Talk about amazing prescience to coming events. Yesterday Mosspuppet ranted on the US Patent office’s asinine actions in granting Facebook a patent for “The Feed” and went on to talk about how it’s bad for business when companies make generalized patents to stifle competitor innovation (video below).
If you’ve ever read the stream of patents that Apple constantly files it’s pretty obvious what is going on. Apple is basically working to patent every idea they have, in most cases things that they have never done and never will do. Just whatever random ideas they have that sound like good ideas. While I think putting patents on your creations is a good idea I think it’s a real dick move to patent an idea you never actually created. Then when somebody come a along and makes that idea a reality you shouldn’t be allowed to take them to court for innovating and creating something never existed.
Abstract idea patents in themselves are pretty bad to begin with; if it doesn’t exist you shouldn’t be allowed to patent it. The “we may do it someday.” argument doesn’t work. I dreamed of airplanes that flew into space full of passengers when I was 5; I shouldn’t be allowed to patent the idea so I could sue Virgin Galactic now.
There’s also the idea of putting a patent on something that is s basic many people have the same idea. Here’s some of the Apple ones involved in the HTC issue from the excellent breakdown at Engadget.
- Patent 7,362,331: Patents transition effect of opening or closing a window in a browser when it moves at a non-linear speed. Most modern browsers do this.
- Patent 7,469,381: Patents the effect of scrolling to the end of a list and having it snap back to the end with a little elastic bounce.
- Patent 5,920,726: Patents controlling the power usage of a device component to save battery power. Every hand-held device in the world does this.
- Patent 5,929,852: I believe this patents using an application to access an online database like most iPhones apps, all Google resources, and many desktop apps developed in the 90’s onward.
One famous Apple patent is the idea of “Multi-touch”; interacting with a screen with more than one input is a basic idea and one that existed before Apple popularized it. But Apple has the patent, and now that more devices have it they want their cut of the income others are making with this basic idea.
In fact one commenter on Engadget pointed out that Apple held off suing other companies using multi-touch for years until they had all established it as a common use and made loads of money off it so as to maximize Apple’s gain when they finally lashed out with their lawyer armies.
In the end all I have to say is that I agree with Walt Mosspuppet. It’s stupid to grant these vague patents and detestable for companies to use them as clubs to beat on competitors that are innovating in the market.
Apple isn’t doing this out of fairness, they’re not doing this because they’re losing money, and they’re not doing this to improve the market for their consumers. It is a purely selfish move to solidify their market lead, and leach money from the companies struggling to compete. And the people who suffer most are the consumers, the innovation in technology, and the free market itself.
I’m not a big Hilary Clinton fan but I definitely agree with some of her statements that the internet should be open and free. If anything I’ve learned from my decade and a half of message boards, mailing lists, and chat rooms is that the internet’s key feature is the ability of people to gather and discuss, with all the good and bad that entails.
Of course the comments are a thinly veiled threat at China and their firewall blocking anything that paints the country in a negative light. China has already reacted, probably because of the stir Google caused earlier, by denouncing Clinton’s statements as damaging to bilateral ties between the country calling it “information imperialism”.
Boy, talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
Ma defended China’s policies promoting the Web, saying the nation boasted more than 380 million users, 3.6 million Web sites, and 180 million blogs.
“The Chinese Internet is open and China is the country witnessing the most active development of the Internet,” Ma said, adding that China regulated the Web according to law and in keeping with its “national conditions and cultural traditions.”
The mind boggles. Somebody needs to tell them that the number of people using the internet has absolutely no bearing on how much freedom those people have.
It’s amazing that China has effectively been able to rewrite their own history through information control. Most Chinese don’t know the significance of Tiananmen Square, the protests there, or the massacres that occurred in the area in 1989. I remember watching a show where they interviewed students at the China University of Political Science and Law, where the protesters originated from, and showed them the iconic picture of the man standing in front of the tanks the day after the massacres asking them if they recognized it.
None recognized it, and only few knew that it was tied to an important event in China’s history. Most thought it looked like a parade, exhibition, or some celebration.
To think that even with the masses of information the internet makes possible, the Chinese state has been able to keep its citizens from learning recent history. The anonymous man who is seen as a hero for freedom and peace through the world is unknown in his own county.
The second thing that amazes me from a technology standpoint is how much power google has now where their actions and simple refusal to continue to bow to the government of China can put the Chinese and American Governments so much on edge that simple discussions on the freedom of the internet by the US can be damaging to bilateral ties.
