Tuesday, 3 April 2018

WOULD YOU TRUST YOUR LIFE TO A SELF-DRIVING CAR ?

American Lawrence Sperry created the world's first successful aircraft autopilot 105 years ago in 1912 and whenever we take a commercial flight somewhere today, we place our lives in the hands of a latter-day, computer-controlled autopilot linked to the aircraft's flight management system, thus enabling the aircraft to be flown on autopilot from take-off to landing, though at any time, the pilot can intervene to alter the settings of the autopilot or to immediately disengage it and manually fly the plane id the need arises. 

Many trains today, especially urban transit trains such as those used on the Klang Valley's Kelana Line are driverless - instead being driven under computer control, much like lifts (or "elevators" to Americans) which automatically stop at the required floors.

In recent years there have been trials of self-driving cars on the public roads and there have already been been some on accidents, such as on the night of Wednesday, 21 March 2018, when Elaine Herzberg, 49 was hit head on by an Uber self-driving vehicle whilst pushing her bicycle across Mill Avenue near Curry Road in Tempe, Arizona and died as a result.

Below is a screen cap from the video released by the Tempe Police, showing Elaine Herzberg pushing her bicycle moments before she was hit by the oncoming car.
(If you cannot see the embedded image, please enable "View Images" or "Load Images" in your e-mail client.)



And below is a link to the full video on You Tube.

CLICK TO VIEW VIDEO

Then there is the Bloomberg report "Tesla Driver Died Using Autopilot, With Hands Off Steering Wheel" on 31 March 2018. where a Tesla Model X driven using autopilot car collided with a highway barrier on 23 March 2018 and caught fire resulting in the death of its driver Wei Huang.
CLICK HERE TO READ

The above Bloomberg article referred to a blog post by TeslaTeam on 30 March 2018 which stated:-

"In the moments before the collision, which occurred at 9:27 a.m. on Friday, March 23rd, Autopilot was engaged with the adaptive cruise control follow-distance set to minimum. The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision. The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken."

"The reason this crash was so severe is because the crash attenuator, a highway safety barrier which is designed to reduce the impact into a concrete lane divider, had been crushed in a prior accident without being replaced. We have never seen this level of damage to a Model X in any other crash."

"Over a year ago, our first iteration of Autopilot was found by the U.S. government to reduce crash rates by as much as 40%. Internal data confirms that recent updates to Autopilot have improved system reliability."

"In the US, there is one automotive fatality every 86 million miles across all vehicles from all manufacturers. For Tesla, there is one fatality, including known pedestrian fatalities, every 320 million miles in vehicles equipped with Autopilot hardware. If you are driving a Tesla equipped with Autopilot hardware, you are 3.7 times less likely to be involved in a fatal accident."

"Tesla Autopilot does not prevent all accidents – such a standard would be impossible – but it makes them much less likely to occur. It unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists."
CLICK HERE TO READ

Whilst I don't have any details at hand to refute or confirm Tesla's claim of fewer crashes and fatalities of cars driven using its autopilot and whilst some may blame Elaine Herzberg instead of the Uber car's self-driving system, since she crossed the road where there is no designated pedestrian crossing, however unlike with aircraft flown by autopilot or computer-controlled trains, road traffic including of vehicles and pedestrians is very much less predictable and erratic, more so in countries such as Malaysia, where cars and motorcycles  suddenly cut across lanes, brake suddenly, beat traffic lights, drive or ride on the wrong side of the road  against regular traffic flow, drivers don't respect the right of way of others, pedestrians cross the road at un-designated crossings such as in the case of Elaine Herzberg and with the recent "Mat Lajak" youth sub-culture in Malaysia where teenagers ride their bicycles in a herd in a dangerous manner, such as the eight teenagers in Johor Baru who died when they were hit by a car whilst riding their bicycles in the middle of a dark road at around 3 am on Saturday 17th February 2018 resulting in a tragedy as shown in the video below.

CLICK TO VIEW VIDEO - Car rams into cycling teens, eight dead

So I wonder how advanced car autopilot technology will have to be to be able to adequately cope with such erratic road behaviour, especially in heavily congested traffic and dark roads, considering that the road Elaine Herzberg crossed that fateful night had relatively little traffic at the time and she was still run down by that self-driven car. 

Proponents and defenders of self-driving cars may argue that the technology is still very new and needs to be improved and enhanced to include more sensors and smarter control systems to be able to cope with such erratic and unpredictable road traffic and users, which is true but unlike with aircraft and trains where professionally managed and maintained subject to strict regulations, how sure can we be that all motorists will religiously maintain their vehicles to ensure all its additional advanced safety features and facilities are in proper working order, when many already don't do so with the existing more basic features and facilities due to financial constraints, a lackadaisical attitude or some other reason.

If many do not maintain their vehicles in tip top working order now, can we expect that they will maintain all these additional safety sensors, on-board computer, GPS navigation and so forth systems on their self-driving vehicles in tip top working order in the future.

It's easy for the marketing types of the ICT industry and tech-futurists to imagine and preach how things should be when the realities on the ground don't work likewise.  

The New York Times article below which questions the claimed safety of self-driving cars made me realise why I have always felt so uncomfortable with all these claims my information and communication technology marketers and tech-futurists that advancements in the technology which replace or reduce the role of humans will somehow make the world some kind of paradise on earth and solve problems resulting from human habits and behaviour.

Especially these few paragraphs below jive with my own feelings with regards the many starry-eyed claims I have heard and read over the last two decades:-

“Technology does not eliminate error, but it changes the nature of errors that are made, and it introduces new kinds of errors,” said Chesley Sullenberger, the former US Airways pilot who landed a plane in the Hudson River in 2009 after its engines were struck by birds and who now sits on a Department of Transportation advisory committee on automation. “We have to realize that it’s not a panacea.”

"Experts who are skeptical about the unceasing forward march of technology say fatalities are rising because public officials have become so enamored with the shiny new thing, self-driving cars, that they have taken their eyes off problems they could be solving today. In the federal government and most states, there appears to be little interest in or patience for doing the tedious work of identifying and implementing policies and technologies with proven track records of saving lives now, as opposed to some time in the distant future."

"Silicon Valley technologists would argue that algorithms and machine learning will simply leapfrog what they might dismiss as the legacy problem of human fallibility. But Mr. Sullenberger, for one, is worried that the rush to develop automated cars will lead to many unforeseen problems. “Even though there is a sense of urgency to prevent human-caused accidents,” he told me, “we need to do it in a responsible way, not the fastest way.”

Unlike Sullenberger who has real world experience on the ground, the Silly Con Valley technologies and tech-futurists have their heads in the clouds and it's claims like these which have irked me through over two decades of writing about the ICT industry, especially when I find little change or even worsening of the reality ground compared to the rosy picture of a "glorious future" painted by the marketers and futurists of the ICT industry - whether it be about online education and computer-based learning versus traditional teacher-based learning, about gee whiz traffic information and data analysis systems solving traffic congestion on our roads without much or without any real-world modifications or remedies to the causes of such congestion being implemented on the ground.

Basically, people who have experience of helping to solve real world problems on the ground find the claims of the Silly Con Valley technologists, marketers and tech-futurists rather pie in the sky, such as in the case of creating Bitcoin to circumvent financial problems due to central banks such as the Federal Reserve, instead of dealing with the problems due to these central banks head on.

Well Bitcoin's price has been going sideways at around US$7,000 since 30th March 2017 and showing no signs of shooting up to US$1 million by 2020, so Mr. McAfee had better start thinking of the sauce to go with his penis, which he said he would eat if its price does not reach US$ 1 million by then.


The New York Times article referred to follows below.

nytimes.com

Opinion | The Bright, Shiny Distraction of Self-Driving Cars





The promise of self-driving cars can be alluring — imagine taking a nap or watching a movie in a comfortable armchair while being shuttled safely home after a long day at work. But like many optimistic images of the future, it is also a bit of an illusion.

Automated cars may indeed make commuting more pleasurable while preventing accidents and saving tens of thousands of lives — someday. But a recent fatal crash in Tempe, Ariz., involving a car operated by Uber that was tricked out with sensors and software meant to turn it into a latter-day version of K.I.T.T. from the TV show “Knight Rider” suggests that at least some of these cars are not ready for the hustle and bustle of American roads. In fact, the technology that powers these vehicles could introduce new risks that few people appreciate or understand. For example, when a computer controlling the car does not hit the brakes to avoid a collision, the person in the driver’s seat — many automated cars on the road today still require someone to be there in case of an emergency — may also fail to intervene because the driver trusts the car too much to pay close attention to the road. According to a video released by Tempe police, that is what appears to have happened in the Uber crash.

“Technology does not eliminate error, but it changes the nature of errors that are made, and it introduces new kinds of errors,” said Chesley Sullenberger, the former US Airways pilot who landed a plane in the Hudson River in 2009 after its engines were struck by birds and who now sits on a Department of Transportation advisory committee on automation. “We have to realize that it’s not a panacea.”

Mr. Sullenberger is hardly a technophobe. He has flown passenger jets crammed with advanced electronics and software and has a keen professional interest in technology. What concerns him and other safety experts is that industry executives and government officials are rushing headlong to put self-driving cars on the road without appropriate safeguards and under the unproven hypothesis that the technology will reduce crashes and fatalities. The Senate, for instance, is considering a bill that would exempt self-driving cars from existing federal regulations and pre-empt state and local governments from regulating them. And Arizona became a hotbed of self-driving testing by telling auto and technology companies — like Uber — that it will not ask too many questions or institute a lot of new rules.

Even as officials place a big bet that autonomous cars will solve many of our safety problems, American roads are becoming less safe. More than 37,000 people were killed on American roads in 2016, up 5.6 percent from 2015, according to government data. The National Safety Council, a research and advocacy organization, estimates that the death toll was more than 40,000 in 2017.

Consider automatic braking systems. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that there is a 42 percent reduction in rear-end crashes that cause injuries when this technology is installed on cars. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and other public interest groups asked the Transportation Department in 2015 to require that all new trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles have such systems, which have been around for years. The department accepted that petition but has yet to propose a rule. The government did reach a voluntary agreement with 20 automakers to make automatic braking a standard feature on cars and light trucks by September 2022.

Even as American regulators have dragged their feet, other industrialized countries have made great strides in reducing traffic crashes over the last two decades. Road fatality rates in Canada, France, Germany and Sweden, for example, are now less than half the rate in the United States. And no, these countries don’t have fleets of self-driving cars. They have reduced accidents the old-fashioned way. Some of them have worked to slow down traffic — speed is a leading killer. They have added medians and made other changes to roads to better protect pedestrians. And European regulators have encouraged the use of seatbelts by putting visual reminders even in the back seat. Germany, which has the high-speed autobahn, also requires much more rigorous driver education and testing than most American states do.

“The things that have been killing us for decades are still killing us: speed, impaired driving, not using seatbelts,” said Deborah Hersman, the former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board who now heads the National Safety Council. “The things that we know can save lives, some of them don’t cost any money, like seatbelts.”

Silicon Valley technologists would argue that algorithms and machine learning will simply leapfrog what they might dismiss as the legacy problem of human fallibility. But Mr. Sullenberger, for one, is worried that the rush to develop automated cars will lead to many unforeseen problems. “Even though there is a sense of urgency to prevent human-caused accidents,” he told me, “we need to do it in a responsible way, not the fastest way.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/31/opinion/distraction-self-driving-cars.html

Yours truly

IT.Scheiss
http://itsheiss.blogspot.my/







Friday, 23 March 2018

PARENTS WILL REGRET WHEN THEIR CHILDREN LOVE THEIR PHONES, NOT THEM

Some adults think that a child - even babies as young as two or three are so "smart", "clever" and "tech savvy" when they see them with their faces buried in a smartphone or tablet device, navigating the device by jabbing away on the screen with their finger.

Well sorry to disappoint you but these devices are designed to be intuitively navigated and operated so that that any tech-illiterate person can use them, and children being curious, intuitive and willing to explore take to such devices like ducks to water without needing to know how the technology  behind the screen works.

Back in the 1980s when there were no smartphones, I had heard about parents just plunking their toddler in front of the TV to keep them quiet whilst they went about their work but al least in some countries they had children's educational TV programmes from which pre-school aged children could learn some basics such as the alphabet, numbers and so forth but with smartphones and tablets with Internet connectivity, they can access anything, whether of beneficial or negative influence, or just waste hours accessing trivial junk online.

Besides young children, I know some teenagers and adults who know their smartphones backwards but can't even compose a decent e-mail or letter on a PC even if their lives depend on it. Welcome to the Information and Services Society, touted by paperback writers, futurists and pandits since back in the 1970s, who rather interestingly have vanished below the media, seminar and conference radar since the neo-liberal, globalised, capitalist world has been mired in economic crisis and moribundity since 2008.

Of course, smartphone and tablet manufacturers love it when more people buy their products, whilst cellular network operators (cellular phone companies) love it when people with these devices buy their data plans, so they can laugh all their ways to their banks with hard earned money paid to them by the plebeian masses who fall for their advertising and promotions.

In this article by Free Malaysia Today of 23 March 2018, Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Rahim warned that the consequences of parents leaving their children to bury their faces in their smartphones and tablets could result in denying the development of a natural bond between children and parents and moreover could lead to the children lacking in soft skills and getting addicted to phones.

freemalaysiatoday.com

Electronic devices kill parents’ bond with kids, warns group

Sheith Khidhir Bin Abu Bakar

The Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) is concerned that many parents are using such devices to keep their children quiet.



PAGE says only a small number of parents monitor their children’s internet activity.


PETALING JAYA: A parents’ group has warned using electronic devices to keep children quiet will destroy the bond between parents and their kids.

Speaking to FMT, Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Noor Azimah Rahim said the majority of parents seemed content to allow such devices to act as modern-day child minders.

“I saw it happening in front of my eyes,” she said. “Instead of bonding with the child, a parent gave a child, who was possibly two or three years old, a mobile phone just so the child would keep quiet.

“You will have to face the consequences at some point, and by then it may be too late.”

Azimah said apart from creating a rift between parent and child, the consequences would also include a lack of soft skills and an addiction to electronic devices.

“There are cases where the child is so addicted that you have to send the child to a psychiatrist because when the parent tries to take the device away, the child gets angry.

“But perhaps the most unfortunate of all is that you can no longer see any love between parent and child.”

Azimah said while she understood the importance of teaching today’s children to be tech-savvy, it was also important to strike a balance.

“There has to be a balance and the parent has to find that right balance through trial and error.”

Azimah’s comments come after the Suriana Welfare Society said parents who failed to monitor their children’s internet activities were committing a punishable offence.

Suriana executive director Scott Wong told FMT it was crucial that parents keep a strict watch over their children’s movements on the internet, saying it was unfortunate that many parents were still not serious about this.

Azimah agreed with Wong, saying only a small number of parents took the trouble to monitor their children’s internet activities.

“They trust that their children don’t do things they’re not supposed to, but the children do. Some parents refuse to believe their children actually surf porn.”

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/03/23/electronic-devices-kill-parents-bond-with-kids-warns-group/

Below are some readers' comments related to the above article.


Richard Chooi ·
This is indeed a serious community problem, seeing the increased numbers of young children "burying" their heads at the handphone or tablet in the eating centres while their parents enjoying the food (besides scrolling their own phone often). It seems so "correct" to do so nowadays. So, how to "strike a balance" when the parents themselves are way out of balance as long as they have the phone in their hands?
Edward Kay ·
Too late. The parents themselves are hooked. You can see it at eateries especially. I've even seen the kids sitting quietly while the parents are engrossed. Games and social media will replace guns.
David Shanelukas Ksgan Will you stop complaining. Phones and tablets are invented for a good purpose turning humans into conditioned ANIMALS.
These zombies play with such toys like WALKINDG DEADS
On On...................Peep.....Peep

Steven Chung To many parents, this is a norm, not a problem. They even boast how good their children can play with the Electronic devices. It's like they know the pros & cons but choose the easy way.
Steven Ong ·
Does it need an expert to tell us that ? But like many who still dont want to believe that their neighbors and brothers are big thieves , many too will not care about it because they gain from it . Its a self centered society today .

Welcome to the CONSUMERIST Information and Services Society folks, as both parents and children are equally enslaved to making the phone manufacturers and cellular network operators rich from revenue and profits given them by these kia su tech-plebeians.

However, rather interestingly the late Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple, did not let his children use an iPad which his company created, whilst Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft did not let his children have a phone until they were 14 years old and he also believes that information technology tools should  be used specifically as possible where they will serve to educate students and not for entertainment.

So whilst these two captains of the information technology industry know the dangers and limitations of the products their companies produce for the mass market, however the billion of plebeians who buy and use their products are blissfully unaware or are too ignorant or lazy to care.

Welcome to the Information and Services Consumerist Society. 

businessinsider.my

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs raised their kids tech-free — and it should've been a red flag, Business Insider




source Seth Wenig / Reuters

Psychologists are quickly learning how dangerous smartphones can be for teenage brains.

Research has found that an eighth-grader’s risk for depression jumps 27% when he or she frequently uses social media. Kids who use their phones for at least three hours a day are much more likely to be suicidal. And recent research has found the teen suicide rate in the US now eclipses the homicide rate, with smartphones as the driving force.

But the writing about smartphone risk may have been on the wall for roughly a decade, according to educators Joe Clement and Matt Miles, coauthors of the recent book “Screen Schooled: Two Veteran Teachers Expose How Technology Overuse is Making Our Kids Dumber.”

It should be telling, Clement and Miles argue, that the two biggest tech figures in recent history – Bill Gates and Steve Jobs – seldom let their kids play with the very products they helped create.

“What is it these wealthy tech executives know about their own products that their consumers don’t?” the authors wrote. The answer, according to a growing body of evidence, is the addictive power of digital technology.

‘We limit how much technology our kids use at home’

In 2007, Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, implemented a cap on screen time when his daughter started developing an unhealthy attachment to a video game. He also didn’t let his kids get cell phones until they turned 14. (Today, the average age for a child getting their first phone is 10.)

Jobs, who was the CEO of Apple until his death in 2012, revealed in a 2011 New York Times interview that he prohibited his kids from using the newly-released iPad. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” Jobs told reporter Nick Bilton.

In a recent interview on the online news channel Cheddar, iPod co-creator Tony Fadell speculated that if Steve Jobs were alive today, he’d want to address growing societal concerns about tech addiction. “He’d say, ‘Hey we need to do something about it,'” Fadell said.

Bill Gates wouldn't allow his children to have cell phones until they turned 14, fearing the effects of too much screen time.


caption: Bill Gates wouldn’t allow his children to have cell phones until they turned 14, fearing the effects of too much screen time.
source: Shutterstock Rex for EEM

In “Screen Schooled,” Clement and Miles make the case that wealthy Silicon Valley parents seem to grasp the addictive powers of smartphones, tablets, and computers more than the general public does – despite the fact that these parents often make a living by creating and investing in that technology.

“It’s interesting to think that in a modern public school, where kids are being required to use electronic devices like iPads,” the authors wrote, “Steve Jobs’s kids would be some of the only kids opted out.”

Jobs’ children have finished school, so it’s impossible to know how the late Apple cofounder would have responded to education technology, or “edtech.” But Clement and Miles suggest that if Jobs’ kids had attended the average US school today, they’d have used tech in the classroom far more than they did at home while growing up.

That’s at the average school at least, according to the coauthors. A number of specialty Silicon Valley schools, such as the Waldorf School, are noticeably low-tech. They use chalkboards and No. 2 pencils. Instead of learning how to code, kids are taught the soft skills of cooperation and respect. At Brightworks School, kids learn creativity by building things and attending classes in treehouses.

Edtech won’t be a ‘cure all’

If there is any concession Gates has made on technology, it’s in the benefits it offers students in certain educational settings. In the years since Gates implemented his household policy, the billionaire philanthropist has taken a keen interest in personalized education, an approach that uses electronic devices to help tailor lesson plans for each student.

In a recent blog post, Gates celebrated Summit Sierra, a Seattle-based school that takes students’ personal goals – like getting into a specific college – and devises a path to get there. Teachers in personalized learning settings take on more of a coaching role, helping to nudge students back on track when they get stuck or distracted.

Technology in these cases is being used as specifically as possible – and in ways Gates recognizes as useful for a student’s development, not as entertainment.

“Personalized learning won’t be a cure-all,” he wrote. But Gates said he’s “hopeful that this approach could help many more young people make the most of their talents.”

http://www.businessinsider.my/screen-time-limits-bill-gates-steve-jobs-red-flag-2017-10/?r=US&IR=T


Then again I suppose we are in the Age of Decadence where hedonism, consumerism and obsession with celebrities, distraction by bread and circuses reign supreme.

Watch the YouTube video The 7 Signs Of An Empire In Decline
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7Gc1bv-Mj4

And this video which refers to historical cycles described by ancient Chinese and Hindu philosophies.
Historical Cycles: Are we doomed to repeat the past?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w6QYPzF2TI

Whilst the above videos are about the United States and the west and that there is no "Malaysian Empire" as such, however what stage do you think Malaysia is in right now?

Yours truly

IT.Scheiss

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

CRYPTO BLOODBATH 2018-03-13 AT 10-36-43 UTC (18-36-43 MALAYSIAN TIME)

A look at the Coinmarketcap.com website at 10-36-43 UTC (18-36-43 Malaysian time on 2018-03-13 revealed a Crypto bloodbath amongst 11 of the 12 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, at the top of the web page, which now lists 1,558 cyrptocurrencies altogether.

(IF YOU CANNOT VIEW THE IMAGE BELOW, PLEASE ENABLE 'VIEWING IMAGES' IN YOUR E-MAIL CLIENT)



Of course, the prices of these cryptocurrencies in that fiat toilet paper - i.e. the U.S. dollar, rise and fall, so when you view the website you may see all green  and at other times a mix of red and green.

Well, we are still a while from the year 2020, but it does not look like the price of Bitcoin is headed towards U.S.$100,000, let alone U.S.$ 1 million by the year 2020, as former cyber-security entrepreneur turned cryptocurrency pandit had predicted, saying that if his prediction was wrong, he would eat his own penis.



Anyway, on 13 March 2018, Russia Today reported:-

Bitcoin & other cryptos tumble amid worries of new regulatory measures — RT Business News




Major cryptocurrencies were trading 4 to 10 percent lower on Tuesday amid investor concerns about tighter regulation which could prevent the crypto market from reaching record values seen in 2017.



© Chromorange / Bilderbox / Global Look Press

 Bitcoin fell 4 percent to $9,200, which is less than 50 percent of its $20,000 all-time high, seen in December. Ethereum, ripple and other major cryptocurrencies also saw a broad sell-off during Tuesday's trade.

Earlier in March, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reported on its website that all platforms and exchanges trading crypto and tokens should be registered in accordance with established rules for stock exchanges and brokers. Investors were also worried about the hacking of the Binance crypto-exchange.

American banking giant Goldman Sachs has made another bearish bitcoin prediction, stating that the leading digital currency risks falling below the February low of $5,922.

“The break is significant as implies [sic] potential for a more impulsive decline,” said Goldman analyst Sheba Jafari. “The next meaningful level is down at $7,667 to $7,198.”

“Getting а сlоѕе brеаk thіѕ tіmе аrоund wоuld wаrn оf ѕtruсturаl dаmаgе, іnсrеаѕіng thе rіѕk оf nеw lосаl lоwѕ [$5,922]. At thіѕ роіnt, nееd tо gеt bасk thrоugh $9,322 [thе Fеbruary 26 lоw] fоr thіѕ tо ѕtаbіlіzе,” Goldman analysts wrote.

And earlier on 6 March 2018, Russia Today reported:_

Major cryptocurrency exchange accused of insider trading — RT Business News




Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange is facing a lawsuit for alleged insider trading. The company is accused of making money on bitcoin cash illegally.


© Lucy Nicholson
 
The price of bitcoin cash, which is a spin-off from the original bitcoin, surged almost $1,000, when Coinbase announced on December 19 it would start trading in the cryptocurrency.

The lawsuit claims some insiders knew about the information ahead of the launch and made a profit from the growing price of bitcoin cash.

“When Coinbase’s customers’ trades were finally executed, it was only after the insiders had driven up the price of bitcoin cash, and thus the remaining bitcoin customers only received their bitcoin cash at artificially inflated prices that had been manipulated well beyond the fair market value of bitcoin cash at that time,” the lawsuit claims, as quoted by Marketwatch.

Coinbase suspended bitcoin cash trading until the next day to maintain liquidity after the launch. Bitcoin cash is the fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization

In a separate case, Coinbase was accused of forcing non-customers to open accounts at the exchange. The two complainants claim that when Coinbase clients transfer digital money to a non-member, the latter gave no alternative for them but to open a Coinbase account in order to obtain the cash.

In February, Coinbase admitted that a glitch on its servers caused it to charge many clients multiple times for a single transaction. Some of the accounts were depleted.



I suppose McAfee must be now thinking of the sauce to go with his penis.

Time and time again, these alternatives which were supposed to undermine their 'establishment' counterparts ended up being co-opted by the 'establishment' system and cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and others will likewise end up being co-opted.

If the central banks such as the U.S. Federal Reserve are the problem, then take the bull by its horns and shut it down, and if they resist, send in the National Guard, the Marines or the people storm it like they did the Bastille or the Winter Palace and shut it down.

This cryptocurrency thing is the latest flavour of the day in IT scheiss.

BTW. If Malaysia does not achieve becoming a developed nation and a knowledge-rich, high-income society by the year 2020, a certain former prime minister should also eat his penis - perhaps with satay sauce.

Yours truly

IT.Scheiss



Saturday, 3 March 2018

APPLE-MANIA IN MALAYSIA TURNS UGLY AS TECH-PLEBEIANS SCRAMBLE FOR PHONES

The plebeians were the commoners of ancient Rome, exhibiting characteristics described in this slide from the presentation "Seven Hills of Rome".



Today's plebeians would somewhat correspond to those in the lower middle class, with some disposable income to spend on minor luxuries, who go around with faces forever buried in their smartphones and who throng 24-hour eateries, serving shitty food and where its overworked and overexploited staff (latter day indentured wage slaves), provide equally shitty service to plebeian customers, who apparently with no pay TV at home, throng such shitty eateries to watch latter-day gladiatorial battles - i.e. football (soccer to Yanks) matches between foreign teams in far away places, or perfectly choreographed wrestling matches where professional wrestlers take turns to beat each other to a pulp, even with chairs or some weapon, without leaving even a minor bruise on the skin of the opponent.

Another example of later-day plebeian behaviour are the jostling and fights between bargain hunting shoppers at stores on Black Friday - the fourth Friday of November, following Thanksgiving on the Thursday before, in which there were 10 deaths and 111 injuries on Black Fridays from 2006 to 2017.

Also, watch how the latter-day plebeians, victims of today's capitalist consumer society battle each other for a few dollars less on goods, whist the stores laugh all their respective ways to their respective banks.

Well, not to be left behind in our quest to become a knowledge-based, information-rich, high-income nation by the year 2020 (or postponed to 2050), Malaysia's version of latter-day plebeians - Apple fanboys and fangirls - queued up outside the MyTown Shopping Mall in Cheras, a district of Kuala Lumpur, some as early as Thursday 1 March 2018 evening, to buy Apple iPhones, iPads and iMacs at bargain prices, at the Switch warehouse clearance sale on Friday 2 March 2018 - Malaysia's version of Black Friday, I suppose.

Below is a screen cap of the blog post about the event by blogger Soyacincau



Also, according to The Malaysian Insight of 3 February 2018, the crowd got unruly and it took auxiliary policemen two hours to control them and after 90 minutes, the store suspended the sale until further notice.

======

Apple clearance sale quickly comes to a halt as mob turns unruly

The Malaysian Insight

A WAREHOUSE clearance sale offering Apple products for cheap yesterday in Cheras closed after just 90 minutes due to an overwhelming mob of customers.

Hundreds of fans showed up at the MyTown Shopping Mall, some even camping overnight at the mall, lured by the prospect of Apple products at bargain price.

In a move to control the swelling crowd, the management introduced a ticketing system, which failed to do the job as the crowd grew increasingly unruly.

After auxiliary policemen spent nearly two hours trying to control and disperse the crowd, the company announced the store would be closed until Sunday, leaving many Apple aficionados disappointed to the core.

A good number of them had come from far and had waited since the night before for the sale.

"I turned up to buy an iPad. As the crowd swelled, the outlet closed and I am left disappointed,” Amirul told Bernama.

Claiming the shop had failed to take measures for crowd control and to ensure order, a dejected Nabahat said: "We were here since 6am, and the people behind us were allowed to enter the store first. I think they were here since midnight but it was, nevertheless, unfair.”

The sale offered an iPhone 5s at RM200, a 9.7in, 32GB iPad Pro at RM1,600, iMacs at as low as RM1,000, and MacBooks at prices starting at RM500.

A spokesman from Switch Warehouse Clearance said the sale was suspended until further notice. – March 3, 2018.




The consumer IT industry thrives on getting people to buy their products and regularly comes out with new models, mostly with minor incremental features over older models to entice consumers to buy the latest model, even if their current one serves them fine.

Worse still is the most insidious form of advertising, helped by the consumer IT media, which aims to create peer pressure between the ranks of consumers themselves by encouraging them to engage in a "Living up with the Joneses' game of one-upmanship between each other, where they feel they need to have the latest and "greatest" model in order to be a "somebody" amongst their peers, whilst the consumer IT companies laugh their respective ways to their respective banks, whilst the tech-plebeians needlessly part with their hard earned money, leaving less in their respective banks.

Yours most truly

IT.Scheiss

Saturday, 24 February 2018

FOCUS MALAYSIA ACQUIRED, TWO-THIRDS OF STAFF LIKELY TO BE FIRED

I've oftentimes said that I would never recommend to young school leavers looking to to pursue a career, that they should pursue print or digital journalism, since with competition for advertising revenue from global Internet giants such as Google and Facebook, and with reports of print advertising revenue declining 10 times as fast as digital advertising revenue is growing, they could find themselves out of work in their 40s or even earlier, burdened with the costs of raising a family, a car loan and housing loan to pay off.

I once told mass communications students at a local private university that instead of journalism, they should seriously consider corporate communications or public relations as a career after graduation.

And, if one still wants to pursue a career in journalism, for a while it was thought that a business and financial publication would be a safer bet than a general news or lifestyle publication but that seems to be no longer so, as some local business and financial publications had gone or are going all online and digital to stay afloat, which usually is the first step on the road to oblivion.

Well, The Star of 23 February 2018 reports that local business and financial newspaper, Focus Malaysia, founded in 2012 has been acquired by digital branding and marketing agency Inno Mind Works Sdn Bhd and that two-thirds of its current staff are likely to be retrenched, as it transitions to an all digital platform.

With the departure of Focus Malaysia from the news stands for the online and digital world, that leaves The Edge standing still in print but for how long, one wonders.

Inno Mind Works is new owner of Focus Malaysia - Business News




PETALING JAYA: Business weekly

Focus Malaysia

has obtained a new owner, digital branding and marketing agency Inno Mind Works Sdn Bhd (IMW).

The staff were verbally informed of the news yesterday.

According to a source, the letters were expected to be given to the staff next week.

It was learnt that only one-third of the staff shall be retained by the new owner, while rehiring will be on a case-by-case basis.

Astro Awani reported that IMW managing director and founder Datuk Michael Yip has confirmed the purchase of Focus Malaysia, adding that it is IMW's main agenda to make a transition to the digital platform.

Focus Malaysia was founded in 2012.

According to its website, Focus Malaysia's thrust was to provide specialist coverage of companies listed on Bursa Malaysia, property news, the role of small and medium-sized businesses, and personal wealth management issues. 

It also provided a platform for the discussion of macro-economic topics such as wealth distribution, sustainability and the impact of innovation and technology.



Meanwhile, The Malaysian Reserve, a business and financial publication which departed the print scene much earlier, reported on  of 23 February 2018 that media company Media Prima reported its fifth consecutive quarter of losses, attributing this to costs incurred in downsizing its workforce, despite it expanding its reach in online and digital platforms.

Media Prima plunges deeper into the red


By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

MEDIA Prima Bhd said costs related to impairments and downsizing of its workforce pushed it deeper into the red for its fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2017, as traditional revenue from advertisements and newspaper sales continued to fall.

The media group posted a fifth consecutive quarterly loss with an income deficit of RM378.2 million, or a loss per share of 34.09 sen, against a net profit of RM5 million, or earnings per share of 0.45 sen, in the corresponding quarter last year.

Revenue for the October-December 2017 period decreased 4% yearon- year to RM306.2 million from RM318.6 million a year ago.

The group attributed the losses for the quarter to the declining trend of advertising income and exceptional items amounting to RM302.7 million.

Without the latter, Media Prima said it would have posted a net loss of RM82 million.

For the financial year 2017 (FY17), total net loss extended to RM650.6 million against RM59.2 million in FY16, while turnover fell 7% to RM1.2 billion compared to RM1.3 billion.

Although the media conglomerate has ventured into new digital and consumer-based business initiatives to complement its traditional media segments, these initiatives are still undergoing a gestation period, the group said.

Media Prima is expected to increase efforts to accelerate revenue-generating initiatives by maximising available assets and leveraging on extensive reach via its brands on digital and non-digital platforms.

“The structural change in the media sector is forecast to continue affecting traditional media companies in tandem with global trends.

“To remain resilient and relevant, the group is committed to its transformation journey in defending traditional revenue sources, while increasing efforts in growing new revenue streams,” it said.

These efforts include market leadership in broadcast, over-the-top content and digital publishing.

The group is also steadfast on growing commerce revenue through integrated media and plans to expand beyond Malaysia, as cost management practices will continue to be exercised.

Media Prima shares ended 1.6% lower yesterday to close at 62 sen, with 2.8 million shares traded — giving the group a market capitalisation of RM682.2 million.


Meanwhile, shares of the Star Media Group (STAR) have been down in the doldrums over the past 5 months.


According to AllianceDBS analyst report of 21 November 2017, the latest so far, Star Media Group's 3rd Quarter performance saw "Some improvements, but nothing to cheer about".
 











If the Star Media Group which has the lion's share of advertising revenue amongst English language dailies is struggling to remain profitable, basically the situation looks grim for other English language media organisations which have the remaining one-third share.

New media is proving to not be the "saviour" of media it was touted to be and this adversely affects the livelihoods of mass media workers, including journalists.

I am yours truly

IT.Scheiss
http://itsheiss.blogspot.my/

Sunday, 18 February 2018

COMMENTARY ON - DIFFERENT WAYS TO THINK ABOUT 'SMART' TRANSPORTATION BY Y.B. DR. ONG KIAN MING

Dear Right Honourable (Y.B.) Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang,

Happy Chinese New Year and may the year ahead be a happy and prosperous year for all Malaysians.

I have commented to your article Different ways to think about ‘Smart’ Transportation in The Malaysian Insight of the 18th day of February in the year 2018 and reproduce it herewith, indicated in blue, with some minor grammatical corrections and some further clarifications.

You wrote - "No matter how ‘smart’ a system is, it cannot solve traffic problems caused by human driving patterns and infrastructure bottlenecks."

Very good point Y.B. Dr. Ong! To put it simply, the devil is in the implementation and remediation (or more precisely, the lack thereof) on the ground in realspace, not in cyberspace, and and I wish you had focused more on addressing realspace issues, rather than about providing information, data and analytics about them to the public and the authorities but otherwise do nothing on the ground about them.

Long before Jack Ma proposed his gee whiz City Brain Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven smart city solution in Kuala Lumpur, the Integrated Transport Information System (ITIS) was operating (in the Klang Valley) since 2005, with signboards over major roads telling us what we already knew - i.e. that we are stuck in a horrendous traffic jam and for how far we will have to have to endure it, and more recently, users can also check traffic current conditions on certain roads on their Apple iPhones, iPads or Android devices so as to plan our travel route and time to avoid or at best minimise being caught in a jam.

All fine and dandy, except that this has continued to be the case day after day, year after year since 2005, apparently with nothing or very little having been done to resolve the causes of the jams, many of which are due to entry and exit ramps from and to other highways being added to older ones such as the Federal Highway, such as those to and from the Penchala Link and those to and from the LDP, all of which result in creating traffic bottlenecks during peak traffic periods, not to mention the horrendous traffic jams in Bandar Sunway, Subang Jaya and other places within the Klang Valley.

So if the realspace causes of these traffic jams were not resolved long after ITIS went into operation, how will Jack Ma's gee whiz City Brain Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven smart city solution solve the problem in realspace within the Klang Valley, Penang and elsewhere in Malaysia?

Let me leave you with my open e-mail to your party comrade, Y.B. Lim Lip Eng, Member of Parliament for Segambut way back on 21 August 2017.

"WE NEED REALSPACE, NOT CYBER-SOLUTIONS TO TRAFFIC CONGESTION"

And my more recent post where towards the end, I also referred to this gee whiz traffic solution proposed by Jack Ma.
"Digital Free Trade Zone !!!! - Hmmmm! And what about Dagang Net"

To add to that, as someone who has written about the information and communications technology industry in Malaysia and worldwide since September 1994, I have heard so many claims about how this or that application or IT-based system will solve problems on the ground in realspace in Malaysia when the first thing which needs to be done is to solve basic maintenance and remedial issues on the ground promptly, for example to promptly repair a traffic light which has failed but failed traffic lights can go unrepaired for days on end.

As far back as the late 1990s, I saw a working model of the proposed use of artificial intelligence and neural networks to control traffic lights at junctions developed at a Malaysian public university. The proposed system would have sensors in the road which would detect the queue of cars waiting for the traffic light to turn green and based upon the length of the queue, the proposed system would prioritise letting the cars in the longer queue clear. And, when there are few cars on the road, such as late at night, the system would give the green light to a car which arrives at the junction when there are no other cars detected at the other traffic lights.

Whilst it potentially would be a good system in principle, however, I am unaware of whether or not, or where this proposed system was ever implemented, and knowing how often roads are dug up and shoddily filled up again, as well as the poor maintenance track record of traffic lights and the sensitivity of existing systems to heavy rain, lightning and so forth, I fear that such a sophisticated and sensitive traffic light system would break down very often.

I'm glad that The Petaling Jaya City Municipal (MBPJ) has replaced those gee whiz, high-tech and oh! so hip, hype happening and cool, solar powered parking coupon vending machines with very much low-tech scratch paper parking coupons sold by dealers from amongst local businesses who can earn some commission. Better still revert to parking attendants who put parking bills on your windscreen which you can pay at a parking payment booth. That would provide employment, including for the many unemployed university graduates, including unemployed IT and engineering graduates, who have otherwise had to find work cleaning toilets or driving Uber.

The gee whiz public traffic information and bus arrival times accessible on PC's tablets, smartphones and so forth only inform the public about problems or help them plan their travel times but do not solve the problem in the medium or long term. These are like a sign placed a road warning motorists to avoid a big pothole or sinkhole in the road which remain there for years without the big pothole or sinkhole being filled in.

So please don't believe everything IT industry promoters and "pandits" tell you, since quite often what they told the public and which was reported via the IT media has turned out quite differently on the ground in realspace and in real life many years later.

Like would you believe someone comes to you with with a smartphone app claiming that it will raise the dead back to life, magically fix a broken glass or magically fix and re-inflate your car's flat tyre without you having to do anything apart from pressing a few icons on your smartphone screen?

If you need a professional opinion about solving traffic problems, ask a Professional Civil Engineer whose area of practise includes traffic planning and management. I'm sure you have quite a few of them within the ranks of your own party or you may want to ask the Institution of Engineers Malaysia in Petaling Jaya to recommend some prominent members whom you can consult.

Meanwhile, if you haven't already done so, may I recommend you read the book "Silicon Snake Oil: Second Thoughts on the Information Highway" by scientist Clifford Stoll, published 22 years ago on 1 March 1996.

Old is gold and it's still available on Amazon, with used copies going for a low as 10 US cents. Hmmm! The courier charges will cost much more than the book.

And while you're at it you may also want to also get Clifford Stoll's "High Tech Heretic: Why Computers Don't Belong in the Classroom and Other Reflections by a Computer Contrarian" published on 19 October 1999.

"Who the hell is Clifford Stoll?" you may ask.

Well according to Wikipedia, Clifford Stoll is:-
"Clifford Paul "Cliff" Stoll (born June 4, 1950) is an American astronomer, author and teacher. He is best known for his investigation in 1986, while working as a systems administrator at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, that led to the capture of hacker Markus Hess, and for Stoll's subsequent book The Cuckoo's Egg, in which he details the investigation.

"Stoll has written three books, as well as technology articles in the non-specialist press (e.g., in Scientific American on the Curta mechanical calculator and the slide rule), and is a frequent contributor to popular mathematics channel Numberphile."


Whilst I do not dare claim anywhere near the credentials of Stoll, however I have worked as a humble computer service engineer before some mid-life crisis, itch, starry-eyed notion or something in my genes led me into writing and like Stoll, I too am critical of what I hear from the marketing side of the IT industry, and from IT futurists, business and management consultants and speakers who make their money from the number of backsides in seats which pay handsomely to hear them speak, but whose speeches oftmake guys like me want to vomit.

Here are two more of my IT.Scheiss posts which are in similar vein to what Clifford Stoll wrote in book High Tech Heretic but within the Malaysian context:-

Teachers' union says 1BestariNet useless for online learning from home

In my recent post 'Why Would Norwegians Go to #Shithole US?!':, I briefly refer to Trump but mostly relate to my encounters at a Computers in Education on 28 January 1997.

A couple or so years ago, a professor at a Malaysian university offering computer science and engineering courses said, “After all these years, there has been no clear evidence anywhere in the world which shows that purely computer-based learning is more effective than traditional instructor-based learning especially in schools, colleges and universities, even though it has proven to be effective in facilitating continuing professional development amongst working professionals”

So there you go. After being told all the hype, hoohah, bullshit and ballyhooby distance learning and e-learning advocates since the mid-1990s about how computer-based learning and e-learning would "revolutionise" and "democratise" education, bring education to the poor worldwide and help "raise them out of poverty", now an academic involved in such programmes admits that computer-based learning has proven to not be all that effective in basic education.

So if you need to know, ask the experienced practitioners about the real-world results on the ground.

BTW. Why did you leave early from that MSCPMP Forum #2/2016 “On Leadership: The COST of Bad Decisions” at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on 21 July 2016?

Perhaps I misunderstood but I somehow understood that you were to be one of the panellists and I would have loved to hear what you had to say and perhaps ask you some questions.

Remember I told that former Bank Negara Deputy-Governor that if Trump wins the U.S. Presidential elections, the tide would turn against the globalised, open-borders world which he appeared to have been advocating?

Well, now that Trump is U.S. President, for the better or the worse, he slammed the door on U.S. participation in the TPPA (HURRAH!) and the proverbial pendulum has begun to swing back against neo-liberal globalisation towards more protectionism, not so open borders, as the popular sentiment is turning away from globalisation, especially since the global economy has not quite recovered from the crash of 2008.

Whilst I am no Trump fan, however I have been against imperialist, neo-liberal globalisation since it was proposed in the mid-1990s, so I welcome the pendulum swing against it.

I am, yours truly

IT. Scheiss
http://itsheiss.blogspot.my/