* Posts by Mr Finance

14 posts • joined 8 Feb 2012

New use for old iPhones: Watch your house get robbed in REAL-TIME

Mr Finance

Ohh that brings back memories. Probably the second mobile app I ever downloaded did this, albeit the snapped pics were sent by mms from my 2002 era Nokia 7650. Such progress the world has made in 11yrs.

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Pinging in the rain: Boffins track wet spots using phone masts

Mr Finance

Re: Make sharing data a part of the licence agreement

Combine it with data from sky stb's (relative signal strengths from hour to hour) and you've got a hell of a lot more data points.

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Boffins biff over ‘twisted radio’

Mr Finance

Re: Photons are spin-1 particles

Yes, polarization and oam are distinct, but did the experiment actually create individual photons with angular momentum, or just a tubular beam who's path of greatest intensity circled the tube's Center as a function of time. I suspect the later unless the antenna was actually some sort of magical black hole beam gun. Rather as Schultz says, this is just a particularly funky shape of mimo antenna.

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VCs snaffle £200m of UK taxpayer gold ... to bet on high-risk biz

Mr Finance

Re: For once not a government handout - orders of magnitude more please.

Pls define your use of the words 'subsidy' and 'good ideas'. I would use 'investment' and 'ideas + teams with returns exceed their cost of capital'. I'm suggesting that there IS a shortage of funds for the latter. I accept one can only prove this on the global average return and (lack of data) not the incremental investment that you are suggesting goes only to 'bad ideas'. Anecdotally though, the sucessful funds employ a large degree of investment scattering. This suggests it's rather hard to know in advance which ideas+teams are good and which bad. Certainly the founders of google must be rather glad there were some 'incremental VCR' funding above that available through the first few VCs that turned them down.

I confess I dont work in VC and don't know Nathan, if he is one of the shoreditch 'why can't I make money by ignoring property law' crowd then I sympathise. Nevertheless he should get VC funding (in which the government may be one of the fund investors) if a VC with a track record feels he is investable. Nobody should be getting a government subsidy

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Mr Finance

Re:government is a poor vc

Mach diamond, I fully agree. I am not suggesting the gov would make 15% as a standalone VC. I AM suggesting they leverage those VCs who are capable of generating 15% by investing into their funds/as co-investors.

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Mr Finance
Go

For once not a government handout - orders of magnitude more please.

Andrew don't be so sceptical, this is a good idea and needs to be massively more than £50m.

Bottom line is VCs are more effective than government quangos at selecting and supporting the successful start-ups this country needs. Co-investing is a force multiplier whereas subsidies are a black hole. More detailed explanation below for the freakonomics readers among you.

VCs may lose money on most investments, but make it exceptionally big on a few. Studies differ dramatically and suffer from timing and survivor bias, but even in the USA, the most competitive VC market out there, the average returns for VC investment funds is meaningfully above stock market return, in the order of 15% (e.g. http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/steven.kaplan/research/kaplanlerner.pdf) . This is explainable from an investor behavioural bias point of view, but tragic for both the UK economy and for company founders seeking funding. It means that there is a whole spectrum of investments with on average good solid positive returns that are not being made due to lack of capital and secondly that founders are getting low valuations for their companies (disincentivising people to dream up and action ideas that have the positive returns). The only beneficiaries are the Dragons and other VC backers who are rich enough to disregard the fear of loss for the comfort of statistical averaging.

So should the government invest in VCs? From a cost perspective UK Gov can raise debt at c. 1-2%, and take a sufficiently long and steady view that many of the volatility risks of investing are not seen. So certainly they can afford to invest, but including the impact on long term tax take, is it a better total return investment than infrastructure, or NHS/teachers salaries? IMHO the reason that VC investment makes sense for governments whereas equities much less so (though there is a case to make for for sovereign wealth funds) is that in addition to the potential financial return on investment, £1 spent via VC will be rapidly injected into the economy via startup spending (e.g on staff costs generating tax income, reduced dole costs, and second order effects as staff spend their salaries). Invest £1 into VC fund, generate c.20p tax/savings, and you can break even as a government even when the VC fund makes a small loss and returns you only c.90p ( 20p+90p = £1 + c.10 years funding costs at 1%).

Now you can argue that the government is already doing this to some degree - investing into startups with Enterprise Capital Funds. Except here's the rub. Who do you trust to invest in the right companies? Your local government quango appointee, or the fund with a prove track record earning 15% returns and helping the startups in more ways than just cash. I believe governments should just piggyback on the highly successful VC knowledge and incentivisation structure and link the fee structure they pay VCs to long hold times and proportion of UK based staff in the funded companies. The appropriate investment levels by the way are measured in the billions, not in the £50 millions. The appropriate quantum is dictated by the point at which average VC returns are reduced to slightly below equity market levels of 5-10% (which is the point at which government should be economically indifferent to buying stock in listed UK PLCs and hence supporting the IPO market which indirectly feeds back to VC funding). A good start would be to heavily trim this 'Technology Strategy Board' and redirect the £390m.

