Monday, June 15, 2015

When did we get too much stuff?

Kevin Kelly pointed out that we have more types of things (species of technology) than even the most wealthy had in the past. "count the number of species of technology in our household. And it came up with 6,000 different species of products. I did some research and found out that the King of England, Henry VIII, had only about 7,000 items in his household. And he was the King of England, and that was the entire wealth of England at the time." Kevin Kelly

How much more stuff can we get over time? The Argos catalog seems to get bigger each year and it seemed to me an ideal way to measure the amount of stuff we get to decide we don't want.

Retromash is a great site for old Argos catalogs. I Counted the total page numbers in each years catalog. I don't have the slaves undergraduates needed to count everything in the actual catalog. Retromash don't have much after 1990 so I went to ebay and they list the number of pages. This produces this data (with links to the ebay sources). One weirdness is there seemed to have been an instore catalog and superstore (to be delivered) catalog for a few years.

I have tried to give the number of pages of the Autumn/Winter Argos catalog you get in the shop in any given year.

The graph is just a simple ggplot2 scatterplot

mydata = read.table("argos.tsv", header=TRUE)

ggplot(mydata, aes(x=Year, y=pages)) + geom_point(shape=1) + geom_smooth(method=lm, se=FALSE)

ggsave(file="argos.png")

It looks like there are nine times the number of things we can choose now from Argos as there was in 1975. To put a prediction on this, the amount of things you can buy nearby doubles ever decade.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sports in decline

I read this interesting article in the diminishing interest in surfing. Can Anyone Save the Surf Industry?. The author uses

All the outdoor individual sports seem to have declining interest as measured by google trends. This could be to do with how people search google. But it does look like they are getting less popular.

The good news is Golf also seems to be in the decline

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Uhaul Map of the US

You rent a Uhaul truck in New York to move to a new job in Texas. UHaul will be left with a truck in Texas. If people really want to go New York -> Texas but less so Texas-> New York they will reduce the price of the Texas -> New York. If you get all the prices to move one way between all the cities in the US you end up with a good idea of where people are moving. And as people usually move for jobs where the jobs are.

The idea I saw first in Marginal Revolution. This blogpost seems to be where the whole UHaul weighted graph idea came from. Dan Armstrong and Páll Hilmarsson
I took a list of the 34 most populous US cities (all over 500,000) from wikipedia. This is 1122 links in total. The 294 cities is 86142 total links. You only seem to be able to get containers not trucks from Honolulu, Hawaii.
This is a Complete graph where each edge has a length and a weight/capacity (price). some cities are really cheap to leave because enough people are moving (sinking) there that UHaul want to get the trucks back to the cities people are leaving (source) The extreme costing trips are

Source Destination Price
San Jose, CA Washington, DC 4237
San Francisco, CA Baltimore, MD 4188
San Jose, CA Baltimore, MD 4181
San Jose, CA Washington, DC 4132
Baltimore, MD Washington, DC 74
Washington, DC Baltimore, MD 79
You can get the spreadsheet with all 1122 trips here

The trips with the biggest difference between one way and another are by price

Source Destination Round dif Round ratio
San Jose, CA Washington, DC 2404 2.3
San Francisco, CA Washington, DC 2345 2.3
Philadelphia, PA Portland, OR 2213 3

and by ratio

San Francisco, CA Las Vegas, NV 608 4.1
Source Destination Round dif Round ratio
San Jose, CA Las Vegas, NV 580 4.1
San Francisco, CA Las Vegas, NV 608 4.1
Philadelphia, PA Jacksonville, FL 1301 3.9

The spreadsheet with these calculation is here. the code to work all this out is pretty raw but it is here.
I will come back to this later and work out Eigenvalue Centrality and maybe how distance relates to prices. Also it would be interesting to see if some places are summer sinks and some winter sinks in a few months time.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

England's Temperature in 2014

2014 was UK's hottest year on record, says Met Office. What does that mean on a day to day basis? England has a collected data on daily temperature from 1772 in the Hadley Centre Central England Temperature (HadCET) dataset.

According to wikipedia, last year was the hottest year in this dataset with an average temperature of 10.94 °C.

I downloaded this Hadley Centre dataset. And I followed this tutorial. Based on an original graphic by Tufte. The picture is similar to the one from my post on Dublin's 2014 Weather.


Looking at the black line that represents last years temperatures it was the winter and autumn that were far above average. Instead of a scorching hot summer the three record hot days were in October and December. No day in 2014 was the coldest for that date in the recorded time.

The wikipedia page on this dataset shows the average temperature of this dataset rising over time

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Peak Loom Band

I was talking to the owner of a craft shop today. She told me she knew of many people who were stuck with stock from the loom band craze of last year. Waterford Whispers reported it as "Parents Urged To Hack Off Any Child’s Arm That Comes In Contact With Loom Bands".


A Google Trends shows the craze's lifespan



By the end of summer all that was left was a bin of tiny plastic hoops at bargain prices. Are crazes lasting less time now?


The Age Of Earthquakes points out




Crazes end. This is not like the Tulip or the South Seas Bubble. I don't remember hearing people would get rich selling loom band to each other. Unlike the way Beanie babies were sold as an investment. The sort of thing you could split up during a divorce



BTW she thinks Parachute Cord will be the next craze

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Photographing your food and everything else

Who was the first person to photograph all their meals? It seems a reasonably common thing now "26 out of 45 customers spend an average of 3 minutes taking photos of the food."
First Camera, Then Fork discussed the taking photos of your food phenomena but doesn't describe who initiated it.
But who was the first person to start photographing all their meals? Or indeed all their activities. Obviously its much cheaper for us to do now with smartphones but was there an eccentric Victorian lord who photographed everything? Life loggers have been around since the 1990s. I'd be surprised if none of them deliberately photographed their food at the time.
“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in 1825.

If food photos are much more popular how about all photos? How many photos are taken a day and how does that compare with in the past?

Facebook Photo uploads total 300 million per day
Instagram averages 70 million photos a day
Flickr 1 million photo shares a day
Photobucket says "More than 2.25 million images are shared daily"
There is a buzzfeed page on photo stats How Many Photos Have Been Taken Ever?
It’s estimated only a few million pictures were taken in the 80 years before the first commercial camera was introduced.
"By 1930, about a billion photos were taken a year." So in three days more photos are being uploaded onto facebook/instagram than then taken in the world in the 1930s.
"By 1970, about 10 billion photos were taken a year." Or a month of photos being put up onto facebook/instagram.
This article "This is What the History of Camera Sales Looks Like with Smartphones Included" has a great graph that explains why this huge increase in photo taking.


Friday, April 03, 2015

Smoky cooking is worse than war

Over 4 million people die prematurely from illness attributable to the household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels.
that is according the WHO.

Compare that to other things we worry more about
Road traffic injuries 1,274845
Suicide 844 460
War 70,000
Murder 430,000

'the number of war deaths has also plummeted. In the 1950s, there were almost 250 deaths caused by war per million people. Now, there are less than 10 per million' With 7 billion people in the world that would be 70,000 per year. '437,000 people murdered worldwide in 2012'
The war statistic is a bit misleading as things go be very quiet until a big one kicks off.

Still the idea that instead of sitting around camp fires singing peace protest songs we should sing campfire protest songs was surprising to me.