Clinton is right, the internet is a new world where people can freely come together. The power of the recent events with China is proof that freedoms in the real world need to be carried over to the virtual world.
Wow talk about a huge topic to cover. This would be so vast it would make the Analog to Digital TV switchover look like a cakewalk.
Before I dive into this (I’m lucky today is a slow day) I want to clear up some minor misconceptions:
1. AT&T is NOT talking about removing physical wiring and running everything over wireless or cell networks!!!! (!!Very important misconception!!)
2. This will have no impact on your DSL or cable internet. It is merely moving analog circuit switched POTS lines to the same technology that the internet runs on.
3. POTS is technically already mostly digital from end to end. Only the final mile is converted back to analog. But it’s in a (nearly) lossless conversion and still circuit based, not packetized.
Now some quick definitions:
POTS – Plain old telephone system. Using switched circuits it creates a single end to end connection between two points (usually phones).
PSTN – Public Switched Telephone network. The network that runs the POTS.
LEC – Local Exchange Carrier. Basically your local phone company.
“Final Mile” – This refers to the connection from your neighborhood switch to your individual home. Once you leave the final mile you’re into the LEC’s network of phone connections.
Backbone – The main connections that connect all the neighborhood switches together and link all the LECs themselves together. AT&T and the few other long distance carriers control most of the backbone connections between regional LECs.
VOIP – Voice traffic that is divided into packets and transmitted in the same manner as internet data.
So where are we at?
Basically AT&T is tired of maintaining the POTS network. POTS requires an end to end connection between the two communicating points. In the past human operators connected the physical wires based off the circuit a person was calling (people over 50-60 years old might remember phone numbers that were like “KL425”). Later automatic physical switches made connections based off numeric a phone number. Most recently digital switches use computers to redirect calls based off the number. But even though it’s digitally switched the effect is still creating a single, 64kbps of data sized, end to end circuit.
This is what AT&T wants to change.
Now in the era of internet we don’t use a fixed circuit, the data stream is chopped into packets, each is individually addressed, and then sent on their way. The stream often follows the same path but doesn’t need to. It can arrive through different paths across the backbone, be put back in order and re-assembled at the other end. Any lost packets can just be resent.
Voice can be compressed and sent along the same as internet data in a VOIP connection, but some of the above situations can break VOIP. VOIP is a streaming technology, if a VOIP packet is lost that part of the conversation is lost, unlike loading a webpage you can’t wait for the data to be resent. The VOIP traffic is also compressed, depending how much it’s compressed the quality can drop significantly as parts of the voice stream are eliminated. G.711 basically just digitizes the stream and does almost no compression so the stream is 64kbps. G.723.1 can compress that down as far as 6kbps but call quality loss can be noticeable.
Now some reasons for AT&T’s desire to eliminate POTS become clear.
First is the fact that even through IP and circuit switched voice can run on the same equipment and same cables, they are two completely separate and incompatible networks. They need to go through special converters called DSP’s to be made digital and packetized (or un-packetized), and special systems need to be programmed to re-address for the new network. It’s much easier to consolidate everything into one system to maintain and monitor and adjust.
Second, compression make better use of the backbone bandwidth; instead of using up 64kbps of a fiber line per call you can get away with 16kbps or as little as 6kbps. That means for every one circuit switched call taking up fiber bandwidth you can fit 4 VOIP calls.
But there are some problems too.
Voice can be packetized into an IP network with no problem but it needs high priority to maintain the voice stream since voice needs to be a consistent stream and voice packets can’t arrive out of order or late. Too many dropped packets cause the voice call to stutter, and too much compression distorts the sound (usually sounds “tinny”). VOIP calls have a margin for error of about 200ms before the connection will likely drop.
That old POTS line has also been backwards compatible with equipment made as far back as the 1940s. If you get a simple old phone from before 1990 you’ll probably notice it doesn’t have a power cord. The power was actually provided at the phone company and backed up using massive banks of batteries in its basement. That means in a power outage most old POTS lines and phones will still work, great for emergencies and natural disasters.
Some things require high quality audio for communications, notably modems and fax machines. That squealing sound you hear when a fax or modem connects is 1s and 0s converted into an analog sound and blazing out a thousands of bits per second, usually 56 thousand per second to be exact . When VOIP compresses with the idea that it’s compressing voice data and will eliminate the sounds it doesn’t think the human ear can hear, unfortuenately modems use a much broader frequency range for data. Plus modems and faxes don’t know what to do when a stream of data arrives late or doesn’t arrive at all. A lost VOIP packet can screw up the data stream and cause the modem to disconnect.
