Grayclaves and Henry the Lion

Wed Jul 28, 2010 by brett

I read two articles on a similar theme this morning. Firstly there was Scott Adams’ post Startup Country, about creating a small, elite, light-weight country inside another country and using it to bootstrap the economy of the larger country. Secondly I read The Politically Incorrect Guide to Ending Poverty, published by The Atlantic. This article actually talks about Paul Romer’s ideas on “Charter Cities” - a city governed by it’s own charter, rather than national laws. According to The Atlantic, this idea goes back to the 12th century with Heny the Lion and the idea of Imperial Free Cities.

If I squint, I can maybe see this happening. Maybe it will be more along the lines of a Burbclave - a franchised nation nestled within a gated community (as envisaged by Neal Stephenson). Of course, by the time all this happens we’ll be old and decrepit, so I think they’ll be more like Grayclaves. We’ll all be trading bio-engineered medicines with the Grayclave next door.

The Future is Addictive

Tue Jul 27, 2010 by brett

I read Paul Graham’s essay on the acceleration of addictiveness this morning, and it really struck a chord. I feel as though it is almost impossible to become bored these days, there is so much to do. Is this because the world is getting more addictive, or just because I have gotten older and have much more control over my life so I tend to do only those things I want to do?

If he is right and the world is becoming a more addictive place, then there are obviously many interesting implications for society as a whole. What will happen if most people are too addicted to the many pleasurable activities available to actually contribute to society? How can we make economically productive activities have the same level of addiction as those that consume economic capital? Definitely food for thought.

Procrastination Modeling

Mon Jul 19, 2010 by brett

For the last few months I’ve been trying to come up with a model for procrastination. Specifically; for the various factors that cause me to delay carrying out a task. Over the weekend I was pondering what I would use the model for. If I came up with an equation which effectively represented the various parameters describing how much I would procrastinate over a given task, what use would it be?

Well, my thinking is that if I have an accurate model of what causes me to procrastinate over tasks, I can then start targeting the various factors. I can create strategies to reduce the impact of different factors, and hopefully improve my own effectiveness. It will also be interesting to see if - by the very act of studying my behaviour - I reduce the amount I procrastinate.

Blogging as Gardening

Sun Jul 18, 2010 by brett

You know; blogging is a lot like gardening. Some peoples’ blogs have been completely neglected - untended and overgrown with weeds. Mine has become a lot like that. An out-of-date WordPress environment, stale posts overcome with comment spam weeds.

I want to start treating my blog as though I was a gardner tending his garden. Regularly adding new posts. Replying quickly to any comments. Upgrading and improving my blogging environment as I can. I would like to minister to a site that will encourage people to stroll around and smell the flowers.

Emacs cmd-key on Mac

Sun Jul 4, 2010 by brett

Emacs on my Macbook Pro uses the “alt” key (the one to the left of the “cmd” key) to be the Alt (meta) key when doing things like Alt-Backspace to delete backwards by word. This is quite annoying for me as I naturally try and use the command key for this. To fix this put the following in your .emacs file.

  2. (setq mac-command-modifier 'meta)

The Death of Blogging

Mon Jun 28, 2010 by brett

The Economist recently had an article on social media’s impact on blogs, especially how sites like Facebook have meant the death of a large number of blogs. I have been thinking recently about this myself. I haven’t posted on my own blog for over 6 months, partly because Facebook’s status updates has fulfilled part of my communication needs. Partly because I’ve been going through a phase of focusing on work and reading, and haven’t been interacting much with my social network.

I do think that blogs have a part in our future - I just think that the people who used blogs as a telephone will move to Facebook, those that used blogs as a form of SMS will move to Twitter, and those that feel the need to expound on a particular topic, and want their missives to have a greater scope and longevity will continue to use blogs.

DEVONthink and Emacs Completion

Tue Nov 17, 2009 by brett

DEVONthink has the annoying habit of starting up if I try to complete a bit of text in Emacs on my Mac. By default DEVONthink is bound in the “Services” menu to Apple-Slash (Command-Slash). To fix this, open up “/Applications/DEVONthink” in Emacs. Do a search for “NSKeyEquivalent” until you see an entry that looks like this:

                 <string>DEVONthink Pro/Lookup...</string>

Delete the “/” character from the “/” line. Once you log out and log back in, this should be fixed. Save a copy of this file before you change it, just in case you screw up.

Emacs and Ruby on Rails

Tue Nov 17, 2009 by brett

There is an Emacs mode for working with Ruby on Rails (of course). The main project page can be found here. In order to get everything set up, I had to do the following:

  1. First download the latest release of the project and extract it into your emacs library directory. I install most of my extensions into a directory of my $HOME called “~/my/cfg/emacs”. This creates a subdirectory called “emacs-rails”.
  2. I then added the following lines to the end of my .emacs file:

    (setq load-path (cons
                            (expand-file-name “~/my/cfg/emacs/emacs-rails”)
    (require ‘rails)

  3. The package depends on the emacs lisp files in the ruby distribution’s “misc” directory. If you don’t have them, grab a copy of the ruby tarball, extract, and install them in your emacs library directory.

  4. The package also depends on a emacs function called “find-recursive”, which I grabbed from here.

EDIT - OK, more useful to me at this stage is rhtml-mode which gives me syntax hi-lighting for rhtml files and can be downloaded here. Also apparently rinari is the successor to emacs-rails.

Evaluating Bio-Techs

Fri Nov 13, 2009 by brett

Clinton Chee has posted a list of factors he thinks is important when analyzing Bio-Tech stocks. This list is summarized below:

  • P : Price of stock
  • NTA : Net Tangible Assets (Total Assets minus Intellectual property and other intangibles)
  • P/NTA : Ratio of Price to NTA - a value of 3 or below is considered underpriced and worth buying. A value of 9 or above is definitely not worth buying
  • TEAM : Rating system based on the qualifications of the directors
    1. Professor = 1.5
    2. PhD = 1.0
    3. Master = 0.8
    4. Hons = 0.7
    5. MBA = 0.6
    6. Biotech Exp (10year) = 0.5
  • BurnPeriod (Runway) : the number of quarters left before cash runs out, based on the previous quarters cash burn rate. Over 4 quarters is fair. Over 8 quarters is worth investing.
  • ProductPipe : the stage of the product development ranging from pre-clinical tests to commercialization. Over a value of 5.0 is a good sign.
    1. Phase 1 = 1
    2. Phase 2 = 2
    3. Phase 3 = 3
    4. Market Approved = 4
    5. In Market =5
  • ForeignMarket : Companies with products that sell internationally are more highly rated. (see key below). Over a value of 3 is a good sign.
    1. Plan to Enter = 0.5
    2. Just Entered = 0.9
    3. 1-3 years = 1.5
    4. Over 3 years = 2.0
  • Cash/Debt : the ratio of cash to debt of the company.

Rupert Murdoch is NOT a dickhead

Wed Nov 11, 2009 by brett

OK, so apparently Rupert believes that although Obama made a very racist comment, Obama is not a racist. This is a reaction to the comment Obama made where he said the police - the ones who arrested the black professor who was trying to break in to his own house after losing his keys- were “acting stupidly”.

In a similar vein I think that although Rupert Murdoch does a lot of very evil (Faux News) and stupid things, he is NOT a dickhead. Really.