Tuesday, January 31, 2006

China overtakes France

Back in December 05, I noted that China had overtaken Italy in economic size.

New economic figures for China show that its overtaken France as the world's 5th largest economy. It should also overtook the UK this year.

I do note that one of the issues facing the Chinese is land grabs. I had heard that land grabs happen there, I didn't realise that it was considered a major problem.

All counties have methods for the compulsory acquisition of land. Here(au) it gets used for public infrastructure. New roads, road widening, future dams, that kind of thing. Here, it's also in the basic law that there must be fair compensation.

In China, a place without a strong rule of law tradition, government at all levels can and do routinely move people off land. This is done 'in the national interest', but when the land is given to commercial ventures (with officials pocketing yuan), it's just a fancy cover for what is corruption. Often a people affected are peasants. For these people, it is stealing their life savings usually with token compensation.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

ABC turns the tables

Last week I saw an ad for West Wing. I posted a comment over on a post on Cameron Reilly's blog.

Today, after Landline, I saw the ad again. Yes I can confirm the ad was on the ABC. A real turn around for the usual, ABC does the first run plus repeats then the program is brought by a commercial channel.

Cultural Money and the Country

Landline is currently in its summer recess. The programme runs in a 3 stories of 20 minutes format. During the summer they are running repeats of 3 popular stories for a selected industry. Today it was Wines turn.

The last story was a 'human interest' story, about an Opera Event at Jimbour House on the Darling Downs.

Cut into the story was an interview with someone from the Queensland Music Festival. The first parts talked about the funding, saying the people in the bush pay taxes, so are entitled to some state government funding.

LYNDON TERRACINI: Well, I've always said you know, that people throughout regional Australia pay the same taxes as everyone else. Fortunately the Queensland State Government believes that people should have access to the activities that take place in capital cities and so they've supported the Queensland Music Festival and in fact increased the funding this time, so that we're able to go to more places and stage events people want to go to like this event here. We've got 23 centres all over Queensland this time and we play more than 2 million kilometres and to over 200,000 people, and I think that's a wonderful thing.

In the second part, talked about the future of the event, its commercialisation and that the Queensland Music Festival would be withdrawing funding. The speaker didn't actually say weather there was any link between the too.

LYNDON TERRACINI: Well, I hope that over time the Queensland Music Festival actually won't need to exist, that all of these places will take on these events and ideally they run them themselves and so tourists come from all over Australia to experience those events and be part of it, which will assist the local economy, and also it brings communities closer together, so I hope that's the legacy we can leave.

This last quote is not what I remember from the TV. Maybe I'm mixing what two peolpe said. I cut the quotes in after I wrote the rest. The last bit of the second quote does sound like he does not expect funding to continue long term.

So is this going to be another example of government putting in some money and yelling 'Look what we are doing for the country' (in the city media). Then a few years later it withdrawing the money while no one is looking!

Maybe I’ve spent too long in the public service!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Core business in the dawn of the Information Age

I had to read this heading twice!

"Konica Minolta to withdraw from Camera & Photo businesses"

This is what I found on their web site.

Konica Minolta Group is aiming to become more powerful corporate group by swiftly meeting market changes and pursuing “selection and concentration”. We will, from now on, be concentrating our business resources on non-consumer businesses, such as the core “business technologies” field, the strategic “optics and display devices” field, and the growth expected “medical imaging” and “sensing” fields, increase competitiveness, and endeavor to further expand corporate value.


Outline of camera business

Main business: Manufacturing, sale, and related services of photographic equipment such as digital cameras, film cameras and lenses

Fiscal year ended March 31, 2005:
Net sales: 117,000 million yen (Forecast for fiscal year ending March 31, 2006 is 75,000 million yen)
Operating Loss: 7,300 million yen

Outline of photo business

Main business: Manufacturing, sale, and related services of consumer and commercial photographic materials, inkjet media, and related equipment

Fiscal year ended March 31, 2005:
Net sales: 151,500 million yen (Forecast for fiscal year ending March 31, 2006 is 110,000 million yen)
Operating Loss: 1,400 million yen

These sales are expected to drop by about 30% year-on-year and that is a lot of red ink!

These companies have been in the line of business for like 100 years! My Mother's 21st birthday present from my Grandfather was a Minolta camera (that she still keeps in working order for sentimental reasons). This is a big move.

The Information Age keeps rolling on!

Fitness Journal started

Hi peoples.

I've started a blog to journal my sport & fitness activity.

It's at The Gnoll's Tail Tale.

Other people doing a fitness journal include Cam, Beti and Molly.

Mark Shuttleworth will be in Canberra and I'm going!

Mark will be in Canberra on the 30th Jan.

Mark is 'the Man' behind Ubuntu and Canonical.

I'm going to see he at a 'business breakfast'.

Can't wait!

Tune in next week for another adventure of GNOLLS IN S-P-A-C-C-E!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Oh! New Star Trek

Over at Slashdot, its being reported that George Takei has agreed to play Hikaru Sulu in an upcoming episode of the fan series Star Trek: New Voyages. He's the second actor from the original Star Trek series to come onboard; another episode will feature Walter Koenig as Pavel Chekov.

