Sunday, February 04, 2018

Protect Diversity Not Competition

I have mentioned before we should get rid of the competition watchdog, and have laws to protect diversity not competition. If we protect competition then there can "only be one", and then the competition is over: everything else is wiped out. Not a very sensible thing to do.

So following on from the previous post about political parties, a similar approach could be applied to other areas. That is limit market share to 20%, in all its variations. So having the big 2 is not acceptable but the big 5 is tolerable.

Currently when the competition watchdog investigates, the big department store or supermarket is seen to do no wrong, and is permitted to move into an area and wipe out all local business. Protecting diversity rather than competition should prevent such action.

A big supermarket may only have 15% of the market nationally, but locally it can hold 100% of the market. The latter is not acceptable, it violates the 20% rule. But what is local?

Previously, I have indicated that a circular cell 5 km in diameter can be surveyed by one person in one day, assuming they can walk at 5km/h and otherwise walk for 5 hours/day. Such cell can be traversed in 1 hour, its takes 30 minutes to get from perimeter to the centre. It takes a day to walk from the centre around the perimeter and return to the centre. Various zigzag paths can be taken around the cell to explore it in 1 day. The world's land mass contains over 7 million such cells, and with a population of around 7 billion, then 1000 people can occupy each cell. A 1 km square cell with a hub 500m x 500m, can provide home to some 5000 people in single person single storey dwellings. Such dwellings are equally suitable for 2 persons and a baby, extended to two stories and the dwellings are suitable for two adults and two children. Thus 20 thousand people in a 1km square.

Any cell greater than 5km diameter is likely to require mechanised transport, at the very minimum a handcart or bicycle.  A cell 1km in diameter is potentially the more walkable, and less dependent on machinery. Though mechanised transport is likely required to get goods in and out of such cells.

Any case it provides a starting point for setting some limits. Population limited to 200 to 4,000 people, or radial extents limits to a distance from 0.5km to 2.5km.

So if we pick a supermarket at random and locate it at the centre of a 5km diameter cell, then inside that cell there should be found, at least another 4 similar independent stores. If not then the supermarket has too large a market. A second check is the size of the population, it actually serves compared to available population: if it supplies more than 4,000 people from the one store then it is too large. That is the simple check.

An alternative check is to move the centre of the 5km cell until it captures 5 stores within its boundaries. Here on the York Peninsula in South Australia, the distance between towns is about 25 km, and each town typically has a population less than 1000 people, some have populations less than 100. The rural roads between towns typically have speeds at 100km/h, so each town is around quarter of an hour away, though a town with a commercial hub could be 1 hour to 2 hours away.

In such situation the hinterlands (catchment areas), need to be larger in diameter to capture a large enough population to make the businesses viable in the first place. Which raises the question of the minimum population required to serve for the business to be viable. The initial assumption was local population of 1000 to 20,000 people to be served by a minimum of 5 businesses: so an individual business can only serve 200 to 4000 customers.

Clearly businesses which supply carports and verandahs or sheds, serve the entire Adelaide metropolitan region, even the entire state of South Australia, and some companies the whole of Australia. Most builders have indicated they sell 40 carports/verandahs a month. Since the number is so common I doubt that is reality, more like some ideal figure dreamed up by some common source, now lost in time.

In terms of timber , most such structures take carpenter 2 days, with help of one assistant. However there may be some preliminary factory work done before site works, such as cutting, and painting. So assuming 5 days in a working week, and 4 weeks in a month, then 20 days a month: then one team can only supply 10 canopies each month, not 40. Or assuming 50 productive weeks a year, then 250 productive days in a year, then only supply 125 canopies a year, not 12*40=480. And who wants these?

For some reason houses aren't designed and built with verandahs.Taking South Australia with my rough and ready, easy to remember statistics, there is approximately 1.5 million people, with household occupancy less than 3 persons per dwelling. An old Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report indicates that some 5% of dwellings each year get some form of renovation: kitchen, bathroom, extra room, outdoor living (decking and/or verandah). So first requirement for the industry would be to supply the 500,000 dwellings. Thereafter provide replacements, at the rate of 25,000 each year. So would require 200 teams, or individual businesses. Of course this can be made more complicated by taking population growth into consideration. Last time I looked, the number of dwellings were around 600,000 and occupancy around 2.8 persons.

Any case, the simple numbers puts each business serving around 7,500 people, spread around the whole of South Australia. Local business however is unlikely to be viable. As move away from the hub of Adelaide, the size of hinterland needs to change for local business, from 5km diameter to possibly over 300 km radius: a radius for the latter because most likely only serve in a small sector rather than a full circular cell. For example Kadina, in South Australia, basically serves everything to its South on the York Peninsula. Everything south of Kadina, has a both a smaller population and fewer facilities. Kadina has a population of around 5000 people, everything to its south has a population less than 1000 people. Kadina is in the Copper Coast council district, and that to the south is in the Yorke Peninsula council district, each district having a population around 12,000  people. For such region, before consider protecting competition or diversity, the first requirement is to provide service. Whilst some specialist stores are viable, more likely to find general stores providing a broad range of goods: and having 100% of the market with respect to those goods. Likewise the specialist stores also hold 100% of the local market. Local with respect to the limits of the township. People in such regions also likely to work part-time across a range of activities. This is because no single activity is likely to provide adequate income to make a living, secondly because it is difficult to get people into the regions and so people have to "wear different hats" if anything is to get done. The problem however is that makes the towns like ghost towns, as stores are closed and services only available by appointment: not at all welcoming to visiting tourists. Not only do businesses need to be in a network but so do their customers need to be in such network: because without network connections no one would know the services are available.

So we have an environment different than that in the big city. But Australia itself is an environment different than that in other industrialised nations. My typical reference is that Australia is akin to a remote mining colony on Mars. Except if were on Mars, the long wait for the bat bringing goods and services in would be more apparent, and the remote location would be better managed. Then again Australia is only remote from the west, it is not remote from the east. If we were on Mars, then we would more likely develop better relationship with the martians (assuming they may exist), than we have done with Asia.

But that is the other problem with protecting diversity, its attack from external competition. Local towns are not just under attack by national companies, they are also under attack from foreign powers. My other common point is that if land defines a nation, then land should not be permitted to be bought and sold. Land should be owned by the nation state, and the state should only grant license to occupy and use the land: not own the land.

Protecting the land is important with respect to farms and mines. The 20% limit, would restrict ownership of resources, or license to resources. So no farming business could hold license to more than 20% of the farmland, to 20% of the irrigation water resources. Further restriction to no more than 20% of milk production, nor more than 20% of beef production, etc... Similarly no mining company hold more than 20% of steel production, 20% of aluminium production.

As done above for the canopies, can work out how much work one person or a team of people can produce in one year. Secondly need to check the demand for such work over one year, and determine if that is repetitive from one year to the next, growing or decaying. Once population stabilises, with basically one person born for each person who dies, there is no need for increased house construction: unless people want multiple houses scattered all over the planet: but then once the planet is fully occupied by humans, then house construction no longer needed. However, house maintenance and/or replacement will then need to occur. If something is needed then we can get some idea of demand, compared to pointless widgets which are just made and sold just for the purpose of surviving in a market system.

Government services increasingly privatised. So once again, supplier should be restricted to 20% of the market, and the choice available locally, not just nationally. The construction of Adelaide Hospital for example would not be permitted, its expected catchment area is too large, and it has been constructed at the expense of largely ignoring rural and regional hospital services. The principle would require that South Australia has at least 5 large regional hospitals. Such would require South Australia to be divided into 5 regions, with a central hospital which can serve such region. Not 5 hospitals located based on population, but based on geographical area. The point of the state or nation is development of the geographical region, having the capability to occupy, hold and serve the region.

So we start by dividing regions progressively by 5. Thus Australia has 5 or more regions, then each of these regions further divided by 5, and then each of these in turn is further divided by 5. So South Australia is one of the national divisions, which gets divided into 5 regions.

