Thank you to the roughly 170 individuals who have made donations to date via the “Donate” widget on the right hand side of the blog.
Donations have totalled A$7,730, of which about $800 has been for Michael Hudson’s talk in Sydney (on Friday October 23rd at Customs House, Sydney at 6pm).
I have just made the first purchase using those funds, of a Dell Studio 17 inch laptop that I will use while researching with my systems engineering colleague Trond Andresen in Europe later this year.
It will also get a workout this weekend, since I’ll be in Adelaide for the Economists Conference. I’ll let you know how that (generally neoclassical) audience reacts to my paper on endogenous money creation and financial instability on Tuesday.
For the last six months now I have been using an Asus netbook to give my public presentations and academic lectures. While it is very good for that task, it is not suitable for research for several reasons:
- Screen size–a maximum resolution of 1024x600 is OK for a slide show, but useless for developing the medium scale systems of differential equations that are the core of my research;
- Memory–it has 2 Gig of RAM and a 256 Gig hard disk, large by Netbook standards but constricting for symbolic and numerical processing in Mathcad; and of course
- Speed–the Netbook uses a low power Atom processor, which conserves battery power at the expense of processing speed.
I use a desktop for my analytic work, and there the problems are different. While the screen size is to die for (I use a Dell 30 inch monitor with 2560x1600 pixel resolution), it isn’t what you would call portable. But when I went to Canberra to work with the CSIRO recently, I drove down with the desktop tower in the boot and the screen on the passenger seat, because I couldn’t have done that research on a Netbook.
The same arrangement will not of course work on Qantas; so this Dell laptop will be my “Goldilocks” machine when travelling. It doesn’t quite have the resolution or size of the desktop monitor–17 inches and 1920x1200, which gives 56% of the screen real estate of the 30 inch monitor–but it’s big enough to display most of the equations in one of my medium scale models.
The Dell Studio also has some other advantages, notably 8 Gig of RAM running under Windows Vista (soon to be Windows 7) 64 bit. The current version of Mathcad also has a bug that means its memory usage keeps growing with every save–and after about five saves of my Debtwatch statistical analysis routines, it eats more than a Gig of RAM. This takes total system usage to about 2.4 Gig, at which point Windows starts to swap portions of itself out to hard disk space (since the maximum RAM that a 32 bit operating system can access is 3 Gigabytes). The machine starts to slow to a crawl, and I have to shut Mathcad down and restart it.
With a 64 bit operating system, the RAM ceiling grows to 18,446,744,073 Gigabytes, and memory limitations become (in the trivial sense of the word) academic. I should be able to write Debtwatch without bothering to shut Mathcad down and start again–whereas I currently have to do that every hour or so–with 8 Gig of headroom on this laptop.
The main benefit though while working in Norway will be screen size. The three images at the end of this post show the same Mathcad sheet–which simulates a 2 sector model of the economy–on the Netbook, the laptop, and the desktop monitors (all have been reduced in size by 50% to make the images viewable).
Obviously the desktop is the way to go; but it doesn’t work as carry on luggage. So the Dell Studio will let me do some serious work with Trond in Norway (and I’ll also soon upgrade the motherboard in the desktop to support more than 4 Gig of RAM).
I’ve also learnt something about marketing recently: accessibility is vital. The donation widget was going gangbusters when first installed, but I then felt it was a bit presumptuous of me to simply have a “Donate” widget on the front page with no explanation of why I should be funded, or how the money might be used.
So I moved it to the Research page here–which is poorly organised–and explained my objectives and needs. Funding dropped off substantially.
I then moved the widget back to the front page to facilitate people supporting Michael Hudson’s visit. Funding, not merely for Michael’s visit but for my research in general, resumed.
It appears that once someone has visited the site, they’ve already decided whether they should support my work or not, and accessibility of the funding widget is key.
At some stage next year, I may put out an appeal to raise funds to support work on my book Finance and Economic Breakdown–the main need for which is time, which I can acquire by buying out my teaching at UWS. That will require substantially more than I have raised to date–something of the order of A$25,000–but for now, the support from blog members and visitors is most appreciated.