What really killed the dinosaurs?

485176_441599455926469_1655029236_nWhile I do literally mean the actual dinosaurs, there is also a lesson in the answer for the metaphoric dinosaurs that big companies can become.

“A giant meteorite wiped out the dinosaurs” is the catch phrase.  But have you ever wondered “why the dinosaurs, when so many other animals survived?”.  The alligators survived, fish survived, mammals survived, even other reptiles survived, and even frog species that seem so sensitive to any change in environment survived that meteorite.

So why the dinosaurs?  And what is the lesson? These answers after first some background and myth-busting. Continue reading

The ‘perfect’ everyday bag: messenger bag, shoulder bag or backpack?

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Not everyday bags

I am on the hunt for the perfect bag to carry things with me, but is this a backpack, a messenger bag, or some hybrid of the two. The strongest candidates right now, are the peak design backpack, or the ‘urban disguise’ series from Thinktank. Peak design make a messenger bag the can work as a backpack, or a messenger bag like backpack, but there is not a single review I have found evaluates use of the backpack as a messenger.  Given how frequently I see people with backpacks slung over one shoulder, surely someone else cares about how a backpack performs in messenger mode? The perfect bag? John Steed and the Avengers? All will be revealed! Continue reading

No new Surface ‘Pro 5’ after all?

Lots of others ‘crystal ball gaze’ into the future of Microsoft’s ‘Surface’ products. Here is another perspective. A lighter tone than the usual post, here is a look at both what Microsoft are likely to do, and what they should do. 🙂  Ok, it is largely crystal ball gazing, but so it seems is every other prediction on the ‘Surface Pro’, so here is a different perspective.

1) There may be no ‘Surface Pro 5’, as a name change really makes sense.

Since releasing the original ‘Surface’ and then ‘Surface Pro’, the ‘Surface product line’ has evolved to a point where the original names are in serious need of review. Which is the most ‘professional’ product of the current range? The ‘Surface Pro’, the ‘Surface Book’ or the ‘Surface Studio’?   The ‘Surface Pro’ was ‘Pro’ relative to the original ‘Surface’, and the two names made sense.  Now ‘Surface’ is a family and ‘Pro’ does not describe where the ‘Surface Pro’ fits in that family.  How about ‘Surface Tab Pro’ or ‘Surface Pad Pro’?  Microsoft can afford to pay people to come up with a better name, but a new name is needed.

2) Two new products, one Qualcomm based, one Intel Based!

“We need to be willing to lean in to uncertainty, take risks and move quickly when we make mistakes, recognising failure happens along the way to mastery,” Nadella wrote in a 2015 memo to Microsoft employees

So what will be the new ‘non pro’ device?  The philosophy of the ‘Surface’ products is to do things differently and take risks. Innovation. But as the most successful product in the Surface line-up, there is a limit to the risks that can be taken with the Surface Pro.  Which is why, beyond the logic for the name change, there will logically be a new Kaby Lake CPU based device to follow on from the Surface-Pro.

Contrary to other suggestions, the USB-3 port should stay, and instead the mini-display port should upgrade to Thunderbold-3.  Re-chargeable pen, improved battery life, incremental improvements.

3. The ‘Surface’ replacement, the bold step!

This is where the room to take risks exists.  The recently demonstrated ability to run full windows on a Qualcomm CPU opens the door for something new, lighter and with LTE connectivity.  Such a device would be the logical reason for display at MWC 2017.  Running full windows on such a CPU enables a phone, but this new device needs to be another leap, and something targeting both phone and tablet is the logical solution.  Phones today are ready for the next step, with so many people using hands free or earphones/headphones, do we really need a device designed to be held to our head anymore?

How the ‘basic income’ proposal could change society

The current wealth distribution system is an already a broken system about to face severe attack. As discussed in Robots & Job Terminators, the role of employment is set to change.

canada20flagflagbigfinlandOn engadget, the post How will you survive when the robots take your job? outlines the ‘basic income’ proposal, as put forward by many in the tech industry and being experimented with in Canada, Finland and the Netherlands. This articles provides a great starting point and conveys the basic idea and if unfamiliar with the idea it makes sense to read that article first. This post is about looking further, in terms of thoughts about what else should change if a ‘basic income’ is introduced and what would be needed to make such an idea work. What would such a measure cost, and what would be the impact on society of a total package, of a ‘basic income’ together with a logical set of policies to create a total package? Continue reading

Australian Record Trade Surplus: good news, or a warning on automation?

skitched20truckAs explained by ‘Alan Kohler’ of the ABC, the record trade surplus is largely due to “A huge rebound in iron ore, coal and gold exports delivers a record trade surplus of $3.5 billion in December, providing a big boost to national income.”, with no proportional increase in imports.