So when AT&T talks about eliminating the POTS line we’re talking about some major changes. Not just changing how voice crosses the backbone, or how AT&T does business with other LECs but eliminating modems, faxes, and all those non-VOIP phones.
I know many people won’t mourn any of the above but let me fill you in on some of what I do for a living (for AT&T no less).
I setup and upgrade business class internet connections into AT&T EVPN MPLS cloud. Don’t worry about all the acronyms, simply put we provide connections between the multiple sites of a business. If you work at branch store or office and connect to a corporate site then we connect you together over AT&T’s backbone. Once up and running we literally are the “internet cloud” and transparent to the users. A customer doesn’t see any of our massive network, just a direct line to all their other company sites and connection out to the internet.
My job specifically is configuring the AT&T equipment on the customer site. I don’t physically go there and install it, there’s a separate onsite tech who puts it in and turns it on then my team connects in and configures the equipment.
The problem is that since the equipment isn’t setup just plugging it in and turning it on won’t connect, you need another way in that isn’t dependent on that data connection working. So by using a POTS line and a modem you can connect into a router as if you were physically there. No matter what is wrong (other than the power out) you can get access through the modem from anywhere in the world just by dialing the number (and going through massive passwords and encryption).
In fact the modem is integral to the reliable up-time for the router and is required by AT&T to have in addition to the data line itself. If any emergency or outage happens to the onsite router for the customer; first it should be able to reload and fix itself, but if for some reason it’s erased itself AT&T will see it disconnect, will connect through the modem, reload the configuration, and be back online in minutes. Without the modem we’d need a tech to go onsite, directly connect and fix the issue. Factoring in time to call for a network down, schedule a tech, travel out to the site, and fix the issue, you can be looking at anywhere from 4 hours to 48 hours of down time.
When dealing with government entities and Fortune 500 companies the difference between 10 minutes and half day downtime can millions of dollars in lost production and sales. The difference is having a modem onsite so a tech here in Utah can fix the site remotely.
So it’s pretty ironic that AT&T itself is calling for land line elimination when my AT&T department requires them for service. Obviously a situation of a company being so big the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.
The switch from POTS to IP is inevitable
I do think that some day the circuit switched and packet switched networks will be merged. But a lot will need to happen to make that possible:
Everybody needs to replace their phones with VOIP phones, or providers need to put massive conversion facilities in the final mile.
Providers need to find out how to provide local 911 and emergency service when power goes out and the infrastructure is damaged.
Modems and faxes need to be replaced with a similar reliable technology that is compatible with VOIP compressions and missed packets.
Basically what AT&T wants isn’t impossible and it is inevitable. But the switchover would make the Analog to DTV switchover look like nothing. It’s one thing when you’re changing over something recreational like watching TV. POTS landline elimination is a deeply ingrained infrastructure technology that will be a pain to switch over. It’s like saying that we’re not going to use asphalt on our roads anymore, all asphalt roads would need to be changed over to concrete because new cars don’t work on them.
But the technology is there, and once a few issues are resolved it’s much better to make the switch instead of clinging to old technology.
I’m a treehugger. I love going out into the wilderness and getting away from all forms of human development from time to time. However I’m also a realist, I know that as much as I’d like to freeze unneeded human expansion and preserver every acre of the little remaining undeveloped land we have, that will never happen.
Next best thing is that if an area is gong to be developed that we do it in a way that has as little environmental impact possible. In fact I see that as the new great development challenge for humanity. We’ve proven that we can forcibly carve out our comfort zone by making Nature bow to our demands. Now we need to find a way to create the same comfort zone we currently have in the developed world but do it in a way that has virtually no impact on nature.
Now a lot of people say that no impact means that we should all live in huts made out mud, clay, and cow pies. That we should only eat food grown, cultivated, and picked by hand. And that anything that uses any carbon or energy be eliminated. Ok, maybe that’s the extreme “straw-man” viewpoint but a lot of people lean that way in their arguments, and they piss me off because their unrealistic goals and self righteous attitudes create a backlash where people go out of their way to waste resources more. Seriously, I met a guy who doesn’t just want to leave an environmental imprint and carbon footprint, he wants to leave a “Carbon Crater, just to piss [environmentalists] off” as he puts it. This is the group of people who put “People Eating Tasty Animals” stickers on their bumpers and get outraged when the hear that some person doesn’t believe in eating meat.
