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”

More tidbits from the technology revolution

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Fun articles on technology change that caught my interest over the last few months:

  • Yes, your color printer may very well be marking every printed page as belonging to you
  • Not only are land lines disappearing, growing number of people won’t answer the doorbell unless you text first
  • Dropping oil prices are a worry for central bankers, even as that saves consumers bunches of money
  • Amazon is developing its own delivery system
  • IBM has fewer employees in the US than in India
  • Google drew a multi-billion dollar fine from the EU

6/7/17 – BBC – Why printers add secret tracking dots – A large portion of color laser printers add tiny yellow dots to the page in order to allow tracking of which specific printer was used to print a specific page.

This is handy for criminal or espionage investigations. A particular leaking case is in the news, with the perpetrator having been found using microdots.

Might be handy for tracking down whistle blowers.

The espionage angle isn’t of interest to anyone reading my blog.

If you every want to keep something you print really private, you might want to pay attention.

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Transatlantic transportation costs in 1937

1937 Hindenburg disaster shown on cover of magazine in 1950. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A Niche in Time: “One of the Worst Catastrophes in the World” by Doug Messier at Parabolic Arc on 9/26/17 describes the May 6, 1937 Hindenburg Zeppelin disaster than ended the age of passenger flights on rigid airships. More in a moment on the ticket prices for transatlantic travel.

Several factors led to the end of rigid airships. The disaster took out half of the Zeppelin fleet, the U.S. blocked export of helium so the German company had no choice but to use (and would have continued using) explosive hydrogen, fixed wing aircraft were emerging as an alternative (specifically the then-cutting edge DC-3), Zeppelin travel was more expensive than ocean liners, and the disaster destroyed public confidence in the Zeppelins.

Check out the full article for more details.

According to the article, here are some tidbits on the cost of travel to cross the Atlantic at the time on the luxurious, faster airships and slower cruise ships:

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More explanations of virtual currencies and possible applications

bitcoin” by komersreal is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Several recent articles provide more background on Bitcoin and other blockchain tools. For your daily brain stretching:

  • Blockchain as a possible tool for fast and cheap international payments
  • China is working to restrict blockchain transactions
  • Central banks ponder issuing of their own virtual currencies
  • Tax status of blockchain transactions and the IRS is out fishing for tax evaders
  • Description of blockchain as being the internet of money, comparable to how the internet moves and stores information

8/28/17 – Journal of Accountancy – Blockchain opens new era for cross-border payments – Moving money from one country to another is time-consuming and costly. There are fees at both ends. It takes several days for the money to arrive. An error in one digit of the routing or account information means the transfer will go astray and take more time and money to locate.

Blockchain offers the opportunity to make international transfers near immediate and at a fraction of the cost.

For an illustration, picture a company paying international vendors. Or an international worker sending part of his paycheck back to his parents in his home country. Or a mission organization moving funds to its many field offices.

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Video shows why rocket science is difficult. More fun news on the wide open frontier of space.

How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster – Elon Musk posted a video of failed launches. You might call this a blooper reel. I prefer to call it:

This is why rocket science is called rocket science.

Enjoy the incidents of “rapid unscheduled disassembly”:

 

(Link: youtube=https://youtu.be/bvim4rsNHkQ00)

As you chuckle at the failed recoveries, keep in mind SpaceX has recovered 16 boosters, reused 2 of them, and has recovered 2 Dragon capsules, having already reused 1.

That, is rocket science.

9/22/17 – Behind the Black – Soyuz launches Russian GPS satellite – In the fun-to-watch race for most launches in 2017, Russia now has a slight lead over SpaceX.

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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.

Read more…

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…

Read more…

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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