Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pure Fraud: The Modern Monetary System

Here is a simple explanation of the modern monetary system:

1. Money is created out of thin air (spawned into existence on a computer screen) whenever a person ties a real physical asset to a loan (eg. Mortgage to buy a house).

2. A majority of money in existance is created out of debt.

3. There is not enough money in existance to re-pay the principal+interest.

4. To prevent collapse, more money has to be spawned into existance (eg by lowering interest rates to encourage people to take loans and be more in debt.)

5. As a result, inflation is inevitable. For example, the US Dollar has lost 96% of it's value since 1914 when a cartel of private banks created the Federal Reserve (the name is misleading, there is no government oversight or control of the money supply).

6. To prevent collapse, the economy has to grow at roughly 3.5% per annum to make up for the ever increasing need to pay of balooning debt.

7. Exponential growth (geometric progression) cannot occur indefinitely. It is practically and mathematically impossible.

8. A "boom and bust" cycle is inevitable, as the ones unable to pay their debts/mortgages get foreclosed.

Failure to grow forever will result in either inflation or collapse of the monetary supply - as people stop taking loans, the money pool shrinks further, banks reach their threshold of spawning money into existance (the fractional reserve requirement), and the money supply freezes.

It is easy to blame people for not being thrifty enough or not having enough savings. This may be true in some cases. But what if everyone were thrifty and miserly? The system will still guarantee that there will be those unable to repay their debts and be pushed into bankruptcy.

In addition to that, inflation is a collective tax upon everyone as it decreases the value of their savings.

A system that relies on perpetual growth to function (and risks imploding otherwise) is also known as a pyramid/ponzi scheme. It is a crime against humanity that the financial elite are able to pull such bullshit on a global scale.

We live in a world where governments have minimal control over their money supply, and are in fact in debt to the global banks, who spawn money into existance when governments "sell bonds" (read: "become in debt to") to the banks. It's horrifyingly stupid how governments take pieces of paper known as "bonds" and give them to banks in return for virtual cash on a computer screen. These "bonds" then need to be repaid with interest using the same virtual cash created by the banks. The US national debt currently tips 16000 billion dollars. Sixteen thousand thousand million dollars.

That's how ludicrous the situation has become. Even governments cannot create money without going into debt!

For a better understanding of the topic of money creation, the following documentary is highly recommended:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Walkie Talkie Guide (UHF CB Radios)

2019 Update - Real World Use
- Power matters less than you think!
- speaker mics are very practical
Been using the Uniden UH720sx-nb for awhile now. (note it is succeded by the UH820, which has USB charging)

Use indoors / small buildings / low density (eg country) areas.
0.1W is surprisingly more then adequate for alot of things.
eg. Distance ~400m on google maps (about 2.5 AFL pitches). Through (I counted)
5 to 6 brick walls. Some glass windows. two industrial warehouses.
I was able to communicate with clarity to my partner, sitting on a couch in a brick house.

Use on the slopes / snowboarding / skiing
0.5W (equiv to your cellphone's peak 3G power – 4G uses less.) is more than adequate at Mt Buller – The speaker-mic is extremely handy on the slopes as it clips to your ski jacket while your actual handset is in your inner pocket. The biggest issue on the slopes is not transmit power – it's TERRAIN... because physics (doesnt penetrate ground).
Real Life Suburban Environment: 
0.5W punched through about 17 houses and two large warehouses. (800m - labelled A)
2.0W punched thorough about 24 houses and two large warehouses. (920m - labelled B)

Realistically, it was difficult to determine when 2.0W really had an advantage over 0.5W.
In practice, both 0.5W and 2.0W sounded the same up to about 400m (the carpark in the picture)

Commercial 5W handsets - I think they are a great idea for convoys with external antennas, but I cannot justify having that much radiation (yes it's technically 'non ionizing') coming out from a device next to my face. The average cellphone uses about 0.1W during a call. Overkill for most people. Also note 5W translates to about a 1Amp drain on your batteries.

