Anton Aylward

How to Bring Back Manufacturing Jobs

http://www.strategy-business.com/blog/How-to-Bring-Back-Manufacturing-Jobs

In many ways this isn’t just about manufacturing, though the numbers are clear there.
Elsewhere there is a shortage in “cybersecurity”, which, when you look at it, isn’t so much about ‘security, per se but basic IT systems and network management. It doesn’t take a CISSP or CISA to be able to install and configure a network appliance that does fire-walling, spam/malware detection, DPS/egress filtering. The reality is that the vendors have made this all GUI based for the lowest common denominator. Unless you are a spoon-fed MSCE then following the vendor’s instruction to set these up, to set up “Good Practices”, and lets face it that applies to sysadmins as well as netadmins, is not taxing the brain.

Marcus Ranum, the inventor of computer firewalls (or at least the guy who pioneered coding them) once commented that vendor GUIs had so dumbed down firewall configuration that his cat could run it. I applaud his sentiments, but then I’m a CLI sort of guy 🙂

This article makes the observation that the hiring people are ‘not efficient’:

I’ve written before about the strange state of affairs in the job market.
Markets everywhere have become more efficient, thanks to technology and
brilliant new platforms that grant buyers and sellers of goods and services the
ability to meet one another online and agree on product and prices. And yet the
labor market has become less efficient. As the most recent JOLTS report
notes, there were some 5.6 million jobs open in the U.S. at the end of June,
up from 2.4 million in June 2009. If human resources professionals
could be 10 percent more effective at filling posts than they are, there would
be an additional 560,000 people working today.

The problem isn’t so much a recession or that technology is making people
redundant, as that the hiring process is broken.

Continue reading

Anton Aylward

What’s Wrong with the Internet?

http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00311

I hate and despise articles like this for a variety of reasons.
First and foremost, I hate people making money out of fear-mongering, be it racist in nature (“the immigrants are crowding us out!”), religious in nature (“the heretics, schismatics, infidels, pagans, Christians, Jews, Islams or whatever are crowing us out!”) our some variation on economics (“the ignorant masses are crowing us out!”) or any such variation and permutation thereof. It doesn’t matter if is about starting a Church, Political Party or Society of believers and gathering money or political power, getting elected so that you can pass legislation and give preferential jobs the cronies or, once again, variations and permutations thereof.

The second is related to the first. It is, depending on how you look at it, either simple ignorance or wilful ignorance. Selection of facts.
We see this with the “Family Value” crowd quoting the Bible but ignoring the passages about slaves, concubinism and Lot’s prostitution of his daughters and later incest with them (Genesis 19:1–11 and Genesis 19:30–38). No, they rely on 1 Corinthians 10:11 that the record of the Old Testament is for an “example” to us. Only they get to pick and choose what parts to use an example, ignoring others.

That’s what’s going on in this article, ignoring history.

All the “annoying” things that the Internet is bringing have been brought about before by social changes. For example, fledging America ignored copyright, and in turn had its copyright ignored. American printers freely reprinted the works of European as well as other American writers. This is one reason Poe died in poverty despite his works being widely published and his contemporaries recognising his brilliance.

Technological innovation has always brought about social disruption and even philosophers such as Alfred North Whitehead have pointed out that ever since the discovery and application of fire, innovation has been morally ambiguous in this sense.

There’s a saying that Conservatism is the blind and fear-filled worship of dead radicals.

There’s also this:

The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical
invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them.
–Mark Twain

In either sense the author of this article is a Conservative. He assumes the attitudes of his parents generation and the generation he grew up in, which, coincidently is also mine, is somehow ‘better’ even tough it came about by disrupting what went before (even to the point of global warfare and bring us to the point of thermonuclear destruction), and that the cycle of history repeating, yet again, to change what he grew up with, is a bad thing.

Can you say “Dinosaur”?

http://biblia.com/bible/esv/Genesis%2019.1%E2%80%9311
http://biblia.com/bible/esv/Genesis%2019.30%E2%80%9338
http://biblia.com/bible/esv/1%20Corinthians%2010.11

Anton Aylward

Self serving ..

This
http://www.eweek.com/security/fbi-chief-criticizes-apple-google-smartphone-data-encryption.html

and this

http://www.eweek.com/security/bitcoin-poses-danger-to-british-economy-warns-bank-of-england.html

both seem very self serving, protectionist and supporting 19th century models of life against change.

The FBI never really recovered from the death of Edgar Hoover, though I’m sure they still have all his files 🙂

Of course when the FBI tried converting to modern technology, the “virtual case file”, it was a disaster
http://www.infoworld.com/article/2672020/application-development/anatomy-of-an-it-disaster–how-the-fbi-blew-it.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_Case_File

I’ve observed, a couple of cases up close, that Yourdon was right when he pointed out that Big Projects Don’t Succeed. You want a success, then prototype, build the small with an eye to an architecture that is resilient and let it grow. As it grows you’ll find (a) real needs and (b) the problems you never imagined.

If anything, Bitcoin is like cash in that transactions can be kept secret, unlike e-commerce using credit cards or bank accounts.