Why 5? Because in group dynamics, two people can easily disagree and then nothing gets done, with 3 people, it can easily split into two groups, whilst get a 2/3rds majority can otherwise loose 1/3rd taking any interest. With a group of 4, there is a possibility of an even split, and thus two groups working against one another. With 5 people, need 3/5ths to create a majority, there is no even split, and whilst may have a 2/5ths opposition, its likely get two opposing groups of 1/5th each. A group of 5 is therefore the smallest odd number group which seems practical.

Geographically however, hexagons are important to filling space uniformly. A hexagon can be split into 6 segments: 6 being an even number can provide an equal split, no majority view. However hexagons, and circles form clusters of 7: an odd number and potentially better  than 5. Adopting 7 would reduce acceptable market share down to 14% limit. Each 7 cell  cluster would form a community, but persons could seek service from any of the 7 hubs. I don't have a problem with that, however most businesses with market dominance typically have market share between 20% and 30%, so adopting 20% limit doesn't impose too much of a burden on existing business except those which really do hold a majority of the market. Microsoft for example with near 100% market share of computer operating systems.

So what to do about companies like Microsoft? First back to the division of regions. So South Australia gets divided into 5 regions, most of those regions would be without any significant population, and furthermore the distance to any central hospital would be too far to travel for an emergency: hence why investment in the one Adelaide hospital is not acceptable for the state. We therefore continue dividing the area by 5 until create cells with populations and within reasonable distance of the needed facility, which could be hospital, school, shop etc... Those cells with populations should get facilities, but if the land is to be considered occupied then need to consider how to service the remote unpopulated cells assuming it is permitted to visit these cells. For example if helicopters have operational radius of 250 km, then need heliports at no more than 500 km centres if expect to be able to search the Australian interior for lost tourists. Heliports need fuel for the helicopters and other supplies for the personnel: how are those resources going to get there? It is not really appropriate to consider markets for everything, but if going to get held to ransom by lone supplier, then protecting diversity is important.

Diversity however doesn't help if there are pressures to supply at equal price. For example Engineers Australia, and Institute of Architects, and institute of building designers all have members who complain about undercutting fees, and attempt to publish guidelines to what fees should be. The fee guidelines typically take an elitist unrealistic viewpoint: not everyone gets to rip the government off,charging extortionate fees for public infrastructure. Engineering effort unlike construction effort is not proportional to the size of a structure or other system, but proportional to the complexity: if two structures have the same structural form but only vary in size, then they require the same effort to design. The engineers and architects working on the larger project will get the higher fees.

Consider that a garden shed takes the same design effort as a large industrial building. Say the garden shed costs $500, whilst the larger structure costs $1 million dollars, they both have the same structural form. The consulting fees for large projects may be defined in terms of percent fee, typically less than 5% and apparently usually around 1%. So for the garden shed the consulting fee would be $5, whilst that for the industrial building would be $10,000.

Australia's federal minimum wage is $17.20, so for the sake of argument assume work capable by one person producing drawings and calculations, no site supervision. Assume design effort capable of being completed in 1 week, of 40 hours. So labour cost is $688, the percent fee doesn't cover the cost for the garden shed, but the fee for the industrial building is 14.5 times larger than cost. However ignored operational costs of the business, assume needs of business is similar to a person and minimum rate is same as federal minimum wage: so we multiply by 2. Therefore cost is $1366, most definitely not the kind of fee the person buying a garden shed wants to pay. Whilst the fee for the industrial building is still 7.3 times larger. Is such multiplier an acceptable relativity between wage earners?

Now the cost for the small garden shed indicates that really needs to be designed once and made many times: but most manufacturers also do not find the fee acceptable. They want lower price. That therefore means the cost of the drawings and calculations need to be dropped below 40 hours: the process needs to be automated: electronic computers are needed. When automation of design takes place then the market held by the architects and engineers is displaced over to the manufacturers. The high fees they once demanded disappears: the value of their services diminishes. A service which mostly was imposed on projects, where such need was never previously required. A monopoly given by legislation, taken away by technology and market forces, a monopoly which should have never been permitted in the first place. Impose purchase of something which wasn't previous needed, and the buyers will take measures to remove such imposition. If a market imposes a need or generates a demand where  need is not necessary, then market will also seek to remove. A dynamically adaptive system will attempt to return to some lower energy level: the level before unwanted impositions.

Australian industrial awards and Federal minimum wages  give some idea of minimum costs, if buying and selling time is the only thing of concern. Thankfully at the moment industrial awards haven't been pushed up to match market rates. Thankfully because the awards tend to only go upwards, and therefore stifles new business, and favours big business with large markets. More to the point it benefits employees with big business to increase minimum wages in awards, as it can close down smaller business, destroy the competition, destroy diversity. Then once other suppliers removed the big business steps in and supplies a larger market, and potentially at higher prices.

Local community groups are better than labour and trade unions. Trade unions were historically more committed to local communities and did more social good than harm. Now most trade unions are limited companies, full trading businesses, national, and no real care about community. Communities however can fight back. Back in 70's, one local community blocked a trade union picket line. The union was potentially going to shut off the power supply, blocking access to power station: the community prevented the union members from leaving the picket line and from refreshed members reaching the line. The community could hold out longer, than employees and unionists who didn't live in the area. A community doesn't have to be held to ransom by outsiders.

Similarly communities do not have to tolerate privatisation of their resources. They can buy resources back. I recollect a documentary about water supply where one French village regained control of their local water resources after it had been privatised. Communities should have control over that which their survival is dependent on: sovereignty over dependent resources. What is the point of nations, of fortified towns, if they are permitted to be attacked by economics?

Should have free markets, open markets, no regulation? Who does this benefit? Mostly big multinationals: entities which have no geographical boundaries, and no social responsibilities, and which are increasingly more powerful (economically) than many nations. However if they are highly specialised they are not overly sustainable. If they are involved in everything, are corporations with voting shareholders, then we have a future world, governed by something other than nations and without geographical limits. Instead of being a citizen of a nation, you will be a member of an world corporation. There would have to be at least 5 such citizen corporations in the world.

People don't migrate between countries, they migrate between cities. People in cities may migrate to more remote rural regions, in the main however people in rural regions migrate to cities. People changing countries are really changing cities. It concerns the critical mass of population required to make certain goods and services available. The difference between making one combined harvester every 10 years, or making several hundred each and every year. What is the critical population required to design and produce computer chips? The population required to get started from scratch is not the same as required to start up once the technology exists.

One article I read indicated something along the lines that Britain took 200 years to industrialise, the USA with import of technology from Britain took 100 years, and Japan with technology imported from the USA took 50 years. After the second world war, redevelopment took 25 years, nations with the help of Japanese industry have taken 15 years to become industrialised. Developing technology requires people and time. With technology development takes less and less time, as all existing technology is a foundation and building block for future technology.

So geography may not be relevant to the future. Brexit for example could turn out to be an entirely pointless exercise: as corporations become increasingly more relevant than geographically bound nations. Passports and visas shouldn't be necessary, no one should need a permanent home address and all should be citizens of the world.

Protecting national boundaries from illegal immigrants is it really important? I doubt it! I would say the current problem isn't so much that illegal immigrants get into the country, but that they cannot get out. I suggest that it is easier to get out of Africa, and get to London, than it is to get out off London: one way traffic. Thus having discovered that no economic benefit to being in London, it is going to require a lot more effort to get to somewhere else. But where else: New York, Tokyo, Sydney, Paris, Berlin, Rome. Where? Is life going to be better there? Want to learn a third language? What are the 5 most common languages? Where are the 5 most popular cities?

Population doesn't need to move if local town provides for its needs. So protecting diversity also includes protecting the survival of local towns. In Greece and Italy I believe some towns have become ghost towns, where only the retired remain: the younger generation have left leaving the retired behind. The big cities stealing the population. So the 20% limit can apply to the population of cities, to the employment of people by business.

As for companies like Microsoft. Their upgrades are not upgrades they are different products, we are held to ransom, forces to adopt new product, and new way of doing things. But there are people attempting to create alternatives like FreeDOS to keep old software going, others attempting to replicate Windows XP. The propaganda machine says such software is a security risk: well it wasn't when we first bought it, and it was operating perfectly fine for the majority of people. So no real need to change.

