Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Archive for the category “Change around us”

This is what creative destruction looks like: disruption in the taxi, TV, and retail industries.

If you wish to become obsolete or gain hands-on experience with bankruptcy laws, the above strategy will work well. Cartoon is provided courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Companies and industries that can’t keep up with changes in technology or demographics or the internet are getting hit hard.

A few more hits to the old way of doing things:

  • collapsing price for taxi medallions
  • tricks to hide low TV audiences; gaming the ratings
  • more closures of Sears stores
  • Toys ‘R’ Us files for bankruptcy protection

The wide use of Uber and Lyft has affected the taxi industry. As one measure of the technological disruption, consider the price of a taxi medallion in New York. One cannot operate a taxi there without a medallion.

There is apparently a thriving business, or at least there used to be a thriving business, in buying a medallion and then renting it out to someone who wanted to drive a taxi.

The market for medallions has collapsed. Consider the following graph by Mark Perry, described in a tweet on 7/6/17.

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Amazing news in the wide open frontier of space exploration

Falcon 9 booster a fraction of second before successful recovery. Now *that* is rocket science. A few minutes earlier it was 120+ miles up in the air moving away from the recovery site.  “Orbital Test Vehicle 5 Mission” by SpaceX is in the public domain (CC0 1.0)

Lots of fun articles in the last two months describing the wide open frontier of space exploration.

  • Ghana puts their first sat into orbit. Yes, Ghana. Very cool.
  • In the GPS world, Japan gets another sat in orbit and an Indian launch fails.
  • SpaceX may have more launches this year than Russia and one commentator thinks SpaceX will be dominant in the launch market for decades to come

7/8/17 – Behind the Black – Ghana launches its first satellite and 223 Live News, Ghana’s first Space Satellite enters Orbit – A cubsate built by university students in the western Africa country was launched from the ISS. The small satellite will take pictures of the country in low- and high-resolution. It will also be able to broadcast the national anthem and other music during national events.

Ghana is the first sub-Saharan country to get a satellite in space.

The sat went to the ISS on June 10 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.

How cool!

7/24- Popular Mechanics – Why the First True Spaceliner Will Change Everything – The beautiful DC-3 reduced the time for coast-to-coast travel.

Before the DC-3, it took 25 hours and 15 stops for fuel and repairs to cross the country. With the DC-3, there were only 3 stops for fuel.

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Retail brick-and-mortar stores continue their slide

The near future for a lot of Sears stores. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I read but did not keep track of a WSJ article describing e-commerce companies moving into otherwise dead shopping malls and converting them into fulfillment centers. Sounds like a good way to recycle vacated malls.

Some other articles on the deteriorating retail market. Also, an explanation why sales of vinyl records have slowed.

7/7/17 – USA Today – Sears to close 43 more stores as retail crisis continues – This is in addition to the 66 closings I mentioned on June 16, which is in addition to 180 announced since January 1st.  Article says this brings the year-to-date total to over 300. I obviously missed 20 recently that were mentioned in the article.

Article says J.C. Penny is closing 138 stores, Macy’s is closing 68, and Radio Shack has shuttered over 1,000 stores since Memorial Day.

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Venezuela continues moving toward dictatorship

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island. Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

What little that remained of democracy in Venezuela continues to crumble.

8/4/17 –France 24 – Venezuela’s currency crumbles at dizzying speed – The value of the bolivar is shrinking fast.

On Thursday the bolivar dropped to 17,000 to 1 U.S. dollar.

The official exchange rate is 2,870:1.

The reporter interviewed an executive in a reinsurance business. That would be a professional level position. His salary is 800,000 bolivars a month. A year ago that was worth $200 and now it is worth $47.

Two pounds of rice costs 17,000 bolivars.

8/5/17 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela’s New Assembly Fires Attorney General – Well, the slow-motion coup continues to roll forward.

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Suggestion for coping with massive change that could replace your job: Take full responsibility for developing new skills for yourself.

Embrace Change” by Iqbal Osman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The rate of change we are seeing around us is massive. There are threats of automation or artificial intelligence even eating into what is called the white-collar world.

Here’s a suggestion on how you might cope with this overwhelming change:  Take on full responsibility for keeping your skills and abilities current.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Attestation Update.)

8/1/17 – Medium – Skill, re-skill, and re-skill again. How to keep up with the future of work. – The rate of change is accelerating and the skills needed to do work in the new economy are changing as well.

Article provides a brief summary of our education system. I will expand that with what I have learned elsewhere. Then I’ll mention a plan to dealing with this turmoil.

