Tuesday, 31 October 2017


In my mail shot yesterday, I had referred to Free Malaysia Today's article "Why job cuts at Singapore media giant are a good sign"

In its article, Free Malaysia Today had referred to an the publication ASEAN Today as one of its sources, so I took a look at ASEAN Today which I found to provide very much more comprehensive information with graphs and charts as to why Singapore Press Holdings is retrenching its journalists despite recording 'surging' profits.

Basically, its media unit is the only unit to experience declining revenue, whilst revenue of its property unit increased.

ASEAN Today posed a rather ironic question for the future of media in its sub-heading - "SPH – Singapore Press Holdings or Singapore Property Holdings?"

On 14 September 2014, ASEAN Today wrote:-

(Please enable view images if you cannot see the embedded graphs below)

Singapore Press Holdings losing its shine

With the onslaught of new media, Singapore Press Holdings is losing its relevance, and it may be time for them to consider privatisation.

By Joelyn Chan

Along with other media companies, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) struggles to stay relevant and maintain its profitability.

Alan Chan, CEO of SPH, said: “We have done a comprehensive business review to strengthen our position in a tough economic and media environment. Market conditions will remain difficult with the continuing disruption of the media industry.”

“We will continue to innovate and invest in our media products to stay ahead and relevant. At the same time, we will grow our business adjacencies to diversify revenue streams and maximise stakeholder value,” he added.

SPH’s lacklustre performance

Compared to 2015, SPH’s operating revenue shrank by 4.5% to SG$1,124.3 million. In the last four years, the media business’ contribution to total revenue has fallen by 8%. The fall in revenue can be explained by a 7.6% decline in the media business. Revenue from property increased by 4.6%. The declining composition of its core media business is likely to persist, and SPH is falling back on real estate to sustain their shrinking business operations. This trend also reflects on the sustainability of the traditional media industry in Singapore and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Competition is now global and digital.

SPH’s lacklustre performance has warranted cost reduction measures and improvements in operational efficiency amidst continuing uncertainty. In 2001, SPH AsiaOne had downsized, retrenched 23 employees, and restructured its businesses to focus on online news, careers and database services. SPH’s broadcasting arm, SPH MediaWorks trimmed away 19% of workforce and announced an across-the-board salary cut of 12.7%. In 2003, SPH once again retrenched about 3% of its total headcount.

Since 2014, its biggest expense – staff cost, has achieved the desired year on year decrease. However, mere cost reduction of SG$12 million over two years cannot save SPH, which needs greater revenue and profits.

SPH’s service offerings lack competitiveness

The Straits Times(ST) may have held its position as the best-read publication in Singapore, with a total readership of 1.26 million. But SPH’s newspaper readership remains on an accelerating downtrend, faring worse today than ten years ago.

Monday, 30 October 2017


Saw this article in Free Malaysia Today of 30 October 2017.

I wonder whether Singapore Press Holdings' online and digital advertising will be enough to cover costs, if the print edition eventually goes down.

Free Malaysia today is a small online-only publication which publishes politically-oriented, generally pro-opposition news articles.

Dunno if it is profitable.

What the article below basically says is that human journalists are becoming redundant.


Why job cuts at Singapore media giant are a good sign

PETALING JAYA: Odds are that many journalists at a Singapore company will soon lose their jobs, but a report says the job cuts are a good sign that Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is “modernising” in its efforts to remain competitive.

Asean Today said SPH’s decision to trim down its journalists was “a leap towards the new era of journalism”.

“In the hyper-competitive world of news reporting, a failure to innovate is a death sentence.

“The SPH message is clear: it wants to keep Singapore at the forefront of modern journalism, and that means reducing jobs and embracing technology,” it said today.

SPH, which began retrenching staff earlier this month, is Southeast Asia’s biggest newspaper publisher and owner of the 172-year-old Straits Times daily.

According to reports, the company intends to axe 230 staff members which will reduce employees in core media divisions by 15%.

However, Asean Today also noted that SPH was not in financial distress, as the company had recorded a surge in profits for 2017 of S$350.1 million.

“To stay relevant and profitable, SPH needs to keep up with consumer trends and create stimulating content for the new generation. To do this, it needs to embrace AI solutions,” it said.

Pointing out that 85% of the population now refer to online sources for their news, the report added that such platforms were not conducive to long articles.