So here's an idea. If Microsoft no longer wishes to sell or support MS DOS or Windows XP, it doesn't have to. On the other hand it shouldn't be permitted to prevent others from supporting such software. So it could be required to release its source for its abandoned software, thus FreeDOS doesn't need to reinvent the operating system: rather it can develop it in another direction. In other words microsoft releases products (it can license) development of its old products until usage of any given product drops to 20%.

... interrupted for tea and telly. [17:47]

[22:25] ...
Would Windows be a prime target for attack if it only represented 20% of computer users, and another 4 systems were available for attack. Currently has I understand the majority of users are on Windows 10, then earlier versions of windows, Apple, and various distributions of Linux: all largely determined from connections to the internet. Computers however do not need to be connected to the internet, and such computers do not need need security protections. So MS DOS is perfectly fine for crunching numbers, writing letters, as is CPM/80.

SunOS used to be able to spawn an MS DOS process in its own window. As far as I know it was not a virtual machine, it was an independent process. Early MS DOS installed on 720 kb, 3.5" floppy disks, whilst CPM/80 installed on 360 kB 3.5" floppy disks. Gigabytes of data are not required for the operating systems: so Windows 10 should be able to run separate windows with any of the earlier versions of Windows and all prior software should still be able to run. But it doesn't, and since software ceases to run when replace hardware and operating system: the software is not an upgrade it is a different product.

So amongst first things to do is impose the 20% on the types of licenses. For example could restrict OEM licences to 20% of licenses, or require at least 20% of licenses  are NON-OEM. But would need to split market into sectors. If not split into sectors likely to have the suppliers declare that the 20% has been reached by supply to governments and large corporations, and so no need to supply to individuals. By separating business from personal, the 20% limit can be imposed on each sector.

Similarly can require that 20% of hardware is supplied without any operating system, and is capable of having any operating system installed. Can require that the hardware is suitable for at least 5 different operating systems, that there are at least 5 different operating systems available.

Here the limit is placed on the product not necessarily the business. So Microsoft can license its earlier operating systems to be developed and maintained by others, so that there is a greater diversity of products in the market. It doesn't necessarily have to license or provide access to the source code. So MS DOS can be licensed as a foundation for building variants. For example FreeDOS is not entirely capable of running all earlier MS DOS software. On the other hand FreeDOS can be installed and operate on hardware which wasn't available when MS DOS was originally available. Many of the original external commands in MS DOS could be replaced by Linux tools. Linux operating systems could run MS DOS in a separate process.

Historical cars can be kept going because the parts do not require any significant infrastructure to fabricate. People can machine parts in a small workshop. Computers and other electronic hardware however are more complicated to build than is possible with tools found in the family garage.  But with 3D printers, then maybe it will one day be possible to fabricate digital chips in the home.

Any case markets can comprise of products, and should protect diversity of products. Cars for example there should be at least 5 manufacturers. And following what I said for computers, each component should have 5 potential substitutes. So 5 different, independent suppliers of tyres, 5 suppliers of spark plugs, think of a component then that component should have 5 suppliers: not just suppliers 5 different manufacturers.

If there is a definable market, and a business holds more than 20% of that market, then its share is too high. A business doesn't necessarily have to do anything, since next week, it could hold a smaller proportion of the market. The big issue is when a business holds more than 50% of the market, and other businesses hold less than 20%. In such situation may have diversity, but the situation is heading towards monopoly with the other players potentially being removed from the market. Such situation doesn't necessarily represent what people want, but rather what they can get. The other players just don't have the resources to produce quantities large enough to flood the market: they don't have the distribution network and therefore people have neither knowledge nor access to alternative products.

It is not just a matter of reducing the 50% dominance of the market down to 20%, it is a matter of boosting the other players so that they have nearer to 20% of the market. Rather than manufacturers being the problem in such situation, it maybe the wholesalers and retailers who are the problem: they are not giving other manufacturers the opportunity.

So the supermarket shelves have to have products from at least 5 different producers in each and every product category. This doesn't mean one box from 4 suppliers and a 100 boxes from one dominant supplier. The stores product mix has to include 5 suppliers with near equal demand quantities. Unless there is clear bias in the local community. In which case it can cater to the bias, but it should otherwise seek to break such bias. It should break the bias because such is not good for the future survival of the community and not good for the survival of the store: shouldn't have all eggs in one basket. To ensure security of future supply, should have a diversity of products on offer, and individuals themselves should also use a diverse range of resources rather than relying on one.

Economy of scale maybe efficient, but it is not secure. Economy of scale gives greater importance to efficiency over effectiveness. A system cannot be efficient or economical if it is not effective. The system will not be effective if it is not secure. Diversity provides security because if loose one resource there are 4 alternatives to take its place. If only have one resource and lose it, then lose everything.

It's the problem with energy. Fossil fuels are not so much the problem, the problem is that such fuels dominate the market. Adopting solar power or wind power in the place of fossil fuels will just create a different set of environmental and economical problems. We need a diversity of energy sources with no single one permitted to dominate. Coal, Gas, and Oil are not 3 independent fuel supplies, so having these 3 supplies isn't adequate diversity: we need independent alternatives. Solar and wind are likewise related, both driven by the Sun.

Whilst the 20% rule may not be entirely practical to implement, it does give a guideline to direct investigation. Smaller business doesn't need to grow to dominate the market, but it does need to prevent others from dominating the market, it does need to help ensure diversity is sustainable.


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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Hung Parliament Conjecture

I don't know why the media goes all crazy when there is a hung parliament, and declaring its a bad thing. It seems like everything is working properly to me. the way it should. So maybe we should use the term to refer to the requirement to hang the members of parliament for a failure to do their job properly.

I don't know about elsewhere, but here  in Australia, we have a federal constitution. Under the constitution we elect representatives. These representatives form the body of the government and are split into two houses: the lower house and the upper house. A house of representatives and a senate. The governor general is the head of the government. The governor general has the responsibility of selecting an executive council to advise on the will of the government and execute the will of the government. Real debate is supposed to occur in parliament to determine the will of the people and to properly and fairly represent all the geographical regions.

Political Parties Hijack the Electoral Process

What happens in practice is that political parties hijack the electoral process and then parliament. The political party with the majority of seats in the house of representatives hijacks parliament, appoints itself as the executive council, and appoints a new governor general. We then have a puppet government, debate is pointless, as the party with the majority of seats will simply vote things through. If the senate is dominated by another political party then it may be able to stop bills from being passed. The mass media refers to us having either a Labor government or a Liberal government, and to having a government and shadow government. I contend it is nonsense and unconstitutional. Anyone not in the current political party holding the dictatorship over parliament, need not be there, they can go home without pay.

It is a bad situation and unacceptable. It is inefficient, and the cause of a lack of progress as things are implemented and then dismantled to the wants and whims of the political parties not the will of the people.

All Political Parties Sit In Parliament and Constitute the Government

Right now both members of the Labor and Liberal parties occupy parliament, collectively they constitute the government, and collectively they are both responsible for any mess that is made. So come the next election, no blaming the other party: they are both responsible. They were both elected to parliament to identify and implement necessary change, or otherwise keep out off the way and let the bureaucracy get on with the task it has already been given.

Protect Diversity: Impose 20% Limit

I suggest that we modify our constitution and implement a requirement that no political party is permitted to have more than 20% of the seats, even better would be 10%. Not practical? We have preferential voting, so yes it is practical.

First the political parties identify their electoral preferences both in terms of other political parties and geographical regions. The people vote, if a party gets more seats than it is permitted then the extra seats are redistributed.So the party keeps those seats in the electorate it ranks highest preference for, and loses the rest. However, there is an exception anyone who wins their seat with over 50% of the vote gets to keep their seat, this takes precedence over the party rankings. If less than 50%, then lose their seat on basis of the parties geographical rankings. When they lose their seat their votes are then redistributed based on preferences: either party preferences or the voters preferences if the voter has given preferences. We already have redistribution of votes if a candidate doesn't get a high enough percentage of the votes.

If a party can only hold between 10% and 20% of the seats, then there needs to be between 5 and 10 political parties. Going with 20% and 5 political parties seems feasible with the current offerings. The big parties already considered to have factions such, the left, the right, the far left and the far right. So each party could split into 5 independent parties. Though even without doing that there is probably at least 5 parties already.