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White Space trial: First Cambridge, then... THE WORLD

Mr Finance
WTF?

I'm a big bull on white spaces, but the applications the article and Neul refer to are laughable. A) the chip won't be $2 anytime before an lte 800mhz chip (or even multimode - economies of scale and all that) will be. B) the comm chip cost is minor vs the sensor costs in the apps refered to (parking/bins), and C) which half competent council purchasing manger will want to commit long term gov funding to a single provider niche network when you have a competitive choice of lte 800 nets.

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Mobile phones still safe... probably

Mr Finance

Myself, I love the strap line 'but we recommend continued studies' attached to all this non required research. Roughly translates to 'can I keep my job please'. By now it is obvious to anybody remotely educated in the principles of statistics and physics that more research is not needed.

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Chinese tech firms fingered for military collaboration

Mr Finance
Stop

Fair game, but remember we are not on the same 'side'

You are all missing the point. Yes this is stating the obvious, yes the chinese are perfectly entitled to use their brains and follow this blindingly obvious strategy. But that does not mean it's ok for the west to support their ICT industry - unlike the USA, France, uk etc, China is a nuclear powered dictatorship with a stated territorial claim on a neighbouring democracy. Very happy for china to make my toys and assemble my consumer electronics, the more economic ties we have the less likely a conflict (and while our parents have admittedly sold our jobs down the river, morally I care not that hardworking poor Chinese students get the jobs of lazy rich western chav's/rednecks). However supporting early advancement of their ICT industries before they shift to a more stable political system is just dumb. We wouldn't have let a 'great value for money' Soviet firm build our phone networks in the 60's and the equivilent non-action of the uk and eu governments in allowing Huawei & zte into our networks is foolish in my political view. Don't blame the carriers/corporates for taking a free lunch, just the politicians.

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Mr Finance
Stop

Fair game, but remember we are not on their 'side'

You are all missing the point. Yes this is stating the obvious, yes the chinese are perfectly entitled to use their brains and follow this blindingly obvious strategy. But that does not mean it's ok for the west to support their ICT industry - unlike the USA, France, uk etc, China is a nuclear powered dictatorship with a stated territorial claim on a neighbouring democracy. Very happy for china to make my toys and assemble my consumer electronics, the more economic ties we have the less likely a conflict (and while our parents have admittedly sold our jobs down the river, morally I care not that hardworking poor Chinese students get the jobs of lazy rich western chav's/rednecks). However supporting early advancement of their ICT industries before they shift to a more stable political system is just dumb. We wouldn't have let a 'great value for money' Soviet firm build our phone networks in the 60's and the equivilent non-action of the uk and eu governments in allowing Huawei & zte into our networks is foolish in my political view. Don't blame the carriers/corporates for taking a free lunch, just the politicians.

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Exascale by 2018: Crazy ...or possible?

Mr Finance

Re: Re: Re: I could use such power

Thanks Michael, helpful and interesting

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Mr Finance

Re: I could use such power

Very interesting examples, thanks. Still not sure I understand what prevents these tasks from being more granularly handled by vast nunbers of the smaller commercial compute nodes. Is that a historical artifact of the way software has been written for these high performance real time tasks, or is it something more fundamental that make granular computing inherently inefficient (eg high calculation ci-dependencies that result in low compute utilisation while waiting for outcome of dependant calculation running on another (even physically co-located) server. Assuming in the main it is a historical software artifact that will get re-written over time, are there un fact any sorts of application that have sufficiently granular calculation co-dependency to outweigh cost advantage of cots hardware per flop? Appreciate your thoughts.

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Mr Finance

Is this relevant anymore or is it just superpowers comparing cock sizes? what, if any, is the maximum performance available on a cloud system like EC2? And are there any real world applications that actually need to run on a single system rather than a data center running a decent cloudOS (I do understand security will prevent running nuclear weapons modelling etc on externally networked cloud systems)

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Apple vs Amazon in ereader format smackdown

Mr Finance
Unhappy

So who is more likely to steal my library AGAIN?

Hmm, well Amazon already has stolen my library when for no good technical reason they canned support for .mobi drm when they moved from mobipocket to kindle software. Ok strictly speaking I can still access my library if I still have a working symbian phone from 2005, but that's a bit like saying 'I haven't stolen your paper library, it's still available to view in a museum at Amazon HQ'. Drm gives corporates great power, and the capitalist in me says that's fine, but only when they behave with great responsibility.

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