“Visual journalism is becoming the new norm,” it said, adding that this means there is less need for actual journalists.

Today, AI bots can even write news articles for companies, a technique already being used by the Associated Press for its stories on corporate financial quarterly earnings, the report said.

The use of natural language generation (NLG) technology means that human input is only required to select relevant data sets, while other types of software can select images to accompany the article.

“The future of journalism is quickly advancing,” the report said, quoting co-founder of Narrative Science Kris Hammond who estimated that computers would be responsible for 90% of news content by the mid-2020s.

According to the report, last year SPH invested S$6.8 million in Brand New Media Singapore (BNMS), a leading video content company.

This is in line with the steady rise in the consumption of online videos, the company was reported as saying.

“Other companies are looking to transition to stay ahead of the industry and increase revenues,” the report added.



Doesn't all that management-ese sound oh so 'sophisticated'?

So even information workers can be rendered obsolete by the inevitable onward march of information and communications technology. 

Welcome to the much-touted Information and Services Society.

Earlier Bloomberg Technology of 21 September 2017 reported of impending job cuts at Singapore Press Holdings.

"Singapore Press Considering Job Cuts in Reorganization Plan"

Tuesday, 17 October 2017


You Tube video blogger 'Daily Rant Australia" posted a good video pointing out the realities of the much hyped and touted, block chain-based crypto currency - Bitcoin.

I commented on it and Daily Rant Australia replied:-

"Thanks for the detailed response. You should make your own rant! :)"

Well, IT.Scheiss has been my text rant site since 2012, so below I share my comment to Daily Rant Australia's video blog post here (with minor edits of typos and grammar).

Anarcho-capitalists have touted Bitcoin as the alternative 'solution' to problems of the current establishment monetary system and if it exists as an independent, alternative currency within a parallel financial universe from the establishment currency system then it may serve its function as an alternative currency.

I personally have no issue with people creating and using any kind of alternative currency, even if it be Linden Dollars, marbles, pebbles or whatever.

However, once people place importance of the exchange rate of Bitcoin versus establishment currencies and speculate on it, then it no longer is an independent parallel currency but just another currency within the establishment system, just like a stock in the establishment stock market or a currency in the establishment foreign exchange market.

The anarcho-capitalists also touted Bitcoin as a means of 'salvation' of mankind which will 'free' mankind from the 'tyranny' of establishment currencies and governments. As you rightly pointed out, the current cost of owning and operating Bitcoin mining farms to mine enough Bitcoin to be profitable for the owner makes Bitcoin mining or ownership a preserve of the elite, which only helps to further widen the gap between the haves and have-nots and it does nothing to end the dominance and aggression of imperialist power such as the US and some Western European imperialist countries upon the peoples and nations of Afghanistan, the Middle-East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

All this nonsense being touted is similar the cyber-utopian fantasies and claims back in the 1990s that the Internet would 'level the playing field' by allowing a small business operating from a bedroom to compete on par with a giant corporation online, thus leading to some idealistic Utopia in which monopolies are brought down low.

Look around today at cyberspace and we see how much it has become dominated by new giant corporations - Internet giants which began as 'cute and cuddly' startups in what initially was a free market environment in which there was much competition and consumer choice but has through those very free market forces, thus resulted in the weaker players being driven out by the stronger and more successful ones until only a handful of dominant players are left standing.

These right-anarchist, libertarian, neo-liberal, cyber-utopian idiots do not know or realise the dialectical-materialist reality that free market environments by their very own laws of operation, will eventually gravitate towards monopoly, just as water left to its own devices, tends to find its way to the common denominator in the sea; unless prevented to by regulations, which these cyber-utopians so abhor and which is so anathema to their ideals.

Going back even further to the 1960s and early 1970s, countercutural utopians used to say, that if everyone smoked pot and dropped LSD, there would be 'world peace' and the 'brotherhood of mankind'. Recall the claims of societal change made by Charles Reich's in his book, The Greening of America, where when "Consciousness 3" people who were youths at the time would 'create an better and more peaceful world' when they grew older? Well much pot has been smoked and much LSD dropped since then and we are no closer to world peace and the brotherhood of mankind today. Instead wars and hatreds have intensified since then.