Deal with Necessary Change

Now the argument is, that if  a political party cannot hijack parliament then they cannot get anything done. Sounds good. The only reason for the government is to deal with necessary change and exceptions to the normal run of things. Change for change's sake is not acceptable. Also change from Labor philosophy to Liberal philosophy is also not acceptable. The point of the government is recognition of diversity and properly representing such diversity. So it is not acceptable to impose the politics of one party on the people. The purpose of government is to reach compromise which benefits the people not just one political wing. Real debate is supposed to occur in parliament. Parliament isn't just some retirement plan for members of the political parties, it is supposed to represent we the people.

And whilst we have mandatory voting I am not about to vote for any of the candidates, the current mob of jokers which keep standing for election. The stranglehold of the two major parties needs to be broken.

We The People

We the people need to toss aside all the ideological classification and start dealing with the problems at hand. It is unhelpful to immediately classify something as socialist, communist or capitalist and toss the solution away. Does it solve the problem. Yes! Then implement it. Will it cause other problems. No! Go back and have another look, everything has advantages and disadvantages, so you better have looked at which advantages you want and which disadvantages you are willing to tolerate.

As for privatisation, then the government just gets reduced to a board of directors and bunch of project managers and possibly inspectors: with everything else outsourced. So we could outsource everything, and just elect a governor general. No need to be limited by what we have: as I have already indicated the political parties have already hijacked the system for their own ends. Therefore we the people can always take it back.

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Saturday, May 06, 2017

In A Southern Land with a Northern Heritage

During the first two weeks of May this year 2017 my parents celebrate their 70th birthdays. They have just left from Maitland to spend a week in Wallaroo, on the Yorke Peninsula South Australia.

From time to time they have suggested that someone ought to write down their reminiscences, or more pointedly that I ought to. I guess if I am to do so, then the best place to start is with what I know, namely myself, and then work backwards and forwards from there.


So here goes. Once upon a time .... nah!

Not sure why now but for some reason Donkey Stones were mentioned. Then there was a reference to the Queen, my mum mentioning that she remembers the Queen visiting Ashton Brothers to open a new dye works or something. Which raised the question of how many buildings has the Queen opened which have since been demolished to make way for other buildings?

This led me to do some google searching, to find the following article on Donkey stones:
I was looking for the origin of the name, and why a reference to donkey. Then I got side tracked looking for Donkey Stone Wharf, and instead started to explore Denton on google maps. I was trying to see if it was the river or canal, which I walked along with my dad, when I was around 5 or possibly younger. Seems we walked along both the River Tame and the Peak Forest Canal.

July 1965, Ashton-under-lyne at ashton infirmary, county of Lancaster, is when and where I was born. So lancastrian until they changed the county boundaries, and it became part of Tameside, part of Greater Manchester. In terms of explaining to Australian's where I come from, it's usually easier just to say Manchester than reference specific towns.

When we first arrived in Australia, my mum went to the local department store looking to buy some sheets and blankets, and was told to go to Manchester. To which her flippant remark was something to the effect: that if we had known that before hand we would have brought them with us. Here in South Australia, at least, the bedding department and the bedding is known as manchester.

My mum worked at Ashton Brothers textile mill as a machinist and overlocker, until it was taken over by Courtaulds. I attended the nursery there, before attending St Lawrence's School.

Chronological Markers

When I was born, we first lived at my paternal grandparents house, before moving to Great Norbury street, from there we moved to Strathmore Avenue and I started school. We didn't stay there long and we moved again to Lodge Lane and I changed schools to Flowery Field Infant school and then I moved onto Flowery Field Junior school as it was back then. So I know I was at least 5 when we moved to Strathmore Avenue, and less than 5 at Great Norbury street.

My birthdays then became markers for us moving around. As I had my 9th birthday in Zambia, from which I can surmise I had my 8th birthday at Lodge Lane just before we moved to Maple Grove Bawtry. My 10th birthday was in Australia, my 11th in England and my 12th in Australia. From there I don't have any markers in time, other than my school grades roughly matched the years: so grade 7 in 1977, and grade 12 matriculation year in 1982. By 1977, I was around 12, had lived in 10 houses across 3 countries, not counting my grandparents, and was attending my 11th school.

The map below shows the general travel between countries, ignoring the stop overs. For example in travelling from Zambia to Australia, we stopped in Mauritius, it was recommended as having great beaches, and we shouldn't miss out on the opportunity. It was the wrong time of year though, we landed in the middle of a tropical storm. The rain was that heavy we could barely see the front of the taxi, so not sure how the driver could see where he was going. From Mauritius we stopped over in Perth, not intentionally, the airways TAA was on strike and we stranded. We spent most of a day stranded in park, with all our cases, waiting for an hotel room to become available.

Anycase I will add more detail to the map as it becomes available, as the stop overs have there own stories. For example the stop in Rome on the way to Zambia, involved armed guards running around the airport.

So today I was particularly looking around the Lodge Lane Flowery Field Primary School area, noticing the changes. When I noticed in reference to the school the hatching of some birds. Which reminded me that before we left for Bawtry, my dad donated his collection of birds eggs to the Infant School: they were in flat wooden boxes. The things people collect. In Zambia a neighbour had a large butterfly collection.

Anycase, this post will be the live draft and launching pad for telling my story, our story.

Childhood Ailments

The other week whilst looking for information on wordpress, I found the following interesting article:
Osgood-Schlatter Disease
This is something I had not long after returning to Australia. Initially I had sharp pains in my heels and could hardly walk. But my mum just said it was growing pains, and it would go away. Which it did. From my view point it migrated to my knees. Once again my mum said it was growing pains and it would go away. It didn't. So finally went to the doctors, and got some x-rays.

My left knee was apparently the worst, and so I had injections in that knee. There were two injections, one was an anesthetic and the other I think was hydrocortisone. The anesthetic was so couldn't feel the hydrocortisone expand. That seemed to fix my left knee, but my right seemed to get worst. I had two sets of injections in that I think. I cannot remember now, whether I had 3 sets on injection total or 3 in my right knee. My right knee now has a knobble on it, and I cannot kneel on it, but at least I can get up and down.

At the time that I had it, if I knelt down I got stuck down. Not so much fun, sat crossed legged on floor, during assembly in middle of gymnasium. The pain increasing as the assembly progressed. At the end had to uncross my legs with my hands and try and find away to stand or have someone help me. Prior to which I could just stand straight up, without uncrossing my legs.

I wasn't into sport, though I walked every where. I also didn't seem to have any limitations on jumping up, over and across anything.  When running I just kept running no matter what I encountered the pursuer on the other hand tended to stop or get injured in their attempt.


Schoolyard and Neighbourhood Battlefield: Kids at War

Which introduces another post I discovered whilst looking for an article on Git: the version control software. The article I was looking for had disappeared but found this instead on the blog:
Bullying: Children and the Martial Arts
In moving around I was typically the outsider, the foreigner, the outcast. Which was potentially a good thing, since I was stubborn and had a seemingly high tolerance for pain, well until my knees give in. Basically absolutely nobody tells me what to do, including my parents. If you are lucky bullies get tired and bored. Whilst my parents and I got smarter.

The bullies tended to disappear, as they were outnumbered by the rest of the school or kids in the neighbourhood depending where they roamed.

Now bullying today making it into TV news reports, that is something else. Potentially should stop putting it on the news as mostly likely fueling their activity. Not sure if kids today need new tactics and strategy.

The sheep will always choose to be shorn, and jump on the bandwagon of humiliating others to avoid being the one humiliated. That is they will remain submissive to the bullies, do as they say or want. Whilst someone else is getting beaten up, they are safe: but for how long? What if the one being beaten up chose to strike back at the onlooking sheep: after all they are the weak ones? Would they continue to fan the fires, or join the side of the weakling being hammered into the pavement? If he hits me, and then I'm going to hit you over there, do you hear me? Most gangs seemed to comprise one big guy, and a bunch of smaller guys. On their own they had less power. Once the members of the gang learn they are not safe on their own, then the gangs tended to break up. Leaving David and Goliath to do battle. Unlike the classic battle, David gets hammered into the ground, but now Goliath is outnumbered and has no future. The sheep have become a herd determining their own direction.

