Friday, April 16, 2021

The US dollar is the single most important foundation of America. Without the USD, the global US empire would come crumbling down. $ is what enables everything else America does.

  • Other countries run out of money. Not America - it can and does borrow endlessly - at low interest rates. Plus, since it borrows and spends exorbitantly - in hundreds of billions or even trillions at a time, little is left for others to borrow, distorting markets. Not fair. The rest of the world is financing the continued dominance / hegemony of America, at the expense of the rest of the world.
    • U.S. Debt Is at a Record High, but the Risk Calculus Is Changing
  • Q

Thursday, March 11, 2021

The impossible trinity of price, performance and reliability [COMPACTIDEA]

Idea originally recorded Apr'16 in Evernote.

Pretty obvious idea. For example, you want an industrial machine that costs low but has high performance specifications. Sure you could get it, but it won't last long. To make it rugged / reliable / durable, money needs to be put which'll remove the 'low cost' parameter from it.

Brands such as AmazonBasics, Pinzon, etc., act as a layer hiding the actual manufacturer from the buyer, allowing Amazon covertly to replace the manufacturer anytime

I strongly think that this is one of the most powerful things currently going on in the business world - Amazon's own brands such as AmazonBasics, Pinzon, and others [variously termed store brands, shop brands, white-label products, private label brands, etc.].

Idea originally started 6-Aug-18. Continuing today 11-Mar-21.

See AmazonBasics AAA alkaline cells pack below.

For the consumer, it's a product by AmazonBasics / Amazon. It isn't a product by "FDK Indonesia". The entire buying and post-buying experience is handled by Amazon. Amazon sells the product, collects the sale data and user interactions, Amazon decides what packagings sell more than others, and so on. FDK Indonesia might be happy to be associated with Amazon - what it doesn't realize is that it's an expendable asset, a transparently replaceably asset for Amazon. Anytime another, better supplier becomes available, Amazon will simply switch to that one, leaving FDK Indonesia in ruins, especially if over time it becomes overly dependent on Amazon's orders. Tomorrow some Chinese battery seller offers Amazon cheaper + better AAA alkaline cells, and cruel Amazon will switch in a heartbeat.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Rising national development and the inevitable rising wastage of public time and energy on worthless pursuits - this could happen to China too

For a lack of time, I'll briefly summarize this idea, although I believe that this idea is very important and might partly help to explain why once-rising nations such as Japan have finally stagnated, and are increasingly on a trajectory where they will eventually be overtaken.

Western media and public describe the Chinese people using words such as 'hard working', 'diligent', 'sincere', 'focused', and so on. Likely true as well. But are these attributes / qualities constant in time for the population of a particular country? Most probably no.

When a nation is poor but wants to become rich, powerful and influential, its population works very hard, makes sacrifices and achieves results. However, once a significant elevation in the individual level of wealth and prosperity occurs, the population begins to waste its individual and thus collective time and energy on worthless / unproductive areas and pursuits. The original hard-work, sacrifices and focused efforts on areas of national need get forgotten and are replaced by wastage of time and energy on excessive fun and entertainment which might contribute to increased satisfaction and happiness at the individual level but at the national level it causes the nation to gradually lose its competitiveness.

For example, it's possible that the new crop of Chinese youth is increasingly unaware of the immense sacrifices made by their forefathers, and that the power and prestige that they take for granted on the world stage came about as a result of extreme hard-work put in by the previous generations.

Take a look at the below photos. What are these Chinese girls doing? They might all be in a paying job, but are they really contributing to nation-building? Or are their jobs simply earning them some money at the individual level but their contribution to the advancement of the country is either negligible or truly zero? Same goes for the explosive growth of short-video apps such as Douyin and Kuaishou. Billions of minutes of Chinese people - especially youth - are getting wasted in endless scrolling watching worthless short videos. Agreed it's entertainment at individual level, but at the national level their nation needs the energy of its youth to be spent on areas where the nation is lacking - semiconductors, software, next-generation telecom technologies, high-end lab equipment, pharmaceuticals, breakthroughs in aviation engines, a truly global currency, and so on.