Original Article, 2012:

Once upon a time, I had a pair of really cheap 3xAAA walkie talkies. They were small and well built, but batteries died within three hours, and range was terribly limited. That was in 2006. Walkie Talkie tech has not progressed much since then (it's still all FM on an analog signal), but the quality and affordability of decent walkie talkies have improved.

There is a dearth of information on the internet regarding realistic Walkie Talkie / UHF CB practical range. Manufacturers often claim 22 to 36 mile ranges which is utterly inaccurate. Alot of people are also misled into purchasing small walkie talkies that are no more than kids toys.

This article covers UHF Citizen Band (CB) class licensed (public spectrum) radios. VHF is used in marine applications where range over unobstructed surfaces / water is more important. Ultra High Frequency (~477MHz in Australia) does have significant ability to penetrate objects and is better in built up environments. If you've used a cellphone, you've used a UHF radio so you already have some idea about how well it penetrates walls. Since cellphone towers are located at very strategic vantage points (hills / towers), cellphones get by with relatively low power output. GSM cellphones maxes out at 2W and averages less than 0.5W during a typical phone call. With a walkie talkie, both parties are the cellphone tower but located at ground level - a very big caveat as UHF does not penetrate ground/earth.

In this article:
  • Basic facts about walkie talkie range.
  • Buying Guide.
  • Nice accessories to have.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Holiday In The Hospital... Not :p

ED has been a blast. I feel that I've learnt alot in the past 10 weeks. I dare say I am finally competent at doing casts, suturing, and cannulas. More importantly, im starting to think like a manager... It's hard to explain, but the way the mind wraps around a clinical scenario is determined by experience.

My new rotation is Hospital In The Home, cheekily named Holiday In The Hospital by one of my colleagues. It's a 8.30-4pm day job (compared to the 10 hour shifts of Emergency, it's quite pleasant!). Not. It turns out that the senior doctor running the program is dedicated to teaching and I have already received two impromptu tutorials on how to manage a patient. It's 2.10PM on my first day of the job as I type this (there is usually a lull in the department.). It can get busy, and with this rotation it's all about the long term care of patients as opposed to the short term management seen in Emergency. It's just as challenging, but with the added benefit of being an excellent CME opportunity.

As previously discussed, medicine is learnt tangentially, and this has promise to be one of the most educational rotations of my entire clinical experience (year 3 MBBS to now). Nothing beats learning off tangents while on the job.

I STILL DO NO HAVE INTERNET! @#$!@#$#!! It has been delayed since January. Not it looks like it will be coming tomorrow...the end of March.

Despite this, work on the new site has been progressing smoothly. I call it Bite Sized Medicine; a place where I ruminate over the patients I've seen personally, along with priceless comments from senior medical officers and specialists. It is the opposite of textbook learning.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Notebook Reviews

...and why they are mostly terrible

I'm in the market for a notebook now. My desktop has been turned into a media center in my lounge.

Surfing around, there is a real dearth of good reviews. Yes yes any geek can spew benchmarks and regurgitate technical details about a notebook, but just about every review out there misses the point when it comes to notebooks.

