People of Japan, what are you waiting for?

Seeing pointless abuse, injustice and absurdity, do not rush to explain it with stupidity; first try to to explain it with vile shrewdness.

Japan is officially in recession after seeing its economy shrink for the second consecutive quarter. This comes as no surprise at all when you check what the economy is based on, how it develops and what the infamous Abe did to it. I, for one, am happy to see it work this way, seeing the Japanese economy react in obviously bad ways to the dirty manipulations of its government. It would have been much worse if the so-called “growth” continued yet for a longer while and then would come crashing hard. People suffer first, so this gentle decline is much better than a hard landing for the Japanese economy. But, again, what is happening?

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, BBC’s guy in Tokyo reports:

In the spring of 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched an ambitious growth strategy that rapidly became known as Abenomics. Its aim was to drag Japan’s economy out of 20 years of deflation and put it back on the road to growth. Billions of dollars were pumped into the economy through stimulus spending. The Bank of

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Open Letter to the Emperor of Japan

Dear Tenno Heika,

Japan is an amazing country. Having lived there for a few years I learned a little about people and their beliefs, the way they do things. Japanese are a smart and enterprising bunch of people. Japan has built a perfectly stable economy within an incredibly stable society that is healthy in all possible ways and could be used as a textbook example of how to do things right. It pains me to watch this great country being destroyed now. The last two years are playing out as a really bad disaster movie or a nightmare that is impossible to wake up from. I feel my heart tearing apart every time I read the news about more economic atrocities from Shinzo Abe and his minions.

Why do I say Japanese economy is perfect?

Japan has achieved through hard labor what many people in so many countries dream about: the economic stability coupled with development and progress. There are many ways to define the “good living” but we would be wise to look at how well people do that live in the country now. Let’s look at some figures and compare with the subjective perception of the situation in …
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State of security – still miserable

Even after all these years the software industry seems to be ever in a state where we believe that if vulnerability exists but is unknown to the public it cannot be exploited, so our software is “practically secure.” In theory this is true, but the problem is that once someone finds the vulnerability, the finder may just exploit the vulnerability instead of reporting it or helping to fix it. Having “hidden” vulnerabilities doesn’t really make the vulnerabilities go away; it simply means that the vulnerabilities are a time bomb, with no way to know when they will be exploited.

Security is a fascinating subject even for uninitiated not to mention Bruce (who makes money with it no slower than the US Treasury printing presses) that may be looked at from different perspectives and talked about in several management dialects, including McKenzie (I do not speak it but I can understand it in a round-about sort of ways). Talking about security often gives you a cozy feeling. And all those diagrams, tables and, oh my, vectors and mitigations, they are so neat and kosher… until someone starts asking hard questions. Pray this someone is not your customer.

Talking about security does …
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Corporate responsibility

One of the buzzwords I dislike is “Corporate Responsibility”. It is overused, abused and never means what it is supposed to when you hear it from the top managers. However, it is important. Rather, the concept that it used to mean is important.

I spent a few months in Russia now and I am shocked and disgusted at how business is done there. That is the place where you go if you want to learn what the consequences of irresponsibility on a grand scale are.

Nobody feels responsible for anything there. The only king of this newly capitalistic country is money. Everybody dreams of making money quick. Some people make the money quick. Some don’t. But for everyone the main theme remains – just make money, no matter how, no matter what the consequences are, never mind the “after”.

What is the result? Well, most, or, perhaps, all of the business is based on making or buying something dirt cheap and selling it high. Most products are made in China or are counterfeit. Everything is made of the cheapest materials and with the cheapest technologies.

Can you imagine the life in a disposable world? Disposable furniture, disposable cars, disposable roads, …
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Service: cheap, cheapest… cheaper!

I find it disturbing how even the most normal appearing people are falling for the cheap-cheap-cheap mantra of the day. Take the telephone services. My friend, who would always check the quality of everything he buys and make sure that it is of at least fairly acceptable level, falls for the “we have it cheaper than everyone else” internet and telephony package. Result is very predictable: half a year of wasted time, miserable service, lost money.