It might appear that the explosive growth of short-video apps in China [and India] is a good thing for the nation's "tech sector". Headlines such as "Tencent-backed Kuaishou more than doubles in Hong Kong debut after $5.4 billion IPO [link]" might make bankers rich and the public happy. On the face of it you might think that it's a win-win and that everyone wins. But think again. Is national interest being rightly served by the explosive growth of such services? Tencent might benefit financially from the mega IPO of its short-video app. The public will enjoy watching more short videos. Investment banks will milk a lot as well. But will China's national priorities be served? Will the nation as a whole, on a net basis, benefit from exponential rise in the availability, proliferation and usage of such services? Or will the wastage of billions or maybe trillions of minutes of Chinese youth harm China overall even if select individuals and entities benefit?

What's happening to France is a case in point. Once technologically dominant, it's experiencing a decay in its scientific prowess. Too much focus on arts, paintings, baking, music, foods, and other "light" activities, coupled with a disease-like obsession with concepts such as freedom / individualism / liberty has reduced their collective national might in the areas of science and technology. They couldn't even develop a vaccine for the coronavirus, whereas tiny Vietnam is on course with a domestic vaccine. Individually each French person might be freely pursuing whatever they want to, but collectively they could be losing as a nation. This is essentially the grave concern raised in this post.

How can nations avoid this trap of increasingly development and increasingly prosperity leading paradoxically to a decline in the future growth prospects of the nations? Can laws ever be correctly crafted to address this dangerous phenomenon? Will the public in a democratic setup even accept being dictated that they're indulging "too much" in wasteful activities? Can only China-style governance ensure that the public can be nudged and/or limited in how much of their time and energy / effort they can spend on non-productive pursuits? These are hard questions to which careful thought might be able to provide answers. But the central point remains - with prosperity comes rising national wastefulness in the form of more video games, more short videos, more liquor, more casinos, less hard work, less research, less study, less sacrifice, and so on. If not a government, some kind of an empowered 'committee' of 'elders' might be entrusted with identifying such dangerous trends in a nation, and setting out steps / policies to reverse the rot.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

On Apple's App Store and Google Play - one of the worst and most evil developments that has taken place in the area of application software

  • THE PAYTM CASE, SEP'20: A non-US company like Paytm invests years of blood and sweat into establishing its products and services in a non-US nation [India, in this case], but it's a US company - Google - that makes the decision that Paytm can no longer be allowed to be newly downloaded/installed, in effect suddenly completely crushing the company? What the actual F is this? Further, and crucially, how can Google be allowed to be 'the' custodian of what's allowable and what's not on Google Play when clearly, Google itself competes fiercely in the digital payments space with Paytm with Google's own Google Pay as well as other products? Do we expect a proven extremely evil American giant to not try to severely harm its competitors using dubious or made-up excuses?
    • Google has forced Paytm to remove key promotional features in the Paytm app in order to 'get back' into 'compliance' with the Google Play 'policies'. In effect, Google has actually been able to cripple the features/functionality and even the marketing abilities of one of its chief rivals. Is this the healthy competitive landscape we all want?
      • It must be noted that Google Pay itself runs promotional campaigns similar to Paytm's campaign that Google arbitrarily and unilaterally claimed was akin to 'gambling'. It would be foolish to expect a giant evil US technology company to be fair.
    • What if a particular feature is fully compliant with the law of the land - as Paytm insists its promotional feature in question is - but in so-called 'violation' of Google Play policies? Will Google's policies dominate over and above India's sovereign laws? Further, Google itself isn't consistent in enforcing its so-called policies. When it comes to making money on YouTube ads, Google is ignoring the so-called violation.
      • "Conveniently, Paytm First Games can do a paid promotion on YouTube (which is owned by Google), but it is not allowed to do the same advertisement on the Paytm app, as per Google Policy."
    • The story behind Paytm App’s de-listing from Google Play Store [link]
    • Interim solution - strengthening alternative app stores: Samsung's Galaxy Store, for example.
  • Q

Saturday, August 15, 2020

The air filter on an air conditioner [AC] exhibits the snowball effect - or maybe also the positive feedback loop [COMPACTIDEA]

