Thanks to donors

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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.

Asus Netbook monitor--1024x600 resolution

Asus Net­book monitor–1024x600 res­o­lu­tion

Dell Studio: 1920 x 1200 resolution

Dell Desktop 30 inch monitor--2560 x 1200 resolution

Dell Desk­top 30 inch monitor–2560 x 1200 res­o­lu­tion

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