The problem of course is that 99% of unscrupulous operators are giving the rest a bad name. Councils often being top of the list.
63 posts • joined 2 Sep 2009
The bullies don't like their own methods. Apple has been feral with its IP for decades - back to the NEXT days. Intel, of course, is well known for shutting AMD out of the chip market by bribing partners to go Intel only - also for decades. Both got only a slap on the wrist from the government.
Now China is standing up to these bullies. This will define tech for the next generation. If the US wins, tech will stop moving forward, if the US loses, it will lose control. Lose, lose. But we win.
One big wrong assumption
The Stay campaign makes one big assumption - that the EU will go on, totally unchanged, if there is a British withdrawal.
The reality is that it will be holed below the waterline.
It will lose its second highest net contributor and 10 billion euros in income.
This means many of its projects will be unaffordable and many countries asked to pay more.
It will give a lead to many of the northern countries, less than committed to EU membership.
Brexit would be followed by at least 3 other Exits.
It is already clear that the Euro remains in trouble and on a downward trajectory. This will lead to a crisis in 2017 or 18. France and/or Italy will fail.
The real question is do we want to strap ourselves into this car crash about to happen?
And tie ourselves to a zero growth stag economy for the next decade?
Or should we tie ourselves to the higher growth economies we have special ties to.
Commonwealth countries, antipodean countries and Asian countries, with 5%+ growth?
Three things got me:
AlphaGo was able to access the online games of people who do this - 90 million of them. If you think that the top player can probably watch a few thousand games play out over their lifetime it starts to boggle the mind.
In early training on Space Invaders, Breakout etc. they simply left the computer to play itself overnight, relying on reinforcement learning (if it works, remember it). On the first day it knew nothing, by the second it was as good as most people, by the third it was ahead, even coming up with ways of winning, people haven't thought of. If you think of how many computers there are in the world sitting doing nothing, imagine the resource we are wasting - SETI on steroids.
Third was the ambitious aim - Solve intelligence, then use intelligence to solve everything else. Soon we have, in the words of HG Wells, "Minds immeasurably superior to ours" to work on every problem. Cool!
One of the phrases here is incumbent subsidy. Taxis, for example, are allowed to use Bus lanes, giving them an advantage over other vehicles. They have signage at airports, train stations etc. to direct people to them. They have parking spaces set aside for their use. And they are not subject to parking fines, for stopping to pick up or drop off passengers.
There is a massive incumbent subsidy here. And we, the taxpayer, pay for it with millions of our money spent on creating these parking spaces etc. in every capital project.
Re: Could be worse
Some very good PR. When you actually look at the technology, it is years behind and limited in scope. Google, for example, let Alphago practice on 90 million online games to refine its algorithm. Similarly millions of miles are available to their cars.
We're still talking about delivering a machine which has no programme built in and learns from watching a single driver in a single vehicle (talk at Oxford Martin last week).
Re: 80-20 rule?
Take 100 expert surgeons, each doing 20 operations. Video those 2000 operations. From that program a machine to do them, with greater dexterity and vision than a human. With machine learning, soon you have a super-expert.Use that to act as knowledge repository for every operation. Soon you don't need a surgeon, just a machine and a human standing by to take the blame if things go wrong/outside the machine's remit.
The 80% which go are the good jobs, the 20% which stay are the boring ones.
How the BBC got it wrong
The BBC "Expert" told the news presenter, condescendingly, that science was wonderful because now we had discovered this it could affect her life, but before we discovered it, it couldn't - that - he said - was the power of science.
Tell that to James Watt or Richard Trevitick, who invented the steam engine without knowing the underlying science, or Darwin, who worked out evolution without knowing about DNA.
It makes me wonder what you have to do to be a BBC Expert - it certainly isn't understand your subject.
Presume it is time for Mr Dabbs to "upgrade to another Apple" and benefit from the 20% discount and entrance to Apple events that being an Apple accredited journalist confers. Bribery - nah!
I had two Apples - a desktop and a laptop. Both died after 13 months - just out of warranty. This, I am told by other Mac users, is normal. In both cases it was something simple, which I could have popped down to Maplin to source and had fitted within the hour (power supply and hard drive respectively). When I went to the central London Mac authorised dealer, however, I was shocked to be told I had to bribe them £100 to jump the queue, otherwise it would be 3 weeks to even look at it.