I remember years ago the UK imposed a limit of #50 on the amount of money that could be taken off-shore by travellers and tourists.
See
http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1969/jun/30/foreign-travel-allowance-lb50-limit

Of course it was all quite meaningless. The people that could afford to travel on business or for more that pre-paid package holidays carried credit cards. In particular the people such as salesmen, who were contributing to the economy by encouraging overseas trade bypassed this.

You’ll notice that the Hansard record has the MPs getting in a lather over tourism rather than the business of real trade in goods and material that requires sales representation. Back then, England was still and industrial producers and exporter. Yet the MPs couldn’t see this.

 

Anton Aylward

Walmart: An economic cancer on our cities

http://www.salon.com/chromeo/article/walmart_an_economic_cancer_on_our_cities/

Not a new idea.
Back in the last century I took a vacation to lake Placid and they had successfully passed a city ordinance banning Wal-mart and a few other ‘big box’ stores.

Much has bee written on how the likes of Chapters/Indigo has destroyed the small bookstore.

Reality is big malls have destroyed the high street stores. That goes for the big supermarkets as well. Yes old downtown – not least of all Danforth and similar, still has the High Street with small groceries and butcher shops, but that seems absent from new Town in the outskirts of the cities. Large Malls are more efficient. And the ‘indoors’ more suited to Canadian Winters. But that doesn’t explain their popularity in warmer climates.

Jane Jacobs had a lot to say on how the high street forms an important part of the social fabric of the city in a way that a mall simply cannot.

The logic of this article applies not just to Wal-Mart bt to the whole principle of big box stores and the ‘efficiencies’ they have. Manpower costs, and reducing manpower though automation, be it RFID tagging or through the use of self-serve checkouts as we are seeing in Loblaws and Metro/Dominion are all cost-reduction exercises. Such machinery counts
on the the books as an ‘asset’ and has tax advantages whereas employees are an ongoing cost and come with an increasing set of liabilities, legal, operational and otherwise.

This too, Amazon understands.

 

Anton Aylward

Sometimes storing electricity makes no (energetic) sense

http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/09/sometimes-storing-electricity-makes-no-energetic-sense/

It depends on how one is storing the energy.

In Wales there are “hollow Hills” as a result of coal mining.  Water is pimped there  at night while the country sleeps and then drained to power turbo-electric generators during the day when demand is high.   This balances the demand for power.  It only makes sense because the ‘Hollow Hills” are already there.  If we had to excavate those ‘reservoirs’ specifically for this purpose then the energy costs would be too high.

As it is, this kind of storage works best with nuclear power plants which are run at near constant output.

 

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Anton Aylward

On the real cost of wind farms

Please read “ELECTRICITY UTILITY PHILOSOPHY” and ask yourself questions like:

  • Have the “greens” high-jacked the agenda?
  • Have our politicians succumbed to popular opinion rather than hard economic facts?
Wind farm wide

Wind farm wide (Photo credit: rarebeasts)

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Anton Aylward

A Reason for Vegetarianism

According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, entitled “Livestock’s Long Shadow
livestock use 30 percent of the land surface of the planet, generate more greenhouse gases than transport:

The livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent — 18 percent — than transport.

Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 percent of the global arable land, [which is] used to produce feed for livestock

The livestock business is among the most damaging sectors to the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources, contributing among other things to water pollution, euthropication and the degeneration of coral reefs.


Meat and dairy animals now account for about 20 percent of all terrestrial animal biomass.

Perhaps we need a Kyoto Accord for livestock as well.

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Anton Aylward

Dumbing Us Down

There is a maxim attributed to the Jesuits that goes: “Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man”, meaning that the childhood years are formative. More ancient philosophies going back to to the Greeks and Chinese voice a similar outlook. Modern psychology, thanks in large part to Freud, supports this outlook.

I want to show how the bad stuff we learn at school harms us as individuals, in our relationships, in the workplace and how it damages society as a whole.

So its frightening when that principle is used for subversive ends. We feel horrified when we hear of children being recruited by rebels and terrorists in Africa and the Middle East, being armed with automatic weapons or being used as involuntary human bombs. What frightens us most, perhaps, is that their minds and outlook are being perverted, just as in another age children living in totalitarian societies were encouraged to “report” the “subversive” activities of their parents and other adults.

We, especially in the contemporary West, value our children and their innocence. We take the view that crimes against children, exploiting them or abusing them is particularly pernicious.

Why then, asks John Taylor Gatto, do we do so systematically, and have this deeply embedded in our culture and educational system? Gatto has written books and essays on this subject. The essay you can read on-line, the book is worth reading in its own right. Continue reading

Anton Aylward

Are you a Dummy or an Idiot?

There are a few axioms in business, sales and marketing.
Up there at the top is something of the order of “treat your customers with respect.
For many, this starts at “hang up the phone before you start swearing at them”, but the principle is more universal. Its a variation of the idea of “The customer is always right” that one famous department store owner – or other – brought into the vernacular.

Along with such truisms goes the idea in marking that something new and dramatic will grab the customer’s attention.

Which has led to an interesting paradox. There is a line of books that is predicated on the assumption that telling the reader — the customer — that they are ignorant. Continue reading