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SaaS is Green

I usually keep my day job within the 9 to 5, but couldn't help thinking about a recent advertising campaign from a Software as a Service (SaaS) company with which I am intimately familiar. NetSuite has claimed that a company going SaaS will save an average $10 300 USD per year in energy bills. These savings result from removed server and ventiliation costs. With over 6 000 customers, total savings are $61 million per year. This is equivalent to 595 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually, or nearly 423 000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or 1 million barrels of oil, or the average electricity consumption of 56 000 homes a year. For the sake of the environment, wouldn't you turn off your servers and let NetSuite host your business? For me, it takes a little more than those numbers alone. However, I commend the company for shrewd advertising! Perhaps future green energy subsidies in the US will tip the scale. Regardless, this is a very interesting topic given my vested interest i

Profanity for Pain Relief?

Thanks to this recent study , now we all have an excuse to swear! According to the findings, cursing not only is an expression of agony, but also a means to pain relief. I must admit my reservations about the experimental results. In a race to see who could keep their hands in uncomfortably cold water, subjects were allowed to mutter an expletive of their choice or use a neutral word. IMHO, the free use of profanity in the experiment -- as opposed to any social situation -- could have created intrigue or amusement in the swearing subjects, which in turn swayed the results in thier favour. However, I did like Steven Pinker's theory that "swearing taps into the defensive reflex in which an animal that is suddenly injured or confined erupts in a furious struggle, accompanied by an angry vocalization, to startle or intimidate an attacker." What's the verdict? Cursing is good for you if you mean it with vengeance. Don't over do it though, as the soothing eff

Whale Watching Gone Wrong

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Let me be the first one to tell you that relocating for work is not for everyone. The amount of time and effort required is unbelievable, as you can judge from my lengthy lay-off on this blog. Now that my wife and I are ready to explore Sydney , we took to the sea in whale watching. It turned out that whale watching like relocation, is also not for everyone, especially those with weak stomaches. I ended up seeing a whale tail for three seconds, but paid the price with three bags of vomit to go with four hours of seasick nausea. In my defense, I have never been sick at the sea. This time was different though as practically everyone else had at least a bag-full in his hand. Fortunately, the tour operator offered us a 50% refund and a free second trip. I suppose many people had complained after the ill-fated voyage. Missing out on humpbacks and blues the first time around, I am determined to sign up for round 2. As for my wife? Suffice to say she will never set foot on a whale watching

Relocating to Down Under

I have agreed to a job in Australia starting May. No, it's not the coveted dream caretaker gig in the Great Barrier Reefs. Instead, I will be going to Sydney, which is not a bad choice. Regardless, this means I will be extremely busy over the next few months. Time to start packing.... -PTS

Behind an Extraordinary Memory

By now, most of you should know that I am a die-hard fan of Scientific American. Here is yet another interesting article about extraordinary minds . The interviewee, Daniel Tammet, is special in his own right. He is a mildy autistic linguist who can recite the first 22 514 decimal places of the mathematical constant Pi . Here are a few takeaways from the interview: Visualization improves memory. Instead of treating numbers as boring static strings, view them in dynamic, multi-dimensional shapes and forms. This technique also works beautifully with learning vocabularies. Clustering also improves memory. If you break a series of numbers into smaller chunks (of 3 or 4), your brain can better handle them. This is why telephone numbers are hyphenated. Creativity further improves memory! When you throw in creative imagery to the above formulas, your memory becomes super-charged. In fact, the more exaggerating the imagery, the better the results. In Daniel's words, he used to "da

Book Review: A Brief History of Time

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One of my favourite books is A Brief History of Time , written by Stephen Hawking. This book is famous like its author. Its wonder lies in the fact that the forefront of physics is portrayed in laymen's terms. Thus the theories behind quantum mechanics, relativity, black holes, time travel, and wormholes can all be comprehended by the average person. Every time I pick up this paperback, I feel humbled by the grandeur of our mysterious universe. Needless to say, the origin of the universe may just provide a clue to the birth of life. Of all the theories described in the book, I was most intrigued by Einstein's special theory of relativity. Before the dawn of the 20th Century, the Michelson-Morley experiment was conducted to substantiate the existence of a substance called "ether." Instead, it created a shock wave for the entire scientific community. Throughout the next twenty years, numerous futile attempts were made to explain the surprising results of the experime

Is Death Imaginable?

I recently came across another interesting article from  Scientific American . It explores why people of all cultures, education levels, trades and religions acknowledge an afterlife, even though they believe on many levels that the mind ceases to exist upon death. Here are some possible reasons: 1. When we are alive, our mind creates the "illusion" that life continues after death. Why? Hopefully, this helps deter us from being overly afraid of death, to the extent that we can lead our normal lives without constant worry. 2. It's impossible for the human brain to comprehend "non-existence". According to philosopher Shaun Nichols, "When I try to imagine my own non-existence I have to imagine that I perceive or know about my non-existence. No wonder there's an obstacle!" Sounds like Descartes' "I think, therefore I am" argument. 3. From Mr. Darwin's perspective, there is no evolutionary value in having the ability to disti