Put simply if I could walk home from school and return to school the next day, then the beating wasn't so bad. In the neighbourhood wars, bricks, stones, miniscule penknives, sharpened sticks, heavy branches and home made bows and arrows were the only weapons we had to contend with. The bows and arrows were never that good. Words may have been thrown around like, "I'm going to kill you!", but I doubt any of us was in any danger of being killed.

I don't know, maybe I was something of a death seeking lunatic. On one occasion, we were being bombarded by mud bombs containing heavy stones. Instead of sheltering behind a pallet full of new turf, with everyone else, I stood in front with a bit of timber batting the bombs back. This broke the mud bombs up, sending the stones flying off in all directions bouncing off house windows. Resulting in adults coming out of their houses and telling us to clear off {Truly! polite no swearing. Maybe threats to call the police.}.

Toy guns and playing war breeds violence? Not so sure about that, we weren't playing war, we were at war. All largely about scarce resources and who gets to control?

In the modern world of cyber bullying, I don't know, but I'd guess one smart kid, could take the bullies down.

Australian Context

On arriving in Australia from Zambia, one thing that became apparent was that things considered for boys and girls in Zambia were only for girls in Australia. Thus my school case became a girls case, which didn't make sense, as the book my Grandparents had sent from Australia to England seemed to suggest all used such cases. And I just did a search and the website I found indicated that popular amongst school children from the early 1900's until the 1970's: so maybe some perspective changed as the cases  went out of use.

Anycase I was an outsider with a teutonic name: apparently making me some kind of mass murdering nazi or something, wearing socks and sandals and carrying a girls case. The girl stuff easy to dismiss: so what. There's no way my mum would permit me to consider girls to be inferior to boys. Not sure what references I would have had at that time, most likely just Boadicea.

So something happened and I got beaten up, yet again, only this time a large crowd gathered, as this four eyed git, who should have known better, stuffed an apple core in my mouth and wandering back laughing with the large crowd that had gathered. balling my eyes out and seeing red, I noticed half a brick on the ground and picked it up and threw it at their feet to shift the crowd. They were about to throw it back when a teacher finally decided to wade in. She'd started lecturing, I didn't want to listen to such nonsense, so I walked away over to the water fountain, to wash my face and mouth. When a male teacher grabbed me by the ear and dragged me across the school yard to see the headmaster. This idiot gets the hallmark of being the worst teacher I ever met. Confirming all doubts if I had any, that adults wouldn't recognise the truth if it got up and smacked them in the face. Which I often wished it would. Fundamental rule: people in authority exercise power not intelligence.

Anycase I saw the headmaster, and went and apologised to the lady teacher. Defence not an option. Fortunately we left and went back to England. Some stuff happened back in England, but getting beaten up not so much: though we had our turf wars.

Then we went back to Australia. From my viewpoint Australia was a big country, and Perth had seemed nice whilst we spent the day stranded in the park. Adelaide however was the one place on earth I never ever wanted to return to.

Whilst I attended a brand new school, the deputy head from the other school became one of the many deputies at the new school. Also the worst teacher ever arrived as a physical education teacher.

I needed to stay on absolutely best behaviour, fighting back was not an option. So I became passive, submissive and largely with drew. On the other hand I gained the reputation as the giant killer.

The school yard was split level, with a brick retaining wall between the levels. The biggest kid seemed to think it was funny to pick me up on the lower level and throw me down on the upper level. He wouldn't stop so I resisted and the wall started to dig into my knees. I don't know what I did or how, but somehow I jumped up above the wall spun around and brought my fist down straight into his face. He wandered off, to the toilets to wash his split lip, cursing he was going to sue me if i'd broke his teeth. I likewise wandered off to the toilets to wash my gashed hand, cursing would sue him if I needed more injections in my knees.

His lip healed in a few days. My hand around the knuckle which had the gash in it, turned purple and green, and kind of made writing difficult, and probably took a week or more to heal. No teachers were involved: apart from later in the week my German language teacher wanted to know what had happened to my hand. Which everyone else in the class explained for me. She was kind of surprised I'd been fighting.

I was the quiet independent courteous and well mannered kid: I'd say sorry for anything and hold doors open for anyone. I didn't get in fights. The big kid and I were kind of friends in the first place, and slightly better afterward.

Some time  after the fight, during physical education, we did leg wrestling, and I got teamed up with him. You know the stuff, teacher says pair up, and everyone makes a mad dash, then says ha ha sucker. Leg wrestling is like arm wrestling, except lie on backs shoulder to shoulder, and then hockey one, hockey two and three, raising legs from floor and crossing and back down again. On three the legs lock and then try and spin the other over. I didn't want to break my leg so I got spun over several times. He thought it was fun and got his status back, so he called the teacher over to show off: do you mean like this. At which point I spun him over: my knees weren't has stuffed as I thought.

But this wasn't the only giant. Whilst I was the well mannered kid, I also had a sharp tongue with which I slayed teachers. As the saying goes:
Obedience alone gives the right to command.
As I mentioned earlier, absolutely nobody tells me what to do ever, nor will they get away with wasting my time. Whilst other kids talking back to teachers were typically making a nuisance of themselves and disturbing the whole class. When I spoke back, the teacher was wasting my time, our time, and mostly in the wrong.

After my outburst I typically wandered off to the student counselor explained what had happened and then later apologised to the teacher, and the teacher likewise apologised to me. My parents rarely ever got involved, they were informed, but my problem and for me to sort out, and typically had done so before they were informed.

Most of the incidents could have been better handled, but there is only one that plays on my mind as never resolved. It wasn't resolved because the teacher clearly did not understand, as he turned up a year later to one of my classes to show how he had changed. But he hadn't, he just confirmed and reinforced what I had said. I didn't explain, I just let him have his victory stroll.

Mork from Ork

The movie Finian's Rainbow, covers bigotry in various ways. For me the most notable was how the servant kept saying "yes sir boss" and otherwise kowtowing and exaggerating the superiority of his so called master. In the TV series Mork and Mindy this same kind of exaggeration is used in reference to Morks superior Orson. Despite his larger superior mind Orson is clearly incapable of understanding human behaviour.

I don't know what happened in this particular year, but the class became relatively friendly and protective of one another. There were a few rebellious trouble makers who just wanted away from school, but most of us just got on with our work.

The school was open plan, and we typically walked across the campus from one class to another. On this particular day, I'm not sure what had happened earlier, but all the desks had been placed end to end in about three rows extending through the open concertina wall into the adjacent classroom. Normally the desks formed columns and rows, and the teacher could walk around each desk. The desks were trapezoidal, so that two desks could form a hexagon for group work. There were also plain desks. The trapezoidal desks were spun around alternately to form a continuous row.

I walked into the room and sat at the far end of the second row, near the concertina wall. The two girls considered square sat in the row immediately in front of me. The rest of the class filed into the row I was sat. One or two guys sat at the far end of the first row, the opposite end to where the two girls were sat. The rebels on their own at the back of the class.

Our teacher arrived, he was generally relatively friendly. He wasn't happy about the desks, but the class explained they were like that when we arrived, and he could see into the other room. He didn't want to waste time rearranging them, so accepted them as they were. The lesson started.

He asked a few questions, the same people put their hands up as usual to answer, he wasn't happy. He wanted answers from someone else. So class was told to put their hands down. He asked the question again, and started with the person at the far end of the first row: not the two square girls, he knew they could answer.

The person didn't know the answer. So the teacher moved onto the second row, not my end of the row, but the opposite end. The next person doesn't know the answer. So the next person again is asked. The question now is slowly moving towards me. The teacher is getting irate as no one is able to provide an answer.

The girl next to me whispers if I know the answer, I nod and whisper back that I do. She wants me to give her the answer, but the teacher seems to be looking in my direction. I indicate we'll get in trouble for talking. We don't have any scrap paper to write on.

The train is speeding towards us, towards me. There is no way I am going to answer this question, I'll get my head kicked in by the rebels at the back if I do.

