Titbit: Going to be Perth’s Driest July on Record (2012)

Anybody who has been listening to the news on TV over the last week or so will already know this but I just thought it was worth jotting it down really quickly. Assuming there is no ‘useful’ rain over the next five days, and the weather bureau are not expecting any, then Perth (in Western Australia, Australia) is going to experience its driest July since 1876; which was around about when regular weather records for Perth were started.

Don’t believe me? Check out this article at the Weather Channel or this one at The West.

The previous lowest for July was about 62mm.

The average for July is 170mm.

But this July so far we have had less than 28mm—less than half the previous lowest rainfall.

As Winter comes to an end (there is one month to go) the metropolitan dams are barely at 30 percent capacity.

This is bad news all around. It means the Water Corporation is going to have to pull every gallon they can from the precious, and rapidly dwindling, underground aquifer reserves. And even this is not going to be enough to cover the amount of water used by Perth and surrounds last year.

This just underlines the fact that we live in the driest city, which happen to be in the driest state, which—as it happens—is part of the most arid country on the planet.

Strewth! . . . If it was illegal to wash your car using a running hose last year then it is probably going to be illegal to even wash your car with a bucket this year. There is going to be lots of dirty cars driving around.

Barry’s Tip: Don’t expect the price of water to go down any time soon.


Titbit: Someone Diagnosed with Diabetes Every 5 Minutes in Australia

Just on ABC 24 News they just said that in Australia this year so far someone was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every five minutes!

That’s 12 per hour. That is 288 per day; 1,240 per month.

HSD (holy snapping duckshit).

You are 800 times more likely in any given week to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than you are to win first division Saturday lotto!!

HSD*2 (double holy snapping duckshit).

The causes of type 2 diabetes are interesting. Back when I was diagnosed some three years ago now (I have been pricking my fingers four times a day for three years—no wonder I gave up the guitar) I did a bit of research on the causes. There are a lot of theories about the causes of type 2 diabetes including:

  1. Being overweight (most likely).
  2. Insufficient exercise (likely, and sort of linked to #1).
  3. Not eating enough salt over a long term (possible).
  4. Consumption of artificial sweeteners and in particular aspartame-based sweeteners (limited evidence).
  5. Consumption of large amounts of sugar even if you are not overweight [#1] and do get sufficient exercise [#2] (likely).
  6. Alcoholic drinks and especially abuse of high proof spirits (possible).
  7. Prescribed medications such as beta blockers and statins (likely).

I am sure there are many more but these are some that I researched.


Titbit: Shoplifting Has Doubled in the Last Six Years

I was just watching an article on Today Tonight, which I think is on Channel 7 (but I could be wrong), about the doubling in shoplifting over the last seven years in Australia.

Presuming Today Tonight have got their numbers right then 4 billion dollars worth of goods were stolen from retail outlets across Australia in 2011. Apparently this is about double the estimated value of shoplifting in 2005 after adjusting for inflation. This means that in ‘real’ terms people stole twice as much stuff in 2011 than they did in 2005, or maybe there are twice as many people stealing stuff now compared back then—one or the other, or a bit of both.

The Today Tonight article went into the new high-technology steps that retailers are implementing to catch and stop shoplifting, and how the cost of these steps then has to be passed on to regular customers in the price of goods. So, as usual, the honest people end up paying the cost of shoplifting.

The question I was hoping they would ask was: “Why has shoplifting increased so much over the last seven years?” But they didn’t and a quick couple of Google searches did not bring up the answer.


Titbit: USA Smartphone Ownership About to Hit 50 Percent

Sometime in the next two to three months smartphone ownership in the USA is forecast to hit 50 percent. At that point five out of every 10 people in the USA will own a smartphone. Or one in every two—if you prefer that comparison.

Of all the people who own a smartphone about 15 percent use their smartphone as their primary computing device; meaning they spend more time ‘computing’ using their smartphone that they do using a notebook or desktop computer.

While I don’t see smartphones taking over the role of business computing any time soon the time is coming when the world’s primary computing device could well be the smartphone, or its close cousin ‘the tablet’.

While the smartphone could be about to take over as the general consumer’s preferred computing device there will be certain people who will be using ‘proper’ computers for many years to come. Can you imagine working on a 40,000 row Excel spreadsheet, or making some fine adjustments to a MicroStation drawing, or authoring a 500 page book, or even crafting up a blog posting with a few images in it that need editing first, using a smartphone? I certainly can’t.


Titbit: Finally Finished Categorising My Posts

Regular readers who have been paying attention will know that about two months ago I enabled SquareSpace’s widget for putting postings into categories. While this seemed like a great idea at the time I think that I seriously under estimated the time that would be involved in going back through all my posts and putting each of them into categories.

Well I have finally completed this task. All postings have now been categorised.

I am not saying I did a good job of this; in fact I know that I have broken one of the golden rules of categorising posts which is that each post should be placed into at least two categories. But as I was going through there were a number of posts where I just could not work out two categories to put them into—so, hence, I have a number of posts that are only in one category.

However I did manage to comply with the suggestion that there should not be any ‘general’ or ‘other’ or ‘misc’ categories. But I sort of got around this a bit by having a ‘hmmmm’ category which I used to put postings into that I just could not get into one of my other categories.

The other downside to enabling ‘categories’ is that now each time I post a new posting to my site—such as this posting when I send it up—I then have another step I have to complete that I didn’t have to do before. I need to then go into SquareSpace and put the new posting into the relevant categories.