So let’s be realistic, the world will never give up all the progress made in the last 2000 years and go back to living off berries in lean-tos in the forest. That’s why I’m always excited to see projects like this one by resort architects ReardonSmith, that creates a 200 room hotel under a golf club in Surrey UK.
I’ve always liked the architecture of building underground. There are a lot of benefits to ecology and efficiency in building underground. The ground is warmer than air in winter and colder than air in summer, not to mention an amazing insulator to ambient heat and sound, It’s like having a house that is in constant 48 degree weather, just add a little heat as necessary. The obvious glaring issue is getting natural light in but that is usually solved by building the structure in a circle around a well that lets light in (think Luke Skywalker’s home in Star Wars). There are all kinds of cool articles about this stuff online, including a soldier in Afghanistan inspired to come home and build a green house with reinforced HESCO earthen barriers surrounding the structure to reduce the stress of dirt leaning against the walls.
But I’m getting off topic. As cool as it seems to finally see people designing our living environment to better sync with nature rather than fight it this new resort is catching flak from some of the least likely sources. You’d think treehuggers and eco friendly people would be onboard, but the problem is that the resort will be in a London’s “Green Belt” an area around the city zoned to keep urban sprawl contained and to provide a green buffer to help keep the environment air clear and fresh for the nearby city.
This brings us back to the issue I began with. Some people can get a little extreme in their environmentalism. If this was a golf resort going into a protected Wilderness area I’d understand but this is the area surrounding the densest urban area in the UK. I hate to be the realist but that land is going to be touched by the hand of man eventually; if only every city were to build their sprawl in such an eco friendly way we’d be a lot better off by now.
I think this is a situation where people should meet half way. I bet a lot of people in the “Carbon Crater” camp would be quite impressed to see how nice it is when development works with the environment instead of against it, enough that we might bring more of them over to our cause. And certainly more than if we just tell them “No! The line in the sand has been drawn and progress and development stops here!”
Maybe in the future we can all live in some prettier, eco friendly cities. We may never be able to erase our impact to the point where our homes are indistinguishable from the wilderness but we have the technology now to at least work with the environment from hear on out.
1024 digital tracks are worth $0.23 according to Time Warner
Want to know why I feel no guilt watching big labels bleed a slow death, read this great article from an un-recouped band trying to find out how much money they’re making.
It’s a bit long for a “quick” read but it’s great, and as you’re reading keep in mind this is one of the numerous “little guys” once embraced by the corporation that is now discarded by the wayside. And one of the few who has the abilities to see just how bad their getting screwed.
As I asked more questions (Why do we get paid 50% of the income from all the tracks on one album, but only 35.7143% of the income from all the tracks on another? Why did 29 plays of a track on the late, lamented MusicMatch earn a total of 63 cents when 1,016 plays of the exact same track on MySpace earned only 23 cents?) he eventually got to the heart of the matter: “We don’t normally do this for unrecouped bands,” he said. “But, I was told you’d asked.
Time Warner is the 4th largest media conglomerate. They aren’t a mom and pops startup business in danger of dying so that they have to cut costs to stay afloat. Just a few of TW’s lucrative holdings:
New Line Cinema (Makers of Lord of the Rings Trilogy)
Turner Broadcasting System
Warner Bros. Entertainment (All Harry Potters, Batmans, and Supermans)
CNN (The “Not Fox or that crappy MSNBC” one)
DC Comics (And all the comic book movie moneys they bring)
My point is a company this big an powerful has the ability to do basic accounting of where their money is coming and going; something they are all too quick to point out to say that illegal downloads of music and movies is apparently killing them.
Making money is making money, it doesn’t matter if you’re up $20,000, or in the hole $300,000 income is just as important. The fact that record labels dismiss the income (debt reduction) owed on artists that are un-recouped is just bad as if they cut a recouped band out of a $10,000 royalty check. The artists aren’t suffering because of downloads like the labels say, they’re suffering because the labels are lying to them and cutting them out of the income they are entitled to.
Alternatively we have proof here that the big labels aren’t losing hardly any money on digital downloads at all. If 1,016 plays of a track on MySpace is only worth 23 cents, why are illegal downloaders being fined $80,000 for downloading a digital copy off the internet?
Either way you slice it the conglomerate labels are lying and exploiting their artists and customers.
This used to be a political blog so here is a perfect mesh of past and present.
Today the head of the FCC announced that they’re moving to guaranty the internet stays free and competitive from now on. FCC Chairman wants network neutrality, wired and wireless
To do this it will require laws that guarantee certain freedoms for people on the internet. These laws may restrict the way businesses
take advantage of consumersdo business; in much the same way labor laws took away a businesses right to employ 8 year-olds for 60 hour work weeks.