Why does this happen? It seems easier to accept the “everything is equal anyway” lie when you cannot assess the quality expertly in advance. It is probably difficult to assess the quality of a used car for a non-specialist, but at least you can see the rust. When you only see the colorful brochures, it becomes near impossible to judge the quality of a future service. And it is, oh, so easy to judge the amount of money you pay.

When you select the services next time, remember, it is not only the money you pay. The service you receive should also be taken into account. You are not just paying money, you are paying money for the service. Make sure the service is …
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Of “digital piracy”…

Wasn’t I saying it all along? The net result of abandoning DRM (Digital Rights Management) would be positive for most companies. Various studies show this again and again from different perspectives. This time it is a behavioral study of an Oxford economist Karen Croxson discussing the potential customer behavior and result of the piracy on the net sales. And the conclusion is still same: piracy does not hurt sales, even helps sometimes.

Really, if one abandons DRM and lets go of the piracy hype, the result must be positive. Here is the list of things to consider:

  1. The customers that buy your product would buy it anyway.
  2. The customers that would not be buying your product will not buy it anyway
  3. The customers that are influenced by the “ease to copy” and decide to copy instead of buying are extremely marginal in number.
  4. The experience with your product, the rumors, the hype, the word-of-mouth advertisement would generate many more customers than you might lose in the previous category.
  5. Customers loyal to you are not annoyed by your silly DRM schemes.
  6. You do not need to waste money and time on the DRM.
  7. People who spent time breaking your DRM schemes

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I spent a lot of time recently thinking about toys. Well, it all started not so recently, in fact, but recently this idea that I am toying with is not letting me rest. So I spend more and more time thinking about toys.

If you never noticed, the toys in the shops are somewhat different from what we used to have a good twenty years ago. Drop by some time at the toy shop and have a very good look around just by yourself. Check out the toys. See anything strange? No? Check the material and where they are all made. Maybe that’ll give a clue.

Once, toys were not so abundant. When I grew up, the toys were something very special. You did not even get a toy every birthday, although the parents tried. They were expensive and they were good. And you cherished and wanted them. And they were a pleasure to hold and, oh, so carefully, to play with.

Then the industrial revolution in the toy world happened. First, there became to be many, many more toys and they became cheap. And that was wonderful. Kids could now have all the toys in the world. Well, most …
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Technology vs. People

A well-known expression used an abused millions of times over the history of the mankind says that the weapons do not kill people, other people do. The meaning is, of course, that the knife is just a tool and it is up to the hand wielding the knife to put it to use – good or bad.

In fact, all of the technology is like that. The technology can be put to serve people or it can be used to deceive people. I think that recently most technologies are used to deceive people and more and more technologies and techniques arrive every day that serve this same purpose. They could be put to good use, serving people and helping us on our evolutionary path but, no, they are not. Instead, they are all abused.

I used to argue and fight against such uses of technology (that I consider to be rather abuses) but to no avail. And now I realize that it is no use fighting against it. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery says, you never fight “against”, you always fight “for”. So it is necessary to fight for the proper uses of technology, put all those resources to the service …
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Smog alert reality check

The government declared a “smog alert” here today. It will last for a week if anything from the past is an indicator. The purpose of the “smog alert” is to reduce the speed on the roads, especially the highways. Highway speed is limited to 90 km/h on days when “smog alert” is in force.

Local radio just gave a good summary of facts about the today’s situation:

  • The smog is caused by a cloud of particles (pollution) brought to us by wind from the east, it is not originating in the country.
  • The morning traffic jam was exceptional with roughly 400 km of jams covering the country (against the usual 100 km).
  • The number of accidents was something extraordinary as well, although they did not provide specifics.
  • Traffic jams happened even in places that never see traffic jams and without visible cause (like road works or an accident).

Managing a country is similar to managing a corporation, the basic rules are the same. So there is nothing wrong with the businessmen looking at the governmental decisions from the business point of view. What do we have?

The smog was not caused by any internal source in the country. The wind …
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