Ultimately, notebooks need to be judged by a few critical areas that are unique to notebooks:
  • Build Quality: This is subjective, but it's the impression you get when picking it up and holding it in your hands. Flex in the keyboard? Flimsy lid?
  • Typing Comfort: Almost always overlooked, good notebooks do fall flat on this one. How does it feel to type a paragraph of text on the notebook? A lousy keyboard is a big no-no for most students, professionals and even your mum who types the odd email.
  • Portability: battery life and weight. At least 5 hours is mandatory for portable computing. The difference between 1.12kg (Portege Z830) and 1.5kg (Folio 13) may not sound like much, but hold them up and feel the difference. It's like carrying two extra cellphones. Truly mobile noteboks are used like cellphones and you wont be carrying around a charger for general use.
  • Display: This is very relevant as people tend to spend a lot of time staring at their computer screens. You dont realize how important it is until you compare a good display next to a crappy one and realize that your eyes literally hurt less staring at the nice display.
    • IPS vs TN: The former are found in the iPad. Great viewing angles and good color depth. TN screens are relatively crap and are only good for staring at a screen from one angle. There are some genuinely good TN screens such as those on the HP Envy and Macbook Pro, but most are just bad.
    • Resolution: The difference between a low and high res screen is plenty obvious. A full HD 1920x1080 screen could fit two things side by side (eg. a word document and a webpage) comfortably. Take note of the vertical resolution (the smaller number). The smaller this number the more vertical scrolling you will have to do when browsing webpages - it gets seriously annoying especially with small netbooks with the typical 600px vertical resolution. Keep in mind your browser will use up some pixels for the address bar
    • Color Gamut: If you do anything with photos/media, then this is relevant to you. Look for screens with 95% color gamut. Otherwise the reds will not be as red and the blues will not be as blue as they should be and will print differently from what you see in screen! If the color gamut is not advertised, it's safe to assume it falls short of 80%.
    • Matt vs Glossy: glossy displays are terribly annoying in anything other than dim room lighting. They offer better contrast for watching movies though, and are more suited for multimedia buffs. Business notebooks almost always come with matt displays - they are so much easier on the eyes for text.
  • Graphics: For playing games other than solitaire and chess. If you want to play modern computer games (Skyrim, Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare, RISE etc), then you could probably ignore most other specs. The difference between an i5 and i7 mean nothing as gaming performance is really about what kind of discrete graphics is available on the system.
  • Solid State Drive / RAM: These are the two things that will make your computer feel snappy. SSD's make wake times almost instant, and a good (4gb minimum) amount of ram makes everything really responsive.
  • Processor: Generally irrelevant unless you are doing media rendering or games.
  • Heat Dissipation: Some notebooks run HOT. Some notebooks have a high pitched buzz from a cooling fan that never seems to turn off. As expected, this critical factor is almost always omitted from "professional reviews" online.
Here is a summary of my thoughts of a few current (March 2012) notebooks that I'm considering of purchasing. Most reviews ignore these notebook's halo features so i'll summarize them here. I have personally went to a store and had a feel before making these comments. Displays were judged from the benchmark site. These reviews are subjective.

Hp Folio 13 Ultrabook  ~AU$1100
1.5kg SSD 13" portable with good battery life and a COMFORTABLE KEYBOARD. Decent build quality. The screen is a big disappointment though. It's glossy and very very dim. Set the display to max brightness in store to see if it is bright enough for you before buying.

Acer Ultrabooks ~AU900
CHEAP. Not much else to say really. They put a spinning hard drive when they really should have a SSD. Display, keyboard, etc... You get what you pay for. Definitely try before buying.

Toshiba Z830 Ultrabook ~AU$1200
1.12kg SSD 13" ultraportable. VERY VERY LIGHT 13" notebook. The screen does flex alot however and it just feels flimsy once opened. Keyboard is not very good for touch typists. Check out the keyboard and type an entire paragraph before buying! Built for business, it's worth mentioning that it has a full sized VGA port, something most ultrabooks lack.

Hp Envy Spectre Ultrabook ~AU$2000
SSD. 14" screen in a 13" frame. It's LG's new thin bezel Shuriken display. It's also branded as a Radiance display. High(er) contrast, 1600x900 resolution makes the screen just gorgeous to look at. It's wrapped in Corning's Gorilla Glass and if you like the iPhone 4, you'll love the Spectre. Like other ultrabooks, the keyboard is backlit. But unlike other ultrabooks, each key has it's own individual LED so the backlighting looks alot better. It's fat though by ultrabook standards, coming in at almost 2kg...and it is very very expensive for what you get.

Sony Vaio S (15" model) ~AU$1500
This is the lightest notebook with a Full HD 1920x1080 IPS display on the market. Essentially a 2kg 15" full hd ips notebook. Battery life is terrible. Audio is terrible. It's redeeming halo feature is really the display. It's a pleasure to use and it does have the typical premium Vaio build quality. There's a sheet battery that extends the battery life to 10 hours though...and it's being offered free atm...though it makes the premium notebook look fatter. Oh and being a vaio, it's pricey. As in macbook pro pricey, but it runs windows...and it's a sony.