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If it seems like the economy hasn’t quite recovered in the Inland Empire region of Southern California, it isn’t just your imagination

What economic growth feels like in the Inland Empire. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

If you are living in California more than, oh, say 15 miles from the ocean, you likely wonder why the statistics saying the economy is going fantabulously well don’t seem to fit with what you see while looking around or what you hear after talking to people.

Two articles explaining why you might be feeling that disconnect, why something just seems off.

First, business activity including employment in the Inland Empire area of Southern California is only now, in early 2017, returning to the level when the recession started.

Second, it isn’t just your imagination that lots and lots of younger people are still living at home when it seems like they should be out on their own. We are talking people who have graduated and are employed.

5/25/17 – Daily Bulletin – Inland business is back to pre-recession peaks – with one big exception.

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This is what the destructive part of creative destruction looks like. Creativity producing amazing new stuff is the upside.

Creativity” by Sean MacEntee is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Amazing new services and products arising from the technology revolution are a delight every day. We are all benefiting from astounding stuff. Tons of entertainment options on the ‘net. Astounding capabilities for our smartphones.

The downside is companies that can’t keep up are getting swept away. The people and space involved in old stuff can be reused in new services. That is creative destruction.

5/31/17 – Fortune – RadioShack’s Tweets Offer a Bleak Look Into the Retailer’s Demise – Over Memorial Day weekend, RadioShack had a liquidation sale at over 1,000 of its retail stores. After closing those locations, there will only by 70 corporate owned stores and 500 dealer owned stores left.

Sales dropped from a peak of $6.3B in 1996 to only $3.5B last year, due to the company not being able to counter the shift to on-line sales.

Consider the missed opportunities, from a comment by Stephen Green at Instapundit:

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Two industries wiped out by creative destruction, two more in process of shrinking, and two nominations for next industries to get disrupted.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

There is a lot of massive disruption from the technology revolution. That is going to continue. What are the threats in your industry and what opportunities might open up?

Consider the turmoil in these industries:

  • Lots of people are cutting their cable connection.
  • Phone lines too – over half of US homes don’t have a landline.
  • Creative destruction: Video rental stores and chain bookstores as illustrations of how fast entire industries can be taken out.
  • Nomination for next industry ready for disruption: Malls? Local real estate agents?

Two shirking industries

5/3/17 – Fast Company – Cord-cutting spikes fivefold in cable TV’s worst quarter ever – Tally of people who cut their cable connection increased by a factor of five in the first quarter of 2017 compared to 2016.

An accelerating number of folks are dumping cable and getting all their entertainment directly from the net. Seems like a person could get whatever entertainment desired from Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, specialized sports services, and dedicated on-line channels.

5/4/17 – Live Science – Hanging Up on Landlines: Most US Homes Are Now Cellphone-Only – Survey by CDC during last half of 2016 shows that 50.8% of US households do not have a landline. Those homes use cellphones only.

That is an increase of 2.8% from the previous year. Over half of houses now are without a landline.

Look at the cellphone-only percentages by various demographics:

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Ongoing amazing news from the open frontier of space

Recovered Falcon 9 booster after NORL-76 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX.

There is a non-stop stream of amazing news from the open frontier of space:

  • SpaceX recovers Falcon 9 after launching spy sat
  • Another good launch of sat into geosyn orbit by India
  • ULA joint venture agreement expires
  • China starts test of cabin for lunar living

 

Falcon 9 booster about to land after NORL-76 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX.

 

5/1/17 – Space.com – SpaceX Launches US Spy Satellite on Secret Mission, Nails Rocket Landing – SpaceX successfully put a classified satellite from National Reconnaissance Office into orbit. As a massive fringe benefit, they also recovered the first stage back at the launch site. This is their fourth successful recovery on land.

The photograph from the launch is incredible. In particular, there is a great view of the first stage separation, flip, and boostback burn.

Here is a clip on Instagram, posted by Elon Musk:

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More on the downside of technology innovation

Sometimes technology can be a bit scary. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Just like technology is constantly being used in ever more exciting ways, technology is also being used in ever more scary ways. A few articles illustrating the downside:

  • Hotel hacked by ransomware, locking guests in rooms
  • Police surveillance cameras hacked with ransomware
  • Software to help plagiarists evade plagiarism detection software
  • Cloning voice patterns to create voice recordings
  • Insurance companies using social media for background checks

1/28 – The Local, in Austria – Hotel ransomed by hackers as guests locked in rooms – A 4-star hotel got hit hard by cyber crooks, who locked the key-based door system. Every door in the place was locked Guests could neither get into a room or leave.

