Eclipse Phase RPG

I just read this awesome thread over at about character creation in the new RPG Eclipse Phase. Man, this RPG sounds awesome! As ExNihilo mentions in the thread:

The fact that a question like "Can my character upload his 
living consciousness into a distributed network-swarm of
microscopic robots?" results in actual debate is enough to
convince me that I'll like this game regardless of what the
answer itself turns out to be.

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Getting Postfix sending email on your Mac

I have recently been setting up my MacBook (running Leopard) to send email using the local email delivery system, i.e. Postfix. This means modifying the default installation to relay email through my ISP/email service – in my case; FastMail. I use FastMail because they have a nice secure email setup with both IMAP and SMTP access encrypted using SSL, but the instructions below will also work with Google Mail. The advantage of having your Apple Mac set up like this is that it enables command line scripts and various unix programs to send email. In my case, it allows me to use Mutt and Emacs as my email client.

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Blogging and SEO talk by Matt Cutts

Matt Cutts gave an extremely interesting and dynamic talk at WordCamp about blogging and Search Engine Optimization. Not only was it extremely entertaining, but it contained lots of interesting tidbits about how to increase the PageRank of your site.

Making your application viral

Daniel Tenner has written an interesting post on how to make you application viral.

The core model for viral growth is the following: viral coefficient = (average number of users invited by each active user) x (proportion of invited users that actually join or become active) x (proportion of such users that invite others). Daniel provides a checklist of techniques designed to optimize the viral coefficient. The general techniques are as follows:

  • Make inviting people a core part of the process.
  • Keep pulling people back in
  • Be useful even if there are no other friends using the application.
  • Remove artificial invitation limits.

Detroit – Ground Zero for Economic Collapse

Here is a video showing how badly Detroit has been affected by the collapsing housing market. Towards the end of the video you can see some amazing mansions in the worst-hit areas of Detroit that you can supposedly buy at a massive discount.

Social Collapse – Best Practices

Hmmm…. first I read this transcript from a speech by Dmitry Orlov entitled “Social Collapse – Best Practices”, and then I saw on Boing Boing the post How are you coping with Collapse-Anxiety?

The first post describes what might happen if the US collapses in the same way economically as the USSR did in the 1990’s. It then goes on to making recommendations about what to focus on – essentially food, transportation, shelter and security. I thought it was fascinating because although I have been thinking for a number of years that the economic situation was going to get bad, I didn’t envision quite a collapse of that order of magnitude. As the crisis continues however, the possibility suddenly seems to become credible.

I found the comments interesting in the Boing Boing post. It seems as though quite a number of people were actually starting to find themselves in situations reminiscent of those described in the first post – primarily from posters in the US. Scary.

Comparison of Downturns

A while ago, I created a Mathematica plot comparing the Great Depression, the Tech Crash and the Oil Crisis with the current financial crisis. This analysis was inspired by a chart I saw last year comparing these recessions with our current situation. Anyway, I thought it was worth bringing the chart up-to-date.

[Edit] The original chart I saw was this one.[/Edit]

Comparison of four economic downturns
Comparison of four economic downturns