Since I needed it for work, this was seriously unacceptable so I went out and bought a Dell. Which is still working. As is my trusty Lenovo.
I'm reminded of Jim Barksdale's comments - If you have data, let's see it - if all we have is opinions, let's use mine". But journalists opinions - even if based on a very small sample - they are arrogant enough to voice as fact without even taking the time to research the article to provide some data.
PS: Apple bricked my first iPhone by forcing through an "upgrade" to the operating system whcih broke Google maps and made every programme unacceptably slow. So my first iPhone became my last.
Take the Bible's perspective
Obviously the first Great Invention was Man (OK - not a big leap - God did have the template).
Second was Woman (amazing what you think of as you sit down to a plate of ribs).
And the third, of course, was sex. Without that were would we all be?
Or perhaps it was Apples - if you want an IT perspective.
There are also a host of benefits in kind for taxi drivers.
Outside every airport and major train station are parking areas exclusively for registered taxis - no Ubers allowed - all paid for at the taxpayers' expense. Signage inside these stations directs people to the councils' revenue stream and excludes all others.
Taxis are allowed in bus lanes, speeding journey times and thus giving them an unfair advantage.
When Uber fights back, expect to see a lot of politicians and local government employees in court for illegal practices directing people to their own services and excluding competing services.
Encourage, don't ban child labour
Banning Child labour is an industrial age thing.
In the Agricultural Age families worked together in the fields. Children learned how to do farming by doing the simple tasks - milking cows, picking fruit, feeding chickens etc. while their parents did the hard manual stuff and the more dangerous stuff (threshing corn with scythes etc.).
When the move to the factory happened, this wasn't possible. Kids became a liability and schools were invented as much as a creche as anything. The model for schools was taken from the East India Company, which had created a system for creating bookkeepers (maths) and clerks (written english) for recording transactions and shipments.
Schools, however, became a self-licking ice-cream with the idea that education led to better jobs and an ever increasing amount of education being "necessary". Whole swathes of people became dedicated to managing the movement of goods rather than making them.These admin jobs became all the more important when automation removed the need for human muscle.
Now Google has removed the knowledge economy, making learning something anyone can do in their own time and may even enjoy, rather than something governments have to force people to do trough school. We are going back to a skills economy. And the earlier kids start, the better they become - we are now seeing, for example, the YouTube generation of accelerated learning - kids who are coding by the time they are 12, entrepreneurs by 15 and running companies as early a they are allowed to do so. 67% of kids agree they can find a You-Tube video on anything they want to learn.
In a skills economy, the best way to learn is by doing it alongside someone else. And the best reward for being good at something is making money from it. This will create really strong teenage kids - and if we ban it it will happen somewhere more free.
We need to rethink our definition of child and our definition of labour. And we need to encourage it and incentivise it, not ban it.
Manufacturing became less relevant
Let me add marketing into the mix.
WW2 drove internationalism. It winkled people out of their little countries and showed them other worlds, other experiences, other ways of doing things. This also opened up markets for the countries and corporations who were able to capitalise on them.
The 1950s marked the beginning of the era of the international brand. Brands had existed in America since 1910, but for their domestic market. Suddenly they were everywhere.
Manufacturing was decoupled and took a back seat - it was no longer the key to success as a company. It marked the end of the power of unions to control the price of goods, the speed of manufacture and the relationship between manufacture and market.
This was massively helped by revolutions in communication. Suddenly the world moved into colour as colour printing became economic and colour TV started to gain traction - both leading to a massive explosion in marketing success.
This directly led to the Japanese and later Chinese manufacturing boom as the brand became paramount and where and by whom it was manufactured no longer mattered.
This led to a 50s boom for cheaper UK regions, then a boom for lower wage regions of Europe and eventually, as transport improved, the growth moved away to lower cost regions of the world. End of boom.
The real question is about the form factor. Cars have evolved around the economics and logistics of a driver. Without a driver, you can send two to do one's job, without paying for two people.
A truck could be split up into individual pallets, which wirelessly chain for the long haul then split off near their destination. A supermarket trolley can simply be programmed to take the stuff home.