The girl answers, that she doesn't know. She's expecting it to be all over, as I answer the question. But no way am I giving the answer. I get asked the question.

I nervously respond: why don't you, shut up?

The teacher raises his voice and asks what did you say?

This is typically an opportunity to back down and rephrase what you have said. Back down, not I. So I repeat: why don't you, shut up?

He retorts, you little child.

I respond, you big adult.

Big mistake. Really big mistake. The teacher rises, and desks start flying, as the teacher tries cutting his way through the desks towards me. I get up and start moving along the aisle trying to get to the end of the desks and out off the building. I hit my knee against a chair, causing me great pain, slowing me down. I get out off the building but so does he. At the entrance stood apart, he threatens me, I threaten him. Not violent threats, just which authorities we are going set on each other.

I wander off to see the student counselor, we talk and she organises so that I can see the teacher later in the day, to apologise. Later in the day I go to the admin centre, up stairs to the teacher lounge, meet the teacher and go out onto the footbridge which connects the admin to the middle school building where I had taken class earlier. I'm part scared of being tossed off the bridge. We talk, I apologise. I was sure I explained myself and meaning.

The class thinks I'm mad, crazy, a lunatic, and confirmed giant killer. But they misunderstood my meaning, and I wasn't going to attempt to explain to them what I was actually referring to.

A year later, this skinny anemic looking teacher walks into our class, walks up to where I am sat, and talks to me as if achieved a victory and proving me wrong. He  then talks to our current teacher before leaving, as whispers start to flow around the class at how skinny he was.

You see, as far as everyone else was concerned the teacher had been big, large, fat, obese, significantly overweight. But most adults could do with losing some weight, and most of our prior teachers for that matter. Sure he may have been bigger than most, but that was his choice and largely irrelevant.

When he called me little child, he wasn't referring to me being a nine pound weakling, he was referring to my mentality. But he clearly didn't understand human behaviour, he set in motion something that wasn't going to end well. He was getting irate, so was the class. I merely responded to his flippant remark, with my own flippant remark, in the manner of Mork from Ork.

His massive, huge adult mind was just plain incapable of fathoming what he had set in motion, was he really so stupid to expect that I or anyone else was going to answer the question. He had already insulted more than 50% of the class, after me there was just the rebels at the back, or the two girls he skipped at the start. Either of the two girls likely to answer the question, the rebels at the back unlikely. If I didn't give an answer, he was mostly likely going to drone on as moved to the last row. If I did give an answer, I was dead. He was wasting time, he was being insulting and disrespectful, he was wasting my time. He wasn't getting my answer. He needed to understand what he had set in motion, and I didn't have the confidence to stand up and express things in a more appropriate manner.

Lesson: Words are powerful, they can move mountains, and have unexpected catastrophic results. Make sure everyone else is on the same page. You know, the "Context is King", thing.
My final school report for the grade 9 subject reads:

I am again pleased to report Conrad's progress in social science this term. He is at all times a pleasant and co-operative student (with just a bit of stubbornness). Conrad should take a little more care with the setting out and writing of his work, as it does become untidy. He has shown maturity and thoughtfulness in his written work, but needs to enter more into class discussions. A pleasure to have him in my class.

Disclaimer: Get Your Brain in Gear

I supposed as I mentioned something medical back there I should mention I'm not a something or other. What do you call that occupational elite, they have a medical degree, some scrap of paper or other? Sorry I don't believe in the authority of scrap paper. Either people say things which are reasonable which they can back up with evidence or they don't. To get a degree you have to read. What the academic staff says is largely irrelevant, it is no better than here say, they still have to back up their thoughts with reference to learned papers. Learned papers typically reference other learned papers and have been reviewed by others. The theories have to be capable of being independently verified by others.

So do not ever accept the word of a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer for that matter, purely on the basis of authority. If it doesn't make sense to you, then it probably doesn't make sense to anyone else either. Unless pushed for time, and short of money, always attempt to get at least two opinions preferably three. With two opinions may just get a disagreement and thus little help. With three opinions may get two opinions similar: however, you don't just accept the majority view. Just because everyone believes the earth is flat and that all swans are white (we have black swans in Australia), doesn't make it so.

So do your own research and reach your own understanding, do not be bullied and coerced into accepting a view you cannot comprehend.

If I mentioned anything on any topic, then I am waffling, and I explicitly state, on the about page, the intent of the blog is to waffle.

To put it another way the novel 1984 by George Orwell, wasn't a user manual telling you what society to create, it was a warning on where we were heading and preferably what not to create. We are drowning in doublespeak, so few people took heed.

Put simply if you read my waffle and use it has the basis of a decision you make, you are responsible for that decision: and the start of that decision, was that this waffle, was a sound basis for aiding your decision making. Your choice, your decision, your responsibility.

Obviously if you think your decisions and actions are someone else's responsibility then the rest of us as a community, to fulfill our responsibility,  need to have you placed in a straitjacket and padded cell so that you can come to no future harm.

Whilst I don't particularly like people, I will assist those who request help, to the best of my ability, if I see people, in need of help, I will assist. However, I tend to assist people, in away that they can become independent of the need for future assistance, unlike most businesses which tend to trap people into loops of dependency. Actually most of the humanitarian aid agencies seem to trap the people they assist into dependency. I'm guessing this has to do with all the fools with MBA's who equate everything to a money making business. The aid agencies should solve the problem they were created for and then cease to exist. Obviously the people who have made careers out of such activity do not want that to happen: and so the problems remain unsolved.

Its time for a revolution of thought and action!

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[6/5/2017] : Original

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Hypothetical for Microsoft and other Software Companies

Since my Windows XP computer died, I have been finding using a computer more and more irritating, everything seems to be going backwards. The same goes for digital TV: analogue TV was getting close to perfection, so it seems someone decided to break it by cutting the analogue signal and forcing everyone over to unstable and less robust digital TV broadcasts. I say less robust because when an analogue signal is poor, still likely to get a snowy picture and gain some information. When a digital signal is poor, then get pixelated garbage. Digital TV was imposed by government without any democratic vote on the matter. It however is an infrastructure issue. Computer hardware and the software that runs on it, however is not an infrastructure issue. There is no good reason to remove one technology from the market and replace it with an alternative.

As I have mentioned previously the different versions of MS Windows are not upgrades, they are different products. If the software that I had running on Windows XP will not run on Windows 7 or Windows 10, then it clearly is not an upgrade. If the user interface changes and operation changes then its different not an upgrade. A power driver is not an upgrade of a ordinary screwdriver, it represents a single optimised function and single capability of an ordinary screwdriver. A power driver is less useful than an ordinary screwdriver. Likewise as another example a nail gun is not an upgrade of a hammer, it also is less useful than an ordinary hammer.

So my problem. My hardware fails, and my software is locked by OEM licensing to the failed device and I cannot get new hardware with required operating system. More importantly two of main software packages won't install or run under Windows 7 or Windows 10. I went with the upgrade to Windows 10, as I didn't like Windows 7 and my software didn't work anyway.

Proposal 1

If buy hardware from same manufacturer, then OEM license permitted to transfer to new hardware.

Proposal 2

Microsoft releases a new operating system, which contains pre-installed virtual boxes for all its previous operating systems.

Proposal 3

Microsoft releases Windows XP and Office 2003 under a GPL or similar license.

As far as I'm concerned this software worked perfectly fine out off the box. If a computer virus is something which interferes with and hinders being able to use a computer as intended: then Microsoft automatic updates are a computer virus. A computer does not need to be connected to the internet. Computer software does not need to be updated on a regular basis. Most people are not computer geeks or technology geeks, they are not waiting for the latest release, and they don't care about some tweak discovered by some geek. In the main they just want to get on with what they were doing or are doing. To have computer resources suddenly tied up by updates is not acceptable. To be unable to carry out a simple lookup on the internet because updates are being downloaded and consuming data allowance is not acceptable.

I understand, need to protect copyright, and need to keep selling something to make a living.

