Friday, 30 September 2011

Green progress - good

Growing renewable electricity - amazing numbers

From the Guardian.

Renewable electricity contributed an all time high of 9.6% of the UK's grid mix in the second quarter of this year, statistics released on Thursday by the Department of Energy and Climate Change have revealed.

The 7.86TWh (terawatt hours) contributed by green energy generators represented a 50% rise on the same time last year.

The surge in green energy was led by the wind energy sector, which saw output rise 120% year on year, and hydroelectricity where output rose 75% year on year.

Nuclear energy also saw a large rise, increasing by 38% to 17.44TWh, making up 21% of the UK's overall supply, its highest since 2006. The performance put nuclear on a par with coal, which recorded 18.14TWh of output, making up 22% of all electricity generated.

Gas still made up 44% of UK electricity supply, but this was well down on last year's 53%. Gas output fell 18.3% to 36.37TWh.

Total electricity supplied by all generators in the second quarter of 2011 was 1.7% lower than a year earlier, while final consumption of electricity fell by 1.6%. Showing we have a long way to go in saving energy...

New future

More and more I believe that government does not see, or wish, to see the future.

Transport and economics are a couple of cases


First HS2 then 80MPH speed limits. Physically rushing about. Claimed to save time = save £ millions.

But 80MPH is not the future. The future is in moving around, electric vehicles, much more tele-working ( needing those billions to be spent on broadband infrastructure).

But here is the good news, the increase in the number of 20MPH limits. Let's hope this does not just mean more speed bumps!

The real issue is the redesign of cars so that they go easily at 20 MPH and can barely reach 80-90MPH. Smaller engines? Different gear ratios? Cruise control (up to max, or at chosen speed limit) And maybe a more rational approach, 20, 40, 60 and 80 limits for residential, rural & B, A roads, Motorways?

Economics Debt...debt...debt. Toy money flooding around in casino banking. Credit flooding around in high mortgage lending and high/easy credit card spending.

Time to restore the real purpose of money, to trade and for productive investment. Every one says we need to restore industry, invest more. But no one is doing the obvious and suppressing the casino financiers, to divert money into industry and savings.

Thursday, 29 September 2011


Excuse me but where did all this lending come from?

The irresponsible banks.

This is not a social problem but a political problem as much as they failed to regulate banks, It is a banker problem, they over extended loans without evaluating the risk. Now the risk has caught up with both lenders and borrowers. But if the banks, who in the first place provided the money, had refused to lend it, then the crisis would not have happened.

Greece, and all the rest of the world and you and me, would not have been able to run up debts and would have been forced to live within its means. In other words, if we want something we would have to save up for it, or make a good business case for our desired investment, staying within our ability to pay.

So let me repeat, this is primarily a bankers irresponsible problem, second a political problem. It is clear what bankers should have done: refused the loans, not bought the bonds, etc

What should politicians have done?

- limited credit overall within a sensible money supply, not permit ficticious money to allow casino banking

- set up a firm basis for a common euro currency, and even making this a condition of EU membership

UK note, you should be in, not out. If you think it is clever to stay out, you are weak and refuse to meet the challenge of creating a sensible new currency. Bugger the City, forget huge Treasury income from financiers. Focus on making money do what it is supposed to do for people (trading) and businesses (investing)

So who will sort out the mess? And at what cost to whom?

The way it is balanced just now is that irresponsible bankers, who remember are at the top of the causes pile, will again get bailed out at the expense of sucking yet more taxes out of ordinary citizens. And this is not right. A balance is needed.

For sure we have all indulged in borrowing which in reality we cannot afford to pay back, for example ever longer mortgages, on ever more inflated house prices. But banks have encouraged this, and extended vast amounts to our credit cards, which we have found just too easy to resist, even if we could not pay it back.

So we have to return to real values for money. And money, not credit, has to be the basis of ort economic activity. This means cancelling debts, removing them from our books, redefining the value of money, severely regulating the financial people.

And by the way it is not a "financial industry with products", it is not an industry, it is banking, investing, not gambling. Why do we, even now, quietly accept the way the financiers act as simple casino banking or gambling, with our money.

Because money belongs to us. It is issued by governments to people to trade and invest. Not to bankers to gamble.


