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The Tech Slant

Facebook’s Fickle Finger of Fate

*Some years ago, there was a comedy show that had as a part of its weekly bits, the “Flying fickle Finger of Fate” award, which went to people in the news who accomplished “dubious achievements.” From The Wall Street Journal, Friday July 27, 2018: “Facebook shares fell 19% to $176.26, erasing about $119.1 billion in market value, after the Menlo Park Calif., company warned late Wednesday about slowing growth. Facebook’s loss in market value Thursday is larger than 457 of the 500 companies in the S&P 500. Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg alone lost almost $16 billion in the value of his stock holdings.”

But Mark Zuckerberg is a genius.

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg poses a question during the CEO Summit.

Perhaps Zuckerberg will have to skip the Wadyu steak Friday night, and just have the regular filet mignon. Keep Reading

Big Data

Big Data & Big Business = Big Bucks

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NICE GUYS FINISH LAST

I’m not in opposition to “big” things. I am, however, fearful of “big” things going bad. Hedge funds losing billions of dollars (Knight Capital) and having the stones to ask for their money back. Brian Hunter of Aramanth losing $6 billion. Big moves can lead to big mistakes. Torch Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the world, where catching fire on a regular basis is the norm. The Titanic, which was the biggest ocean liner in the world, within a short period of time, became the biggest ocean liner at the bottom of the Atlantic.

Make no mistake about it; we are in the era of Big Data. Data collected on every click you make, every time you press a key on your keyboard.  Insight, pattern recognition and projection, all aspects of human intelligence, are being performed by machines that may or may not be making the best of judgments.

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Theranos Sunny Balwani

Sunny Balwani – Pecunious, Punctilious, and Prosecuted

*Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani was the president and Chief Operating Officer (CEO) of a company named Theranos for seven years. The founder of Theranos was Elizabeth Holmes, whose life goal was to be a Silicon Valley billionaire. The unfolding of the story is rather sad, a story whose path was not unlike the fictional character Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” theme. Theranos’s business concept was a great idea, and should a company such as one like Theranos actually work, it would change a lot of how we view medicine, but the concept and reality never actualized.
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Cryptocurrency

The Cryptocurrency Conspiracy Continues

*As it was once said, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”  Bitcoin has been joined by 1,450 digital coin offerings. I have never been happy with the term “coin” since we associate coins with metal objects we can hold in our hands, except for maybe the island of Yap that has stone coins.

I think they attempt to assuage people by using the term “coin” so that the chumps who invest in them really think that there is, somewhere, something that they can put in their pocket and stroll down to the local drug store and by a soda.

Bitcoin closed Friday May 18, 2018 at $8,487.61, in case you’re interested. Tulips were once very valuable, too (look that up in your history books).

Let me say I have no animosity for those who invest in Bitcoin. If you make a fortune, good for you, and make sure and thank the Winklevoss twins, who dreamed up Facebook and any other moneymaking investment that might have a sketchy, hard to nail down origin.

I think they slept through their ethics classes at Harvard; the only thing they learned was “once you have it, no one really cares how you got it” which was certainly true of I.G. Farben along with the International Bank of Settlements during the 1940s, or Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.

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Audi A8

Audi A8 – Valiant in Valencia

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Taking the Audi A8 out for a prance in Spain

*When the Audi A8 last rebooted, people were hardly in an uproar over the changes. No, Audi plays it safe with their big limo, a flagship that necessarily must embody all the aspirations implicit in the marque’s “russian dolls” approach to carmaking.

The car is especially handsome under Valencia’s ochre, wintertime sun— even the tourists are straining for a look at the handsome car as it cruise the wide boulevard near L’Oceanogràfic, a stunning oceanarium situated in the east of the city of Valencia, Spain, where different marine habitats are represented. Designed by the architect Félix Candela and the structural engineers Alberto Domingo and Carlos Lázaro, the structure echoes the curving grace of the A8, casting an impressionistic reflection on my press car’s highly reflective hood in the afternoon light.

AUdi A8 in Valencia
PHOTO CREDIT: SHARPMAGAZINEME.COM

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Login to our system

Just Login to our System

*“Just login to our system.”  A very common demand these days.  You can’t get a mortgage or buy a toy or receive medical care without creating an account and logging in.  It sounds reasonable, but is it?

Entering your life’s data into any system is risky, as we are repeatedly reminded by the steady stream of news reports about hackings that assurances about the safety and security of your data are mere rhetoric, no matter the company or organization.  Demanding that you to login to a system assumes that you are willing to take a huge leap of faith, and trust that:

  • the system is well-built and supported,
  • the people administering the system are highly skilled, and that
  • state-of-the-art security measures (ineffective as they may be) are in place and the people administering them are highly skilled.

This is like asking you to jump off a cliff based on a stranger’s assurances that “it’ll be OK”.
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Software Sycophants Header

Software’s Sorry Sycophants

*I’m so fascinated by all of the new colloquialisms, and l especially the “early adopter.”  As far as new, at least in America, we love new stuff, and old stuff is left to collectors. By the way, the prices of antiques are going down sharply. It seems the new young people have little interest in old stuff, the prized antiques of yesteryear. That antique table and chair might be better on the auction block real soon, as I do not see young people praising old stuff.

You might be able to get money from things like old baseball cards and comic books, but as America’s national pastime loses followers, (baseball is losing audience and the major league is deliberating how to change the game to attract more followers)  and fewer and fewer young people read printed material of any kind, I would bet that even your prized baseball cards and comic books are going to lose value soon. Keep Reading

Monopolistic Header

How Monopolistic Capitalism in Tech Can Use Decentralization to Their Advantage

*First things first, I am not here to neither reprimand nor endorse monopolistic or competitive capitalism, but rather to use first principles thinking as a systematic approach on how some relentless monopolistic markets use decentralized tactics to inevitably excel past expectations compared to markets in perfect competition. This type of thinking is highly encouraged by Aristotle (philosophical works), Descartes (Cartesian Doubt), and Elon Musk (SpaceX, Tesla, Solar City, The Boring Company).

We’ll analyze the mammoths, Microsoft and Google, and use reasoning to find out which of these companies are going to survive and which will fail due to lacking any type of decentralized organizational structure.

“With first principles, you boil things down to the most fundamental truths … and then reason up from there.”

Elon Musk

Elon Musk

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Digital Media

Technology, Digital Analytics, and the new Monopoly

As time and technology march on, occupations, professions, and major market players adapt or fade away. I can recall as a freshman in college being told that newspapers had already had their heyday decades ago.

News isn’t going away, but paper is being replaced by screens the size of your hand and much, much larger, with speed (but not really depth) that travels around the world in split seconds.

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Skyscrapers and Arctic

New Skyscrapers Fueling Arctic Meltdown

* 2017 set a record for the most skyscrapers built in a single year – 144. 2018 is predicted to eclipse it by reaching 160 superstructures. Happy dance. Not.

The fossil fuel energy necessary to produce the concrete and steel in each of those 144 edifices, located in 69 cities (many of which sit empty in China), is cooking our planet alive.

China Concrete Usage
China Used More Concrete in 3 Years than America Used in the 20th Century

In 2018, the Arctic had its warmest winter on record at least 10º(F) above normal. The Arctic is missing 62,000 square miles of ice below last year’s record low.

Minus the ice, the latent heat from the Arctic Ocean transfers immense amounts of energy into the troposphere. It supercharges the polar jet stream which now meanders 10, 20 and even 30º southward, off course. This wayward polar jet stream has unleashed deadly and wild weather around the globe, including recent snowfalls in London and Rome. Keep Reading

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