But here's the thing. Windows XP is massive operating system, compared to CPM/80 on a 360 kbyte floppy disk, or MS DOS on a 720 kbyte floppy disk. When I started using computers I would have liked a Unix based machine, but it required a massive 20 Mbytes for a full install: that was the size of the average harddisk on a PC, so no where for data. Now people are trying to get Linux installations down to 100 Mbytes: such as damn small linux or puppy linux. These still have graphical user interfaces: so what is all the stuff in Windows XP? Unix was once desirable because it was the main operating system for scientific and engineering software. Now most such software is written for MS Windows, that which is available for Linux is incomplete or typically cumbersome to use.

Windows XP doesn't even have to be released as open source. The source can be protected. The main requirement is that can modify the system and can distribute the modifications: and do not require the source code to do that.

The first variation that is likely to arise is reducing the system size, and making it modular. Delete everything that is unnecessary on a stand alone PC which is not networked and does not have internet connection. Rip the system back to launching a simple command prompt, and having no more capability than a old MS DOS bootable disk. Then have separate installers for adding extra capabilities. My current Windows 10 folder is about 34.8Gbytes . Now I don't know how much of that is unneeded remnants from Windows 7, or how much is due to low quality software dumping files in the Windows folder because the software developers haven't figured out the fundamentals of their software finding itself. It does however seem excessively large.

A personal computer should be simple enough that a user can explain the presence of every file and folder on that computer. If they do not know what it is, then they should be able to delete it. If not then the file doesn't belong their. The operating system may belong to Microsoft, however the computer belongs to the user. A company has no right to be modifying the contents of a personal computer, and certainly no right to be recording history in typically hidden folders. The history typically has no value to the user: it is not like they can retrieve the data and then invert every command issued to undo something that went wrong. I probably open about 100 or more files every day: the recent file list is of no use to me. Now whilst its display can be switched off, it doesn't stop the system recording and wasting hard disk space. How many people have bought new computers because they are unaware of how much junk the system and other software produces in the background?

As I recollect Windows XP was around 1 to 2 Gbytes, and I didn't and don't need all its capabilities. So what is all the stuff required by Windows 10? Its graphics have been deteriorated, so that not as clear where one element starts and another ends. Office 2016 seems unstable, with displays becoming split or distorted. Plus Office 2016 doesn't seem to like file association, it typically generates an error when attempting to open a file the first time. Loss of multiple document interface (MDI), single container for Excel is also a backwards step. It is more inconsistent now than when had MDI. With MDI can organise files inside Excel without messing desktop organisation of other applications. Whilst it may be possible to organise the Excel files separately than other applications, its necessary to remember that some of those Windows on the desktop belong to one application, and only want to arrange them, so don't arrange the desktop, arrange from within Excel. Even so there is still loss of control over the size of workbook Windows. Multiple workbook and multiple Window Excel applications become inconvenient. I'm not convinced that the UI/UX professionals really have any understanding of human behaviour.

Whilst LibreOffice is useful, its spreadsheet application is no where as convenient to use and automate as MS Excel 1997. However the primary requirement for a computer user is that files created yesterday can be read and edited tomorrow. Having standards for data exchange is important. Such standards should be flexible enough that content can be added or deleted without causing the readers and writers to crash.

The difference between AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT is that the LT version cannot create or edit certains features of a drawing: however it is able to either display those features or identify that they exist but cannot be displayed. The file can also be edited without loss of those features.The difference between AutoCAD and IntelliCAD is that AutoCAD commands typically execute faster and screen displays update correctly, thus providing proper feedback to  the user. So IntelliCAD maybe able to open the drawing files, and it maybe lower priced, but its operation is less user friendly. However, interacting with software tends to be wasteful compared to automating that software: and if objective is to remove or minimise human interaction, then the automation capabilities of IntelliCAD make it a suitable substitute for AutoCAD. However parametric CAD is still less time consuming and more flexible than automation and parameterizing via a general programming language.

Now whilst Microsoft and Autodesk both acquired a dominant position in their respective markets, they cannot maintain that dominance with their current product offerings. The population at large does not need nor want the current product offerings. It was important that Ford only offered black cars, so as to make cars affordable to the public at large. But now that the basic need has been essentially saturated in the industrialise west, cars need to be produced in smaller batch sizes to meet niche markets. Likewise mobile phones cannot be sustained on an assumption of a consumer market with regular updates of new models. Most of the capabilities of mobile phones are gimmicks: junk with no real long term value to the end users. However having put capability there, it is not acceptable to abandon such feature in future releases and leave some people stranded.

Whilst there may occasionally be issues associated with infrastructure and connectivity, the primary issue is loss of capability when modern technology is used in its stand alone isolated mode. A pocket calculator is still faster and more reliable than a mobile phone or desktop computer. However a computer has the potential to replace the 1000 or more books I own, and take up considerable less space. More over a computer can do this without need to be connected to the internet. The internet of things at this point in time is more gimmick than anything useful. Most likely fueled by TV shows and movies which show unrealistic capabilities of computers. Computers cannot break the laws of physics. Control requires more than simply connecting sensors, it requires electric motors attached to the equipment, and motors require a power supply. Rather than electronic sensors reducing maintenance costs of remote equipment, it is likely to increase the costs: as the robust mechanical equipment which only occasionally needed maintenance is now appended with fragile electronic junk. The internet and the web does not equate to technology.

[Case in point. Around 15:30 blogger has problems automatically saving work, but manual saving works for a time. Then saving hangs. I can copy the post to clipboard. But Notepad won't open, so cannot save. Task manager also doesn't open: not sure about the point of a task manager that is resource intensive and frequently fails to open. Switch power off, and reboot. Check power off settings: can shutdown and install updates or restart and install updates. Either way no choice about accepting updates. So basically can attribute the source of the hanging being updates hijacking web resources and other computing resources. So decide to restart with the updates: 17:42 computer reboots, I think its the final reboot, but no: its still only 75% way through. 18:11 get to log back on and it says "Hi". Are you kidding me! You effectively hijack my computer, to make changes I didn't ask for, and waste my time and consider you can be jovial about it. 18:20 can actually do something with the computer: with my computer.]

So if Windows XP and Office 2003 are considered too old to support then release them to the community to support. I'm reasonably certain that they will rip it back to the absolute minimum install. As for the internet it has very little to do with computing, so develop it without messing up the systems used for computing.

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[02/10/2016] : Original

Saturday, August 13, 2016

How much land can one person patrol?

Assuming the earths land area was divided up into cells, each of which is the responsibility of one person to monitor, how large an area could each person monitor, and how many people would be needed?

Given that average walking speed is 5 km/h, and suggested limit is 25 km/day, which equates to 5 hours of activity. The suggestion on hand books on human fatigue, and shift work also suggest working for no more than 5 hours between rest periods with a minimum duration of 10 minutes. Also the approximate distance can see is 5 km to the horizon.

So assuming a circular region of 5 km radius, then a person located at the centre can see to the boundary, whilst when at the boundary they can see back to the centre. All assuming have relatively flat land and no obstructions in the line of sight. The perimeter of the circle is 31.4 km, if patrol comprises of walking from centre along radius to the perimeter, around the perimeter and then back along a radius to the centre. Then the two radial legs total 10 km, leaving 15 km for the arc of the perimeter. It would therefore take 2 days to patrol, unless increase daily travel to 41.4 km. Accepting two days for the patrol, then would need 1,896,363 people to monitor the whole planet.

If do not accept the two days, and do not accept increase in total distance travelled, then need to reduce the size of the region: assuming no technological advantage. If do so then the radius decreases to 3.018 km., or diameter of 6.036 km. Which doesn't fit with my preferences for simple multiples of 5 or 10. So rather than only being able to see the centre from the boundary, have so that can see the opposite boundary, and further can see the centre of the adjacent cell from the centre. That puts the diameter of the cell at 5 km, and its circumference at 15.7 km, and the total trip at 20.7 km, requiring a population of 7,585,452.

Of course rugged terrain and obstructions would create a maze which would have to be travelled, and that would further reduce the size of the cell. Whilst the size of the cell can be increased by the use of look out towers, telescopes/binoculars, and the use of a mechanised vehicle. However whilst a vehicle can travel faster, such increase in speed would not be much use except for large open regions. Assuming car travelling at 50 km/h and still limit activity to 5 hours, then maximum travel per day is 250 km. Then the diameter of the cell is increased to 60.4 km, however do not have a view of the perimeter from the centre nor a view of the adjacent cell. Assuming that is acceptable then total population required reduces to 52,045.