Lenovo Thinkpad T/X Series ~AU$1500
Better build quality than just about every other notebook out there. The screen opens to 180 degrees. The keyboard is legendary - I personally own a Thinkpad and can say with certainty that they are an absolute joy to type on. The only keyboard I found more comfortable was the Razer Blackadder, a full fledged desktop keyboard with mechanical keys. It's that good. Other than the two features above, this notebook is mediocre for the price. Bog standard everything. You are really spending on the robust build quality and gold standard keyboard. It's built for business and it shows.

Lenovo Ideapad Y 570 ~AU900
Desktop replacement 3kg 15" laptop. Why am I including it here? Because it shows you what you can get if weight, battery life, portability, screen, SSD, and build quality are sacrificed. It's a budget plastic laptop, but comes standard with a near top of the line quad-core i7 (4x 3.1ghz cores!). 8gb ram makes it speedy along with 2gb in the Nvidia GT555M graphics card. This thing can actually play most games at their recommended settings. It has the same resolution as most 13" ultrabooks, which is a pity as the screen is so big. There is one plus to a big, low resolution screen though - everything appears bigger - which is a boon especially to elderly people.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Medicine, the Epitome of Tangential Learning

"You only really learn medicine by doing"

As luck would have it I started my career in Emergency, an excellent all-rounded rotation for a beginner. 6 weeks into the job and I finally feel like a doctor; making real decisions and judgment calls that affect real people. I am also at long last starting to be decent at all the minor practical stuff such as cannulations, catheters and suturing.

Medicine has a lot more to do with mid level management than people realize. Patients take time to manage. In a typical 10 hour shift, I have seen between 3 and 10 patients. Often, patients take a lot of time to work up - chasing records and drug charts from their GP, digging a history out of the patient (this can be tricky and patients are often really really terrible at describing their own condition), and documenting everything for medico-legal reasons.

As an Intern (read: apprentice) I am also expected to doublecheck everything with a senior officer before enacting my plans. Judgment calls will be scrutinized, decisions would be double checked. If my plans are inadequate, or I missed out on a key investigation/examination, then I would be informed by a senior. This is all for the safety of the patients and to ensure they receive an appropriate level of care. Knowing what to do (how to manage) to a patient presenting with a condition is tricky, and is the reason why medicine is only really learnt in practice, tangentially. Textbooks are great and all but nobody ever does full systems exams such as those found in Talley & O'connor. The key mental processes that need to be assimilated into your chain of thought when making decisions about patients can only be formed in practice, and this is really what internship is all about.

"Tangential learning is not what you learn by being taught, rather it is what you learn by being exposed to things in a context that you are already engaged in." - James Portnow. 

Say middle-aged Jane Blogs presents with abdominal pain. I've taken bloods and done my bog standard gastroenterology history and examination. Ms Blogs now demands pain relief. What should I give her? Her pain does not warrant strong opiates, so I decide to prescribe some paracetamol/codeine and ketorolac (an NSAID like ibuprofen but a bit stronger). I run past a senior officer and describe her symptoms and my findings from my examination. Blood results are pending. "Can I give her some panadeine forte and ketorolac in the meanwhile?". STOP. The senior advises to withold the ketorolac until I know for sure that she is not pregnant. This is a lady who presented with abdominal pain, but I have not done an O&G history. For all I know she could be having pain related to pregnancy, whereby NSAIDS are contraindicated. If she had been trying to get pregnant for years (and being middle aged it is very difficult to do) and an NSAID triggered a miscarraige, excrement would have hit the proverbial fan. "Just call the lab and request an addon for B-HCG (a pregnancy hormone)" the senior advises. The bloods come back, no she's not pregnant, and pain relief is given as planned.

It's things like this that make internship mandatory in all countries and why it is irresponsible for fresh graduates to be left to make important decisions about patient care. Medicine isnt really learned in medschool, it is learned through the hours spent managing patients. It's not rocket science.

