Archive for May 1, 2008

Bang! Zoom! To The Moon!

May 1, 2008

Gear Diary had Send Your Name To The Moon.

And I did!

Click each one to enlarge my ego it.

See you all up there!

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #081

May 1, 2008

Gulf States May End Dollar Pegs, Kuwait Minister Says (Update4)

All the GCC states, apart from Oman, are planning to form a single Gulf currency by 2010. The group’s central bank governors will meet in June in an attempt to get the project back on schedule.

Emphasis added by me.

That’s the only paragraph that matters in the story.

I didn’t know that.

Is the new trend to surrender national currencies for transnational ones, such as the Euro?

Would China and other Asian nations combine their currencies?

I’ve seen stories about a rumored Amero. Mainly from the unbelievable fringe.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #080

May 1, 2008

Kuwait Sovereign Fund May Boost Citi, Merrill Stakes (Update2)

May 1 (Bloomberg) — Kuwait’s $250 billion sovereign wealth fund may boost its stakes in Citigroup Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. as it pursues investments in companies battered by subprime- mortgage related losses.

“The valuation in the markets in the U.S. and Europe, we think, has created a lot of opportunities,” Bader al-Saad, the Kuwait Investment Authority’s managing director, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “We have confidence in the management” of Citigroup and Merrill, he said. Shares of both companies rose in New York trading.

The KIA in January bought a $3 billion stake in Citigroup and invested $2 billion in Merrill to help replenish capital at the companies after they suffered writedowns on mortgages, bonds and loans. Banks and securities firms have absorbed more than $300 billion of losses since the collapse of the subprime- mortgage crisis set off a global credit contraction.

Emphasis added by me.

Really, what can I say?

Do I rail about Financial Security, when there clearly isn’t any in the current global flows of currency?

Do I rail about possible political consequences down the road? In a nation that is only interested in immediate gratification?

Bah!

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #079

May 1, 2008

A Run on Rice in Asian Communities

SAN FRANCISCO — Along Stockton Street, the bustling heart of Chinatown, there is no lack of eye-popping products and equally eye-popping prices paid for them. Dried toad goes for $42 a ounce, deer tail about $350 apiece, and abalone $428 a pound, a Mother’s Day special.

But of all the goods, the one drawing the most stares these days is rice, the simplest of Asian staples. Its price has skyrocketed at many stores amid fears that an international shortage will spill into the United States.

At the Sun Kau Shing grocery, for example, 50-pound bags of long-grain rice were selling for $32 to $38 on Tuesday. That, customers said, was an increase of about 35 percent over a month ago. It was enough to stop amazed pedestrians in their tracks.

“Thirty-three years I’ve been living here, and I’ve never seen the price like that,” said Jimmy Chiu, 56, who hails from Hong Kong and works for the municipal railway here. Mr. Chiu said he had never worried about the price of rice before. “But I’m worried now,” he said.

Though federal officials say there is no rice shortage in the United States, Mr. Chiu, like a trader betting on the price of crude oil, said had decided to stock up, buying 100 pounds of rice in anticipation that the price would jump again. “I think it might go up to $50,” he said. “I still got some at home, but just in case I got some more.”

He is not alone. Across San Francisco, where a third of the population is of Asian descent, shopkeepers report runs on rice that have depleted their supplies and left some wholesalers scrambling to meet demand.

Emphasis added by me.

Likewise, while California rice farmers have begun planting this year’s crop of half a million acres, the high prices may prove only enough to cover their increased costs of fuel and fertilizer, industry officials say.

Diesel is up 40 percent, and fertilizer has doubled,” said Tim Johnson, president and chief executive of the California Rice Commission, a trade group in the nation’s second-largest rice-producing state, after Arkansas.

Emphasis added by me.

Hey, he should be glad he can still get fertilizer!

The article insists there is no shortage of rice in America.

So can you imagine how bad it will be when there is a shortage of rice?

Of all food?