Everything has a downside . . . and I wonder if anyone will ever really use the categories to look back at past postings?


Titbit: Plasma Screens Dying Out

Up until about 18 months ago the decision on whether to buy an LCD or Plasma flat-panel screen was a 50:50 call. If you wanted a screen that performed well in well-lit areas, had ‘harder’ blacks, and handled fast motion video without any noticeable motion lag, then you went with Plasma. Another upside for the Plasma flat screen was that they were generally about 30 percent cheaper than the same size LCD screen.

But if you wanted a screen that appeared overall slightly sharper (especially when a screen up around the 50” or 55” was to be used in a smaller area) and had truer more solid colours, then you would probably go for LCD. But with LCD back then you needed to use it mainly in subdued lighting locations.

For people conscious about energy usage LCD screens also pull about 20 percent less power than the same size Plasma. Additionally, Plasma screens then had a faster ‘warn up’ time than LCD. A quality Plasma screen would warm up to ‘full’ colour within about a minute of being turned on, whereas earlier LCDs took 5 to 10 minutes to reach peak colour.

But in recent times the rules have changed. LCD technology now provides much improved blacks, and improved refresh rates have all but eliminated any noticeable issues with motion blur lag. LED backlit LCDs, which would be about 80 percent of all new LCD panels, no longer have issues working in well-lit areas and the peak colour warm up times are less than two minutes.

The price difference between LCD and Plasma is now only about 10 to 15 percent except when it come to panels about 60” or larger where LCD is still about 30 percent more expensive. This is because very large Plasma screens are much cheaper to manufacture than very large LCD panels.

Because of these recent improvements with LCDs over three quarters of all flat panel sales worldwide over the last six months were LCD panels and this ratio is expected to increase.

This might all change when Quad-density screens start to hit the market because the price difference between Plasma and LCD Quad-density screens might go back to 30 percent. The problem is that, at this point in time, there is nothing being transmitted in Quad-density so there is not much point is trying to buy one—assuming you could find any for sale anywhere.


Titbit: Asteroid 99942 Will Miss Us—But not by Much

Back in about 2004 those amazingly smart people who can calculate such things were pretty darn sure that asteroid 99942—code named Apophis—had a greater than 10 percent chance of smashing into the Earth on the 13th of April 2029. Given that Apophis has a diameter of about half a kilometre then if it were to hit the Earth it would have provided an impact explosion equivalent to about 800 megatons which is about 15 times larger than the biggest hydrogen bomb ever exploded.

It is kind of interesting that this asteroid was officially numbered 99942. If you ever watched the movie “7” you will know that 999 to some people is an interpretation of 666, which, to millions of other people, is the devil’s number. And 42, as almost every person in the Western World knows, is the answer to the question “What is the meaning of life and the universe and everything”.

Anyway, now it seems that those of us planning to be around in 2029 can relax. New data and more recent calculations show that 99942 is no going to be a collision threat when it comes back past the Earth in 2029.



Titbit: Google Still Indexing My Site, But Bing is Not

With my unique visitor count falling so much lately I thought that maybe Google and/or Bing have stopped indexing my site so I ran a quick test. I did a double-literal search for “name of the wind” with “catching fire”.

With the Google test, as you can see below, my site came up as the second site on the search list on the very first page of results.


So Google are still indexing my site. Yay for Google.

However the same test with Microsoft’s Bing did not turn up my site in the first five pages of results, after which I stopped looking for it. With a very tight double-literal search test like this my site should have at least made the first five pages of results.

Why is it that Bing keeps dropping my site off their index crawler? From memory this happened about a year or so ago as well. I can recall doing a post about it then.

Bing have a site submission form somewhere that I will have to find and fill in again, but I do wonder how come they seem to keep losing my site . . .


Titbit: Samsung Sells 50,000 Phones per Work-hour

Samsung has managed to do something that only two years ago seemed impossible. They have knocked Nokia off as the number one worldwide seller of mobile phones (‘cell phones’ for my American readers).

GalaxyS11Worldwide in Q1 of 2012 (i.e., Jan to March) Samsung were selling 20,533 phones per hour for every hour of the day, for every day of the week. That is 342 phones per minute! They sold 44.5 million phones in Q1.

If you reduce it down to six work days a week and 12 work hours per day then it gets even more insane with Samsung selling 48,000 phones per hour or 800 per minute.

Nokia have plummeted from far and away the number one seller of mobile phones just two years ago into second place, with Apple sitting very close against them in third place. Market analysts expect Nokia and Apple to swap places by mid-year making the top two smartphone companies Samsung and Apple but with Samsung remaining a good 20 percent ahead of Apple in worldwide unit sales.


Titbit: Finished ‘Reading’ Catching Fire

CatchingFireOn the two and a half hour drive back from site last Friday evening I finished ‘reading’ the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy—Catching Fire.

As anyone who has been checking into my site regularly will know I am actually listening to these books as audible books. They are very well read (or ‘voice acted’ as the popular terminology seems to be) by Carolyn McCormick.

I tried ‘reading’ the audible version of Game of Thrones and then, after that did not work out so well, I had a go at ‘reading’ Name of the Wind; but I did not finished either of these books—although I might go back and try Name of the Wind again at some time. Either they do not work as voice-acted books or the person reading them was not as good as Carolyn.

So what did I think of Catching Fire? It was great and I can’t wait now to start ‘reading’ the final book in the trilogy.