Surfing Wikipedia

July 22, 2009

I have just returned from a trip to Düsseldorf for work and I didn’t have any chance to post anything whilst there or even do much of surfing the internet. I managed to get a lot of artwork done and at some point I’ll be posting it, but I do not have time at the moment to do such things.

For the moment I’m going to go on about something that I find quite interesting, mearly because I get trapped by it quite a bit and end up wasting hours on Wikipedia. I’m being lazy so I won’t give it any kind of introduction I’ll just dive right in to my story. When due to fly back from Germany I realised that I didn’t know what Low Pressure meant in terms of weather systems and so I went about trying to find out. What I find facinating about this is that I can easily get lost in the swamp of information that is Wikipedia.

Generally when I’m Browsing Wikipedia, I will follow a link on a page if I don’t know what it is and it seems interesting enough to persue. Here’s my journey in Meterology.

Meterology – As we all know, or should know, Meterology is basically the study of weather, which is to say that it’s not just the study of when it will rain, shine, etc, but also the study of Meteorological phenomena including, but not limited to storm formation, tornados, etc. What one may not know and is that most of this all takes place in the Troposphere

Troposphere – This is the part of the atmosphere you live in extending between 4 miles (over the poles) to 12 miles (in tropical regions) above the earth. It contains over 99% of the atmosphere’s water vapor and 75% of it’s mass.  The border between this layer and the Stratosphere (which we all know of because it’s where aeroplanes fly and it’s where most of the heat gets trapped by the ozone layer) is called the Tropopause which is a temperature inversion.

Temperature Inversion –  I’ve never heard of this before and it turns out to be quite simple, though probably a lot more complex when it occurs. Inversion is just a difference from the regular way atmospheric properties change with altitude. So normally you get temperature decrease with altitude, but in some situations you get temperature increasing with altitude, as in the tropopause because in the Stratosphere temperature starts to increase with altitude. Inversion can lead to nasty pollution like smog getting trapped here and at low altitudes causing health issues, as happened in London in 1952 (I’d love to go off on a red herring about the London 1952 smog but it didn’t occur during my original search). Inversion can also surpress convection which if broken can lead to violent thunderstorms, but most interestingly Inversion can result in Freezing Rain.

Freezing Rain –  As rain falls, if it passes through air that is below freezing the raindrops become supercooled (which is when a liquid or gas goes below it’s freezing point without becoming a solid). When these supercooled raindrops impact a surface they freeze which can give trees a glazed look, cause branches to break under the weight and effect the flow of air over an aircraft.

You can see I’m incredibly off track already, but I want to finish with Warm Fronts which can be the cause of freezing rain.

Warm Front – I’ve often heard the term though I’ve never really known what it is, a warm front occurs when a body of warm air moves towards a body of cold air (potentially with a below zero temperature). The warm air doesn’t have the density to mix with the cold air and so it drifts above it, which causes the warm air to expand and cool forming clouds (high cirrus). As more air cools in this region and forms clouds they thicken into cirrostratus and altostratus and once they have reached 2,500km from the earth’s surface rain can begin to fall from the nibostratus clouds.

I don’t know the names of the clouds but there aren’t any direct links in Wikipedia and it’s at this point that I realise I still don’t know what Low Pressure really means in terms of weather and I give up for another day. Maybe I’ll find out what Low and High pressure really mean for weather one day, but for now I’m off to bed.


Swoopo – A bid’s just a bet

June 3, 2009

I bumped in to a site called Swoopo a while ago, and, after lengthy conversations with a friend of mine decided it was not just a complete scam, but one that could not be cheated. I do not entirely believe this, but recently I’ve seen adverts on the London Underground for Swoopo and I’ve really been curious as to how it’s managed to stay up so long.

The basic idea is that you buy the ability to bid on items and each bid, instead of being of an amount you choose, is an increase of 10p or 1p, depending on the type of auction. You pay 50p per bid and then, when you win an item, you pay the winning price. Say for example I’ve bought a load of chances to bid and I’ve been bidding on an iPod, which I win for £20, maybe I’ve used up 200 bids if each one increases the value by 1p. That beans I’ve spent 200 * £0.5 + £20 = £120. Depending on the iPod that could be what you think is a bargain, but then if you think about all the other auctions I may have bid on and lost, say I bid on a tv with 50 bids and didn’t get it, and a car with 200 more bids but didn’t get that either. That’s adding up pretty fast, I’ve now spent a total of £245 and I’ve got an iPod.

