Bad software

Date:     11 June 13
By:          Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng.,
                2252 Joyce St.,
                Burlington, oN L7R 2B5   
                905 634 9538
For:         Letters, The Economist, London, UK
Re:          ” … Hewlett Packard and Dell have struggled … ” p. 64, June 1
 

Dear Editors:

 
Yes.  And they have brought it on themselves.  The “thousand dollar doorstop” syndrome is worse than ever.
 
Most desk- and lap-top computer software is non-intuitive, unfriendly, badly structured, mystifying, unpredictable, untested, illogical, buggy, and inefficient.   It is flabby with endless demos of programmer cleverness that are of little practical value and which, with unwanted, irritating automaticity, just get in the way.  It is unusable for large numbers of potential customers who want to do serious computational, writing, or other Value Added tasks and do not want to become computer geeks or (heaven help us) “communicators”, risking spraining their thumbs and atrophying their  brains. 
 
My 30-year-old Osborne, with its Wordstar, Supercalc, and dBaseII, is the exact opposite of each of the unflattering adjectives above and, seven computer generations old, is superior, for my purposes, to the machine on which I am writing this.   Given several tweaks (e.g. internet, a link between the spreadsheet and the DBM, colour, reduction
 to laptop size, AND PROVIDED WITH A MANUAL!!) it would sell like hotcakes today.
 
Recall that, in the early ’50s, Volkswagen identified a huge market of which the Big Three were blissfully unaware.  “Volkswagen sold 50,000 cars last year?” the then head of GM pontificated scornfully, “We LOSE 50,000 cars a year on their way to the dealers!”  
 
The original Bug was cheap, simple, dependable and of superb quality.  We earned their gold watch for 60,000 miles without a repair.
 
The computer industry today needs a Volkswagen Bug.
 
Cheers,
 
F.

Keynesian economics

Good evening, all.

 
I’m forwarding a link to this American article not because I am for it nor agin it, but for background to US undercurrents of which Canadians should be aware.
 
F.

 
The article says:
 
“So much for Keynesian pump-priming.”
 
It ‘s a little difficult to learn from the context whether the writer is saying Keynesian economics is good or bad, or good but wrongly applied, or something else.
 
However, while Keynes said a lot of things, what most people mean when they cite him is that he said governments should save in the good times and spend in the bad (see the Book of Genesis, where Joseph gave that exact advice to Pharaoh).
 
Trouble is that, as so often, governments get it exactly backwards:  They can’t resist spending like mad in the good times and contracting like mad in the bad, which makes the situation worse, not better.
 
It’s a flawless demo of Gue’s 180 degree syndrome: identify a sound principle of economics, education, etc. and you will likely find that  the government bureau concerned has applied it backward.  Example from EducationEducators scorn rote learning, when in fact, to quote an old Scientific American article, “Every human accomplishment springs from a platform of rote learning.”
 
Keynesian economics is a lot like Christianity; only one guy ever tried it, and you know what happened to Him.
 
Cheers,
 
F.
 
More proof that Barak Hussein Obomba. who hijacked the Democratic Party, is
creating a POLICE STATE in America!!
 
Fast & Furious
Fort Hood Islamic Political Correctness
Benghazi
Illegal immigration & Obombacare
Keystone XL Pipeline
Exploding Food Stamps
Record increase in Disabled Americans
Nearly 50% no longer pay income tax
Sequestration??
AP phone records scandal
IRS (Schulman’s 150+ visits to White House)
NSA & VERISON
PRISIM
 
READ Larry Kudlow’s article which shows more proof that Obomba gets a ZERO grade when understanding productive economics
for real economic growth…….GMac 

Sent to Jane McKenna, MPP Burlington, on June

Sent to Jane McKenna, MPP Burlington, on June 9, 2013

 

Hi, Jane.

 
Maclean’s Magazine, 2nd to latest issue, has an article on “car sharing”.  It is aimed at exactly what my “Computer Commuter” is aimed at: get half the cars off the road by making it easier and cheaper to share than to fly solo.
 
However, their idea is not as good as mine, because it is not:
 
1.  Integrated
2.  Automated
3.  Convenient
4.  Much lower cost (a) to develop (b) to run.
5.  Quick to start  to payoff – months, not years or decades
6.  A potential source of large provincial revenues without tax hikes.
7.  Protective of farmland or neighbourhoods from endless clanking of heavy Diesel machinery,  fresh tonnes of winter salt, permanent expensive maintenance, etc.
 
I received your email of a few weeks ago in which you indicated that you weren’t sure whether “The Computer Commuter” idea is being followed up in the Party policy process.  I’ve studied the Policies and I don’t see that it is.
 
Are we not entitled, through you, to ask the Policy people (whoever they are*, and I never did find out while on Policy duty) to study this possibility?
 
We just have to do something about car-strangulation.  It’s destroying our environment and bankrupting us.  how many millions of $ does one km of highway, never mind one interchange, cost us?  How many $Ms of production gets lost when Ms of people spend three or four hours a day sitting in cars?  How many tonnes of particulates and poisonous Nox combustion products are emitted by all these cars, particularly when they idle so much of the time?  How many $Bs are needed to keep this fleet of one-tonne, one-person steel and rubber monstrosities doing NVA (No Value Added) work destroying our roads and environment?    We seem to be blind to all this!
 
I spent many years in industry as a heavy-duty systems designer and installer, and it makes me tear my hair to see how the Province handles this kind of thing.  We Conservatives were bad enough when in power, but the Liberals and eHealth?  Grrrr.
 