The idea of a law against business has got Republican attention and now Republicans are moving to block the new FCC online freedom initiative by removing all the funding for it to be implemented. In their own words:
“In this struggling economy, any industry that is able to thrive should be allowed to do so without meddlesome government interference that could stifle innovation,” Ensign said in a statement. “We must avoid burdensome government regulations that micromanage private businesses or that limit the ability of companies to provide what their customers want. The Internet has flourished in large part because of a lack of government interference; I see no need to change that now.”
These are the businesses that “thrive” by charging you $100 a month for phone service that doesn’t work. By charging you more per kilobyte for an SMS than it costs NASA to communicate with the Hubble space telescope. By promising to “innovate” and upgrade your service over a decade but instead charging you more per month for the same service.
This is an example of jackass Republicans letting partisan bickering block good legislation all without them knowing what or why they’re blocking it. These FCC initiatives don’t “limit the ability of companies to provide what their customers want.” They stop companies from blocking what customers want. It keeps the internet free so that huge corporations don’t stifle the innovation that created the internet in the first place.
Because if laws that guarantee freedom stifle businesses, then those businesses are doing something they shouldn’t.
The new FCC network Neutrality regulation is a regulation the same way the First Amendment is a regulation. Guaranteeing people have freedom to do what they want may mean we have to force business NOT to restrict our freedom. The government is just passing legislation so that our modern Corporatocracy doesn’t become a “Big Brother” influence that defines how and when we communicate over the internet.
To put it in perspective, if free speech was billed by corporations when the founding fathers came up with the Bill of Rights these morons would be fighting it saying that government regulation will kill all the businesses that make money enforcing silence among the populace.
Today the FCC made the first announcement that it’s going to keep the internet free (communication-wise, not $$$), competitive, and non-discriminatory.
Republicans are moving to stop this, and in the process rejecting everything they claim defines their party.
By giving monopoly businesses power rather than the consumer they are creating an environment that:
1. Squashes free communication
2. Closes the free market
3, Blocks access to today’s modern communication utility
4. And restricts the innovation that has allowed to internet to redefine communications in our time.
It may sound like I’m blowing this out of proportion but all of the above have already happened at least once as the big communication providers have tried to “cross the line” to turn a profit. I hope to hell that the republicans are only doing this as a knee-jerk “fight the democrats” reaction and not because they truly believe that corporate America should have to power to define and limit how American citizens freely communicate online.
Update: It was. Yay for internet, boo for the USA’s failing government.
Simply put, Japan’s attitudes to copyright are baffling.
The news via Ars is that “Japanese RIAA wants server-side music DRM for mobile phones.”
So anytime you listen to music on your phone it checks online with a central repository to see if you have the rights to play the song.
It’s mind blowing on so many levels.
First is the gall of any organization to try to pull this. Second is the massive amount of backend resources to log everybody’s DRM rights. And third the huge potential for failure rendering everybody’s legally purchased music worthless. Even though it’s not addressed I’m going to assume they’re smart enough to ignore tracks ripped from legally purchased CD and played on mobile phones. Otherwise multiply the audaciousness of the above list tenfold.
But what really interests me is how this speaks of the differences between culture in Japan and the US.
That there is even a possibility for RIAJ to suggest this speaks volumes about Japanese culture and the adage “The nail that sticks up is the first to be hammered down.” RIAA in the US would love this kind of thing but they know that the public would eviscerate them the moment they even hint at it as a possibility. In Japan I still don’t think they’ll allow it but nationally people are submissive enough towards authority that it actually makes it on the table. “If it’s the law follow it and change it through low pressure means, don’t make waves.”
Next is the incredibly lax copyright respect given to western music on TV and Japanese media. Watch Japanese TV for 20 minutes and you’ll hear a few music clips from western music; watch another 20 minutes and you’ll hear clips played by bands that most definitely did not give permission for the show to play their music. In the US copyright lawyers start circling the waters if you play as small as a three cord riff from a popular song (which speaks volumes of US propensity to litigate). However I think there may be a copyright law that says that you can sample on TV so long as it’s less than 30 seconds, or maybe that only applies to covering another artist’s works. Either way a lot of indie bands get a lot of uncompensated play in Japan.
