Archive for the 'Miscellaneous' Category

Thomas Robert Malthus and Humanity’s Self-Destructive Nature

August 16, 2009

“The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man”

via Thomas Robert Malthus – Wikipedia

I’ve been reading The Spirit in the Gene recently (borrowed from Joss Winn), by Reg Morrison. The book is essentially about humanity’s genetic predisposition to increase in number at a geometric/exponential rate. The book brilliantly describes the evolutionary journey which has led us to the present point where our fertility rate, together with our larger brain size-to-body size ratio, means we are the most advanced animal on the planet. Yet at the same time – and virtually single-handedly – we are destroying the very environment which has fed and sustained us.

The prescient quote above (from 1798) neatly sums up the crux of the problem: the earth and its resources, vast as they are, are finite; however, the rate at which humans reproduce and consume is greater than the earth’s capacity to replenish these resources.

It’s a little crass to sum up the message – of both the book and the Rev. Malthus – as “we’re doomed”, but that’s essentially it. Without a significant and conscious shift in lifestyle, humanity looks set for failure.

This could be seen as depressing, but to me it’s actually a relief to read stuff that doesn’t beat around the bush and just makes sense of an issue that’s very difficult to face.


It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this: Empty Gmail

February 27, 2009

Here’s what it looks like after a frenzied 10 minutes of sorting my rapidly expanding inbox (over 1500 messages at the last count):


I don’t know what’s better, the feeling of a newly emptied inbox, or the fact that it only took a few minutes to sort and archive all my messages. Truth be told, very little sorting was required: I have a few tags which I use to filter some new mail, but other than that I mainly rely on Gmail’s excellent search facility.

I’m planning on basking in the glow of this minor achievement for at least the next 45 minutes. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you’re off work!

Ellen Anderson – Photography and Art for sale!

February 7, 2009

My friend, Ellen is selling her rather wonderful art and photography on her minigallery site to fund her volunteer mission trip to Spain later this year:

Ellen Anderson – Mini Gallery

Here’s a couple of examples:

IanVisits » Abandoned London

December 27, 2008

Check out this blog post for some awesome pictures of post-human London. Er, or, to put it more accurately, London on Christmas Day this year:

IanVisits » Abandoned London

No traffic, no people, just eerily empty streets.

Abandonment and Urban Decay

October 11, 2008

(This was originally posted on my tumblelog on 22nd August 2008):

I’ve been finding that there’s a strange beauty in photos of abandoned buildings, lonely places, slow deterioration and the gradual reclamation of the highest works of man by nature.

For me, it allows a vision of a post-apocalyptic planet without the pain and horror of the apocalypse. It’s always been the aftermath – not the disaster – that enthralls me.

To that end, why not dine on the following delights:

Detroit Wonderland

Detroit Wonderland | Julia Solis

Ars Subterranea

Ars Subterranea | Papciak and Sias

Opacity - Hellingly Asylum

Opacity | Hellingly Asylum

See also:

Flickr – Urban Abandonments – Whitby Psychiatric Hospital

Cuil: Epic Search Fail

July 28, 2008

Apologies for the tired old fail blog meme, but it seems particularly appropriate for the results I got from Cuil (pronounced “Cool” – yes, really) just now, the latest semantic/web 3.0/buzzword-baiting search engine from former Google employees that’s unfortunately turned out to be approximately 5,000,000 times less effective than Google:

Cuil - Fail

Cuil - Epic Search Fail

Inevitably the blogosphere (and Friendfeed) is already abuzz with tales of Cuil’s rampant ineptitude – note that some of these reviews do point out some positives, but then they all managed to get a results page, which is more than I got in two minutes twenty seconds of frantic F5-ing.

Still, it’s clad in a mysterious black colour scheme, which is always a plus, surely.

Firefox 3: Missing In Action

June 17, 2008

Today sees the release of Firefox 3 final, but as of this posting the official download site as well as Mozilla’s site are both out of action. Not a great start for their world record attempt!