The problems and wrongs of our world which are the result of capitalism and imperialism cannot be ended by the establishment of alternatives within the capitalist and imperialist framework but rather the capitalist and imperialist framework must be overthrown and a new socio-political-economic system - i.e. socialism established. Anything else is just a pipe dream, very likely fostered or encourage by the capitalist/imperialist state to undermine any real solutions to the problems of capitalism and imperialism.

Thus I am suspicious of the likes of Peter Joseph and his Zeitgeist Movement which whilst he is spot on with regards the problems of capitalism, however promotes the Utopian notion that technological developments will somehow pull the proverbial rug from under the feet of the very capitalist who have financed the development of such technology and who own it, thus resulting in society somehow transitioning to a communist society without any resistance, often violent from those currently in power.

This Zeitgeist Movement looks like it is just another controlled opposition created by the capitalist and imperialists to lead albeit sincere and genuinely concerned individuals who want change into an ineffective dead end.


At the core of Bitcoin is a blockchain - i.e. just a digital ledger or a database of transactions maintained online by multiple parties and accessible to all authorised parties. Bitcoin has implemented its blockchain in a certain way, whilst other crypto currencies have their own implementations of blockchain technology.

However, no bank, financial institution, business enterprise of government body with any sense will want to maintain their critical data on a public blockchain, so they are looking into creating their respective private enterprise blockchains, just as many have opted to operate their own respective private cloud computing sites, rather than use a public cloud site - for reasons of security and privacy of course.

The main reason I see for organisations to maintain their own blockchain in a distributed manner is that that if the primary site goes down or closes shop, the participants still have access to a copy of a record of their transactions. This is called 'redundancy' In computing, data storage and networking terms. However, if these data centres are taken out by conventional missile strikes in times of war, electricity supply and communications infrastructure are wrecked by a massive electromagnetic pulse from massive sunspot activity or a massive earthquake breaks the submarine cables through which international Internet traffic transverses, well the whole kaboodle will come crashing down.

As for bypassing legal and financial intermediaries, that may be so in the early days but just as has happened before with websites, blogs, social media, e-commerce and so forth, but the regulatory and enforcement authorities will soon catch up and try to regulate and make illegal such attempts to bypass them.

Google's recent measures to demonetise (deny advertisements) on You Tube videos deemed to be offensive or too radical for advertisers is just one example of attempts at such control by the site owner itself and some creators of content deemed too controversial who have found themselves unable to make a living from advertisements on You Tube after demonetisation have thought that they could instead rely on crowd-funding sites such as Patreon, only to find themselves kicked off Patreon as Laura Southern did. At least Google did not kick her off You Tube but only demonetised some of her videos but Patreon went the whole hog and booted her off altogether.

Some of those content creators who complain about You Tube demonetising their videos also predict that You Tube will 'collapse' as content creators 'flee' to these other sites but this is unlikely to happen.
Some of them may think that they can carry on on other less known video sites such as VidMe https://vid.me/ and DTube https://dtube.video/ however do that advertisers who did not want their advertisements to be associated with their videos on You Tube will somehow be willing to have their advertisements associated with the same videos on VidMe or DTube?

Highly likely not, so these content creators will still not get enough advertising revenue from their videos on these other sites.

Moreover, these video sites were not set up by some philantropist just to enable unfettered free expression online, but by startups intent on eventually making money and lots of it from their sites.

They may may be ultra liberal with regards the nature of the messages conveyed via the content hosted on their respective sites in order to build up traffic to attract advertisers but once they have attracted enough traffic and are earning enough advertising revenue, they can then dump those content creators who are a liability to their advertising revenue, just as Google, whose worldwide advertising revenue surpassed all print newspaper advertising revenue in the U.S. in 2012 and can now quite literally fart in the faces of creators of You Tube videos deemed to be too controversial in the eyes of their advertisers - who at the end of the day call the shots.

Hosting bulky content such as videos on servers in data centres and the capacity (bandwidth) of Internet connections to these sites to enable smooth streaming of the videos to multiple viewers simultaneously costs these content site owners money and like any business, they will be more interested in maintaining those content creators who are being in sufficient advertising revenue for them and whilst video hosting and streaming sites have not gone so far as to remove the accounts of creators whose content is not earning them enough advertising revenue.

So I wouldn't be surprised if they eventually get rid of creators whom they deem to be 'deadwood' from their sites to save costs and free up more storage space and Internet connectivity capacity for the more 'productive' content creators.