I suggest an analysis of the impact on the Australian economy is reason for people around the world to consider the impact of automation.

Continue reading

Highlander Economics: Does it end with only one?

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from IMDB

Back in 1986, the movie Highlander was released. It was actually sufficiently successful to inspire four sequels, plus spin offs and even a reboot. Something in the original clearly stuck a chord, and the tagline and concept ‘in the end there can only be one’  could be part of this.  The plot centres around a small group of individuals, immortals, who become ever stronger by defeating ‘competitor’ immortals in mortal combat.  The immortals all seem have a share of power. Defeat another immortal and grow stronger as the victors gain the power of the vanquished, until only one immortal remains, and the one remaining will hold all the power.  So how closely does the ‘rules’ of the highlander actually match the ‘rules’ for competitor companies?

How accurate is the analogy? Continue reading

The Canary: part II

typewriter2My previous post was a diversion for the usual, and this post is a continuation of the diversion, but normal topics are set to return!  For now, a little more the episode of the early warning of failing journalism.

In the previous ‘canary post’ I outlined reasons why the almost universally reported ‘Microsoft will not release new Surface Devices because they have to wait for the new Intel processors’ at least from my analysis seems an example of the press simply getting in wrong, as the processors concerned are actually well know to be already available. (example of reporting here: note the words “because it’s too early to put Intel’s next-gen Kaby Lake processors and chipsets into the devices” and here and here. And this is reporting after the even has announced.  Before the event was announced there was even stronger repetition of the clear error. Over and over.

If the press can get something as simple and as obvious as this wrong, what else can they get wrong?   Most disconcerting in a society that requires a functioning press for the protection of democracy. After further analysis of what is misreported, I will look at just what are the possible reasons for this misreporting.

Back to the innocent little canary, the misreporting of the environment for a tech company to release new products.   As of today, October 16,  an actual Microsoft press event is now scheduled for October 26, and yesterday,  the first signals that my analysis which just two days ago ran contrary to almost all press reports, may indeed be correct.  That evidence is that Amazon now lists current surface products as ‘(OLD VERSION)’.  Now finally there are journalists suggesting that this may be due to an update of current surface models to the new Kaby-Lake cpu. This is yet to be confirmed, so stay tuned for confirmation.

There is also a second part of this story.  Journalist predictions were in two parts:

  1. current surface products cannot yet be updated as they must wait for the new CPU
  2. instead a new ‘all-in-one’ surface desktop will be released

It has already been discussed that in fact the currect surface products do not have to wait for the new CPU as the ‘mobile’ versions of this CPU are already released.

The important point for ‘part 2’, the release of the all in one, is that this idea is impacted by the fact that the desktop versions of this new ‘Kaby-Lake’ cpu are in fact not available.  Despite the mobile new CPUs actually being available and the Desktop versions not available, all the reporting was the mobile devices cannot be released and no discussion at all on the need for the new CPU in a desktop.

Microsoft may be about to announce a new ‘all-in-one’ device, but the lack of new desktop CPU being available means either:

  1. the new ‘all-in-one’ device will be announced but not available until next year
  2. or this new ‘all-in-one’ will actually function like an ‘all-in-one’, but actuallybe something different and be more a modular system and allow a choice of using current surface devices for CPU and disk, or offering a CPU and disk drive as a separate module.

I can add more at a future date, but this is probably enough discussing of this now to illustrate the point, and refer back to in a future post it this turns out correct.

Significance?

It is only about laptop computers, and I am only interested because I wish to buy one by a specific date for a present, so just waiting is not appealing. But the significance of what is clearly an error that could be discovered with even the research available to an outsider, being reported and echoed throughout the press is a great concern.  Is this also happening with respect to the war in Syria for example.  Or reporting on the candidates in an election?  I feel the age of the internet has eroded the business model of journalism, and we all may pay the price.  More news, but the same news repeated without any fact checking.