So it’s easy to see that it’s a con, you’re going to be throwing your money away like nobodies business. Lets now look at how much these guys must make, and I’m being conservative here. My iPod sold to me for £20, lets say it started at £5 (It is more likely to start at 0). Each bid increase the price by £0.01 and I won it for the £20, so that’s £15 worth of bids each at £0.50. 15/0.01 = 1500 * 0.5 = 750. So on that auction alone they made £750 + £20 (£20 that I won the item for). If that’s not a great way to make money I don’t know what is.

However, Swoopo is in a grey area of law whereby it can be considered gambling, you are buying the right to gamble on the ending price of the item. At which point you are given the opportunity to buy it at that price. If you check the Wikipedia page for Swoopo then you can see the controversy that they are under and the call to have them under the Gambling law in the UK due to it being a Bidding fee scheme.

Daily Mug Shot

April 8, 2009

Today I started a DailyMugShot to do some stop animation. It’s starting off with very Jamie Smart (Bear) influences, but I imagine it will morph and change quite a bit over the time in which I do it (this is why I named the account Bear). It’s worthy of note that Jamie Smart’s Bear comic is very funny and very original in a sea of boring and unoriginal content that you now find in indie comics.

This is something I’m going to keep up daily and dedicate maybe half an hour to doing a scene for each shot. I imagine that they’ll start quite boring but they’ll pick up and if I can get a better web cam things can start getting quite funky later on.

Bear DailyMugShot

My DailyMugShot

WIRED – Wall Street Netbooks and the Music Industry

March 15, 2009

I bought a copy of Wired, the American issue a few days ago and I must say I’m really rather impressed by it. I bought it because of an article it has called The Secret Formula that destroyed Wall Street. It’s all about a formula called the Gaussian copula formula which was, as far as I can make out, used to calculate risk on different kinds of loans from the high end loans only banks deal with to, and more importantly, your regular mortgage. However, I’m really loving my latest purchase of this magazine, it’s got quite a few really interesting articles in it, including one on Watchmen that I have yet to read.

Included in the articles are an article on music games like Rock Band and how the music industry in all its wisdom is pulling support from these games because they don’t give enough in the form of licensing fees and returns. What they’re doing I see as essentially opening up the market for independent music distribution and licensing, giving more variety and freedom to those who want to get their music out there. Think about creating a tune for a game like Rock Band specifically as a band and getting it known through the console, then, when popularity has increased, or even before, sell it over iTunes or some other internet distributer.

Recently I bought a netbook, a Samsung NC10 to be precise, it’s an absolutely fabulous piece of hardware, it runs everything I could really want on the move and I can even code some Assembly on it. I write most of my blog entries on it on my way too and from work and I feel quite proud of it when I pull it out on the tube on the way too or from work. However, there is a point to this, the WIRED issue has an article on Netbooks that really makes you think about the direction the hardware industry for computers is really going. Here, is a netbook, a low cost, low powered, device that can really do anything you want to do on it. If you have an internet connection you don’t even need to worry about installing a word processor on it. There really is no real need for most people to have high performance computers when you can just sit down snug on a char in Starbucks with a netbook and get on with whatever facebooking-myspacing-shenanigans you want. For ages coders have been taking advantage of high powered pcs by coding bloatware, sloware, bulkware, etc and now you have these low powered netbooks that are what we had maybe four years ago in high end laptops and if software developers really want to stay atop of the market they’re going to have to start shaping up and coding better. That’s just my personal opinion on how bad a lot of programs are coded these days though.

Finally, we have the article on the Gaussian Copula Function which I’ll probably write an article on as well as Watchmen. At the moment I’m so impressed with WIRED US that I want to subscribe but I’m going to be waiting to see if the next issue is any good.

Sad day for NASA

September 16, 2008

It’s a sad day for something like NASA when conclusive proof of the faking of the Moon Landing is released.

Moon Landing Proof

taken from Desi

Pez I haven’t forgotten about your comment, it’s coming.