Can we get something stirring on this, Jane?
 
Regards,
 
F.
 
*  This is a whole other problem that needs airing at  some other time.
 

Bankers Conflict of Interest – LIBOR

Date:          8 Oct 12
By:             Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng.,
                  2252 Joyce St., Burlington, ON Canada L7R 2B5
For:            Editors, The Economist  
Re:             “A $300 trillion question”, Sept. 29, “ … LIBOR … is set, every day, 
                  by the British Banker’s Association (BBA) …  “
 
Dear Editors:
 
When will you cease ignoring the glaringly obvious reason and responsibility for the historical repetition and increasing severity of the boom-bust cycles?
 
The current cycle started about 1971 and peaked in 2007-8, with plenty of warning dips interim.  Gradually, the financial industry constructed an imaginary economy using what it disingenuously continues to call “money”.  This economy could well be called, to paraphrase Dr. Eric Berne, “Games financiers play”.  Its Monopoly® “dollars” bear imposing names like “Collateralized Deceit- oops, no, sorry Debt – Obligations.
 
This imaginary economy frequently drops grapples loaded with Monopoly® dollars into the real economy, to be exchanged for another few hundred million real dollars.  When some of the financiers’ greed finally overcomes their caution, this contrived situation becomes visible; honest actors in the farce are confused as to which are real and which imaginary dollars and refuse to trade any of them.  There is a bust.
 
Many of the financiers who did this, how they did it and when, are named and documented in current books.  One such is “Reckless Endangerment”, a meticulously researched chronology of the well designed, beautifully executed theft of big pieces of the world’s wealth.  Many of the perpetrators are still with us, inventing even more financial games with still more imposing titles.  Credit Default Swaps, anyone?  Derivatives?  We have, preying on the real economy, the  “outsized ambition, greed, and corruption” (to use the subtitle of the Endangerment book) of these financiers.  
 
The main driver of all this is the egregious conflict of interest of bankers setting rules for bankers.  Do I hear echoes of LIBOR?  The Federal Reserve?  Familiar names like Greenspan, Barclays, or Basel 1, 2, or 3?  For how long will a responsible journal like The Economist  ignore these plain facts?
 
No cheers,
 
F.
 
PS  How long has your dumb engineer been warning you of this?  Ten years?  Fifteen?  I’ve forgotten.
 
F.

 

Climate change and the precautionary principle

GA, all.

 
On 2013-06-03, at 3:35 PM, [one of my associates]  wrote:

… that is the precautionary principle.   doesn`t it apply to climate change?  especially since most carbon-abatement techniques cost nothing.  use white roof-tiles.  don’t extend the planned life of coal-fired power plants.  eat less meat. (a friend just earned her PhD for calculating that a vegetarian diet would reduce carbon emissions to sustainable levels).

 

My response:

 

A very good point, and 100% correct as long as not taken to extremes, as must be said about a lot of good things.  See the bottom paragraph.
 
We (this family) identified a long list long ago of such actions and inactions, including a few that are contrary to the conventional wisdom (even among engineers).  
 
Example:  There is a superstition (even among some engineers) that it is cheaper to leave a house temperature steady at occupancy setting than to raise it and lower it in accord with occupancy.
 
Fact:  watts lost from a body with surface area “S” = W, and W = CST, where (T (should be ∂T) is the temperature difference between indoors and outdoors, and C is all the things you can’t do anything about short-term, e.g. wind, shade, house colour, etc. (We planted trees  and vines 55 years ago, which are paying off richly now.)  So: in any day, hour, or minute that you can reduce ∂T, you can save money and reduce carbon dioxide generation.  
 
“But,” screech the warm-mongers, “The furnace works lots harder to bring the temperature back up … ”  Yes, Virginia, but all it’s doing is what it would have been doing anyway by kicking in every 15-30 minutes to maintain a high temperature; and between times you’re’ saving money in buckets.  
 
Reciprocally, save money in the hot weather by turning the a/c off when out of the house.
 
In industry, my people, under my technical and admin direction, developed “Vapotherm”™, a high-vacuum method of drying out the huge green power transformers you see in the fields outside the city.  Westinghouse saved $Ms, raised quality enormously, and reduced coal consumption (to make steam) by 100s of tons per year.  
 
And so on.
 
BTW,  my above method used in this house saved a tested and measured  20% in fuel and 12% in electrical energy.  In W, I experimented off-line and tested  three different methods of drying out before settling on one of them, which wasn’t the one I thought for sure would be the winner.  I.e. I confirmed the results (a word most educators won’t use) before adopting the dryout method and also after I’d tested the household method.  
 
Perhaps you can see why I have so little patience with ed. systems that hate tests and won’t even use the word “results” in any of their Statements of Purpose.
 
I didn’t know it at the time, but while saving money for W or my family I was also reducing carbon generation.  But I did know I was eliminating one of Hamilton’s smoke plumes and making the workforce more comfortable (can you imagine working around a huge steel and copper thing sitting there at 200 deg. F when the ambient is 90 already?)  Quality, economy, and pollution reduction can almost always be made to go hand in hand. 
 
Back to your point:  the precautionary principle should always be balanced against the question:  What else could we do with the money?  If it costs $7B to put a wind machine on every hilltop in Ontario, what could we be doing with $7B that would be more advantageous to our people?  Water and sewerage to every citizen, including natives on reserves?  Massive investment in converting Education to the FInnish model?  Increasing GO capacity and electrifying  it?  “The precautionary principle” cannot stand on its own; we wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning.
 
Nuff.
 
Cheers,
 
F.