A bus can now become a chain of individual sofa size pods which again come together when on the long haul, but separate to take you to your door. Mass transport becomes individual.
Payment can be per mile, per journey or whatever, with no fixed cost. No worries about parking, whether at your destination or on your drive. Simply summon one and it will be there.
In this environment who will even need a car as we know it now? And what price suburbs built around an acceptable journey time to a central location?
It was obvious throughout the last parliament that the politicians in government weren't being entirely straight with us and banks like RBS and HBOS were still in big trouble and it would take time - and perhaps inflation - to unravel.
What is the situation now? Are we ready to cast them adrift and make monetary policy as a government, not as a zombie bank nanny?
Secondly a lot was made of the fact those banks had turnovers greater than UK GDP and most of it was business outside the UK, though guaranteed by the British taxpayer. How much has that problem reduced? Are we going to see a new bank guarantee system which allows for international banks?
Trains are inherently more efficient than buses - one driver can handle many more passengers, there is only planned stop-start (and fewer stops). Our Railways are old enough that land has long since been paid for and the track takes many fewer vehicle movements than a road. So why is a bus usually half the cost of a train over a similar route?
Indeed a plane - which guzzles fuel, has a high staff to passenger ratio and pays massive landing charges and safety check costs - still seems to be cheaper than a train.
We have Tim's suggested methodology of a centralised state backbone and private operators (though each has a monopoly). So, in theory, it couldn't be state failure to allow markets.
So why are trains so expensive? Are we subsidising freight?
History is spun to suit the person writing it, then going down as fact for all time. It isn't real.
The first rule of science is to measure one thing at a time and ensure everything else is the same. In the 1930s we had a manufacturing based economy, so all sorts of stimuli produced different effects.
Consider inflation. In the 1930s, when the UK did well our factories sold more. The unions decided "we want some of that". So wages rose. Inflation was a measure of that process which could lead to a spiral of wage demands and price rises. A dose of austerity kept those wage demands in check and us as a nation competitive.
Now inflation is one of two things. Either a commodity has risen such as oil, or our exchange rate has risen, making our goods more expensive abroad. Both of these put a squeeze on our businesses and to keep us competitive, a loosening of fiscal control is necessary.
Because we still hark back to the 1930s we do the opposite, compounding the problem.
What is obvious here is that money - as Robert Maxwell always maintained - isn't real. It is just a promise and the likelihood of making that promise depends on confidence. Thus the trick is to deceive. When confidence rises, so does the value of the pound, making our businesses poorer, but enabling us to borrow more - we have to choose which is more important.
And, domestically, if we can fool people into believing they are richer, they'll spend more, so the economy rises, making it true. But in doing so they'll suck in more imports, giving us a higher deficit.
We're still stuck in the 1930s thinking that we control our own destiny. In a global market we have to look at much more complexity. Not just the EU and US, but the far eastern manufacturing economies still stuck in our 1930s model. We're in a world of unintended consequences which will get more and more unpredictable as these economies become a greater portion of the whole.
One thing you can be sure of - doing what we did in the 1930s cos a flawed source tells us it worked then is naive.
These boffins assume that just the gold moved about. Perhaps it shows that Cornish people had invaded Ireland. Or that Irish people invaded Cornwall and took back spoils of war. Or a third party raided both, Cornwall first, but met their match in the Irish.
One of the problems of academia is that they pontificate as if they know, on far too little information.
What planet is
Many journalists are so far up Apple's behind they don't see what is going on in the real world. But this takes the gold medal.
Android had already moved ahead of iOS in 2014 with flat design - forcing Apple to ditch its old fashioned skeumorphic look.. But then it took things a whole big step further, with material design and cards. This gave a much simpler interface with cards for everything and it moved away from Apple in design philosophy, closer to what happens on the Chrome desktop where cards are rapidly replacing many searches. Android is now better looking, more intuitive and quite simply cleverer than iOS in how it delivers information and sorts it.
The problem lies with the far eastern markets. A whole new raft of competitors emerged as the space commoditised - Huawei, Xiaomi and a host of others. Motorola also drove aggressively into markets at a much lower price. This drove the cost of phones down and Samsung, HTC and Sony were unable to keep up. A lot of unsold inventory in the channel then slowed innovation.
