More importantly if you don’t know what you need a fast broadband service for, how do you know if its fast enough?

I would suggest we need to look at broadband just like we used to deal with electricity. Remember the power cuts we would get? If you are under 30 the answer is probably no! We need broadband to be as unobtrusive as electricity where it just works, it just handles the speed we need, when we ask for it, and where the only cost is based on how much data we move – not on how fast we get it.

That is going to take another 10 years, but the days of a broadband equivalent to a 230v 30A supply is getting nearer! :)

Written by f0ul

January 24, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Why a bigger engine might be more fuel efficient

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This post is an idea I had a while back, and I wanted to make it public just to see if I get any useful feedback.

In the world of motors, there are a few big numbers that get bragged about. The most popular, often misunderstood term is brake horsepower, BHP. You also have Cylinder Capacity, CC, Top Speed in Miles Per Hour MPH, and once in a blue moon, someone will mention the famous Torque in pounds per foot lbs/ft.

Motorcycles are a good place to see this in action. Taking the example of the difference between a 600cc motorcycle and a 750 one. a 600 will be 100-108 bhp, 750 115-125 bhp and that is normally all the difference you will hear. So what happens when you find a 600 with 130 bhp, what does that mean?

The only way to understand any of this is to explain how each number interacts with each other.

An engine generates power by making a fixed amount of fuel explode. That is what the CC is about. A bigger engine takes a larger amount of fuel in each cycle of power generation.

The amount of power created by the process is based on how often this process happens in time. This is measured in Revolutions Per Minute, or RPM. At 10,000 RPM, a bike might be creating 120 BHP. However, if you can increase this to 20000 RPM, you could get 250 BHP like a racing bike. This is however, very expensive because to make all the parts of the engine be able to move that quickly requires extremely light weight but strong components.

The higher the BHP, the more power the bike has to be able to move quickly, although the top speed is regulated by the weight of the bike and the gearing of the gearbox, and the aerodynamic shape of the bike.

Finally, there is the magical torque figures. This figure is about effort in a rotational force. Imagine you needed to turn a bolt, and had a 1 foot long spanner. If you placed a 1 pound weight on this spanner, and it was enough to turn the bolt, that would be 1 lb/ ft of torque.

In practical terms, torque is what starts a vehicle moving. It is also not related to how fast the engine is generating power, but more about its CC and how efficiently it is converting that fuel to power. Therefore, a 750cc bike will always have more torque than a 600cc.

Why does this matter? In real world usage, people are not racing around at high rpm everywhere for another reason. The more times you convert your fuel to power in a minute, the more fuel, measured in miles per gallon, MPG, you will use. Therefore, if you have a small engine, with a high bhp figure at a high rpm, but great fuel economy at a low rpm, you are going to get frustrated when you notice the fuel gauge and your speedometer moving in opposite directions at the same speed!

In the real world, the most important figures are the ones that relate to how you use your vehicle. If you like doing 100 mph everywhere, but want to save fuel, you want a vehicle with great fuel economy at that speed.

Suddenly, physics shows that it really isn’t possible to have everything!

Written by f0ul

December 27, 2012 at 11:15 am

Posted in Motorbikes

Mass Shootings never hurt anyone!

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Great title, huh? That should get a few eyesballs if nothing else!

There is a serious point though.  The horrific shootings in Connecticut last week, has brought out all the useful idiots and their ban everything mentality.  The bodies were not even cold when the first mention of Gun Control was uttered.

However, in that awful case, all the various laws were already active.  The insane shooter was too young and too mentally unstable to own a gun, so he just stole them.  In that one move, he’s defeated all the legislation ever made to prevent horrors like Friday’s from happening.

The reality is that the type of gun he used was irrelevant, and is as useful as discussing the colour of the barn door after the horse has bolted.  The point is, you can’t stop this kind of thing by making a law against it.

The ban fans strike back, but if those guns were banned, this kind of thing couldn’t happen.   

This week, a Man stabbed 22 children in gun controlled China. Without guns, the insane will use something else to express their anger at the voices in their heads! As a side note, Karate was invented specifically because China had banned all weapons from the general public.

Back to the story. This is where the ban guns lobby get a bit distasteful, Well, Guns kill more people, faster than a knife.  So, we now need to take their ban seriously because one death is acceptable compared to 30?  Sorry, not on my watch.

All lives are important. It’s not the tool used that is the problem – its the people with voices in their heads, telling them to shoot up a no gun zone!

There are two ways to stop it happening.