- make a 10-20 year debt write off plan for governments an banks, AND people

- allow only government borrowing equal to business investment

- allow personal borrowing up to a maximum % of income (two limits, secured i.e mortages, and unsecured, everything else)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Confused about debt and deficit

I find it very difficult to

1 Find out the actual data of debt and deficit of european countries

2 See how on earth almost all euro countries are breaking the Maasricht treaty!

The Treaty

When the euro zone was set up their were entry requirements, and it was assumed that these would continue to be met. They are:

* Inflation not greater than 1.5% points above the average of the 3 lowest countries

* Deficit/GDP less than 3%

* Debt/GDP less than 60%

* Long term interest rates not more than 2% higher than the 3 least inflation countries

A few things I have found

The worst debt/GDP is in Greece, in 2010 this was 143%. The figure for UK, not in the euro zone, was 76%… The strong men of Europe, Germany and France had 83% and 82% respectively. Spain and Italy were 60% and 119%, Ireland was 97% and Portugal 93%. In other words only Spain was at the limit, all others had broken the rules. And their governments had done nothing about it.

As far as the deficit is concerned I have little data, but in 2009 Greece was 13.6%, UK 11.5%. France was 7.5%… Again some big players breaking the rules by BIG margins.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a simple table showing Debt/GDP, Deficit/GDP, Inflation, Debt in euro (including government, banks, individuals and any hidden stuff like the UK's PFI)?

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Money Realisation?

Thanks for this by Will Hutton in the Guardian:

"Eighty years ago, faced with today's economic events, nobody would have been in any doubt: we would obviously be living through a crisis in capitalism. Instead, there is a collective unwillingness to call a spade a spade. This is variously a crisis of the European Union, a crisis of the euro, a debt crisis or a crisis of political will. It is all those things, but they are subplots of a much bigger story: the way capitalism has been conceived and practised for the last 30 years has hit the buffers. Unless and until that is recognised, western economies will be locked in stagnation which could even transmute into a major economic disaster.

Simply put, the world has trillions upon trillions of excessive private debt financed by too many different currencies whose risk is allegedly mitigated by even more trillions of financial bets which in aggregate do not minimise the systemic risk one iota. This entire financial edifice, underwritten by tiny amounts of capital, has been created over three decades backed by the theory that markets do not make mistakes. Capitalism is best conceived and practised, runs the theory, by hunter-gatherer bankers and entrepreneurs owing no allegiance to the state or society."


1 Excessive private debt. Banks owns to states, banks loans to you and me, our credit cards, our mortgages. Live now!

2 Financial bets, or out and out gaming in false money, with the lucky fall back that if you loose it the general public will bail you out! Oh yeh!

But what I want to know is, where is the REAL money, the stuff that was printed and handed out to you and me so we could trade in our daily lives. When we can get back to the purpose of money - to facilitate bartering, then we will be getting somewhere. When we can run down the ridiculous ideas of a finance "industry" with "products" we will be getting somewhere.

And also in the Guardian, the comments by John Chubb:

"With the limitations on world resources, we can already appreciate that we need to think in terms of sustainability. We also need to consider what will make us happier and more contented with our society, rather than have new, shiny consumer goods. This is likely to require intellectual as well as technical innovation and this is more likely to arise with small, fleet-of-foot, start-up companies rather than from the research labs and manufacturing operations of large corporations."

And this is another aspect of Government policy which is not addressed, you cannot leave the economy to set itself to by favouring huge corporate mergers and conglomerates. You have to have specific policies to built a diversified business activity. In this way more people will feel engaged and subsequently be more productive. Think Hong Kong. Think China. Think fast developing nations?

Monday, 5 September 2011

I couldn't agree more - from TUAW comments

Thanks to MisterK, whoever you are, for this outpouring of my sentiments about TV:

"Why do I have to manually change inputs?

Why do I even need so many things hooked up to my TV?

Why do TV guides look so awful? Why don't menus and HUD displays use refined Core Animation for subtle effects?

When I'm watching Jeopardy, why can't I play along with my friends in our respective houses?

Why can't I buy things directly from TV ads? .

How great would an iPad remote app be that a child could use, with all their favourite activities laid out in big clear buttons?

Maybe my iPad could display interesting facts about shows and the actors, trivia, and scenes in them (like a friend who's totally into my shows) so I can be more interactive while watching.

Maybe I can vote on American Idol right from the TV.

Maybe I can buy the clothes that someone is wearing on a show right from the TV.