More Trobles with Tribbles?

How many years before it appears on Aussie TV?

Tune in next week for another adventure of GNOLLS IN S-P-A-C-C-E!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

History and its telling (part2)

8:30, Monday night, I saw the third part of the three part ‘Guns, Germs And Steel’ series by controversial author Jared Diamond

‘Guns, Germs And Steel’ looks at why the Europeans have dominated the globe for the last 500 years.

This week’s show looked at why the Europeans could not dominate Africa.

Basically it came down to the fact that much of Africa is tropical. Thus the crops and animals they had used in the Americas as and Australia were not suitable to the climate and were subject to new diseases.

The Europeans, themselves were also at the mercy of (for them) new diseases.

The one question that Diamond did not look at is why the European dominated, while the other four major Eurasian cultures (Arabs, Hindi, Chinese and Japanese) did not. These other cultures knew about iron & gunpowder (invented in China, about 700AD), had access to highly productive plants & animals and had resistance to the same diseases.

What was the difference? Was is a matter of Climate, Geography, Biology (Germs) or Technology (Gunpowder & Steel)?

I’ve read one theory that says the shape of Greece is major factor. That its large amount of coastal fringe in a compact area, make it productive yet hard to control. The ideal birthplace for democratic and egalitarian traditions (if you were not a slave). Where as the great river basins like the Nile and Euphrates-Tigres, while being productive, required strong central government to control the irrigation systems that were the technological heart of these emerging civilizations.

I find this an interesting idea. Any comments? Anyone got any others theories?

I note that Jared Diamond has a new book out.

and here is the book this series is based on.

Tune in next week for another adventure of GNOLLS IN S-P-A-C-C-E!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I'm rich!

I just found this site. My blog is worth B$1000 dollars! I'm just not sure what a B$ is. Sounds like funny money to me!

On closer inspection, it looks like B$1000 is what default value they give to new site.

Tune in next week for another adventure of GNOLLS IN S-P-A-C-C-E!

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Gang of Four (Software)

Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson and John Vlissides.

While surfin some blogs, I found a link to Ralph Johnson’s blog.

So I surfed over there and found news that John Vlissides passed away on Thursday, November 24, 2005.

I never meet John. But I can say that the effects of his writings on our joint endeavours are not insignificant.

Go, See, get another job!

Just read this Go, See, and Confirm entry over on Jason Yip’s blog.

To think, I've been in this job (Maintenance & Data Quality) for near 18 months, and I've not seen someone using the system in anger. I’ve asked a few time about getting a familiarization visit to a ‘production site’.

Resume up-to-date, Resume sent!

Tune in next week for another adventure of GNOLLS IN S-P-A-C-C-E!

History and its telling

Last night on ABC TV, there were two programs that dealt generally with the Conquistadors, and specifically with Francisco Pizarro’s defeat of the Inca Emperor Atahualpa at Cajamarca.

At 8:30 pm, was the second part of the three part ‘Guns, Germs And Steel’ series by controversial author Jared Diamond

At 10.40 pm, there was a repeat screening of the first part of the three part ‘Conquistadors’ series.

‘Guns, Germs And Steel’ looks at the effect of geography on history, and why/how Eurasia came out on top.

‘Conquistadors’ looks at the events as a Culture Clash, with all the political machination that went on within and between the two camps.

For me, the most telling difference between the two telling was the believed ability of the Spaniards and Incas to communicate during the days leading up to and during the climatic battle at Cajamarca.

‘Guns, Germs And Steel’ is based on the view that communication was barely beyond hand signals.

‘Conquistadors’ took the view that communication and translation was that advanced that Francisco Pizarro timed his arrival to coincide with maximum instability within the Incan ruling class.

It was interesting to see how little the two telling had in common. The basic common elements were the timings of the events, the numbers of people involved and the emotional states of the Spaniards (taken from the personal journals). The rest was so much conjecture, put together to make a good story.

On this I tend to side with Diamond. Firstly, because he did more on the ground work in Eurasia. Secondly, because some of he augments agree with some of my personal views on the things that shape change. That side, it was very apparent that producers of ‘Guns, Germs And Steel’ had a lot bigger budget to work with.

Might see if I can arrange the ‘Guns, Germs And Steel’ book onto this years Christmas present list. ;)

Monday, January 02, 2006

There was a fire where!

New Years day saw fires on the Central Coast of NSW, in the Victorian Western District and at Junee, in the Riverina. In the previous week two houses where lost along Canberra ‘bush interface’.

This time of year, you expect fires in southern Australia. The places where these fires occurred are not unexpected, expect one! Junee. I’ve never heard on live/property endangering bushfires this far into the interior before.

Bushfires are a coastal thing!

Is the part of Global Warming?

What the Aussie government up to on this front

This article appeared today on slashdot.org. It talks about the US government moving radio traffic around the spectrum, to free up a block of spectrum for new mobile services, i.e. mobile broadband. I assume this is something bigger and better than what gets marketed at exorbitant rate as mobile ‘broadband’ in Australia currently!

Another future chink in Telstra’s rivers of gold. One shareholder of Telstra has a conflict of interest here!