Red Headlines For May 1, 2008

May 1, 2008



Low Spending Is Taking Toll on Economy

For months, beleaguered American consumers have defied expert forecasts that they would soon succumb to the pressures of falling home prices, fewer jobs and shrinking paychecks. Now, they appear to have given in.

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported that the economy continued to stagnate during the first three months of the year, with a sharp pullback in consumer spending the primary factor at play.

Pressures on households in which cash is tight appeared to weigh significantly in the calculations of the Federal Reserve as it rolled back interest rates Wednesday for the seventh time since September — this time by one-fourth of a percentage point — in a bid to prevent a further falloff in the economy.

The Fed made clear, though, that investors and borrowers should not expect another drop in interest rates anytime soon. In the statement accompanying their action, policy makers said they believed that with the short-term rate at 2 percent, they had already unleashed enough economic stimulus to “help promote moderate growth.”

With the overall economy growing at a mere 0.6 percent annual rate for the second quarter in a row, consumer spending advanced by only 1 percent, the government estimated. That was down sharply from the 2.9 percent gain for all of 2007 and the 3.1 percent gain for 2006. It was the weakest showing since 2001, the last time the economy was ensnared in a recession.

Even more ominously, Americans cut back on a wide variety of discretionary purchases, conserving their cash for necessary spending.

Emphasis added by me.

Hey, doesn’t the Times know about the sell-offs going on?

Fewer Latino Immigrants Sending Money Home

In a sign that the economic downturn is hitting hard among Latino immigrants, more than three million of them stopped sending money to families in their home countries during the last two years, the Inter-American Development Bank said on Wednesday.

Growing numbers of Latino immigrants are also considering giving up their foothold in the United States and returning home in response to a slump in low-wage jobs and the crackdown on illegal immigration, the bank reported in a survey of 5,000 immigrants from Latin America.

The survey found that only half of the 18.9 million Latino immigrants in this country now send money regularly to relatives in their home countries, compared with 73 percent two years ago.

“The major dynamic that is holding them back from sending money is fear,” said Sergio Bendixen, a Miami-based pollster who conducted the survey. “They don’t know whether they won’t be able to get a job anymore.”

Emphasis added by me.

And if they don’t have access to unemployment benefits or social services, are we going to see a jump in crime?

Now We Know Why Apple Rejected Flash

May 1, 2008

Adobe seeks to extend reach of Flash, nukes licensing fees

Adobe has announced a new initiative called Open Screen, which aims to make the company’s Flash multimedia technology ubiquitous on mobile and embedded devices. Adobe plans to eliminate the licensing fees required to distribute its own Flash player and AIR runtime implementations on mobile devices and will also remove licensing restrictions on the specifications for the FLV and SWF formats so that developers can create fully-compatible independent Flash player implementations.

Emphasis added by me.

If you don’t think this is because of Apple rejecting Flash for the iPhone, you don’t know your history — or are too young and simply didn’t live through it.

Adobe doesn’t want a repeat of its TrueType defeat.

Apple used any excuse it could plausibly get away with to throw dirt on the Flash format. Some of it justified, but most of it was simply arm-twisting.

I can envision Steve Jobs himself telling Adobe: You need us, we’re doing just fine without you. If you want Flash on the iPhone, we want it for free.

Faced with that, remembering what happened with TrueType, Adobe had no choice but to make a daring move.

Now, the ball is in Apple’s court.

Just the way Apple wanted it, too: for free!

Now We Know Why Apple Bought A Chipmaker

May 1, 2008

Electronics’ ‘missing link’ found

Memristors were first proposed in 1971 by Professor Leon Chua, a scientist at the University of California, Berkeley.

They are the “fourth” basic building block of circuits, after capacitors, resistors and inductors.

“I never thought I’d live long enough to see this happen,” Professor Chua told the Associated Press.

“I’m thrilled because it’s almost like vindication. Something I did is not just in my imagination, it’s fundamental.”

The memristors are so called because they have the ability to “remember” the amount of charge that has flowed through them after the power has been switched off.

This could allow researchers to build new kinds of computer memory that would would not require powering up.