Samsung has responded by trying to take on Apple, going upmarket. HTC was too conservative this time around.- the team had split acrimoniously over the launch of the One.
This is a permanent change - people even in Western markets are beginning to realise that you can get a perfectly good phone for under £200 so why pay £600. And Android has been hit first as the operating system is the same on both. But Apple will find that price premium harder to justify, especially as its operating system continues to fall further and further behind.
Very simple reason here. After the internal schism caused by being radical with the One, which led to the departure of much of the top team, they opted to be too conservative this time round - a quick refresh and a phone which looks much the same while the others moved on. So HTC was still considered on the reputation of the One, but didn't win the choice war.
It shows that not innovating can be just as risky as being too cutting edge.
Imagine a fridge where everything is "Easy" priced - the closer you get to running out, the more it costs. And you are charged with stocking it - profitably. You'd keep it as close to running out as possible. But as the stock of eggs, say, got smaller and the price got higher, the profit to you in buying some and putting it in there got larger. The word "economically" is elastic.
When I was growing up in 1973, they told us the oil reserves would run out in a decade. Used it to justify a price hike from $15 to $50 a barrel. Then suddenly the North Sea became a viable oil field - essential, in fact, if we were to not be held to ransom. By 1987 it went back down to $30 as these supplies came onstream. And today we are still told oil is finite, and we're going to run out - but only by the journalists and schoolteachers who are regurgitating the old "knowledge" without updating it..
The root of the problem is much simpler - there is a finite resource - attention.
Journalists, scientists (and pseudo-scientists), researchers after a new grant and anyone who wants funding for a project faces a simple facet of human nature. We don't act until things become "a crisis". The article/research paper/infographic which says "reserves are low at the moment but when the price doubles lots more capacity will come onstream" gets little attention - the one which says "everyone will die" does. The false binary - do something or die - is a powerful one (as you can see in the "X is dead" articles which are so popular). This phoney war is keeping many Universities in funding, many papers and websites from folding and many "scientists" in a living on the lecture circuit.
But crying wolf has its own downside. In an Open Data environment people can see how they are being hoodwinked. In a world where the data is out there the charlatan - be they academic or journalistic - cannot make money from repeating the lie in ever more strident terms. We've seen this on climate change, we're seeing it in emissions... the sine wave is still there but he amplitude is lessening. Soon the data will take over and the lies will be lost - still said but no-one is listening. Then, of course, the real catastrophe will strike - the one the figures didn't predict.
Re: An excellent example ...
We, across Europe, pay 10 times the world average for healthcare. Yet lifespans are less than a year longer.
We really should be framing this around why we are not achieving ten times better than average healthcare for the money we spend, either improving results or reducing spend, not worrying about a few nurses and paractemol.
Re: An excellent example ...
Or you could pay peanuts, get monkeys, then use this as an argument for abolishing the service and putting it out to the private sector.
The real problem, however, is that the civil service isn't a meritocracy. You get promoted on length of service, not ability. And sacking people for poor performance - well that is practically impossible. So you get monkeys at the top, even though you pay lots of peanuts.
And that's why you should put it out to the private sector!
Privacy is an ancient idea about maintaining a facade. In public you had to pretend to be god-fearing, support the king and government and be a paragon of virtue in all things. Behind the facade - in privacy - you could beat your wife, mistreat your animals and servants, indulge your sexual desires regardless of whether they were consensual and generally use your power to bully everyone.
Privacy kept corrupt governments in power. Privacy allowed companies like Intel to bribe others not to allow a fair business playing field. Privacy allowed people like Savile and Harris to abuse their positions of influence. Privacy allowed sexism, racism and eugenics free rein.
Privacy is the scourge of good people everywhere. We should be using technology to tear it down, everywhere it exists.
Why are we focusing on probably 1% of the tax companies pay?
In most companies the largest bill, after cost of goods, is wages. Those come with a massive tax take.
Second is property. Rent, rates and upkeep all come with pretty large tax takes too.
Third is often pensions. You got it - taxed!
And there is VAT - 20% on everything they sell in the UK.