The easiest way in theory, is to find everyone who could potentially do this, and put them in a place where they can’t leave.  Its a kind of Minority Reports world, where practically everyone lives in a mental institution.  As you can guess, its not going to work in practice.

Another option is to only arm the Police, and have one on guard on every street corner, ready and waiting to blow the head of anyone looking like they might go postal!  Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to make that happen.  

So, why not let everyone carry a gun, and if they come across someone going postal, they can shoot them dead?  Well, that does work in some US states.  They don’t let everyone do it, unless they have permission.  They call it a Conceal carry permit.

That could work.

 

 

Written by f0ul

December 19, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Where have I been?

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I only rediscovered my old blog earlier today, after a gap of at least a year! What subtle message is that giving out?

There is a reason though, and it’s mostly down to the major problem of the internet. There is too much choice and its too easy to start something, with no penalty to not carry on. The huge internet choice has also given us the exceptionally poor quality that publishers and editors never let near a printing press!

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!

What I noticed is that everyone is trying to get eyeballs, and so, posts anything to make sure someone clicks on those lovely adverts, which pays for everything. Its no way to run a website!

I have taken the other approach of posting stuff, nobody wants to read, and not placed any adverts to make sure they don’t feel obliged to click on anything else. I also find that I loose interest in seeing so many people not able to think through an idea. You start ranting, but sometimes, people just don’t want to hear it.

Anyway, I will post more often now, but only when I get a good idea that needs expressing!

Written by f0ul

December 12, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Posted in Personal

Today is the first day of the rest of my life

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I have recently got a new job.

My role is not important, It is a sales job.

What is important is my attitude has totally changed.

I have been working for a long time, going from job to job, using my income as a guide to my success.  I was doing quite well, with a flash car, a house and lots of toys to my name.  Eventually the recession came, and I was taken out.  I found other work, but these too, were lost, partly through their unsustainablity, partly through my ego. You can make your own mind up of what that means! ;)

Anyway, I was made redundant 4 months ago, and did the usual thing of looking for new work.  As things moved on, nothing was working, and I was slowly getting disheartened.  Eventually, I found a role, and there is what I am now doing.

What changed was my self image.

Rather than being Mr Important, with loads of qualifications, experience and salary expectations, I became Mr IDontQuit with a very low basic and lots of support.

I looked at the role as being my opportunity to demonstrate what I was made of. If I succeeded, I would be back earning lots of money.  If I didn’t, it would be my fault.  

I saw it as being opportunity dressed up as hard work.  

I saw it as being a great alternative to being unemployed!

 

One of the biggest problems with taking too much interest in what everybody else does, it that you start scoring yourself against them, using just their outer indicators of success to gauge your own.  In a boom, that will always lead to disappointment.  I’ve met far too many idiots who splashed borrowed cash on delusions of grandeur! 

Today is the start of the rest of my life where everything I have is what I have earned. It makes me happy.

Written by f0ul

December 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

what is the best recession proof job?

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We are in a bit of a recession, and have been for a few years. The question most people have is, what is the best recession proof job?

The answer is simple – its a job that can’t be replicated by machine. On a similar track is a job that can’t be simplified enough to remove the reason for the job existing.

What jobs are these?

Its not a skills based job. Every skill that is in demand will eventually be commoditized down to a level that will enable it to be available to everyone. Its happened throughout history, and eventually, technology will kill the requirement for the skill in its entirety.

The most difficult skill to commoditize is one that involves communicating with people. The past few years has seen it being tried through the use of auto marketing telesales agents where a recorded message is played at unsuspecting customers – but its not really more useful than to filter potential immediate prospects.

The professional services are another area where people skills are difficult to automate, although its potentially easier, if the use of a flowchart is used. This is demonstrated by the use of No Win No Fee services. Medical services are now being simplified using telemedicine systems.

So, getting back to the question, what is the best recession proof job? The answer is Salesman. Not phone answering, order taking sales job, but the sort of sales job where people are convinced to spend more money on something than they originally intended to spend – because they understand the extra value they will gain on doing so.

Is that something anyone can do?

Hopefully not! ;)

Becoming a great salesperson is all about understanding people and how to convince someone that your idea is worth spending money on doing. Its not about becoming a great liar, or brow beating someone into signing on the dotted line.

If you think you’ve got what it takes, just apply for the next sales job you see in the paper. After a good 5 years experience, you will never need to worry again about being unemployed – ever seen a great sales person not working?

Written by f0ul

April 23, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Posted in Culture

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