Oil use in plastics and other random facts

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I’ve often wondered how big of a drain plastics put on oil supplies. I’ve done many searches for a breakdown of where oil is used. Today I found part of my answer: 4% of oil goes to producing plastics. 88% of all oil goes into fuel and the other 12% into other products (like plastic).

Another interesting tidbit is that only 40% of total energy needs in the US are met by oil. I had assumed it was higher.

Also interesting – Germany ran out of oil in WW2 and started producing it from coal. It was much more expensive, though, so not a sustainable solution.

It’s fun to read Wikipedia and follow links that take you to something totally new and unexpected.

Plastic on Wikipedia

Petroleum on Wikipedia

Technical issues

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I recently ran into trouble with Movable Type, the blog software I’d been using until now.  Long story, but I ended up switching to new software (WordPress).  In the process I lost the last months worth of comments, which is sad because there were some good ones.  The only way I retained the posts from the last month was to manually re-enter them and there were just too many comments to do that.

Technical analysis of the stock market

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I’ve been interested in technical analysis for a long time. It seems like a useful way to spend some of my software development interests outside of work.Here’s a description as a starting point: Technical Analysis on Wikipedia. The goal is to use behaviour in the past to predict behaviour in the future. There are many methods of doing technical analysis; some use charts, some use non-visual methods.One problem I’ve always noticed is that most technical analysis methods seem to work fine for determining whether to buy or sell any particular stock, but how do you find the “best” stock to buy? That’s where more complex tools come in and can help search based on purely technical indicators. This article seems to describe the end-to-end process well: Building a Technical Buy Signal.Playing the market daily must be stressful for the professionals but it can definitely be fun for amateurs with a little extra savings they can treat as high risk.

Google is making me love the web again

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For the last 4 years I’ve shied away from any web-based applications. I stopped using webmail and setup my own email server, calender reminder system, etc. I wanted everything done in one place and doing it myself seemed like the only way.I got a Gmail account a long time ago, more out of interest in reserving my name. It looked more appealing than the other web-based offers but still not enough to make me switch.

But, something clicked when Google Calendar was released. It was cool, flashy, but exceptionally usable. It suddenly seemed like I really could have everything in one place without compromises. I’ve now switched to using Gmail as my email client (still masking as my personal domain email address) and calendar solution. 3 months have gone by and I still enjoy it.

Today I tried out the newly beta-released Google Spreadsheets for the first time and was equally impressed. I had actually been trying out other web-based spreadsheets for a while but nothing seemed great. Some had good functionality but felt very clunky to use, others had no features.

Google Spreadsheets has a VERY nice interface. It feels almost like it’s not a web-based application. It doesn’t have charting yet but I’m sure that’s in the works and I am definitely going to start using this for my non-charting spreadsheets.