Initially its filtration power / ability depends solely on the design of the material used to create the filter sheet. However, as dust and other filtered particles start to accumulate on the filter, the filtration power grows, because the extra particles that have now settled on the filter create further and tightened restrictions on the flow of even smaller particles. And this process continues.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

A strange, scary new world is coming towards us - where tiny, invisible sensors will be all around us - will it spell a full end to privacy? [COMPACTIDEA]

  • OnePlus phone whose camera module can be hidden behind a glass that changes its colors. You won't know that there are cameras and/or other sensors behind such glass. You won't even know that a particular glass is of such type.
  • Behind-the-display / under-display cameras in smartphones without any visible notch or hole. Eventually one will never be able to be sure that there isn't an "invisible" camera lurking behind the innocent-looking displays of phones, TVs, maybe even somewhere inside home appliances such as washing machines or air-conditioners. Privacy loss as well as spying / surveillance will increase massively. Females, in particular, will be negatively affected if all those 'hidden cam', 'spy cam', voyeur type photos and videos start to be collected and spread. One example is if there are such concealed cameras planted in changing rooms / trial rooms for clothes, or in bathrooms / toilets / washrooms.
  • A camera that can shoot at a trillion FPS [or several trillion FPS]. Nothing can be hidden from this.
  • As of Jan'20, passenger cars are increasingly and forcibly getting "connected". Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, proprietary platforms such as NissanConnect or Honda Connect, microphones, touch screens, voice commands, live GPS location tracking of a car, inbuilt maps, bluetooth streaming, diagnostics and data logging, even 4G network connections are increasingly being added to cars. No one's giving options to disable these if one wants to [using hardware, not using fake 'soft' switches]. Round-the-clock tracking is becoming the norm. The good old cars of yesterday which quite simply just didn't track you in any way whatsoever are disappearing.
    • And yet this is just the tip of the iceberg. Upcoming electric and self-driving cars with tentacles of Amazon/Apple/Facebook/Google/Microsoft deeply penetrated into their systems will take tracking, spying and surveillance to an unprecedented level, justified by the ever-familiar excuses of "personalization" and "safety/security".
      • In particular, self-driving cars are an especially-worrying menace because in a way these are like remotely-controlled military drones. The American government could assassinate anyone it wanted to with sufficient plausible deniability by causing a genuine-looking accident or malfunction of a self-driving car. No logging. No one will know. Nonstop face recognition and voice matching in the car's passenger cabin will of course deeply assist with locating and tracking the target person(s). [The ethical dilemma of self-driving cars - Patrick Lin]
  • Tiny, beetle-mounted camera, Jul'20. [link 1] [link 2] [link 3]

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Amazon's secret incursion into Google's Android turf using MediaTek Helio G90T's dual wake-up word feature is admirable [COMPACTIDEA]

No idea if this feature was conceived by Amazon or MediaTek. It's a masterstroke in the sense that Amazon has been able to establish Alexa as an equally-available digital voice assistant on what was formerly a Google-only space. Xiaomi must be receiving payments from Amazon for pre-installing and also integrating Alexa on their superhit Redmi Note 8 Pro handset - so far the only phone in the world powered by the G90T [did Xiaomi 'lock' MediaTek into selling the G90T only to Xiaomi - promising guaranteed huge sales - so that Realme, Oppo, Vivo, etc., wouldn't be able to offer an equivalent phone anytime soon?]. For Xiaomi, Amazon, MediaTek and also phone-buyers, it's a win-win. Xiaomi gets subsidies to price the phone lower [or maybe to raise profits, or even both], Xiaomi also gets bragging/marketing rights ["the first and only Alexa inbuilt phone"], Amazon firmly penetrates Google's hitherto monopolized arena, MediaTek achieves commercial success with huge G90T sales and maybe a snowball effect will follow [also setting a favorable atmosphere for its upcoming Dimensity flagship chips] and it also gets to look like a Qualcomm-challenging innovator and not just a poor-man's chipmaker, while customers get a powerful device at possibly subsidized price point plus a good feeling / flaunt value of owning a phone with Alexa [the "in thing" today in India]. Google is the big loser here, especially if this trend of two [and more later?] wake-up words sets in and Qualcomm, Huawei, Samsung, and others follow MediaTek's lead.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Thinking out of the box - a bathroom geyser (water heater) is also fundamentally a sort of a battery [COMPACTIDEA]