According to a ZDnet posting you can get the final Firefox 3 release from Softpedia, though I’m not sure whether that will count towards the world record.

** UPDATE ** More alternative download sites just posted on reddit: mirrors

** UPDATE 2 ** And more alternative links here. None of these will count towards the (now slightly laughable) world record.

** UPDATE 3 ** 3 hours later… It’s finally working! Yay! Download is now proceeding at snail’s pace.

So Firefox 3 Is Looking Pretty Awesome

June 9, 2008

Firefox logoAnd “awesome” is the operative word, as Mike Beltzner explains:

Overview of Firefox 3 (via Reddit)

This presentation, one of many to have appeared online over the past months, showcases Firefox 3’s impressive multi-tasking address bar. Though now it’s so much more than an address bar, hence the “awesome bar” moniker.

I particularly like the one-click add to favourites button and ability to sort through and tag anything you think is worth keeping. I imagine there’ll be a extension soon (if there isn’t already) which will integrate sharing features and allow you to keep all your bookmarks in one place.

Foxmarks currently does something similar, but I would appreciate an add-on which allows you to import your current bookmarks into Firefox (and vice versa).

We won’t have long to wait: the final release is scheduled for mid-June or you could grab release candidate 3 now.

Postapocalypse Now!

May 19, 2008

You may not know this, but I have a (possibly unhealthy) fixation with post-apocalyptic fiction. Writing, film or art, it doesn’t matter: I’ll happily consume any of the above voraciously if it’s about life after some global catastrophe which could befall humanity.

I’m currently reading The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (more on that at a later date) which, although not fiction per se, explores what might happen to the earth if humans were to suddenly disappear tomorrow.

When I get a spare couple of hours in the next week, I’m planning on sitting down and writing a much more comprehensive and in-depth post on all of my favourite post-apocalyptic fiction – from John Wyndham to Cormac McCarthy. For now though, you’ll have to content yourself with what I think is a pretty awesome compilation of some of the best post-apocalyptic links on the web:

Lostmoya’s postapocalyptic special!

If you know of any better stuff that I haven’t yet included, please suggest it. Either here in the comments or add me on and send me links. The more post-apocalyptic the better!

Like this, for example. My latest find is a series of lithographs of post-apocalyptic Tokyo, by Japanese artist Hisaharu Motoda:

Post-apocalyptic ruins

Vista Service Pack 1: Overview

April 28, 2008

Vista LogoYesterday I installed Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista.

Installing service packs for Microsoft Operating Systems is always something of a heart-in-mouth experience, not least because it takes so blinking long for the installation process to complete. To its credit though, I only had to endure a 20 minute reboot before being back at the desktop where everything looked exactly the same as before.

What? Not even a patronising “Look What’s New in SP1” wizard?

Evidently not. In fact, I had to dig a little before I found any solid facts on the main changes. The main Microsoft Technet article on SP1 is next to useless – it’s all “addressing customer feedback” and “deploying user-focussed solutions to key challenges”-style guff. Okay, so what does it actually do?

Microsoft’s online Help and Support section is similarly low on useful information. That page is all about “enhanced user experience” and making Vista “more enjoyable to use”. Sounds great, right?

If you want to know what’s really going on, you need to go here:

Notable Changes in Windows Vista Service Pack 1

It turns out that the most noticeable improvements are in file management and copying tasks, which are apparently 25% faster when copying files on the same disk. There are also improvements to the hibernation/sleep feature (which I use heavily), and – a potential biggie for gamers – the introduction of Direct3D 10.1.

I’ve only had time to test SP1 out with general internet browsing use, and haven’t really noticed any big differences – then again, I didn’t really have any major issues previously, so that’s probably a good thing. I’ve also taken it for a brief spin with Unreal Tournament 3, and didn’t notice any issues there either. Hey, I’m not complaining!

Another useful resource for the more security-minded (and, let’s face it, who isn’t these days?) can be found here:

Hotfixes and Security Updates included in Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (found via TheTechieGuy)

More hotfixes than you can shake a digital stick at…