Most corporations - like most individuals - pay a third to a half of their income in tax.
But governments have got greedy. They want a windfall tax on profits as well.
That's taxing twice, because that remaining income is what's left after paying tax.
And some people have decided it is convenient to their agenda of painting business as bad to pretend the other taxes don't exist and companies are evading the only one they have to pay.
The frightening thing is that people seem gullible enough to believe it. Allowing politicians to paint themselves as doing good, when they are protecting their own inefficiencies and greed.
And all it is doing is forcing more offshoring.
Just as unions forced manufacturing abroad, this lie is forcing retailing abroad.
Why work in high tax, bullying economies when a host of low-tax ones are opening up?
High Wage and High Cost Economies
In some countries wages are high, but everything costs more.
In others wages are low, but everything's cheap.
Indirect Taxation is often what makes the difference.
For example, in the UK, 75p of every litre of fuel is paid to the government in tax.
That affects the price of everything.
Making us an "everything costs more" economy and we need higher wages to compensate.
But internationally, that makes us a bad place to situate a company.
High wages means high cost of goods. So the company goes somewhere else.
We compete only against other governments who do the same - cheaper than Germany but way off Indonesia, for example.
And we're offering high corporate taxation against other countries' free factories, incentive schemes and better infrastructure. The net effect is negative.
The Butterfly Wings effect of high corporate taxation in a world economy is massive. The loss of companies like HSBC will not only cost us corporation tax, but rates, employee rents, purchases of goods etc.
Re: Fair Tax?
The same really happens with personal tax. If we were told that we have to pay 47% of our income in tax a massive evasion industry would result. So instead they take it in dribs and drabs on what we spend. Effectively they tax us twice (or more) allowing us spend our taxed income on taxed goods, then what's left they take as inheritance tax. A company tax is a direct tax on all of us as it raises the price of the goods we buy and a penny here becomes 10 pence at the till (ask the brewers).
It was Hayek who showed what was really going on. Since democracy was spread out to the wider populations, politicians have seen the need to bribe people openly, while taking their money back secretly. What started at 10% (and caused riots back then) is now 47% and rising on an exponential graph. He called it the road to serfdom.
We have cart before horse. If we set tax at a standard figure and restrict it to a single tax per person, then told everyone what that means we could afford, a lot of the waste would be stripped away. But, as we saw in the '80s with poll tax, the people who are gaming the current complexity won't let that happen.
PS: Another exponential out of control is expenditure. For example, the NHS employs 10x the world average number of caregivers, yet the outcome is only a year longer life.
Just another thought. They make 1.5%. You and I can get 1.6% on an instant access ISA.
So the sensible thing for them to do would be simply to put the money on deposit.
By not doing so, however, they keep 2.2 million people in employment directly, plus all of those in their suppliers, logistics etc. And pay billions in rent and rates on stores, employment taxes, pensions and medical insurance.
Without Walmart every American (and Brit, because of ASDA) would have to pay more tax.
And don't forget the trickle down. Their employees have money to spend.
Wasn't it Robert Maxwell who said there is no such thing as money? His view was it was only a promise on a piece of paper. Uber seems to have bought into the theory.
Apple raises an interesting question. Is the Smartphone market actually larger than the mobile phone market would have been? Hasn't it cannibalised the music player market, the camera market, the filofax market, even the taxi market (as people communicate online rather than going to see eachother)?
But the biggest question is over the 1%. I'm reminded of the old story of the guy driving past an American and a Brit in a Rolls Royce.
The American says "I'm going to try hard and one day I'll have a car like that".
The Brit says "How dare he have a car like that - I'm going to scratch it."
Perhaps Oxfam should employ more Americans. Then we can all have our 7 billionth of something worth having a share of.
Re: Pity the poor rural business
The reason why this imbalance exists is because of bias in investment in the industrial era.
But commuting to cities is also the cause of most of our vehicle pollution. And cities have higher crime, lower life expectancy and more mental health issues.
We should stop subsidising city living.
Making money on old kit
I read elsewhere that Xiaomi's route to profit was on older kit. It priced according to the cost of components on new kit, then made more money as these were commoditised and the price came down. Rather like Apple selling old iPhone 5 innards dressed up as the 5C.
