Near Field Communication (NFC)

I stumbled upon an article in PopSci (Popular Science?) on-line publication titled Everything You Need to Know About Near Field Communication. My opinion is that many of the things described there reflect a lot of wishful thinking on the part of the smart card industry players. Especially where they go on about “everything has just started to come together”, which is exactly the same thing they were saying for the last five years or so. I was on the inside, I should know.

I think that for the more inclined to actually understand the technology in easy words, I would suggest simply reading the original NFC White Paper written by myself years ago and published by Ecma International. Trust me, nothing much has changed in the meantime, all concepts still apply today as they applied then.


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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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Chinese can!

Reuters is amazing me today. Another short article gives a quick update on the Chinese affairs in Africa. Chinese were copying small stuff from everywhere until now: products, technologies, machines, tools. Now they are copying the big politics and economic strategies. US has used this strategy successfully for a long time in South America, Europe, Asia and Middle East, enslaving multiple countries with horrendous amounts of debt. Now China is copying their approach in Africa. There is a lot of agricultural land in Africa and securing access to this land in the long term is a very wise decision. Not that it is going to do any good for the others but for China it is definitely a very good move.

Update: another good article from much later: http://permaculturenews.org/2013/09/18/the-global-land-rush/


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Greece and … IMF?

Graffiti on the wall in Athens says "I.M.F. GET OUT"

A very interesting thing has caught my eye in the photographs from the recent riots in Athens, Greece.

If you look at the pictures, it very definitely says “I.M.F. GET OUT“. Why would demonstrators talk of IMF in Greece? Would it be possible that Greece bought into one of those IMF backed plans? If so, it would be interesting to learn a bit more about what economic development “plan” was sold to Greece. It is also quite interesting to see that Reuters does not mention IMF in their articles on Greece for some reason. Did they not see their own pictures?

Eurozone troubles drove U.S. treasury debt prices higher as investors fled to havens including gold and the dollar.

Seek the one who benefits, right?

Did you see how much Euro went down recently? Do you think it is normal? Do you think if Greece went bankrupt it would really mean something apocalyptic for the Euro-zone? No, really? How much of the all-European economy is in Greece? Come on, be realistic, Greece is too small for the kind of impact pictured in those articles. But panic! yes, panic can hurt Euro-zone, oh, yes… I have seen …
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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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EU economic growth

The data for the economic growth in EU is here: Eurostat Report. It is in German but you understand the numbers. It seems that Northern Europe and Eastern Europe are pretty much all right and at least until the second wave of the “financial crisis” comes should be well on their way to the new boom. It is interesting to see the comparisons between various countries and how the growth is distributed in Europe. Begs the question of “who supplies who with what?”…
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Toys

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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South America bloc

There was an interesting event in South America – a meeting of the Rio Group happened in the middle of February as DW-World reports. What is interesting? The Latin American and South American countries have announced their intention to create a union similar to the EU in nature. This is a great answer to many problems connected with their northern neighbors.

See, the real integration like in EU is unlikely coming any time soon, the South American countries are far too independent and nationalistic for that. Not that it is a bad thing either. But, but, what is quite possible is that they can create a no-Visa-required travel space in the South and Latin America and organize a monetary union. Especially now that the US Dollar is in trouble and everyone and their neighbor is looking for an alternative to the USD trading, the South American monetary union could be very successful, especially if they manage to avoid the blunders with the local monetary policies like it happened so many times in the past.

If they succeed, South and Latin America may well become the newest place-to-be, the region could really develop into a more balanced and highly attractive …
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