Emphasis added by me.

Pay attention to this:

But a computer built with memristors could allow PCs that start up instantly, laptops that retain sessions after the battery dies, or mobile phones that can last for weeks without needing a charge.

“If you turn on your computer it will come up instantly where it was when you turned it off,” Professor Williams told Reuters.

“That is a very interesting potential application, and one that is very realistic.”

Emphasis added by me.

Here is the key bit:

However, according to some, it may be some time before the device is widely used.

“Even to consider an alternative to the transistor is anathema to many device engineers, and the memristor concept will have a steep slope to climb towards acceptance,” wrote Drs James Tour and Tao Heare of Rice University, Houston, in an accompanying article in Nature.

They said that some in the electronics industry would only accept the use of memristors “after the demonstration of a well-functioning, large-scale array of these densely packed devices”.

“When that happens, the race towards smaller devices will proceed at full steam.”

Emphasis added by me.

So there are the Bright People of Apple.

They look around the industry and see how everyone is able to — put it mildly — clone what they do.

Software only provides a brief edge, a narrow buffer from the competition.

Hardware has basically become the same set of commodity components that everyone else uses. So that doesn’t provide any edge at all.

But Apple’s Bright People are the brightest of the bright. They know how to look beyond what everyone else accepts.

And so they find out about this research well before it makes its way into the popular press and they convince Steve Jobs that this is the hardware edge Apple has been seeking. They show him all the evidence that proves no one will touch this until someone points the way.

And by that time, the hardware edge they’ll have is at least two-to-five years ahead of everyone else.

For the doubters out there: Apple co-created the PowerPC chip. These are specialists.

Expect memristors in an upcoming Apple device.

And it will be the first device to have it!

The Future Always Has One Certainty

May 1, 2008

And it is this: It will never be what you expect.

Electronics’ ‘missing link’ found

Details of an entirely new kind of electronic device, which could make chips smaller and far more efficient, have been outlined by scientists.

The new components, described by scientists at Hewlett-Packard, are known as “memristors”.

The devices were proposed 40 years ago but have only recently been fabricated, the team wrote in the journal Nature.

Emphasis added by me.

Memristors were first proposed in 1971 by Professor Leon Chua, a scientist at the University of California, Berkeley.

They are the “fourth” basic building block of circuits, after capacitors, resistors and inductors.

“I never thought I’d live long enough to see this happen,” Professor Chua told the Associated Press.

“I’m thrilled because it’s almost like vindication. Something I did is not just in my imagination, it’s fundamental.”

The memristors are so called because they have the ability to “remember” the amount of charge that has flowed through them after the power has been switched off.

This could allow researchers to build new kinds of computer memory that would would not require powering up.

Emphasis added by me.

I lied in the title to this post.

There isn’t a single certainty.

There’s a second one.

It’s this: If we don’t destroy ourselves or our civilzations, the future will be breathtakingly exciting!

Sony’s Blu-Ray Victory Turns Sour

May 1, 2008

Blu-ray: The Future Has Been Delayed

According to NPD, sales of Blu-ray standalone players plummeted 40 percent from January to February, then rose a scant 2 percent from February to March. The general consensus was that once Toshiba dropped its support for the HD DVD format early this year, sales would increase.

In fact, sales of Blu-ray standalone players remain so low that NPD has not yet released actual numbers, for fear that it would be easy to identify individual retailers. The research group will start to give actual figures later this year, said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at NPD.

This is a surprise?

Hello!

On February 21, I posted: FAIL: Sony Spent $3B To Kill HD-DVD

At some point, someone very desperate at Sony — probably the chain reaction of eejits who formulated and approved the earlier bribery — will get the still-unbright idea to give away Blu-Ray discs to try to tempt people into accepting the format.

Wait and see.

Blog Notes: Not Dead Yet!

May 1, 2008

I’ve got an offline backlog to shovel through.

Hence a late day here.

I wouldn’t expect many posts.

Especially since I just remembered I still have to do the frikkin Contents for April!

After that ordeal, I probably will be dead