Another oddity is the fact that piracy in Japan is so much less of a problem than it is in the US. While it’s not non-existent, Japanese people are generally much less inclined to illegally download music. Which is amazing considering how overpriced the music is brand new: $10 for singles, $20 for albums, $30-40 for limited edition albums!
Possibly tempering this is the fact that Japanese youth are less PC oriented and more Mobile Phone savvy. That keeps the act of running torrent servers more in the realm of the tech geeks rather than the everyday Japanese youth. So why in the world would the RIAJ think of such a restrictive process for controlling music?
But the real mind boggler is the fact that even though few people pirate music, when it does happen it’s quite blatant. In Japan they have DVD rental shops just like in the US, but in Japan they also have CDs for rent at the shops. It’s a prime place to get exposure for all the latest releases and will always have new hits the day they drop.
Ok that’s no so shocking but the kicker is that in additional to all your DVD and CD renting needs, the shops also sell all the blank CD, DVD, and MiniDisc’s that you need.
Put two and two together. It’s like one stop shopping for the CD ripping pirate. The icing on the cake is that they have hourly rentals, just enough time to go home, rip, and come back. I took a picture when I was there to prove it because I just couldn’t believe the audacity.
For more check out this interesting article about why RIAJ looks the other way over CD Rental ripping.
So why, with all things considered, is RIAJ thinking of such a draconian scheme as locking down all digital music copies on Mobile Phones?
British Petroleum made a new oil discovery while breaking the world record for deepest well. New technology has allowed currently unreachable parts of the ocean depths to be tapped.
Already a lot of my conservative friends are pointing out that this proves “New Oil” will always be available and thus the world will never run out (we’ve had this argument before). So here’s some basics I picked up in college geology to put oil in perspective and hopefully open a few eyes.
The problem is that it takes very specific circumstances for oil to be created and trapped where it can wait to be discovered by us.
Issue 1 – Time
It takes time to create oil; coal, it’s called a “Fossil Fuel” for a reason. Oil is basically prehistoric algae, trapped under sediments, and heated to become oil or natural gas (plant and animal material generally turns to coal). Most oil is generally understood to have been algae that was buried between 200 and 400 million years ago. The problem is 2/3 the earth’s surface is 300 million years old or younger, most is less than 100 million years old.
The ocean floor is a constantly shifting mass of dense rock that comes up in the ocean rifts, and spreads across the ocean before plunging back under the continents. Average time spent crossing is about 150 million years. So even if algae is quickly deposited in the center of the ocean, buried under sediment (see next problem), and heated at the right temperature, it’s barely becoming oil when it’s plunged back under the continental shelves.
So oil will only exist in places where geology is relatively slow and the rocks are old; like on continents, continental shelves, or pockets of the ocean that aren’t actively being sucked under the continents (like the gulf of Mexico). Most of the ocean floor doesn’t have a possibility of oil even if we could reach it.
The algae needs to be trapped in an anaerobic environment so that decomposition won’t occur; then buried under sediment until the pressure and heat can convert it to oil. This doesn’t always happen; in fact if our current natural world is any guide, it’s kind of rare. Not to mention that when it does happen it still takes time for enough sediment to pile on top till the algae is deep enough the pressure and heat can convert it. So again, even though it takes about 10 million years to naturally convert, the time to be buried, heated, and converted takes 200-400 million years.
Issue 2 – Escaping the ground on it’s own.
Once the algae becomes oil it has another problem, if the rock above is porous the oil will seep up to the surface. Remember oil is lighter than water and rock, as water seeps down cracks in the ground it displaces oil and forces it to the surface. Once up it is broken down in a natural reaction by heat and organisms at the surface.
In southern Utah as a kid I remember coming across crack in the rock that had tar squeezing out from in between. This is deep in nationally protected areas, miles away from any roads. At first I wondered why people sealed a crack in the desert with tar, then I realized it must be natural tar, now I know it’s natural petroleum products seeping to the surface and breaking down in the heat.
So for oil to survive it needs to be trapped into a reservoir capped with non-porous rock until somebody drills through the rock and it can squirt up the well.
Issue 3- Oil quality
Sounds funny but not all petroleum is created equal. Saudi Crude Oil is of such a high quality it’s almost already refined and ready for use. Other forms of petroleum can be so poor that at room temperature it solidifies to a waxy texture or in a state that additional energy needs to be added to extract it from the Kerogen and get a small amount of crude oil with a large amount of waste product. And all oil may be mixed with a contaminant like sand they need to be separated from before refinement. So even if you find a deposit of oil shale or oil sands that have oil in them, the cost of extraction is often prohibitively expensive. Back in the 1980 oil companies actually abandoned oil production through oil shale because it wasn’t economically feasible. The fact they’re returning to the oil shale now gives an idea how desperate they are for new oil sources.