Maybe I'm watching a cooking show and I can get the recipe sent to my iPhone or a restaurant suggestion for a place that makes that kinda stuff."WOW. Go Go Go

Why are things not moving faster? Media delivery

A brief note that tries to put down the old and new delivery channels for media. Showing that the Internet is an almost universal solution. The question is why is adoption of the internet as THE main delivery channel so slow?

Broadcasting. Or radio and TV. Oddly almost all radio stations are available on the internet, but yet huge amounts of radio spectrum are still used, and governments still promote more regionalism in stations. TV on the other hand uses the internet very little as its main delivery channel. Many have tried to change this, but seem to come up against commercial and rights issues which prevent its adoption. This is frankly all a bit crazy and some heads ned knocking together. Releasing UHF frequencies from TV delivery to wireless internet would have overwhelming consequences for us all. There is no future in terrestrial TV delivery and it should due abandoned in favour of satellite only delivery.

Discs/Tapes. These are dead, or hopefully dying. Again here, like broadcasting there is a big difference between audio and video. The audio CD is and will be quickly replaced by digital internet delivery. But the DVD, more under the tight control of rights owners, is still very much alive. There is some truth in the argument that the current poor bandwidth of most country's internet means that it is not yet ready to deliver DVD content.

Film. This is today completely obsolete, except for a few cinemas. The delivery of films to cinemas is now on digital HDDs.

Publishing. Both paper and electronic publishing, in the form of web pages or PDF files is co-surviving, with the economic model for paper becoming more and more unviable as the cost of internet delivery falls. Internet delivery costs are now paid by customers to the service providers almost 100%, and the publishers get nothing, whereas for a physical paper the corner shop got its share and the paper got the rest. But the game is almost over for papers, they simply need to make the last step to electronic only delivery and find a way to monetize it… they were probably utterly foolish to ever get into delivering free news in the first place! Maybe solutions like Zinio and Apple's new newspaper/magazine publishing solutions will swing the tide? But here there are 3 players, a percentage to the software provider (Zinio and Apple), a percentage to the payment portal (Apple) and the rest to the publisher. Only time will tell if these percentages are right.

VIdeo Games. Not everyone plays games, but those that do have a wide choice of gaming platforms which use disc delivery and internet delivery and interaction. This is a symbiotic market where the disc serves to protect IP and the internet provides interaction. It is unlikely that the discs will fade away until IP can be 100% protected on internet file deliveries.

Everything points to the internet!

So as you can see everything points to internet delivery. There are just two issues which have to be strengthened:

1 Protection of IP

2 Bandwidth

Protecting IP can be done with encryption, but only if the buyer and seller can be identified without any chance of fraud or impersonation. This needs certification of providers, already done through security certificates, and ID of individuals. This is a very contentious issue which Joe Blogs seems to resent. He is crazy, the benefits to everyone would be huge if we could uniquely electronically ID ourselves. We do it for our Visa cards, and PIN numbers. Why not for internet access and encrypted delivery. Beats me!!! I would like to just plug my smart Visa card into my PC and be uniquely ID'ed. (Of course that requires a revolution in the USA where they don't use smartcards… maybe that's the reason?)

Bandwidth is simply a matter of investment. Which in the end comes down to politics and government and lobby groups. I fail to see why we would be willing to spend £32bn on a new high speed train, in other words just to re-invent the victorian mousetrap, when we are spending just £0.5bn on broadband which could lead to so many improvements in all our society.

Building on previous post ideas - Apple TV

I have made a couple of previous posts about the reasons why Apple should not make a TV, at least not a standalone one similar to 100% of the current designs. It is because Apple's macro-system architecture is based on networking (WiFi and Internet). and this must continue.

So how would you integrate a TV into the current offering? Well today we have:

1 The Time Capsule, a combination of a WiFi router and a HDD of 1-2GB. This provides the basic backbone of your home system information highway by WiFi and a generous storage area for local files such as music and movies. The Time Capsule, for some reason, does not include a broadband ADSL interface...

2 The range Macs and iPod/iPad/iPhone products, these are the current focus of user interaction, input and output.

3 A high resolution Cinema display, which is expensive and geared to semi-professional use for computer graphics. Lower cost is the integrated iMac 21 & 27" versions.

4 The small Apple TV, which interconnects either the local WiFi or the Internet to your TV by HDMI interface, allowing you to show computer/internet movies on your TV

In order to develop this architecture to come close to the needs of a home entertainment system, what has to be done?