Apple certainly has two groups of consumers in the UK - those whose carrier upgrade cycle fits with the main release and those where it fits with the S release. Xiaomi seems to be simply missing one of these cycles.
Somebody is lying here.
I have Lollipop on my Nexus 4.
Wi-fi - much better - now I can Skype where it was unusable before.
Speed - at least twice as fast
Battery life - transformed. It used to suddenly just drain - rarely lasting 24 hours.
Now I'm getting several days of use.
I'm suspecting a negative spin campaign, probably from a journalist on their subsidised Apple kit.
Wow. How to fuck the planet big time!
Messing with an eco-system without understanding it is a recipe for disaster. What if, for example, fish move there to eat these plankton and populations drop elsewhere. Or the poo from all these extra creatures provides nutrients for things we didn't want to see explode in population.
Has myxomatosis taught us nothing?
Google Cloud Platform charges by the minute so spikes are no problem. It has 70 centres worldwide, so you can deploy one (or more) close to whichever cities you have traction in. Containers mean you can upgrade or fix without any downtime. There is no minimum charge either - you can start for free, in fact they'll give you $300 worth of time to get you going.
Using Bitnami you can have Linux up and running in a minute or two without any knowledge of code or software at all. And a host of open-source apps too. I set up eXoPlatform which is near impossible to set up on Windows, without a line of code.
When IT was new it was hard. People didn't understand it.
That led to lots of so-called experts. To training companies. Consultants. All of whom knew less than they pretended to. And to software vendors who wrapped it all in smoke, mirrors and complexity. It made them look good and justified the ridiculous prices.
Now IT is easy. Like filling in a form. Connecting data sources is as easy as linking in an IP address. You can go outside your company to create end to end networks. Replace sales with ecommerce. Access from anywhere, even see your company's performance on your fridge.
BigIT is dead, rapidly displaced by a matrix of interconnected apps. Flexible, agile and inexpensive.
But nobody told the IT bods. They are still trying to build empires. Hence the moans.
Community Engagement will never happen while Ballmer's in Charge
I remember the OS wars with Apple. Apple updated the OS every year or so and charged for the update, dressing it up as a major move forward. Microsoft gave it away for free and took the flak for "another bleeding bug fix". Game to Apple - and a healthy revenue boost too.
The problem at Microsoft is in the negative customer connection.
They've never addressed the "We hate Microsoft". Or counteracted the "Think Different" image of boring.
People don't show off their Microsoft product to their friends. People have no good feelings towards Microsoft. If something goes wrong they assume it is Microsoft's fault. And that they won't help fix it.
This is reinforced by Ballmer's mindset. He is old fashioned Command and Control personified.
Microsoft tells us what to do and we don't like that.
This is important. It turns successes into failures.
This is the fatal wound. It is bleeding Microsoft to death in the B2C space and increasingly in B2B too.
We are hard wired to think of a new TV product as a set-top box, complete with yet another remote.
But Google has distilled it down to what we really need - just a connection.
I see this as a Trojan Horse.
Companies will set up their TV service to work with this device.
The next generation of TV will have it built in.
Google will launch an app which allows you to use your tablet or phone as the remote.
Soon no-one will watch traditional TV - it will all go through their Chromecast and stream from the net.
Roll on the day.
My Smart TV is severely hampered by one thing - the laborious need to scroll to a letter, then click, scroll to another then click to achieve search on iPlayer, YouTube or pretty much anything else.
While TVs have got better, remotes have just added buttons - they need the same cut-through the crap vision that Apple achieved with the iPhone.
This seems to achieve that. It could turn a small tablet or a big phone into the TV remote. And along the way, it makes stuff which goes through Chromecast the default - why bother with stuff where life is hard when you can set up your whole evening on your Nexus TV app and simply hit play.
There is another factor.
People have an emotional attachment to their car - it is a status symbol, an extension to their personality, a proof of their ability.
Sitting in the back won't have nearly the same emotional attachment. Cars will become like white goods - just a functional "thing".
Car manufacturers rely on that emotional attachment to trade you up, to keep your loyalty and to sell you options. This will end all of those and commoditise the car industry - leading to closure of probably half the plants and 2/3 of the companies.