This is all very relevant because the energy cost to create 1 Killowatt hour of electricity through renewable methods like solar energy is eight times that of producing the same amount with oil. Currently most people consider that to be excessively high but oil extraction from oil shale or oil sands can be 10-30 times more expensive than regular oil extraction from wells. So when compared to oil from oil shale, The total price per kilowatt including manufacturing and production, solar power production will actually become the economical alternative.
And all of this of course also ignores the ecological factors that the machinery excavating oil shale burns about the same amount diesel that they get from oil they extract, a 3 to 1 ratio of water and additional chemicals to oil is needed for each barrel of crude produced, and a lot of chemical waste is produced during extraction.
Issue 4 – Finding places that haven’t already been found
Knowing what we know above you can predict where oil will be; certain conditions can be met so by looking at the geology of an area you can tell if it’s old enough to have oil, if it’s been heated enough to convert fossils to oil, and if the rock is too porous to keep the oil from escaping.
Seems easy enough but you have to remember that you’re competing with the world’s massive oil companies and their billions upon billions of dollars in resources who have spent the last 100 years scouring the earth to find potential oil reserves. The report that oil is at peak production now and will begin to run out around 2070 has been verified by Chevron, Exxon and other oil companies themselves. They’re not just guessing or making estimates, they know because they’ve been mapping and test drilling every continent on Earth for the next big find and they know that they’re running out of places to look. BP didn’t spend millions to drill a well in the Gulf of Mexico because they wanted a challenge; they did it because it’s one of the few untapped places left that has a possibility for finding oil.
Oil really is in decline. When the worlds oil conglomerates start freaking out that we’re running out of oil you know there is trouble. When you see oil companies like BP and Exxon begin diverting massive amounts of their revenue to renewable forms of energy production don’t fool yourself that they’re doing it to make everybody feel warm and fuzzy about saving the earth. They’re doing it to save themselves. It’s their job to know where oil is and if they can see it’s running out the only smart thing to do is to diversify into what energy production methods they think will take its place.
And even though the earth will always have a pocket of oil here or a reserve of waxy bitumen petroleum there, if it’s not economically feasible to extract and convert it it might as well be useless sludge. As demand rises, and resources fall the crossing point where oil is a feasible source of energy will be passed and all the currently “expensive” forms of renewable energy production will become the “cheap” forms of energy production.
The writing is on the wall and the people who will be best prepared for the changeover will be those who get in on the ground floor now.
…Actually all politician and politics in general.
Governor Schwarzenegger (no that’s not the problem, well hiring actors to be politicians is generally as bad idea, but nvm) has the brilliant idea of having everyday people twitter their ideas to fix the state.
That’s right, solve the states multiple issues in 140 characters or less with the same ease of calling somebody a “fascist Nazi” on a chat room or message board flame war.
If you want a quick idea how this will play out you can goto Yahoo.answers or 4Chan and ask people “How to I get this Girl to notice me?” Between the massive amount of messages saying you’re ugly and you should kill yourself there may be some actual suggestions that generally don’t help. And you learn your lesson that the first thing you should do to get a girl to notice you is to ignore all advice people give online.
So now we have the same thing coming from our government (yours actually, Caariifonia), except the ideas have to be in 140 characters or less.
Back in the day if you really wanted to make suggestions to your community and government leaders you went to a town hall meeting and waited your turn at a podium to speak directly to their faces.
But state and federal leaders were generally too busy to hear your ideas because they were on fundraising trips with wealthy donors for their re-election in 3 years. So you wrote a letter, mailed it in, and in 2 months received a canned response written by an intern on why they were going to ignore everything you said (they literally only read what the initial subject is, then send a response).
Recently email has allowed these multipage ideas of why their continued refusal to support telecommunication infrastructure improvements is allowing service providers to jack prices up in the name of “limited assets” to be sent instantaneously. And they don’t have to hire an intern to even read the first of the letter. Canned responses ignoring you can be constructed by a computer parsing the email for a few keywords.
Now we can just setup a live stream for people to shout into that will go directly into the trash without any other overhead. Maybe the Governator can point to the fact that the site has 300,000 followers, or that 1.5 million “suggestions” have been made
and ignored. You know it’s just going to become a stream of pointless and ignored comments by people with no really interest in actually taking the effort to fix things.