1 Make a display of HD TV quality with a built-in Apple TV interface. That is a display which has a WiFi input.

2 Make a TV receiver box. This is the tricky bit, as TV standards vary enormously across the world, not only PAL and NTSC, but also the transmission standards for terrestrial and satellite digital TV. I can only speak for europe, but here the preferred way to receive TV is by satellite, currently using a set top box called Freeview. An Apple product could be envisaged that lives in your loft and connects to your satellite dish, and outputs MPEG4 video over WiFi. Its setup and controls would be back across the WiFi link. The company EyeTV is coming along as the company that knows about such products, and could be a interesting acquisition for Apple…

How would this system work and how would it improve and integrate a home entertainment system?

In the simplest configuration the ATV by itself, with internet access could show streaming movies and play streaming music. Add an Apple Mac or iPad and this can act as a source of local music, or music via Apple's iCloud. And it can act as a more extensive controller for the ATV. Add the new ATV receiver and you start to have a very flexible TV and internet playback system. With control by the iPad on your lap. At this point there is a huge opportunity for content creators to provide internet programming, and to synchronise this with internet web page viewing. Watch the video on your ATV and get data input or in-depth information on your iPad at the same time. A fully fledged system would include both the Time Capsule and a Mac computer giving local storage and powerful computing.

So that is it. That is the way Apple should go. The one thing to be sorted is the consolidation of the creative industry players to provide a consistent media input. This is curtail, but considering Apple's success in music and movies with iTunes, they now just have to get a braoed range of current movies and push aside cable TV delivery. They would need to find a way to integrate current suppliers like Sky and provide a consistent, better EPG… let's see if they can do it.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The mess of TV today

Yet again there is a rumour that Apple will get into the TV business. This is really just a hope by many, many users that someone will sort out the mess that exists today. (And get rid finally of the awful remotes that every maker forces on us!).

What is the mess?

There are three, the content creators and rights holders, the delivery merchants and the viewers. Let's take these one by one.

Content creators are strong individualists and cannot for the life of themselves see why they should use any standard way of creating their art, delivering their art, nor handling their copyrights. There are three content issues in today's world: TV/, movies and documentaries; data/VOD and text; and copyrights. And of these probably the worst problem they create is that of rights management. Just like old fashioned street traders with a stall full of wares, they hawk them around giving every tom dick and harry limited use of the creations, by geography, by time and by delivery channel - you know, program XYZ can be seen in UK only on July 12 2011 at 14:00 on Channel 341 of Sky satellite and viewed only on a big screen TV (not a computer or iPad). Ludicrous! Second is the technical specs, film, HDD for cinemas; Flash, MP4 or other video for the internet in many resolutions; plus the plethora of national TV standards. Ludicrous!

Delivery merchants are in constant negotiation with creators to carry the material. Often having it then not having it. The worst problem however is the multiple channels for delivery. These divide into two main ones with lots of variants: one way, like TV, cinema and VOD; and bi-directional like data and text on the internet. There is today a complete unbalance between the bandwidth available for TV (the cost of satellite channels is quite low) and this has lead to many, many channels of complete rubbish. Compared to the rather poor bandwidth of the internet, except in a few nations like Japan and Korea. UK where I live is very poor for a developed country. But one of the main problems is what I call synchronisation between the material delivered by TV and that delivered by Internet. Viewers more and more watch TV but at the same time browse the web. Take an example, some bigwig politician is letting off steam on Question Time, but you doubt his statistics. So you go on the web to get some facts. Now wouldn't it be great if the broadcasting company had an internet feed of data synchronised to the TV broadcast, that would be very convenient!

Lastly there is the viewer. By this I mean the screen you view on, and the feed you have, VOD or sequential programming. TV today is costing too much and investing too little, the result is many repeats and little good new programs. The wider spread of VOD (i.e. internet delivery not satellite!) would be a life saver for makers, they would both have a specific income stream and a way of measuring their success. Things which sequential program delivery needs extra audience surveys to find out, and where the rewards are not proportional to the costs. But for most users there is one great big viewer problem: it is an everlasting joke, and thus true, that most of us cannot understand or use the remote controls on our TV, set to boxes or DVD players. And they are not compatible so that you have to have three of them lying around. Synchronisation of control through your WiFi would sold this problem, just as it would offer synchronised deliver services.

So that is it. My take on why Apple should not make a TV. There are areas here which even this great disruptive company cannot change the way things are done. Or can they? Would it be enough to build the system and let the users come?