It would therefore appear that the planet is occupied by enough humans that they can locate observers across the whole land area, and monitor the environment. For that matter most countries have large enough populations that they can place their own observers across the planet.

It also suggests that a town should be less than 5 km diameter. Messes up my previous concept of an industrial city-state 100 km diameter, divided into towns 10 km diameter, each divided into villages 1 km diameter, into estates 100 m diameter, into personal dwellings 10 m diameter. The city-state having a maximum imposed population of 10 million, and maximum of 2/3rd land taken up by the infrastructure or otherwise no less than 1/3rd for residences. Also assuming a maximum sustainable world population of 10 billion, then 1000 industrial city-states would be needed, taking up approximately 5% of the land area.

At some point in the future all mining operations should be shutdown and all materials held in the city-states. The only activity outside the city-states being agriculture, tourism and environmental monitoring. Most agriculture however would be intensive agriculture within the boundaries of the city-states.

Also given long range aircraft can travel distances of 10,000 km, and typical commercial aircraft can travel 5,000 km, Then aircraft can get from coastline to coastline of most land masses, and from coastline to the central interior. Coastline to coastline is also possible by sea going ship, whilst slower, a sailing ship doesn't require fuel to be transported to the destination at some previous time. Ships are also typically used for transporting fuel not aircraft, the use of aircraft for fuel transportation seems limited. Therefore getting fuel to the interiors requires land transport or pipelines. Ultimately pipelines are wasteful if have small quantities, as the pipe has to be filled with unused fuel. It seems a diesel electric train can travel 1000 km. Therefore the starting point to occupy and hold the land would be a network of railway stations and outposts at 1000 km centres, pushing fuel to airports at 5000 km centres. To this network would then be car fuel stations and general stores at 500 km  centres, and then added to this would be human rest and refreshment stations a 5 km centres. Civilisation is where the inn's, hotels and motels are no more than 5 km apart. When the next nearest inn is more than 5 km away, then reached the edge of civilisation, the edge of the occupied zone. {Assuming can walk 25 km each day, then can push this distance to 25 km on condition that there is at least some space where a person can rest, and they carry their own refreshments.}

Using modern GIS, it shouldn't be too difficult to over lay a grid of circular or hexagonal cells on the land areas. To individually triangulate the networks of motels, fuel stations, railway stations, shipping ports, airports, mining towns and farming regions. To then identify the edge of civilisation and the great unexplored wilderness. Once have the triangulation to also compare with the actual roads and railways. Then to create pathways forming a travel plan visiting at least one hotel in each 5 km to 25 km diameter cell, and travelling around the world doing so. The trip should follow the coastline and crisscross through the interior. If all nodes cannot be visited in one year, then have a 5 year up to 10 year plan to visit all nodes. However long the plan is, the world is traversed each and every year: the nodes visited each year just change until all nodes have been visited, then the cycle repeats.

Related Posts

[13/08/2016] : Original

Sunday, July 10, 2016


For those who missed the memo [New Scientist magazine] during the 1980's, solutioneering is not a good thing it is a bad thing.

Solutioneering is not problem solving, it is not design. Solutioneering is having a solution and applying it to every problem which encounter, or applying it where there is no problem at all.

I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail. [Abraham H. Maslow (1962), Toward a Psychology of Being]

Most engineers are not problem solvers, despite what they as a community may promote. They are solutioneers, they don't solve the real problem they apply the technological solutions they have in their toolbox.

For example if have a river to cross. The civil engineer is most likely to put a tunnel under the river. The structural engineer a bridge over the river. The mechanical engineer a cable car. The naval architect set up a ferry boat. The aeronautical engineer provide a ferry service using an helicopter. Whilst an aeromarine engineer a ferry service using hovercraft.

Whilst all of these technologies get from one side of the river to the other, they do not tackle the actual problem which gives rise to the need or most likely desire to get from one side of the river to the other. To solve the real problem all of these technologies along with new technologies need to be assessed for suitability. When assessing the suitability both the advantages and disadvantages along with negative side effects need to be considered.

Situations identified as solutioneering include mandatory seat belts, mandatory bicycle helmets, mandatory smoke alarms, mandatory residual current devices (RSD's). The technologies themselves are not solutioneering, its the way the technology is applied and/or imposed that is solutioneering. These technologies were made mandatory in Australia largely because the need is relatively low: the vast majority of the population, the vast majority of the time, will never experience a situation which would make these technologies useful. Those few people who want such technology would not have been able to afford to buy such technology, therefore to increase the market and lower the price,  the technology was imposed on everyone. In these situations fear was and is used to convince  people that they need the technology and further that they would be irresponsible if they don't use.

Bicycle helmets for example do not protect cyclists from breaking their collar bones: shoulders will typically hit the ground before a persons head. Bicycle helmets don't protect cyclists from being crushed by a car. Kids experience head injuries when they fall off bikes or in general play. Bicycle helmets were made mandatory on basis adults should set example for kids and to increase the market. The market increase is largely nonsense as helmets have to be the correct size and growing kids will need to change their helmets. Helmets however are not necessarily safe, check the product safety site, the helmets are now being worn for general protection from head injuries but the helmets are the hazard, now resulting in deaths. Having a kid wear a helmet, is not going to protect the kid from falling off the edge of the elevated decking; a decking which is less than 1 m high and therefore doesn't need a guardrail. Another example is a swimming pool fence merely compliant with the swimming pool fence code will place an obstruction to free movement of people which will be a hazard since it does not comply with the loading requirements fro barriers. The swimming pool fence code only provides strength requirements to keep kids from tampering with the fence so as to get pass the fence. It doesn't provide adequate loading for adults at a backyard party from leaning against the fence and pushing it over: and certainly not suitable for fences at a marine park with an audience.

A more current situation is the internet of things. Whilst connecting something to the internet is possible, it doesn't mean it should be done. Doing something because you can doesn't mean you should. To start with main frame computers posed a whole host of problems, many of which were resolved by microcomputers and personal computers: putting everything into the cloud brings many of those problems back.

Now most of the time people don't want to waste time finding solutions to problems, their general preference is to go into a supermarket and find a suitable solution sitting there on the shelf. The solution sat on the shelf may not solve all their problems, or fully resolve a problem, but it will provide just enough capability to be useful for the time being. As I have mentioned in other posts, once a product is released to the market it will be used for purposes beyond the intents of the designer. A product is merely raw material and it is the responsibility of the end-user to determine its suitability for their purposes: it should not be the responsibility of the designer to consider every possible use and misuse.

Supplying solutions is not the issue. Every manufacturer and retailer supplies off-the-shelf solutions. The problem of solutioneering is applying the available solutions in an improper manner to inappropriate problems.

So promoting your business on the basis of providing solutions not product, informs me that you don't know your knee from your elbow. That you do not know how to solve problems as you have merely implemented some new age marketing hype.

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[10/7/2016] : Original

Monday, April 18, 2016

Moving Some Content Over To MiScion Pty Ltd

Moving all technical articles, especially those on structural design and/or structural engineering, over to family business web site at MiScion Pty Ltd. Posts with downloads will mostly be moved into the web store, or link into the web store. The downloads will be classified as sponsored products, and will be available gratis some of the time and for a fee at other times. The fee is to cover the costs of resources required to develop and distribute the software.

Some of the posts will be deleted, for others the post will remain but the article content itself will be replaced by a link to MiScion.

Some of my other blogs will also be deleted, with all the content placed over on MiScion website. The software blog: spreadsheets and databases will mostly remain, as the ExcelCalcs widget isn’t compatible with wordpress. However all of these posts will redirect to the MiScion web store. So if  people don’t want to join ExcelCalc’s, and don’t have any spreadsheets to contribute to ExcelCalc’s and don’t want a paid ExcelCalc’s subscription, or have otherwise exceeded the ExcelCalc’s down load limits, then my spreadsheets can be downloaded direct from the MiScion webstore.

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[18/04/2016] : Original