This is all business as usual in the governments continued ignorance of how such rapidly changing technologies can be put to use benefiting the state and nation.
My favorite part however is the 140 character limit to the whole thing. Can you solve state and federal budget problems in 140 characters? How about dealing with failing healthcare, massive deficit issues, education reform, choking pollution, loss of natural resources, and lack of a comprehensive energy solution plan?
I’ve tried and every time I come up with the same answer for all:
“Stop Sucking and Do Something Useful like we hired you to; instead of wasting our time with pointless ideas you read in an article in Technology Monthly!”
Fuck, it’s not even enough to tell them what a massive fail this is.
Since I have
some investments I’m very happy that the Dow broke 9000 today. It’s an arbitrary number but it’s one I set as a goal in my mind back in February. I was thinking that if the Dow gets to 8000 by summer and 9000 by Christmas we’d be well on our way to recovery. Getting here this fast is a good sign that this won’t be the next Great Depression that so many people said it would be 8 months ago.
The gains in the last week have been almost too rapid that I think we’ll still see days below 8500 in the future. But like I said this is far better than I think anybody could have hoped for at the beginning of this year. Unfortunately the real world we live in feels the fallout longer than the market so even if we jump to 10,000 by Christmas (could you imagine!!) then it will still take a year or so for the real world to stabilize under the highs of Wall Street.
It’s funny that I hear people now saying that with the market at 9000 already that it’s proof that the stimulus bills were unneeded. Um… I think the reason it’s this high already is BECAUSE OF the stimulus bills; this is exactly what they were supposed to do, they just did it better and faster than we thought they would.
Personally I think Obama’s “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” was much better than Bush’s “T.A.R.P.” handout to the banks; but I think the rapid recovery of the last 6 months proves that not only have they worked, they worked better than the most optimistic of us expected.
Here’s hoping that in the next 6 months Wall Street will stabilize into a realistic 10,000 and companies can rebuild their foundations so we can avoid scares like this in the future (although I believe the market is driven on fear more than anything else but that’s a whole different discussion and I’m running already long).
And I promise this is the last of the financial posts.
They really are prosecuting their biggest customers in the effort to pinch more pennies. For the MP/RIAA’s perspective they’re combating what the grocery business calls “Shrinkage”: different from the shrinkage George Costanza had in Seinfeld this one refers to items lost to theft or damage.
But they’re wrong, there is a logic gap between walking out of Albertsons with an unpaid bag of potato chips and somebody downloading a song for free off the internet.
First I’m going to skip the fact that technically we can record music off broadcast radio and still get it without paying ( the only reason internet recording gets prosecuted is it’s easier to track).
No the difference here is that just because somebody downloaded a song illigally DOES NOT mean that they would have bought it if it’s wasn’t available for free. This is a very important fact so I’m going to state it again:
Mike “The Bruiser” Simmons who normally listens to Pantera downloads Britney Spears’ album “Blackout”; if the internet didn’t exist he wouldn’t have normally brought this album. He was just curious about it since his niece was always raving about Britney. RIAA did not lose any money when he downloaded this album because the downloaded album was not downloaded in place of a potentially purchased album.
Many people, including the movie and music industry, think that this is just the excuse downloaders make to justify their theft. Well guess what the facts say?
On average Downloaders make MORE legitimate purchases than others.
However I didn’t need a study to tell me tell me this, I’m one of the downloaders that seems much of my money flow out of my pocket to music purchases. I’m the Mike Simmons from above (that’s not really my name, I made it up). I admit it, I download music, alot of it. But in the number of CDs I buy I also out purchase everybody I know by 5-10 times. I budget $60 a month in CD purchases and thanks to wise spending that equates to 8-10 new CDs a month. And I can’t count the number of times that something I downloaded on a whim became a favorite of mine and led to another 2-6 Cd purchases.
Yet from the RIAA perspective I’m stealing from them; but again for every $10 the average person spends in music I spend $100. In fact I just realized I didn’t figure in concert attendance, to tack on another $60 a month plus $40 a month to the venue’s bar in alcohol purchases. If you had a customer that was spending $120 a month compared to others who spend $10 would you take them to court and turn them into your enemy, or try to find a way to appeal to them through the downloads and try to turn them onto to more music they might like and spend money on?
I’ve left off the whole mess of the fact that somebody who likes why they hear after downloading begins to tell others what music they like through “Word of Mouth” marketing; the holy grail of all marketing.
BTW: Blackout was actually pretty good, forget what you think about Britney Spears and give it a chance.
Pics of my current CD collection: