Monday, 28 December 2015

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

A Blessed Christmas to all Christians and a Happy New Year to all.

That said, I share this blog by Charles Hugh Smith which is food for thought with regards the information and services economy.

In it, he debunks many of the myths promoted by those paperback writers who contributed so much to the techno-politico-socio-economo-utopian mythology surrounding computing and information technology.

It's great to see that more people are speaking up about what I have been ranting about for years against the all the media spin by the industry's boosters.

Hopefully, more national decision makers, including government ministers, will take cognisance of this and not be fooled by the hype, hoohah, bullshit and ballyhoo of the disinformation technology industry.

Charles Hugh Smith's article follows below.

Cheers

Yours truly

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

The World of Work Has Changed, and It's Never Going Back to the "Good Old Days


Wishful thinking is not a solution.

The world of work has changed, and the rate of change is increasing. Despite the hopes of those who want to turn back the clock to the golden era of high-paying, low-skilled manufacturing jobs and an abundance of secure service-sector white collar jobs, history doesn't have a reverse gear (tm).

Those hoping for history to reverse gears place their faith in these wishful-thinking fantasies:

1. That automation will create more jobs than it destroys because that's what happened in the 1st and 2nd Industrial Revolutions. The wishful thinkers expect the Digital / 3rd Industrial Revolution to follow suite, but it won't: previous technological revolutions generated tens of millions of new low-skill jobs to replace the low-skill jobs that were lost to technology.

Millions of farm laborers moved to the factory floor in the 1st Industrial Revolution, and then millions of displaced factory workers moved to sales and clerk jobs in the 2nd Industrial Revolution.

Even white-collar jobs that supposedly required a college degree could be learned in a matter of hours, days or at most weeks, and little effort was required to stay current.

The Digital/3rd Industrial Revolution is not creating tens of millions of low-skill jobs, and it never will. Even worse for the wishful thinking crowd, the 3rd Digital Revolution is eating tech jobs along with the full spectrum of service-sector jobs.

Those expecting to replace low-skill service jobs with armies of coders will be disappointed, because coding is itself being automated.

The new jobs that are being created are few in number and highly demanding.Jobs are no longer strictly traditional boss-employee; the real growth is in peer-to-peer collaboration and what I term hybrid work performed by Mobile Creatives, workers with highly developed technical/creative/social skillsets who are comfortable working with rapidly changing technologies, who enjoy constant learning and are highly adaptive.

The work that is being created in the Digital/3rd Industrial Revolution is contingent and thus insecure. The only security that is attainable in fast-changing environments is the security offered by broad-based skillsets, great adaptability, a voracious appetite for new learning and a keenly developed set of "soft skills": communication, collaboration, self-management, etc.

The problem is the number of these jobs is far smaller than the number of jobs that will be eaten by software, AI and robotics. the number of workers who can transition productively to this far more demanding and insecure work environment is also much smaller than the workforce displaced by software/robotics.

In short, we need a new system; wishful thinking isn't a solution.

2. That the U.S. can unilaterally demand the right to export its goods and services to others at full price while refusing to accept competing imports. In effect, the fantasy is to return to 1955, when the U.S. could export goods at full pop to the allies who were rebuilding their war-shattered economies. Imports were few because those economies were busy focusing on their own domestic needs.

Trade is a two-way street. Fair trade is a moving target, depending on which side of the trade you happen to be on. Everybody wants to export their surplus at top prices, but competition lowers prices and profits. This forces global corporations to seek cost advantages by lowering the cost of components and labor.

3. The wishful thinkers want strong corporate profits to prop up their stock market and pension funds, but they don't want corporations to do what is necessary to reap strong profits, i.e. move production of commoditized goods and services overseas or replace human labor with cheaper automation.

You can't have it both ways.

Wishful thinkers choose to ignore the reality that roughly half of all U.S. based global corporate sales and profits are reaped overseas. It makes zero financial sense to pay a U.S. worker $20/hour, and pay the insanely expensive costs of sickcare/"healthcare" in the U.S. when the work can be done closer to the actual markets for the goods and services at a fraction of the cost.

Memo to all the armchair wishful thinkers: if you want to compete globally with a high-cost U.S. work force and no automation, be my guest. Put your own money and time at risk and go make it happen. Go hire people at top dollar and provide full benefits, and then go out and make big profits in the global marketplace.

The armchair pundits and ivory tower academics would quickly lose their shirts and come back broke. That's why they wouldn't dare risk their own security, capital and time doing what they demand of others.

4. The wishful thinkers decry the lack of "good-paying" jobs yet they refuse to look at the reasons why employing people in the traditional boss/employee hierarchy no longer makes sense. The armchair pundits and ivory tower academics have never hired even one person with their own money. These protected privileged are living in a fantasy-world of academia, think tanks and foundations, where workers are paid with state money, grants, venture capital, etc.

As I have often noted here, Immanuel Wallerstein listed the systemic reasons why labor overhead costs will continue to rise even as wages stagnate. This means employers see total labor costs rising even if wages go nowhere: it gets more and more expensive to hire workers.

Then there's the staggering burden of liability in a litigious society, the costs of training and supervising ill-prepared employees and the hard-to-calculate costs of increasingly complex regulations.

5. We can solve the decline of the traditional work model with more education.This is also wishful thinking, as not only is higher education failing to produce workers with the requisite range of skills, the emphasis on higher education has produced an over-supply of people with college diplomas.

In the real world, even wages of the most highly educated are stagnating.

The structural changes in the world of work are visible in these charts:

The civilian participation rate is plummeting, despite the "recovery:"

The civilian participation rate for men is in a multi-decade decline:

Part-time jobs do not provide enough income to have an independent household or raise a family, nor do they pay enough taxes to fund the Savior State. The only jobs that count are full-time jobs, and they haven't even returned to 2007 levels despite a higher GDP and a rising population.

As a percentage of GDP, wages have been declining for decades.

Self-employment is the wellspring of entrepreneurs and small business. As you can see, it has also been declining for decades.

Of related interest:


http://charleshughsmith.blogspot.my/2015/12/the-world-of-work-has-changed-and-its.html


Thursday, 22 October 2015

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

The Free Malaysia Today article which follows at the end of my commentary bears the title - "Teachers scoff at 'advice' to use 1BestariNet".

But first some background on 1BestariNet.

In late 2012 I covered the Champion School Conference 2012 where FrogAsia, a YTL owned company showcased its Frog Virtual Learning Environment (Frog VLE) for students to use to learn online, access online libraries and educational resources, access Google learning content and Google's online utilities such as Google Apps, Google Calendar, Google Maps, for teachers to assign students their homework online, for students to do their homework and submit it online, for teachers to interact with students online, monitor their progress and intervened when necessary, for students to interact and collaborate with each other on assignment projects online using social networking facilities, for teachers interact with the parents online, for parents to check up on their children's progress online and so forth.

Students and teachers can access the Frog VLE system from anywhere on any device, including a desktop PC, notebook PC, netbook, tablet or smartphone which has a connection to the Internet.

The term "Champion Schools" was the name given to selected schools participating in the 1BestariNet pilot project.

The Frog VLE goes along with the Yes 4G WiMAX wireless broadband connectivity provided by YTL subsidiary YTL Communications to the over 10,000 schools across Malaysia, with speeds per school ranging from 2Mbps to 10Mbps in urban areas and from 2Mbps to 4Mbps in rural areas.

In May 2010, YTL Communications formally announced that it had received the contract from the Ministry of Education to implement the first phase of 1BestariNet connect up all schools. The contract was worth RM1.5 billion over the subsequent five years and that sum includes RM663 million to connect up all the schools with Yes 4G WiMAX wireless broadband. Altogether, 1BestariNet is a 15 year project costing over RM4 billion.

Cooked up by the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) of the Prime Minister's Department, 1BestariNet replaces the Ministry's failed SchoolNet project launched in 2004.

Billy Downie, head teacher at The Streely Academy told Champion Schools Conference 2012 that Frog VLE had helped his school rise from the bottom 1% of U.K. schools for student progress in 2003 to the top 5% in 2012.

The Streetly Academy is a state secondary school in Sutton Coldfield, an affluent middle-class suburb of Birmingham, West Midlands and its 1,400 students comprise 60% from mostly affluent households and 30% from least affluent households.

Behaviour at the school was bad, its reputation poor, few parents wanted to send their children there and it had five different head teachers on five years, and In 2005, the U.K. Office for Standards in Education (Ofstead) had rated Streetly as unsatisfactory.

Downie became head teacher there in 2010. When he joined, Streetly was still a comprehensive school within the U.K. system and one of the first things he did was to implement Frog VLE which greatly helped to facilitate the school's improvement efforts which drew upon the an experience from U.K. Sport, the U.K.'s government agency in charge of national sports development.

Downie basically adopted U.K. Sport's "continuous development in gradual steps" approach at Streetly and it paid off.

Frog VLE was developed by Frog Trade, a Halifax, U.K. based internet service and learning management systems provider and at the time was use by 700 schools in the U.K. On 15 June, 2012, YTL subsidiary YTL Education raised its equity in Frog Trade by 37.3% to a total of around 57.6%, thus becoming a majority shareholder, hence Frog Trade became a YTL company.

In his keynote speech, YTL Education chairman Lord Stewart Sutherland congratulated Malaysia for for implementing Frog VLE so widely across Malaysian schools.

“Governments and business must know how to use this creative technology to change the nature of education and I congratulate Malaysia for her initiatives in technology in education and 1BestariNet is an single, end-to-end virtual learning environment, unlike in the U.K. where implementation is fragmented, with no possibility of being interconnected into a single system,” Lord Stewart said. “A good teacher wants to know about their students and their needs and teachers today must be IT-literate and not have to rely of the technician, while parents can become a part of the school by knowing about their children's homework assignments and they can interact with teachers and the school,” the British Lord said.

This guy sure has impressive credentials, with it said that he is the U.K.'s leading academic in the management of education, with over 30 years experience. He also was principal of Kings College London, vice-chancellor of the University of London and Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, and vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Edinburgh, and now an advisor to the U.K. government on educational matters.

En. Sukimin Juki, headmaster of Taman Putra Perdana National School, a primary school in Sepang  strongly believes in the use of technology in classrooms to enhance teaching and learning. As head of one of a Champion School, he played a leading role in initiatives to educate and raise awareness amongst parents about the value and benefits of Frog VLE for their children. Taman Putra Perdana school has 1,796 students, 128 teachers and 10 non-academic staff and besides Frog VLE, it also has MyGFL and the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation Planning Unit's (MAMPU's) learning management system.

“We want to turn our students into valuable assets and to make teaching a desirable profession and our teachers work with parents to achieve this,” said Sukimin.

“Since most students don't have computers at home, they were going to cybercafes, where they are exposed to unhealthy influences, so besides our computer labs, we provided computers in public areas within the school for them to use,” he added.

Now that last statement which I have highlighted in blue reveals a major deficiency in Malaysia, especially when Sepang, where Taman Putra Perdana school is located is within or close to the Multimedia Super Corridor (now called MSC Malaysia), that 15km x 50km areas of land between the Petronas Twin Towers, the administrative capital Putrajaya, the township of Cyberjaya which is intended to be the centre of development of Malaysia's information technology and multimedia industry and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport which is in Sepang itself.

For a learning system like Frog VLE to be able to fully benefit students, teachers and parents, it requires that most students, teachers and parents have ready access to a PC, tablet or smartphone as well as access to stable and affordable broadband connectivity and if most of Taman Putra Perdana's students do not have a computer at home and have to go to cybercafes to access Frog VLE because there are not enough computers at their school, then what more students and teachers of schools in other towns and villages across Malaysia?

Sure, Frog VLE may work very well in an affluent area of the U.K. such as Sutton Coldfield where one would expect most students to be running around with notebooks, tablets and smartohones, and Billy Downie told me on the sidelines of the conference, that even the poorest of students at his school at least had a computer with Internet access at home.

However, how many school students across Malaysia have a PC with Internet access at home, let alone can afford to run around with a notebook, tablet or smartphone and more importantly afford the cost of broadband Internet access on the go.

From my own experience amongst real people on the ground, many lower income urban people may be able to afford especially a lower end model smartphone but quite often have exceeded their monthly cellular data quota, so are rather limited in their access to social media and other online facilities such as Frog VLE.

Also, imagine five children having to share one PC with Internet connection at home and having to take turns to do their homework on that one PC.

I know of a low-income family in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur which received a 1Malaysia Netbook  and a loaned desktop PC which is shared amongst four school going children. They could not afford fibre broadband access so opted for cellular wireless instead and with the children accessing social media, posting and downloading pictures, videos and so forth apart from accessing Frog VLE, they soon exceeded the monthly quota well before the end of the monthly billing period and had to pay to extend their quota and eventually their mother could not take it any more and terminated the broadband, so the children had computers but no Internet access at home.

One day, the eldest boy, a teenager when to a friend's house to use her PC supposedly to access Frog VLE but my friend told me that she found him busily accessing Facebook instead.

In November 2014, the media were screaming sensationally about YTL Communications being fined RM2.4 million by the Ministry of Education for failing to connect up 1,003 of the 10,000 schools with Yes 4G WiMAX wireless broadband within the two and a half years or 30 months time period. As necessitated that the Ministry get other telecommunications companies to connect up those remaining unconnected schools. 

However this was not the fault of YTL Communications but of the the local authorities in the areas concerned who were slow to approve the construction of necessary infrastructure such as radio towers and the Ministry of Education is aware of this, as The Star reported below.

"Delays by local authorities and state governments are the reason why a two and a half year objective to implement the 1BestariNet project in 10,000 schools nationwide failed, said the Education Ministry."

"It said the authorities and states were slow in approving the construction permits for towers in specific locations, needed by the RM4bil project aimed at providing 4G broadband connectivity and virtual learning environment (VLE) to the schools."


To me, YTL Communications did pretty well to connect up close to 90% of schools, which would score it an A in any school examination or test. Whilst most of the media screamed about about YTL Communications being fined, they tended to either ignore or downplay the much bigger failure which would amount to an "F minus, minus, minus" in a school exam.

Further down the same article The Star reports"-

"According to the A-G’s report, the project was implemented before teachers and students were fully trained to utilise VLE."

“(As a result) VLE use by teachers, students and parents was very low – between 0.01% and 4.69%”, it said."

"It also stated that proper school requirement studies were not conducted before the broadband system was installed."

"The ministry explained that the contract specified that such a study should be carried out but this was not done by the contractors at all the schools."

“The contractors conducted a school requirement study on 430 of 1,600 schools that have a local area network (LAN)."

“Of the remaining 8,289 schools that did not have a LAN, the contractors only conducted a study on 2,865 of these."

“Subsequently, we only received 430 written reports on this,” the ministry said, adding that YTL has been instructed to fulfil this obligation in the interim period."



So between 0.01% to 4.69% of teachers, students and parents use Frog VLE, which is pretty horrible, and it looks like they are on another planet from the Streetly Academy in Sutton Coldfield.

Now the article above talks about broadband connectivity and access to Frog VLE in schools but how about access to Frog VLE at home or when away from school?

Right now, Malaysia is blanketed by an unhealthy haze due to smoke from the burning of vegetation in Indonesia being carried over to Malaysia and Singapore by the prevailing winds.

As a precaution to protect the health of students, thousands of schools across Malaysia have had to close and the Ministry of Education has advised teachers to teach students at home online through 1BestariNet.

However, the Secretary-General of the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) protested that "the advice was not practical as teachers most often were unable to log on to the online programme, much less use it for teaching purposes", according to the Free Malaysia Today report below.

I'll leave you to read Free Malaysia Today's article in full below.

======================

Teachers scoff at ‘advice’ to use 1BestariNet
FMT Reporters  | October 22, 2015
NUTP secretary-general says teachers cannot even log-on to the online teaching aid much less use it to teach students when schools are shut due to the haze.


KUALA LUMPUR: Teachers are rolling their eyes at the advice they received from the Ministry of Education that they use 1BestariNet to teach students missing school due to the worsening haze.

Education Ministry director-general Khair Mohamad Yusof had said yesterday that while schools remained shut, teachers could use the time to give students homework online.

Khair said it was not to be taken as an “instruction” from him, merely advice, considering some students were sitting for important public examinations in the weeks ahead.

Commenting on this however, secretary-general of the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) Lok Yim Pheng, said the advice was not practical as teachers most often were unable to log on to the online programme, much less use it for teaching purposes.

“How can we expect teachers to liaise online with students when they can’t even access 1BestariNet in schools,” she was quoted by Malay Mail Online as saying.

10,149 schools supposedly have access to 1BestariNet, a virtual learning initiative by the Education Ministry and its corporate partners, who developed the online programme as a learning tool.

Earlier yesterday, when speaking to reporters at the national level Smart School Award at Persiaran Bukit Kiara here, Khair reminded students not to view the current closure of schools as school holidays.

He said the ministry would also be looking into long-term solutions on how to deal with the closure of schools due to the haze as they had no current standard operating procedure on it.

He also said there was no need for students to attend replacement classes to make up for the current closure of schools.


=======================


Now that is exactly the point - i.e. 1BestariNet is inaccessible, especially from most homes and even within schools.

Malaysians have a rather cynical nickname for Malaysia - i.e. "Bolehland" of "Anything Can Land" and Bolehland is famous for such grandiose and much hyped projects such as 1BestariNet.

Anyway, I saw this coming three years ago and can proudly say - I told you so!.

Unfortunately, Malaysian policy makers don't seem to be able to think about whether something which works well in especially a highly developed country, will work equally well when transplanted lock, stock and barrel into a very different context in Malaysia in terms of availability, extensiveness and affordability of adequate communications infrastructure and facilities,  the affordability of user access devices and of broadband Internet connectivity, the level of computer literacy and tech savviness and so forth.

Instead of cutting and pasting from the advanced countries to Malaysia, such decision makers should think of ways to implement Internet connectivity and electronic learning most appropriately to prevailing, real-world, local conditions in Malaysia.

The key activity here is to teach students effectively and if a teacher teaching in front of a class works best within prevailing conditions and circumstances, then so be it.

If a country does not have the means and material resources to enable a learning management system like Frog VLE to be used optimally, then do not try to keep up with the Jones in the west and fail, since that will negatively impact especially the innocent students.

As one who has written about the information and communications technology industry in Malaysia for about 20 years, I have encountered so much crap like this in the ICT industry, especially the Internet and new media industries, as well as by the IT media and ICT industry boosters, furturists, CON-sultants and spin doctors.

Phase 1 of 1BestariNet implementation should end in May 2017 and a new contractor will be awarded the contract to implement Phase 2 of an already moribund and floundering project and we'll be bombarded with more hype, hoohah, bullshit and ballyhoo about how Phase 2 will magically "solve all the problems of Phase 1 and Malaysian schools will attain a Shangri-La of educational excellence".

And that is why I have bestowed upon myself the psuedonym "IT.Scheiss" which means "IT Shit" in English.

No. I am not scheiss, the technology is not the scheiss but the marketing hype, hoohah, bullshit and ballyhoo is, and 1BestariNet is a perfect case of IT.Scheiss.

I am yours truly


IT.SCHEISS


Tuesday, 13 October 2015

WORRYING ABOUT THE FUTURE OF MALAYSIA

Last Sunday afternoon, a friend said he is concerned about the future of the younger generation, especially over their desire for instant gratification and an unwillingness to strive to learn and improve themselves.

He was appalled at how even babies of four are addicted to their smartphone, even before they can read or write.

He teaches private tuition part time and gets frustrated with how his young student won't even do his homework, until he has to sit him down and make him do his homework in front of his parents.

That evening I had tea with an old friend in his mid 60s who still installs and services industrial compressors for a living.

A former military man and former oil rig worker, I will not repeat the stream of f%&* words which pepper his speech.

He works for a compressor reseller and travels around the country installing and servicing compressors installed at various industrial and other facilities across the country and has many stories to tell about industrial plants scaling down or closing down their operations in Malaysia and shift to neighbouring countries. Well, those are topics for another post.

More to the point here, "The Colonel" as we refer to him described how he had to attend to a compressor problem soon after its last scheduled maintenance and found that its filters had not been cleaned and gave it properly to his management when he got back to the office.

"When I and my older colleague used to service these compressors, there rarely were maintenance calls between scheduled maintenance times. Nowadays, the directors give jobs to their children, nephews, uncles, aunties, rather tan employ competent people from the open market, and when I told the directors that to their faces, they just hung their heads", The Colonel said.

"These new staff today are good at burying their faces in their telephones but they otherwise know chickenshit", The Colonel added.

Well, I do not know what the three of us can do to change the current situation or of the upcoming generation, which knows Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and their smartphones backward but don't even know how to change a light bulb, wire up a 13A plug or  jump start a car.

However, civilisations and empires rise and fall, as happened to Rome which rose to its heights, then declined as Romans got lazy and reliant on the slaves from across their empire to do all the work, whilst Rome declined into hedonistic decadence, and the Roman elite indulged themselves in days long banquets, where ate and drank, then induced themselves to vomit so that they could eat and drink more.

Some time back, an independent minded, pro-UMNO blogger predicted that things continue the way they are going now, Malaysians will be working as maids in Indonesia 20 years from now.

And, the Prime Minister continues to sing that well worn mantra about Malaysia being a "high income" nation by the year 2020.

"High income nation" indeed, when given the current inflation rate, RM4,000 per month gross national income per capita would buy less in 2020 than RM2,000 bought in 2010.

Below are two slides extracted from the Prime Minister's presentation of the Economic Transformation Plan (ETP) Roadmap on the 25th of October 2010.

Look at the slides below and ask yourself what you think will be the real purchasing power of the ringgit in the year 2020 compared to 2010.

Note that RM48,000 is an annual income which is RM4,000 per month.






Readers should note that the inflation rate announced by the government is the average inflation rate across all of Malaysia.

The inflation rate is based upon the prices of 200 essential goods and services, so inflation would be lower than the average in a remote small town or village where rentals, property prices and the cost of food and other items grown or produced in the area are low. On the other hand, it is much higher than the average in highly urban areas such as the Klang Valley, where financial experts estimate the real inflation rate to be around 5.5% to 6% or perhaps even more now.

So ask yourselves how much will RM4,000 per month buy you in the Klang Valley in 2020?

Also note from the above chart that RM4.000 per month is the in the upper part of the middle income bracket, so there will be lots more people earning less than that but will still have to pay the same higher prices for goods and services.

In fact, the chart above tells you that there will be 7 million low income jobs in 2020, 7.4 million middle income jobs and a mere 1.8 million high income jobs in 2020, so what "high income nation" is the Prime Minister talking about?

Attached please find the full PDF of the ETP Roadmap Launch by the Prime Minister which was downloaded much earlier from the Performance Management Delivery Unit's (Pemandu's) website.

Readers can also download details on the ETP, including the full programme book from PEMANDU's website, though the attached presentation appears to no longer be there.

http://etp.pemandu.gov.my/download_centre.aspx


My friend is right to be concerned about the future of Malaysia upcoming generation - lost in the world of WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

The Malay term for "virtual world" is "dunia maya". Well "maya" is adopted from Sanskrit where it means "illusion" or "magic".

Well yes, illusion is what the cyber world and cyber culture are all about.

Yours truly


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


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

IF THE WORLD ENDS BY 30th SEPTEMBER, IT WAS GOOD KNOWING YOU

Well folks, it's the 15th of September 2015 and if the various doomsday predictions are right, the world should end sometime during the coming fortnight.

Patriot Newswire says:-

"The World Is Going To End On 13 September 2015 And This Is Why"
https://patriotnewswire.com/2014/12/the-world-is-going-to-end-on-13-september-2015-and-this-is-why/#

Well, nothing has happened yet and we're still here but it could be too soon to tell.

"The end of the world will happen on the 23rd of September 2015, well we'll know for sure in a weeks time."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5wVI2gZslQ

The Pope will visit the White House on 23rd September, 2015 so something "terrible" will happen. Well, let's see in a weeks time.

"9 THINGS THAT WILL HAPPEN IN SEPTEMBER 23 2015(CERN, POPE, OBAMA, ASTEROIDE)"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVU40wlcsLg

That poster cannot even spell "asteroid" correctly. Says a lot about his or her level of education.

Hopefully the Pope will tell Obama to stop supporting Al Qaeda and ISIS which has resulted in refugees fleeing to Europe in droves but will Obama listen?

I guess that's the "terrible" thing which will happen, according to these conspiracy theorists with warped minds.

Well the 23d of September 2015 is the Autumn Equinox when the sun is directly above the equator and these conspiracy theorists and prophets of doom see something inauspicious or "satanic" about that.

Remember all the hoo hah about the world ending on the 21st of December 2012 when the Mayan Long Calendar ended?

Well the 21st of December 2012 came and went and we're still here.

Oh yes. The 21st of December 2012 was the Winter Solstice that year when the sun was directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, one of those supposedly occult dates.

The U.S. imperialist invasion of Iraq began on the Spring Equinox 2003, well surely there must be something occult and inauspicious about that.

After September turns into October, I'm sure the conspiracy theorists will come up with some other impending catastrophe at some impending date, most probably on a solstice or an equinox.

Meanwhile Salam Aid Il Adha to all Muslims, Happy Deepavali to all Hindus, Merry Christmas to all Christians and Happy New Year 2016 to everyone and many more to come.

IT.Scheiss

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

CONGRATULATIONS TO JEREMY CORBYN (WITH RESERVATIONS)

COMMENT TO VIDEO OF JEREMY CORBYN's VICTORY SPEECH

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmgvhn13WPk

Congratulations Jeremy on your win.

I sincerely hope that you will take your party back to its roots in serving the interests of the British labour movement and that you will end Britain's military involvement in the service of U.S. imperialist aggression in the world.

It is high time that someone stands up to oppose the neo-liberal misery imposed upon the British workers and people since Margaret Thatcher was elected in 1979.

Roll back the measures imposed since Thatcher to curtail the power of British trade unions and reverse the wave of neo-liberal privatisations imposed on Britain's key industries, colleges, universities, the health service and so forth. Reinstate the principals of Clause IV.

However, I keep my fingers crossed and reserve my final judgement of you until you prove by your actions when elected as Britain's government, and I sincerely hope that you do not let the British workers and people down, like Syriza has done in Greece.

La Luccha Final
(The final conflict)

PS. The support which Jeremy Corbyn has received and the resurgence of enthusiastic support for traditional Labour Party policies is proof positive of pent up frustrations over the misery resulting from neo-liberal policies imposed by Thatcher and subsequent pro-capitalist New Labour Party leaders such as Tony Blair who made Britain subservient to U.S. imperialism and to the finance capital (the banksters).

You will not have read of or seen such scenes of workers and people fighting back against capitalist austerity on foreign or domestic mainstream LIE MEDIA but these protests are going on all around the world right now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i86W93OPP2U

However, as mentioned in my comment to Corbyn, I reserve my final judgement of him until he proves himself to hold true to his words in his actions when finally elected Prime Minister.

After the treachery and betrayal of the Syriza government in Greece led by Alexis Tsipras, I will not count any chickens until they are hatched.

However, the key difference between Corbyn, the Labour rank and file and the trade unions is that they are solid working class, whilst the "radical leftists" of Syriza including Tsipras are a hodge podge of middle class, radicals who emerged from the student movement.

If Corbyn and Labour live up to their words in action, they could set in motion a massive pendulum swing which will sweep away the misery imposed upon the people of the world by neo-liberal policies dictated by imperialist agencies such as the IMF, the WTO, World Bank and so forth for over 30 years since Thatcher and Reagan.

However, until Corbyn proves himself in action, I keep my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

NOW HAVEN'T I BEEN SAYING THIS ALL THESE YEARS?

Well, well, well! Now haven't I been saying this all these years against the torrent of bullshit from paperback writer futurists and the opportunistic, brain dead management CON-sultants who have been parroting the mantra that Malaysia can "move up the value chain" from manufacturing to information and services industries to become a "knowledge-based economy by the year 2020"?

For years, government ministers, civil servants and management types had been chanting the mantra that Malaysia's productivity has decline dangerously compared to our neighbours, so we "must move up the value chain" to more "highly skilled, knowledge intensive activities in high technology, knowledge-based industries".

Oh! how I squirm when I hear such obfuscating terms by spin doctors. Welcome to this new language called "Managementese".

That often made me wonder whether these guys did not know that productivity is measured in terms of output per worker per unit time or whether did they know but were lying through their teeth when they actually meant that Malaysia's labour had become expensive compared to our neighbours, hence "less productive".

Often in conversation over coffee or tea, people talk about how the economies of our neighbours such as Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia are rising whilst Malaysia's economy is in decline.

Well, what's been happening is that manufacturing and assembly industries have been moving out of Malaysia to these countries as well as to China.

And, now, a respected regional business publication the Nikkei Asian Review asks whether Malaysia is now paying for having downplayed manufacturing.

Of course yes - manufacturing has to move away from just screwdriver assembly to the design and development of unique, innovative and quality products and materials, rather than what we have now where many manufacturers just rebadge and rebrand generic products from China.

Anyway, I guess after this, there will be plenty of management CON-sultants scrambling to change their well worn script to one which champions manufacturing, now that Nikkei has debunked the notion of services as an "engine of growth to replace manufacturing".

BTW. I understand that shares of furniture manufacturers which export their products to the U.S., Europe and other developed countries are good investments now that the Malaysian ringgit is down at around RM4.30 to the U.S. dollar.

I rest my case.

Read on

IT.Scheiss




August 16, 2015 7:00 am JST Currency meltdown

Malaysia might pay for downplaying manufacturing

HIROSHI MURAYAMA, Nikkei senior staff writer

BANGKOK -- As emerging countries develop, they tend to shift their engine of growth from manufacturing to the service sector out of a belief that higher costs associated with growth erode manufacturers' export-competitiveness. But enhancing added value in services is no easy task, and putting manufacturing on the back burner can lead to stagnation.

     For Malaysia, such a gloomy scenario might become a reality.

     "I didn't know there used to be a factory here," a truck driver delivering rice to a nearby supermarket says, looking at a building construction site across the street. Chic houses line this neighborhood of Petaling Jaya, a city next to Kuala Lumpur in the state of Selangor.

     A Panasonic group air conditioner factory stood at the site just several years ago. The property developer that acquired the site is now building a complex to house a shopping mall with office space on top. Similar projects are underway in many parts of the area.

     Petaling Jaya was an industrial hub. But once an emerging country's per capita gross domestic product exceeds $5,000 or so, simple assembly is not enough to sustain growth. Malaysia's per capita GDP crossed the threshold back in 2005. Because manufacturers moved production to countries with late development and lower costs, growth in early-developing emerging countries slowed, plunging their economies into the doldrums.


     As prime minister from 2003 to 2009, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi aimed to avoid this trap by shifting his country's focus from manufacturing to Islamic finance and other services. Growth was maintained, and ex-factory workers got jobs at malls and offices. Manufacturing's contribution to the economy fell from 31% in 2004 to 25% in 2013, according to the Japan External Trade Organization.

     Malaysia maintained growth of at least 5% per annum almost every year, and the shift in its industrial structure apparently succeeded -- until the ongoing currency crash revealed worse-than-expected weakness. The ringgit lost 10-20% in the first half of 2015 year on year, but exports fell 3.1%. As domestic demand softens, the brakes have been put on foreign demand, making slower growth unavoidable.

     A softer currency normally helps lift exports. But with Malaysia's manufacturing weakening, its cheaper currency is not leading to more exports. Having manufacturers that can ship goods abroad provides tolerance to a financial crisis. During the 1997 Asian currency crisis, the ringgit and Thailand's baht tumbled, triggering economic chaos. But the weaker currencies strengthened manufacturing's competitiveness, and exports helped bring about rapid economic recoveries, guiding the countries out of the crisis.

     The situation was different in Argentina and elsewhere in South America, where a quick economic turnaround did not happen even after the currency dropped. Economic data explains this: Manufacturing accounted for 38% of Thailand's GDP in 2013 but just 13% in Argentina's. Malaysia's ability to weather a crisis is sure to erode if manufacturing's contribution there continues to shrink.

     South Korea and Taiwan alone have escaped the pitfall of middle-income nations and boosted their economies to a level close to those of industrialized countries. Both have rising manufacturing ratios: South Korea's climbed from 24% in 2004 to 29% in 2013, while Taiwan's increased from 25% to 31%. That they did not focus too hard on the service sector, and enhanced production technologies, helped sustain their growth.

     To increase a country's GDP, such services as real estate, finance and tourism might seem attractive as alternatives to manufacturing. But taking that route does not guarantee long-term growth, given that the service sector will face intense competition with developed economies. Going beyond simple assembly work is a key issue for not only Malaysia, but also other middle-income nations.


Monday, 13 July 2015

FIGHT IN KUALA LUMPUR'S PREMIER IT MALL ON SATURDAY EVENING, PROTESTS AND FURTHER VIOLENCE ON SUNDAY

The Facebook page down below contains a video showing a fight which erupted on the ground floor of Low Yat Plaza, Kuala Lumpur's premier IT mall on Saturday evening.

This quite frankly surprises me as I have not heard of such an incident in an IT mall since way back in the 1980s when I was a frequent visitor to the IT mall in Imbi Plaza near to where the much newer and larger Low Yat Plaza stands today in Bukit Bintang (Star Hill), Kuala Lumpur's entertainment hub, red light district and popular tourist destination. Moreover, the developing ethnic undertones with regards this incident are concerning and rather dangerous.

Some reports say that a youth shoplifted a mobile phone from the Oppo phone shop, was caught and detained by the security guard who handed him over to the police and he called upon his friends to retaliate and seven of them wrecked the shop and assaulted some of its sales persons.

Thugs smash Low Yat phone shop in revenge attack

Melee in Low Yat Plaza

Other reports claim that the youth was sold a reconditioned phone and later came back to demand a replacement and was refused,so snatched the supposedly new phone out of the salesman's hand.

For example, this one which is in the Malay language and alleges racial undertones.

LIVE DARI LOW YAT PLAZA! MASA UNTUK MENCARI PENIAGA YANG KUAT MENIPU MELAYU!

A crowd of about 100 gather outside Low Yat Plaza this Sunday evening so the issue continues to smoulder and continues with racial undertones.

TERKINI TENTANG PERGADUHAN DI PLAZA LOW YAT !

And here is The Star's report in the English language.

Crowd gathers 'to protest' outside Low Yat Plaza

And here is one of the latest reports in The Star early this Monday morning.

Five injured in mob attack at Low Yat Plaza


Here is a screen cap of the Facebook page showing a video of the fight.





Oh what, oh what is Malaysia coming to!

IT.Scheiss

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

I WEREN'T TOO POPULAR FOR TELLING THEM SO

Now what did I say about Cyberutopians in my blog post here on 17th or May, 2015?

Just to recap, back in the 1990s, starry eyed Cyberutopians touted the claim that the Internet would enable ordinary folks like you, me and a galaxy of startup companies to "challenge and defeat the power of governments and the dominance of monopolies" in "David versus Goliath" fashion.

They claimed that the Internet would create a level playing field where a small Internet business anywhere would have an equal presence in Cyberspace as the largest corporate and multinational giants.

Click to read My earlier post

Around 1995 I interviewed a starry-eyed Malaysian Cyberutopian resident in Perth, Australia who gave me a press release quoting a fellow starry-eyed Cyberutopian who waxed ecstatic about how the Internet "would enable the best people to flee corporations for free agency in Cyberspace", leaving corporations with the mediocre staff, ultimately resulting in their downfall.

Dunno what that guy was smoking but it must have been pretty strong. Anyway, that's the kind of crap (or "scheiss") I have repeatedly heard so many times before.

Well today, about 20 years later, it has turned out that some of those Internet startups have metamorphosised into giant Internet corporations upon which many Internet startups and small businesses are dependent upon for their survival and it is a handful of these new global giants who are causing governments to be concerned over their monopoly power as revealed by the Reuters report below as carried by The Star.

==========================

German vice chancellor worried about market power of Internet giants


BERLIN: German vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said he was worried the market power of firms like Google was hurting competition on the Internet.

Gabriel, who is also economy minister, has repeatedly voiced concern about the dominance of US software companies and last year suggested firms like Google should be broken up if they abuse dominant market positions.

"How can it be that in order to have Google's (mobile operating system) Android you need to pre-install Google Search, Google Browser, Google Mail, Google You-Tube and its app store on the device?" Gabriel said at an event in Berlin.

He welcomed a decision by the European Commission in April to launch an antitrust investigation into Google's Android system over concerns anti-competitive constraints imposed by the company were hampering markets.

Gabriel said agreements needed to be reviewed to ensure that customers were not being barred from using competing browsers and web services and locked into "Google Internet".

Market power should not just refer to individual services but should also be assessed according to the value chain on the Internet, he added.

In Germany, fears of digital domination by firms like Google are linked with wider concerns of US cyber espionage since the revelations in 2013 of mass US surveillance on German citizens.

A report published on Monday by the Monopolies Commission, which advises the government, advised against the need for special regulation regarding the provision of Internet search and instead recommended adjusting existing competition law. — Reuters


========================

The German Vice Chancellor's statement above brings to mind how people used to accuse Microsoft of abuse of its dominant market power with its Windows operating system and its Internet Explorer Web browser on desktop PCs but today Google holds much more dominance on Android phones and tablets and on the Internet as well, such as this free Blogger blog site which is provided by Google.

Information is power those who own and control the gateways to information have ultimate power to shape our understanding and perception of our world.

Anyway, chic and trendy as they were, I never bought into those Cyberutopian myths and illusions.

IT.Scheiss

Monday, 1 June 2015

FORGET GEE WHIZ IT-BASED PAYMENT SYSTEMS AND REVERT TO TIME TESTED HUMAN ATTENDANTS IN TICKET PAYMENT BOOTHS

I share with you my comment to the article "When you ‘Touch ‘n Go’ and don’t get to go" in The Ant Daily.

==================================

Thanks. Now you know why I dub myself "IT.Scheiss".

I have reported what various government and private companies have claimed about their IT-based facilities and services for about 20 years and the problems you have mentioned suggest that systems and facilities which worked well when introduced years ago are now breaking down and in need of maintenance.

This is clearly a matter of "a new broom sweeps clean".

Also please note that Prasarana introduced its own MyRapid contactless payment card similar to Touch nGo for use on the RapidKL LRT, KL Monorail and buses about two or three years ago, so now Prasarana and Touch nGo are competitors, even though you can still use Touch nGo cards to pay fares on Prasarana transport.

This is what the MyRapid website says about the difference between the MyRapid and Touch nGo cards.

"What is the difference between a TnG and myrapid card? MyRapid card can be used as a stored value card on RapidKL LRT, Monorail and Bus services as well as in our Park & Ride facilities at Gombak & Ampang LRT station. MyRapid cards holders also enjoys great discounts through its MyRapid card Privileges Program. The TnG card can be used for public transport and other TnG-based facilities."

http://www.myrapid.com.my/tickets-fares/myrapid-card

KTM (Malayan Railways) is not on that list, so it must be working with Touch nGo, which is also used to pay highway tolls, for parking and to make purchase at participating retailers.

That said, which party is responsible for the maintenance of contactless payment terminals and the payments system on Prasarana's transport such as its buses, and which party is responsible for the maintenance of the contactless payments system used by KTM?

The EZ-LINK contactless card system in Singapore is operated by EZ-LINK Pte. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of that country's Land Transport Authority.

"EZ-Link was established by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on 8 January 2002 as its wholly owned subsidiary, to manage Singapore’s single largest contactless Stored Value Smart Card System that has been mainly used for payments on public buses and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) trains since April 2002. The company is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Public Transport Council."

http://ezlink.com.sg/about-ez-link/company-profile

I have also used my EZ-LINK card to buy a coffee at Dome in Singapore and it can also be used to for purchases at convenience stores.

Would it be better if Malaysia's counterpart SPAD (Public Land Transport Commission) were given the sole authority to issue contactless payment cards and to manage and maintain the system but even if they were, I wonder whether they would be able to keep it operating in top form years later, or would their system go downhill over time?

Tell you what. Let's go back to human attendants in booths who collect payments and issue tickets.

After all, with an estimated 130,000 unemployed graduates in Malaysia out of a total of around 419,000 unemployed in  2014 (correction 2013), I'm sure this measure would help ease the unemployment problem.

"The latest Labour Force Survey report by the Department of Statistics released in June 2014 revealed that one third (31%) of unemployed in Malaysia had a tertiary education. This amount to about 130,000 persons. (Source: Labour Force Survey Report, 2013, p. 143)"

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/if-we-have-world-class-unis-why-are-our-graduates-unemployed-steven-sim

==================================

The Ant Daily's article follows below.

IT.Scheiss

========================

When you ‘Touch ‘n Go’ and don’t get to go


by Sonia Ramachandran
PETALING JAYA: Cashless transactions for public transport and toll booths on highways are convenient, fast and prevent long queues.

That is, of course, if the machines work efficiently.

Not surprisingly, glitches do occur and the occasional malfunctioning machine is not out of the ordinary.

But it is another matter altogether if the machines not just malfunction for long periods but actually cause monetary losses to consumers and financial gain to the companies who run the machines.

National Consumer Complaints Centre (NCCC) director T Saravanan is a victim of just such a situation.

For the past two weeks, his trips on the Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) Komuter trains have not been pleasant ones.

A journey that usually costs RM2 has ended up costing him up to RM20 through no fault of his.

“When I touched my Touch ‘n Go card to the scanning machine at the Taman Dato Harun station, there was a beep that indicated the card was read, when in actual fact it wasn’t.

“When I exited the train at the Bank Negara station and touched my card, I found that RM20 was deducted from my credit on top of the RM2 usual fare, as the card had not been read on my entry.

“The second time this happened to me, RM10 was deducted on top of the fare.  There seems to be no consistency even in terms of the deductions,” he told Theantdaily.

Upon checking with the KTM counter, he was asked to refer the matter to Touch ‘n Go Sdn Bhd.

“But it is their (KTM’s) service and it is their terminal. NCCC is going to pursue this matter,” said Saravanan.

He said his colleague went through a similar scenario using the light rain transit (LRT) where he was charged RM17 for a trip that cost a couple of ringgit.

“We want the relevant authorities to prominently display a number for us to call when faced with this kind of situations where we will get attended to promptly.

“If KTM Bhd or Prasarana Malaysia  Bhd are providing the service, they should make sure it works. Otherwise do not provide it,” said Saravanan.

He is right. It is daylight robbery otherwise.

For journalist Shahful Shaffiq Mohd Saleh, his issue is with using the Touch ‘n Go for Rapid KL buses in the last two years which has fleeced him of a pretty penny.

“Scanning the Touch ‘n Go card at the front of the bus is usually not a problem but while exiting, the scanning machine will prompt you to try and try again.

“Sometimes the machine will still not be able to read your card even after four or five scans, and the driver has already closed the door and you have to ring the bell for it to be opened again.

“By this time the driver is already impatient as you are holding up the bus and other passengers, not to mention traffic, so you just get off the bus with your card not having been scanned,” he said.

Only upon scanning the Touch ‘n Go card the next time would one realise that more than the usual fare has been deducted from the card’s credit.

“The next time you scan your card you will realise that instead of paying RM1.50 or RM2, a full trip’s maximum fare has been deducted from your card’s credit as it does not take into account the fact that you alighted from the bus at a midway stop,” said Shaffiq.

This has happened to Shaffiq more than 200 times and because of this, he now starts scanning his card one kilometre before his stop in the hopes that it would be read before the bus reaches his destination and he would not lose more money due to faulty machines.

In spite of that however, the machines still sometimes do not work.

Shaffiq wants the companies providing this service to ensure they have quality machines in place before offering such services.

SmartTAG users also face problems with such machines.

Touted as the faster and more efficient alternative to the Touch ‘n Go, cars stuck at the SmartTAG lane at toll booths because of faulty machines are a common sight.

While you wait for the toll booth personnel to come and solve the problems, cars would have started honking and a long line of cars would have lined up behind you.

Shaffiq and Saravanan are right.

There is no point in pointing fingers. The transport provider and the card provider are the ones providing the service and profiting together and they should be the ones ensuring consumers are not left facing situations like these.

In the cases of Saravanan and Shaffiq, not only are they inconvenienced by faulty or inefficient machines but they also end up losing money due to no fault of theirs.

Cashless transactions are supposed to provide efficiency, speed and convenience to consumers but what is the point of having it if it does the exact opposite?

http://www.theantdaily.com/Main/When-you-Touch-n-Go-and-don-t-get-to-go




Monday, 18 May 2015

EVER WONDERED WHAT THEY WERE SMOKING ????

I've not been posting as much on my blog these days, since I have better things to do with my life now rather than be mentally stuck in my past as life moves on.

However, I cannot resist posting this article which is further confirmation of what I have often criticised the cyber Utopians for over their starry eyed belief that the Internet would "free people from the domination" of large vested interests, claiming that it "levels the playing field" between the big monopolies and small independent operators and gives all an "equal voice" in cyberspace.

This article also confirms what I have said all along that free markets tend towards monopoly, just as water everywhere seeks its own common level in the sea.

When the Internet first became available to ordinary users back in the early 1990s, cyber Utopians touted it as a means to our "liberation from the tyranny of large media corporations and governments", much like how the hippies in the 1960s believed that love, smoking pot, long hair, wearing tie dyes and rock music would herald world peace and the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of humankind but look around the world today and you will see how opposite the world is from that Utopian myth, even though it was a nice and noble thought.

It is no different from the belief that the advent of the printing press empowered mankind to speak truth to power but today we often hear complaints and lamentations about how mass media is controlled by fewer and fewer more powerful hands.

Sure, many people like myself no longer read mainstream media or watch TV these days but rather turn to the Internet and blogs for our news and information and many mainstream newspapers have declining  circulation, readership and shrinking advertising dollars but are the powers that be which rule over us any less powerful, do they listen to us or do they just let us bark our heads off online, whilst they quite literally fart in our faces and carry on with business as usual?

For example, how much have the thousands of voices criticising the U.S. and European imperialist wars against small countries done to prevent their governments from stepping up their aggressive military campaigns in the Middle East. After all, whilst the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stands for the freedom of citizens to peacefully assemble and protest, it does not require governments to listen to the protestors and comply with their demands, so governments let their people protest peacefully and ignores them.

Was it popular opposition which stayed U.S. imperialism from attacking Syria or was it the threat of Russian military retaliation should the U.S. and it subservient poodles had attacked Syria militarily?

Well, now things have come full circle and writers for publications like Common Dreams are complaining about how Facebook is dominating the Internet and acting as a gateway for media organisations which partner with it. So it's the same old story now as with the printing press and broadcast media, especially in the west, which has long been in the hands of the few big and powerful interests.

The printing press invented around 1440 was supposed to have undermined the power of the Roman Catholic church and its priests by making the Bible available affordable to people in their native tongue instead of Latin, so they could read, understand and analyse the Bible for themselves rather than rely on priests to do that for them. Sure, at first the Catholic Church opposed Bibles printed in non-Latin languages but soon decided it better to go along and come out with versions of the Catholic Bible in people's native languages.

I have not been able to obtain figures on the number of Roman Catholics there were worldwide back when the printing press was introduced but the over one billion Roman Catholics in the world today are twice the estimated world population of 500 million around the year 1650, which is ample proof of "great achievements" the invention of the printing press did in "undermining" the Roman Catholic Church and the printing press' techno-deterministic "power" to enable the "toppling of the old and heralding of the new".