These cyber-utopians have recently learned the realities of capitalism in Cyberspace the hard way, when it has turned around and bitten them, yet many continue to entertain their cyber-utopian delusions.

Perhaps they should band together to pay for a site to host their videos in a co-operative fashion, similar to what the wholly membership supported Vancouver Co-op Radio has done for the past 44 years, initially with radio broadcasts in 1974 and later also with on a website, audio & video streaming and mobile applets.

Vancouver Co-op Radio eschews advertisements and prides its independence wholly enabled by membership dues and donations.

However, it appears that such formerly organised, co-operative initiatives amongst like-minded persons, with annual general meetings and democratic election of committee members by the membership; are anathema to the atomised milieu of content creators in cyberspace, whether on the right or on the left who have this entrenched entitlement mentality of wanting to have everything handed out to them free-of-charge in cyberspace.

Most of these very same content creators condemn low income recipients of much-needed social welfare payments and affordable healthcare for having an 'entitlement mentality' for needing government aid to survive when meaningful jobs have been outsourced to low-wage countries, yet these cyber-parasites feel entitled to get, take and have everything for free online, even if it denies talented content creators, such as composers, musicians, artists, journalists and so forth their legitimate royalties or income which can sustain their livelihoods.

This is why I look down with such contempt on the Internet culture.  I have no issue with Internet technology as such but with the Internet culture.

I have worked as a journalist writing about the information and communications technology industry since September 1994 until now.

One of my uncles was a journalist and so was my grandfather but looking at how media today, whether print, on the Web or digital media are struggling to survive and are grasping for increasingly scarce and elusive advertising revenue.

So I would not advise any school leaver to pursue a career in journalism, since they could be out of work in their 40s, burdened with family, children, a mortgage on their homes, a car loan to pay off and perhaps part of their student loan as well.


Wednesday, 4 October 2017


Congratulations to this French restaurant for taking a stand against the epidemic of socially dysfunctional people with their faces in their phones - i.e. tell them WE DON'T NEED CUSTOMERS LIKE YOU, SO GET OUT!

This restaurant sure has class and it's high time more restaurants adopt such measures to bring people together in body, mind and spirit and put an end to this IT scheiss that has gripped the world.

BTW. I make my own juices from fresh fruits and fresh vegetables using a blender.

French restaurant bans mobile phones, ketchup, Coca-Cola — RT News

Published time: 3 Oct, 2017 15:12

Ever done something so outrageous as to be kicked out of a restaurant? Use a mobile phone at Le Petit Jardin in the south of France, and you’ll see a yellow card. A second time will be enough to get you sent off. Ketchup and Coca-Cola are banned too.

The owner of the restaurant, Jean-Noël Fluery, says banning mobile phones at his place proved to be just what the doctor ordered, helping to make the atmosphere more convivial and family-friendly.

“Our system makes it possible to draw the entire restaurant to create dialogues between the tables.”

“The tradition in France is to speak during meals," the restaurateur said. But technology has been getting in the way of enjoying our lives, with mobile phones being the biggest source of trouble during a meal.

Fluery decided to fight against people’s growing addiction to phones and tablets with a twist of irony.

"We were inspired by the codes of football and, humorously, we award cards to clients who break the rules," he told Le Figaro. 

Waiters at the restaurant would blow a whistle and show a yellow card to someone caught using their phone. If a diner is caught again it will be a red card, meaning the culprit has to leave the restaurant.

“The cards and whistles are always effective," he added, as quoted by Le Figaro.
Staff have been forced to “send off” a few diners, the restaurant owner told The Local.

"Some have refused to put down their phones and said they don't like the rule and have left," he said.

“We explain the rules to them all when they come in,” he added. “People accept having to turn their phones off when they go to the cinema or the theatre so why not restaurants?”

Teens are not always happy to put away their smartphones.

“We’ve received some unpleasant comments on our Facebook page from young people who did not appreciate the ban on mobile phones and have not appreciated being shown a card in front of others.”

Fluery says he couldn’t care less.

“That’s a good publicity for the establishment!”

Alongside the mobile phones, Coca-Cola, Ketchup and Mayonnaise are on the venue’s banned list.

“We do it to promote local produce. We have good local fruit juices here that people can drink instead of Coke and we have Moutard a l'ancienne instead of Ketchup,” Fleury explained.

Tours trully