All 3 entries tagged Confused

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April 05, 2008

Mobile Phones on a Plane

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7330850.stm

Apparently, early last week, Ofcom okayed the use of mobile phones on airliners at any height above 3km. This has confused me and leads me to the following points:

  • What happened to the belief that electronic devices emit harmful pilot killer rays? I always doubted there would be any issues (given the high amount of shielding on the cables), but Health & Safety are usually much harder to convince...
  • If mobile phones are capable of transmitting signals between 1.8 miles (3km) and 6.6 miles (cruising altitude of 747, apparently) why do I always have so few bars for the signal strength?
  • Isn't the real reason for the ban on mobile phones supposed to be that it encourages people to use the airline's ridiculously expensive built-in phones? Surely, therefore, mobiles are still going to be prohibited...
  • Also, why only above 3000m? Why is it dangerous (presumably) below 3km, but perfectly safe above?

May 24, 2007

eBayers Confuse Me

I'm currently bidding for things on eBay (I bought a Jolly Roger :D). One of the items has hundreds of nearly identical auctions (well, 27 with no bids at last count...). Every time I put my penny down, someone outbids me a few hours later; the item eventually goes for about £10-15.

The thing that's confusing me is: every time I get out-bid, I go back on, run the search again, and put my penny on the next auction with no bids; so why aren't the people who are out-bidding me doing that first? Why are there auctions with several bids at £10-15 and still some auctions with no bids at 1p? How can people possibly think "5 bids? £15? I'm gonna get me some of that!" over "No bids? 1p? Bargain!"?

Are these other eBayers stupid? Is the seller breaking the rules and trying to push-up the price? Will our Hero be able to escape from the Villain's overly elaborate trap? Find out in the next thrilling installment of If Someone With A Good Suggestion Adds It As A Comment!


May 22, 2007

Speaking of Global Warming…

Writing about Acid Rain from Hollyzone

(If you can't be bothered with the rest of this entry, at least read the paragraph "Finally..."; it's a different topic, is mildly amusing, and is a very good point) 

Now I know Global Warming was only mentioned in passing, but the entry at least reminded me of something I've been puzzling over for ages...

I'm confused about Global Warming, and I'm not afraid to admit that because everyone seems to be confused about it - no one can seem to agree.

Firstly I'm unclear on if there even is Global Warming. Let me be clear, though: I know the planet is warming up (I've seen graphs). But is this the evil Global Warming monster that we need to defeat, or is it a perfectly natural and unstoppable consequence of:

  1. The Earth emerging from an ice age.
  2. The Sun heating up as it ages.
  3. All of the above.
  4. Something else natural.

Secondly, and somewhat related to the first, is: is it really us that are doing it? Is it a bit big-headed of us to assume we can destroy an entire planet? Is killing a planet easier than you might think?

Thirdly: is it worth all this effort to save the energy? Is the energy we're putting into saving energy greater that the energy being wasted? If my overweight, inefficient body gets up to turn the telly off rather than leave it on standby have I used more energy than the TV would? Take the Toyota Prius, for example: it's a hybrid, which means it theoretically saves on fuel (apparently it fares no better, but just think how bad it would be without the help of the electric motor...) but apparently it uses far, far more energy to produce one that it does a normal car. Would the world have been a better place if Toyota had just taken all the brilliant gadgets and put them in a normal car? (I know oil is running out and we need to find an alternative, but that's not my point here; so Gods help you if you bring it up in relation to my Prius example.)

Finally, not a question about Global Warming, but a general observation: if Global Warming and saving energy are such important things, why are They pitching them in completely the wrong way!? We get no end of statements like "wastes enough electricity to power a town the size of Basingstoke". Well firstly, where the hell are we going to find a town the size of Basingstoke? And secondly, who can get their head around that comparison? It's meaningless; I have no idea of the energy requirements and cost that would be required; and how long will it power it? When talking about wasted energy, They need to pitch it in a way that people can relate to. What's the one thing (actual things - I'm excluding people) the most people care about more than anything else? All together now, 1, 2, 3: MONEY. So, logically which of these will have more of an effect:

  • The UK's TVs on standby use enough electricity in a year to power a town the size of Basingstoke!
  • Leaving your TV - yes you, there - on standby requires 1W of electricity; this means it's costing you (assuming a fixed rate to 20p/kWh) nearly 2 pounds a year!

Of course when you know just how little electricity standby uses, you can see why they add it up for the whole country. But the point is still valid: if you want a majority of people to do something about wasted energy, tell them how much it'll cost them, and not to what better uses the power could be put...


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