For the first time in years, I actually feel like studying. Now things really make sense and reading the books are a breeze. As a student you tend to read for knowledge alone. Today I read through the lens of a manager, and could far more easily visualize myself in the situations described by the literature. It is so much more real to me.

The most learning occurs when you have a query and subsequently research that query. This is tangential learning in action. Say a person presents with a headache. My knowledge of the subject is superficial at best, so I look up BMJ's Best Practice and UpToDate on how to best manage my patient. I quickly figure out what I have to exclude (eg subarachnoid haemorrhages) and the likely common differentials. Now not random Joe coming into Emergency with a headache will get irradiated (CT Brain). When do you really need to order one? Or when does the kid with the abdo pain need an urgent ultrasound to rule out/in appendicitis? Or in a patient with sudden shortness of breath, is it really a good idea to order a test for a clot in the lung if the chance of a false positive is high? Questions like these pop up all the time, and very often as a junior medical officer I cannot make the judgment call with confidence. That's when the senior staff step in and provide advice and assistance. The stuff that you learn hands on, in the moment, at the scene, is priceless. It is tangential learning at it's finest.

There's a catch. Tangential learning requires interest in the subject to work. I guess that is where some people start to realize maybe medicine is not for them.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Home Taping Is Killing Music!

Once upon a time, there was an industry group that went all out against tape-recording FM radio. They said it would kill record sales. They were wrong.

One thing that we have learned is that piracy is not a pricing issue. It’s a service issue,"
The easiest way to stop piracy is not by putting antipiracy technology to work. It’s by giving those people a service that’s better than what they’re receiving from the pirates.” - Gabe Newell, founder, Valve (owner of the STEAM service).

MegaUpload is dead. The repercussions to the online ecosystem of filesharing is huge, with cloud storage services reeling from the aftermath. Filesonic has gone 100% private (only uploaders can download their own files) while has completely blocked US ip addresses.

The RIAA and MPAA have done it again. MegaUpload was profitable because bandwidth in this day and age is very cheap. Instead of rising to the challenge and providing legal alternatives, they have failed the industry as a whole and created alot of bad press about themselves. They lobbied their cause based on fraudulent, rediculous malrepersentations of the value of the work they claimed to represent. Case in point: In 2008, they valued each piece of media in a case against ThePirateBay at $382,353. Ok, so they only had 34 examples of copyright infringement in their lawsuit, but by extension, that would mean that throughout its existance, The Pirate Bay has stolen roughly 382 trillion. That's 382,000 billion... or 382,000,000 million, or 382,000,000,000,000. The total amount of dollars in existance is only around $10 trillion, and includes all the money in banks, investments, cash and coins.

So they went out of their way, and successfully lobbied the government to use brute force to takedown MegaUpload and even extradite a young kid who ran TVShack, a link sharing blog. Extradition by the way is usually reserved for criminals. All without SOPA or PIPA.

I dont support what MegaUpload or TVShack did, but the response was incomprehensible. What happened to the players in the financial crisis? Their business were not terminated (eg bringing a website down terminates it) and their properties were not seized! They got a fucking bailout while their execs retired on multimillion dollar bonuses from the previous year!

Guilty Before Trial?

Wasnt the United State of America all about liberty and the right to trial? What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Any half decent lawyer can come up with a convincing 76 page document about why X or Y is guilty if X or Y had no opportunity to defend themselves.

This wasnt some murder case where the defendants had to be locked away pending trial. We're talking about geeks here. Computer nerds. Flamboyant nerds none the less but nobody has been charged with hurting a fly. Taxpayer money was spent on an armed assault on a luxury mansion. Yup, NZ taxpayer money was spent for two helicopters worth of police to swarm the mansion. Now this isnt exactly a drug lord were talking about here... they were after a computer geek. Kim Dotcom (Megaupload's founder) was a bit big even by couch potato standards, but two swat teams? seriously?

The Megaupload and TVShack cases set a dangerous precedent. You could get extradited to the US and face 5 years in jail for sharing a Michael Jackson song. The guy who killed MJ got only 4 years.

The Future of Media

Has piracy really harmed revenue as the RIAA and MPAA claim? No. People still buy  physical media, and online sales on sites such as Amazon and iTunes have been exploding. These sites acknowledge that DRM is a waste of time and give customers free-to-copy versions of songs. A smart move that helped the industry grow as a whole.

Customers will always be looking for convenience when downloading media. The creative industry needs to get it's head out of the clouds and look at the reality of a future whereby bandwidth is cheap. Sure, price a HD-DVD or Bluray 1080p triple A rated 3D movie at $49.90. But there is no reason why you couldnt also have an internet streamed / downloaded DRM-less version of the movie at SDTV resolution available for $5 bucks a pop - a price that many consumers will pay for the sheer convenience, and not everyone is a HD snob.

Having downloadable movies will not change the fact that I will still take my girlfriend out to the movies to enjoy the big screen and popcorn! It will not change the fact that I will get a Bluray movie to enjoy my new 50" plasma.

Killing Off The Middlemen

It's time to revolutionize digital distribution. Do what iTunes and Amazon did for music. Do what Valve and it's STEAM service did for games - they made more money selling games cheaply than pricing it high. They completely cut off the middleman and gave more back to content creators. Kill The Labels, end the RIAA/MPAA... there is no need to waste money on political lobbying and SWAT raids.

I really hope a service like STEAM will come in and revolutinize media distribution, giving the proverbial finger to the the RIAA and MPAA... directly connecting consumers with creators of media.

As technology improves, it will become cheaper and cheaper to produce media in general, making labels even less necessary. I see a future in which independant production houses liase directly with consumers via content agregator services. Less money in the pockets of lobbyists and lawyers. Cheaper media downloaded at my convenience for a reasonable price. 

But but... jobs will be lost!

Artists will continue doing their thing... selling their brand (Britney Spears parfum anyone?) and performing live shows. It's where they have always gotten alot of their income. Sure a decline in CD/DVD sales will mean that an artist may have to fly first class instead of having a personal jet, but nobody's fussed about that. Having a free distribution of media would also mean lesser known artists will not be so inundated by the well known ones.

The real jobs that would be lost are the ones that are invested in the RIAA/MPAA. The executives, lawyers, and people in the industry not actually creating media! 

The Aftermath

I speculate that nothing's really going to change even after the file-locker services are curtailed. Filestube may become irrelevant, but other than that, despite the RIAA and MPAA claims that piracy is causing a great deal of loss to content creators, _THE ACTUAL AMOUNT CONSUMERS SPEND ON MEDIA IS NOT GOING TO CHANGE MUCH_. Face it, media is something people consume with spare cash...and killing off a source of pirated media wouldnt force these people to buy media. If anything, less people will become media buffs...which is bad... and is the reason why music artists are so desperate to get their music videos out to the public for free (think FM radio and youtube).

A movie on Filestube is not going to change the number of times I go to the movies with friends. A lot of media is already available freely online, legally, via services such as Hulu and Youtube/VEVO. Musicians will continue to make money by performing their art and selling their brand/licensing... not by selling CD's!

At best, the pirates will be pushed underground, and at the end of the day, high quality HD rips of movies will still be available for those who try hard enough to get them.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Fridge w Freezer For Sale AU$80

Samsung Fridge.

In full working order. Ice box works well (too well, in fact... I'd advise you not to put veggies on the top rack as it freezes occasionally).

Fridge will be cleaned before it is sold to you.

The only flaw i can think of is a minor cosmetic defect on the R side of the fridge. Scratched it on a wall when I was moving rooms last summer.

My new place this year has a fridge and I have no need for this one.

Location: Roberts Hall, Monash Residential, 3610 Clayton VIC.
Call Ezra 0433597868 ezralimm $$$at$$$ gmail ^^^dot^^^ com

Monday, January 02, 2012

Jamestown. DIVINE difficulty.

Completing Jamestown on DIVINE Difficulty.

Jamestown is one of the best games I have ever played. It is made for multiplayer, with great game mechanics, scaling difficulty levels, and an epic...epic soundtrack.