Hotel paid a ransom in bitcoins  of 1,500 Euros, or about US$1,608.

This was the third hit at the hotel. They successfully defended against a fourth attack.

Oh, the hotel has a plan to prevent future attacks…

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More progress in the open frontier of space exploration, courtesy of the free market

SpaceX SES 10, recovery of Falcon 9 booster. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX.

The number of private sector players involved in space exploration and the progress underway is astounding. Here are a few recent articles catching my attention:

3/20/17 – Investor’s Business Daily – There’s a New Space Race On, Courtesy of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos And The Free Market – The main point of the article, which is barely starting to be noticed:

Space remains the final frontier. And it will be private sector entrepreneurs, not government bureaucrats, who will take us there.

Article gives a summary of the private sector companies, funded by filthy rich guys who choose to pour their wealth into space exploration, that have expanded our reach into space. According to the article, these companies have done more than NASA has in the last several decades.

Consider:

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More amazing news from the open frontier of space

Atlas V lifts Cygnus supply ship to ISS. Credit: United Launch Alliance. Used with permission.

It is astounding to ponder the news from the wide open frontier of space. I’m continually amazed by what is happening.

3/7/17 – Space News- NASA seeks information on commercial Mars payload service – NASA issued a Request For Information asking for plans to provide cargo runs to Mars. They are looking for outline of plans in terms of payload mass and weight, nature of vehicle, and timing for start of operations. The RFI indicates 2020 as a start date.

Two companies are described in the article as likely players in Mars cargo runs.

SpaceX would use their new lander Red Dragon as testbed for cargo vehicle. Launch was scheduled for 2018 but has slipped to 2020.

Mars One also has plans for a lander, as an intermediate step for crewed travel. First launch was planned from 2018 but that is now looking like 2022.

3/14 – Behind the Black – SpaceX wins another Air Force launch contract – Ticket price to launch a GPS satellite is $96.5M, up by $14M from the last launch by SpaceX for USAF. Post speculates SpaceX is trying to improve their margin by undercutting ULA less this time around.

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More amazing news from the open frontier of technology

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A few more of the amazing things going on in the open frontier of technology:

  • USAF experimenting with anti-drone shotgun rounds that would snag a drone
  • One state considers allowing police to put lethal weapons on drones
  • Amazon building 7th and 8th fulfillment center in Southern California
  • Amazon starts collecting sales tax in last four states it doesn’t already do so
  • 2 terrabyte flash drive
  • computers as smart as humans by 2029 instead of 2045?

3/13 – The Drive – U.S. Air Force Buying Special Drone-Snagging Shotgun Shells – USAF has 600 special 12-gauge rounds on order for testing. If the test goes well, they will buy 6,400 more.

The rounds are used for snagging a drone.

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The space competition heats up. Aaaaand some competitors slow down.

SpaceX SES-10. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX for placing photos in public domain.

The competition to be a commercially competitive space launch provider gets far more serious with SpaceX successfully launching a reused Falcon 9 booster to get SES-10 into a geosync orbit.

On the same day as SpaceX made such tremendous progress, two competitors dropped further behind.

Competition speeds up

SpaceX SES-10. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX.

I was so fortunate as to check my Twitter feed as SpaceX began its live coverage of the launch. It was such a joy to watch the successful launch and an even bigger thrill to see Main Engine Cutoff, which meant the reused booster did its job.

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More on the frontier of military technology

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock

Several intriguing articles on military forces using technology:

  • ISIS using larger drones with larger payloads
  • Marine Corps wants to experiment with giving an entire battalion suppressors for all their weapons
  • Pakistan developing second strike capability by putting nuke loaded cruise missiles on diesel subs
  • Lots of jobs in the US military will be replaced by robots

2/21 – Washington Post – Use of weaponized drones by ISIS spurs terrorism fears – In Iraq, Islamic State is working with drones above the quadcopter size. With wingspans of about 6 feet, the drone can carry a mortar round at about three pounds instead of a hand grenade.

IS has posted videos of multiple uses of the drones to drop explosives. The frequency of offensive use of the drones is high enough that Iraqi troops must scan the scan sky for drones and take cover when one is spotted.

Captured documents indicate IS is doing research to develop new drones and modify off-the-shelf versions.

This is a significant step up from my previous discussion of ISIS’ drone usage. On January 30, I mentioned:

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