Humanity's end: the time we waste on virtual lives

Video gaming, it's something that most people have done at least once in their life and many do with regularity. I myself am guilty, in 1989 I received my first video game console, the Nintendo Entertainment System. 

Sure, we'd already had an Atari 2600 in the house from my older half-brother but I never used it much, the NES though was mine. All mine, if it was raining or too cold to go out and play there I sat before this glorious computer tapping my thumbs away to the point of occasional blisters (I'm looking at you Ice Hockey!) and I will admit, as some of my regular readers know, I still play Atari stuff a lot (my daily driver is an 800xl, I also 2600 occasionally). Sadly, I also play freemium games (never pay of course) on my phone and have a PlayStation 4 which I fire up every month or so for a weekend. I got to thinking, 'how much time do we waste annually on video games' and I quickly found answers. The average U.S. gamer age 13 or older spent 6.3 hours a week playing video games during 2013. Wow, but what about globally? Could I find an estimate? Well I did, on TED no less. We spend 3 billion hours a week as a planet playing videogames. Is it worth it? How could it be MORE worth it? Wait, what?! Surely I misread that, let me clean my glasses off. 3 billion hours a week. Pinch me, I'm dreaming! It can't be so.

Let's look at that for a year... 156 billion hours a year.


That's 17,808,219 man-YEARS spent on video games annually. 17 million years wasted every year playing video games. Seventeen MILLION.

One estimate puts 6,700 workers as required to build Khufu's pyramid.

If we take Herodotus' claim of 20 years being required to construct the pyramid and assume 12 hours of labor from every worker, every day for those 20 years we come up with 613,200 man-hours per year. Multiplying our estimate times the 6,700 workers we get an estimate that 4,108,440,000 man-hours were required to construct Khufu's pyramid. Video gamers could provide enough man-hours to build Khufu's pyramid THIRTEEN times every year and still have 295,000 man-YEARS of labor left over every year.

The Hoover Damn had an average of 3,500 workers daily and construction took just shy of 5 years. Again, for ease, let's assume that 3,500 daily workers x 12 hours x 7 days x 5 years. That gives us 536,550,000 man-hours for constructing the Hoover dam. Video gamers could build 290 structures equivalent to the Hoover damn annually. 

Hoover Dam

This is just insanity. I imagine people watch television than those that video game, and likely for longer periods. Just imagine if we took 10% of that time we waste on such pursuits and applied it to service projects in our communities, or furthering our education, or anything remotely productive?!

Not only is this a massive waste of time, but it is using a considerable amount of electricity at the same time. If we just consider console and computer gaming hours from the figure from the TED talk we need to come up with some average kWh number. If we look at figures on this page, we see that consoles are using 50w to almost 200w and we know that computer gaming rigs can easily use 500w-1000w depending on what kind of GPU (and how many GPU's are present) is being used. We also have to factor in monitor or television power consumption... LCD's can use 20-25w and there are plasma displays that will happily use 400w or more. For our power usage lets take a very conservative figure, 125w for both the system and the display.

125w multiplied by the 1.56 billion hours gives us 1,560,000 kWh of power usage a year. Again, this is a very conservative estimate. The Hoover Dam generates, on average, about 4 billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power each year... the Hoover Dam, that required all of those man hours mentioned above in this post, takes nearly THREE AND A HALF hours to generate that very conservative kWh figure.

Let's assume the average bachelor's degree requires 40 hours a week for 4 years. That's 8320 hours over 4 years while we have the average U.S. gamer over 13 dedicating 1310 over the same 4 year period to gaming, that's 15% of time require for a Bachelor's degree spent on video games and really the number is higher as most degree programs do not have you in class 52 weeks a year.

According to NPD, 91 percent of U.S. children ages 2-17 play video games (64 million). More interesting, these numbers are up nearly 13 percent from a 2009 study. The number of kids in the U.S. has increased by 1.54 percent in that time, but not nearly enough to make up for the massive increase in game playing. Oct 11, 2011
The good news is that we’ve finally gotten our priorities in order. According to Nielsen, the average U.S. gamer age 13 or older spent 6.3 hours a week playing video games during 2013
Every year, over 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States alone. That’s a student every 26 seconds – or 7,000 a day.

So by these figures more than 1 million students are playing video games just shy of 2 weeks a year and dropping out of high school...

Let some of this sink in next time you turn on your console or tap that app on your phone.

I bought a Chromebook, and am dual booting linux!

For those of you not familiar with Chromebooks, check out Google's page on them. I encountered a Chromebook for the first time in the wild this past Saturday and was quite impressed with how snappy and functional for casual web browsing they were.  A little bit of research later that afternoon I discovered several (the Intel ones) are capable of running Linux with minimal effort. After doing a fairly quick Google search I found that the Acer Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ 11.6-Inch Laptop would allow support for dual booting Chrome OS and Linux if I flashed the rom with a custom one. 


I decided to go with Gallium OS as my Linux distro as it is made, and optimized, for use on Chromebooks. Acer Chromebook CB3-131-C3SZ 11.6-Inch Laptop would allow support for dual booting Chrome OS and Linux if I flashed the ROM with a custom one. Flashing the ROM for this specific device was easy:

  • At the Chrome OS screen I logged into my WiFi network but NOT the OS.

  • Opened a crosh shell by pressing CTRL+ALT+F2(which is actually just a right arrow where the F2 key should be)

  • Logged in as 'chronos' with no password

  • Followed the instructions on which download and install the firmware ROM for the chipset my model has. I went with 'RW_LEGACY' as it allows dual booting.

This flashed the rom and I then powered the machine off and turned it back on just to be safe before proceeding to the next step. I was now ready to install Gallium OS! This was equally as simple:

  • At the Chrome OS screen I logged into my WiFi network but NOT the OS again

  • Opened a crosh shell via Ctrl+ALT+F2 again

  • Logged in as 'chronos' with no password again

  • Then ran the chrx install script 'curl -Os && sh go' which downloaded the install script and gave me a few options for the install, like setting the partition size (I gave 9 of the 12gb to it as recommended).

After about 15 minutes it had downloaded the distro and installed and bam there I was at the Gallium OS log in screen! It works great. Now when I turn on my Chromebook I have 30 seconds to select which OS I want by pressing either 'CTRL + D' for Chrome OS or by pressing 'CTRL + L' for Linux, if I do not select one within 30 seconds it automatically launches Chrome OS! I've read you can change the default as well as the time but it's not a big deal, within 1 second of pressing the power button you are at the screen then it's just a quick tap. Chrome OS takes about 9 seconds to load now from pressing 'CTRL+D' and Gallium OS takes roughly twice as long after pressing 'CTRL+L' to be at the log-in screen!

I have to say, this Acer Chromebook is a great little machine. Its housing is plastic but it makes a great little machine for browsing the web, chatting, using pushbullet to text etc while I sit on the couch watching TV or while sitting in a coffee shop people watching out the window! 

How Terahertz Waves Tear Apart DNA

Ok... this is kinda scary. The better our technology gets, the more it's killing us. Ack!



"Great things are expected of terahertz waves, the radiation that fills the slot in the electromagnetic spectrum between microwaves and the infrared. Terahertz waves pass through non-conducting materials such as clothes , paper, wood and brick and so cameras sensitive to them can peer inside envelopes, into living rooms and "frisk" people at distance.

The way terahertz waves are absorbed and emitted can also be used to determine the chemical composition of a material. And even though they don't travel far inside the body, there is great hope that the waves can be used to spot tumours near the surface of the skin.

With all that potential, it's no wonder that research on terahertz waves has exploded in the last ten years or so." View the rest HERE