This thought occurred to me while bathing, a few days back. The time when the water heater is heating up the liquid water inside can be compared to the process of charging a battery using a charger. Heated water's heat is analogous to stored charge in an electrical battery, and this heat can theoretically be used to do useful work, even if the efficiency ratio is very low. Further, with proper thermal insulation, heat loss can be reduced [though definitely not anywhere near the duration of time for which batteries retain charge]. Heat loss as a phenomenon is comparable to loss of charge in a conventional battery. So it does seem like a water heater can be correctly called a sort of a battery.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

The day Web search engines such as Google start to understand the meaning of content such as text, they will covertly censor or demote content that's critical of them

Even though Google / Bing / Yandex can currently translate text content, this doesn't mean that these Internet search engines "understand" the "meaning" of whatever text they work with. The translation happens using lifeless algorithms, on a statistical basis, and doesn't involve "knowing" what's "being said" in the content.

Looking this way, it seems like there are some parallels between the related concepts of [ knowing / meaning / understanding ], and the close concepts of [ awareness / consciousness / sentience ]. A super-smart robot or computer program isn't self-aware the way humans are, and similarly an excellent language translation tool such as Google Translate doesn't know an iota of what's the intent and meaning of the text it works with.

Anyway. There could / will come a day when computers actually start to capture the broad meaning of text [whether this capturing takes place in a dumb/lifeless computer or a self-aware/sentient computer is irrelevant actually]. When this happens, private search companies such as Microsoft and Google will have every incentive in the world to censor and/or demote that content which criticizes these companies, exposes their crimes, or otherwise makes them look bad [or makes their competitors look good]. This is a scary prospect, and one that's within the realm of what's possible - and it's not too far into the future either. Worst of all, this censorship will happen covertly, quietly, silently - there's hardly any practical way to prove that an engine such as Google is hiding some type of data from its users.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

It should be possible to travel at a speed faster than that of light, even if we may not be able to measure that speed

What does it mean to travel near or at the speed of light? Does it mean "actually" traveling near or at that speed? Or does it mean that whenever the measured speed is near or at the speed of light, it's sufficient to say that the object is traveling near or at the speed of light [even if it "actually" is not]? What does "actually" mean? Does "actually" mean the speed that "God" sees? Can there be a divergence between the "actual" speed of an object and its measured speed, without us having to call it a measurement error? If yes, what's the relevance or value of such an measurement then?

Anyway, the point here is that it should be possible to travel at a speed faster than that of light. Why shouldn't it be, after all? Keep increase the quantity of energy and force and there's no reason why an object's speed shouldn't keep increasing. It isn't like once the value hits c, suddenly more energy and more force stops having an incremental effect. But how do we measure such a faster-than-c speed? Do we even have to bother with measuring? And just because we can't measure, should we conclude that the speed isn't faster than that of light? Does an object placed in a completely dark room become nonexistent and irrelevant just because we can't see it? It still is there, just that we cannot see it.

Those are some half-cooked thoughts in my mind.


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

It may be correct to say that fractions are not numbers but are instead sentences written in a shorthand notation [COMPACTIDEA]

Fractions have intrigued me since my school days. Why are we able to represent certain values, or rather shares, precisely as fractions but not as whole numbers or decimal numbers? This can sometimes get irritating. Today a thought occurred to me which could be correct [could be wrong as well - need to think more]. Perhaps fractions aren't numbers at all. Instead, they're perhaps a quick/shorthand notation to write sentences [or instructions]. Might sound weird, but the fraction 2/3 is basically the same thing as the sentence:

Two parts out of three.

Now, the sentence - two parts out of three - definitely is not a number but is a sort of rule telling us how many parts out of how many are we talking about. A compact way to write this sentence is to write 2/3, because we've been taught from childhood that the "/" is to be interpreted as "parts out of". Just because we're all using a certain notation to write these sentences shouldn't mean we should start treating 2/3, 3/7, etc., as numbers.