Oh! Let us not forgot the hype and hoohah about the Bitcoin crypto-currency being the "alternative" currency which will "liberate" humankind from the tyranny of the crisis-ridden establishment global monetary system but it did not take long for the crisis-ridden establishment global monetary system to co-opt Bitcoin and turn it into just another currency amongst the many on the global currency market, replete with all aspects of the capitalistic market speculation inherent in the crisis-ridden establishment global monetary system which Bitcoin was supposedly created to undermine but became a part of.

And yes, another of the latest "solutions to the world's economic woes" which also "empowers and enables individuals in the face of government tyranny" is 3D printing.

Hey look sunshine! 3D printing is not new, though it has come a long way from those super expensive laminated object modelling (LOM) and stereolithographic 3D printers I saw operating at SIRIM in Shah Alam and which I wrote about in several articles about 15 or so years ago. Back then, academic researchers and small to medium industries could rent time on these printers at SIRIM to create prototype models of their products being developed.

The only difference today is that there are newer 3D printing technologies and 3D printers have gotten much smaller, cheaper and within reach of the mass market, hence the current hype, hoo hah and hulabaloo over 3D printing.

It's the same with the current hype, hoo hah and ballyhoo today over big data analytics which has been around for well over 10 years now and which was used to sequence the human genome in the Human Genome Project completed in 2003. The only key difference is that back then, big data analytics was done using very expensive super computers costing millions but today it can be done on off-the-shelf commodity servers costing around several thousands of ringgit each, hence the excitement over them now and not back then.

Thankfully, the cyber-utopians haven't got onto the big data analytics bandwagon to tout some ridiculous techno-deterministic nonsense about how big data analytics will "liberate humankind from the tyranny of the state", "enable the global brotherhood of humankind", "herald world peace", "create a heaven on earth" and so forth. On the contraty, big data analytics further enables governnments and corporations to know more not less about individuals and to achieve greater control. 

Anyway, where are those paperback writers who touted the "information and services society", "third wave", etc. today, now that the U.S. and world economy is stuck in the scheiss haus?

Welcome to the real world folks, as we look right in the face of a cruel reality not foretold by these paperback writers who held starry eyed idealists in awe whilst opportunistic management "CON-sultants" think about how to make money from the number of paying butts warming seminar seats as long as the "sun" shines, until the penny drops and their old assumptions are debunked by reality, and until the next hot sounding management buzzword or fad comes along and the hype, hoohah, bullshit and ballyhoo roles on and on as old wine in new bottles.

Well, history to repeat itself again and again, never the same but neither entirely different with each return, just as the river you crossed on the way to work in the morning is neither exactly the same nor entirely different from the one you cross in the evening on your way home from work.

Now you see why I call myself IT.Scheiss and earlier "HiTekHeretik" and I'm sure the cyber Utopians would love to either crucify me or burn me alive at the stake for speaking such heresy against them.

After all, for them it's a matter of "if you are not with us, then you are against us".

The Common Dreams article follows below.

Yours truly

IT.Scheiss.

http://itsheiss.blogspot.com

====================================

Published on
Thursday, May 14, 2015
by Common Dreams

The Feudalism of Facebook: New Pay-to-Play News Feed as Indy Media Killer

'The basic problem is that Facebook is trying to become the Internet'

by Sarah Lazare, staff writer

The Facebook empire of 1.4 billion users just conquered new territory, unrolling a "partnership" to host articles from some of the most well-known news publications in the world, in a venture that critics warn poses a direct threat to independent media outlets—and the future of the Internet.

"The basic problem is that Facebook is trying to become the Internet, so that it replaces the distributive, cooperative model of digital communication with a centralized, privatized system where a for-profit company controls all the levers of the way that we transmit information," Jim Naureckas, editor at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), told Common Dreams.

"Knowledge is literally power, and to have all that power concentrated into one company's hands is really a kind of feudalism," Naureckas added.

As of Wednesday, the company's new "Instant Articles" will directly feature stories from The New York Times, BuzzFeed, National Geographic, The Atlantic, NBC News, The Guardian, BBC News, Bild, and Spiegel Online. Under the platform, the entirety of a news article will appear in Facebook's iPhone app. The perk, according to Facebook, is that the article will load "ten times faster than standard mobile web articles."

The New York Times says that "news publishers can either sell and embed advertisements in the articles, keeping all of the revenue, or allow Facebook to sell ads, with the social network getting 30 percent of the proceeds."

Facebook is also allowing media companies to collect data on article readers "about the people reading the articles with the same tools they use to track visitors to their own sites," explains the Times.

"When you hear Facebook explaining what they are trying to do it sounds innocuous," said Naureckas. "They are trying to speed up the loading of articles on people's Facebook pages when they use cell phones. But the means of doing this is to subsume all content that people are receiving under this one company's control."

Analysts say this control raises numerous problems.

"Any time Facebook acts as a gatekeeper to all content on the Internet, it raises concerns, not only because of their blocking procedures, but also because of the algorithms they use, which effectively give Facebook control over the content that gets featured," Timothy Karr, senior director of strategy for Free Press, told Common Dreams.

Karr added that the deal could strike another blow against independent media: "If they are prioritizing prominent news outlets, it only goes to figure that less prominent media organizations get pushed down."

Writing in anticipation of the deal in April, Trevor Timm, executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, pointed out that the company's filtering algorithm "has increasingly turned into a pay-for-play system from news organization. Want more people to see your content? Then 'boost' your posts by shelling out some money. This already has turned Facebook into something of a two-tiered content sharing system, where the rich will inevitably see their stories go 'viral' (if you can even call it that) much faster than will the poor."

"How will its algorithms handle stories posted directly to Facebook that question Facebook’s monopoly status?" asked Timm. "How will it handle news organizations questioning its lobbying ties with the government?"

Even the news companies that signed onto the venture expressed reluctance and resignation. According to Times journalists Vindu Goel and Ravi Somaiya, the deal concludes "months of delicate negotiations between the Internet giant and publishers that covet its huge audience but fear its growing power." They add: "Facebook’s role as a powerful distributor of news makes many people in the industry uneasy. The fear is that it could become more of a destination than their own sites for the work they produce, drawing away readers and advertising."

James Bennet, editor in chief of The Atlantic, echoed this sentiment, acknowledging that the deal with Facebook means "losing control over the means of your distribution."

But the deal is just the latest expansion of Facebook. The launch of "Instant Articles" comes on the heels of Facebook's revelation earlier this month that it is unrolling Internet.org—an effort to bring the web to the developing world as a Facebook-owned entity. The plan has been widely criticized as a bid to further privatize the Internet while jeopardizing the rights and privacy of users.

According to Karr, Facebook's Internet.org raises even more concerns about the company. "Facebook is not the Internet," said Karr. "The Internet is a place where Internet users have control. Facebook often presents itself as a portal to Internet, but it is not open in the same way."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/05/14/feudalism-facebook-new-pay-play-news-feed-indy-media-killer