Or it could very well be that due to inherent limitations of our base-10 decimal system, we aren't able to represent 1/3 precisely as a number, so we've started taking 1/3 itself as a number.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Response of American technology giants to scandals - should've communicated better or should've responded faster, rather than addressing the root problem, or making major changes to software or to business model

I've seen this type of "response" from people like Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg a few times, so I believe this is more of a pattern that can be stated. When it was revealed in 2014 that Facebook was secretly conducting psychological experiments on a few hundred thousand of its users by manipulating their emotions to observe their reactions, Sheryl Sandberg's response wasn't to apologize for these actions of Facebook. Instead, it was:
  • Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg is sorry if anybody was made angry by the whole "we're going to make you sad and see what happens" experiment, disclosed last week, that alarmed many of the service's users.
  • Speaking in New Delhi Wednesday, Sandberg said the study was a routine practice in the commercial sector — echoing some defenders of the social network — but that the nature of the study was "poorly communicated" to users.
  • "And for that communication we apologize," said Sandberg, according to the Wall Street Journal. "We never meant to upset you."
Bullshit. Evil monster this Sandberg creature is. I've made some text bold above. Total bullshit. Calling it "routine", and that "if anyone was offended then I say sorry" apology, and "we need to communicate this better", and so on. As if merely communicating better can make a wrong right.

Actually, if you think really carefully, she's being honest here. She isn't sorry, so she isn't giving out fake sorries. She doesn't think that there's any problem with such experiments/practices, so she's not apologizing for these. She really thinks and believes that such experiments and other anti-user stuff needs better packaging and spinning, so she's honestly saying that FB needs to better "package" this stuff into better language that its foolish users will believe.



Similarly, as Boeing is facing a crisis related to its 737 MAX plane, it has mounted a full-blown media and public relations [PR] campaign. These American companies seem to think that by aggressive, "360 degree" communication/PR, they can actually solve the underlying technological issues in their products. Fortunately, science isn't affected by PR and spinning.



"Boeing Max 737 jet crisis: we should've been more open, says CEO"

"Boss says aircraft maker failed to communicate properly with regulators and customers"

Boeing's CEO isn't admitting that their aircraft is poorly designed. He's not admitting that due to commercial reasons, MCAS was deliberately/knowingly not put in the manuals and not discussed with airlines/pilots. He's not admitting that they changed the software without certifying it again. He's laying the blame on poor communication. What a loser.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Superpower nations need complete self-sufficiency in all spheres - food, medicines, technology, raw materials, currency, minerals, military, etc.

  • China, and not just China, but also other current/aspiring/future superpowers such as Russia, USA, India, and maybe Europe, each of these needs complete technological independence. Which means owning the entire stack - the instruction set architecture (ISA), the code inside microprocessors, the raw materials to make chips, manufacturing fabs, operating systems, all of the software programs that run on the systems, and so on. Nothing can be such that a superpower is dependent upon the mercy of a foreign power. Because as the Huawei case has clearly shown, adversaries can and will cut-off technological connections/dependencies in order to cause crippling, instant, and irreplaceable harm to the companies and people of nations.
  • Huawei should drop American courier / package / logistics providers such as FedEx worldwide as much as possible, and give priority to Asian and European providers [in that order]. Just like sensitive digital data cannot be carrier over untrusted digital lines, physical objects shouldn't be transported over adversary-owned physical lines.
    • Do the same in the whole of China. No need to send $$$ to US firms.
  • A coordinated effort is required to simultaneously deprive the USA of the vital ores/minerals/metals its economy and people need. China's restrictions on exporting rare-earth elements to USA alone isn't the ideal response. Simultaneously, Russia should announce restrictions on titanium exports to America [remember how America simultaneously makes multiple countries support its foreign policy moves - whether it be expulsion of Russian diplomats, or the recognition of Juan Guaido as Venezuela's President]. If America's other similar critical dependencies/vulnerabilities can be discovered and can be simultaneously announced, all the better. A sudden, unexpected and crippling ban on multiple essential raw materials will quickly and immediately bring America to its knees, and also damage its invulnerable global image.