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Archive for October, 2007

Finger Food (16)

October 31, 2007 Leave a comment

I promise that will stop leaving earlier than weekend.. but this time is about Halloween bank holiday, could you really miss it??!!!? No, exactly!!!

So, there we are, our sticky finger food for the week (an hefty portion, I dare say)!!!!

  • Doha round at stalemate …. so much for competition fostering a better and more efficient marketplace…
  • Egypt will have its nuclear plants.. in ten-years time if a nice flow of foreign investment will be guaranteed (meanwhile Iran with a full blast blockade of investments is actually building up the Bomb in a blink..) … I leave to you any possible comment on this, and the impact over Middle East balance exercise..
  • Whilst we are trying to convince ourselves that we have something Chinese people may actually desire with utmost lush, a survey indicates the opposite.. Chinese brands have got a nice positioning advantage … which is quite understandable, give the strong cultural legacy China does present, given that potentially the entire weaponry of Western consumerism is not at its full potential in China and given that we may really have nothing interesting to add to local products.. it is a bit like trying to make money in Second Life adopting the same strategy you adopt in real-life markets.. it won’t work, ever. In the meanwhile, whilst we keep on talking, China goes for the highest growth rate since 1993: 11+ %…
  • Are you considering investing in, say, green certificates, water-related bonds, or in some hot growing country markets?? Wrong!!! Back to ol’ PC manufacturers, as it seems!!! Mind you, putting Apple into the basket is not exactly comparing apples with apples (ops.. joke…): Apple is a system, not an hardware manufacturer, you don’t buy a computer or a portable mp3 player, you make a statement. And what if the statement gets stale??? Would be nice to see whether so-called competitors would benefit or the entire industry would sort of crumble…
  • This is a nice article about how gullible we are now compared with the people that followed the H. G. Wells’ hoax… personally I believe we are as naive as we were, we are just a little bit more connected and a touch cynical … apart from that, we still believe that what is coming out of the “box” is real…
  • Whereas what is coming out of Germany is definitely real, Saxons are back at full swing with a healthy financial balance and a strong, structural upswing of the economy as a whole… no surprise Sarkozy’s trying to create the Great Mediterranean to balance the once-enemy influential comeback.. love to see a country that, with stronger taxation, a boasted economy could come back from the dead like this.. Italy would have some hope then, too bad for the Italians ruling the country….
  • OK, first on the xMas shopping list??? A gPhone, possibly a Linux based version, so that I will finally come around and install Ubuntu on my PC … and that would make the pair with the Fantastic Duo strategy, “a gPhone in every hand” (or was it a PC…???!?) as to extend the reach of gApps … gosh, now the choice is about a “g” and an “i”, the phone bit is more or less irrelevant as a purchase driver…
  • The Fox is chasing instead of being chased!! Operation Firefox at full swing, watch out for gigantic stickers, and other guerrilla marketing activities.. you go, boy!!!!! (Tks to Fables, from Bloguerrilla!)
  • By the way, we are almost there, matter of few hours.. so, why not having some cyber-Halloween party as well?? SecondLife’s here to help!!! Then, after, you can still blast yourselves with tequila slammers aplenty (after having chosen your outfit according to this timely survey about hot Halloween costumes!!!)….
  • A propos of virtual worlds, here is a nice “train of thoughts” (tks Nobody) about anonimity and Second Life, and a superb quote:

Internet does not forget

  • That one I would like to extend to each and every activity on the Net, business included: do it right and properly first time, you may not have the possibility of a second shot. So much for being in Internet, doing social networking and making money out of it….
  • Do you remember we said China was leveraging Africa as a potential marketplace, and the rest??? Now, this is a confirmation of a nice flow of money into an African shopping frenzy!! After South Africa, is Nigeria (which may als0 be on the list of oil suppliers to China, nice, isnt’ it??) to sell some FinServ institution to the Dragon!!

In the meanwhile, these are the top 50 Web domain in September 07 (courtesy of Compete), Mr Fry published another of his out-of-the-box posts on digital life and experience, India is really trying to tide the knots of its nuclear partnership and technology patrimony, just in case the predictions of an Iranian Oil Ministry representative (“the crude would not hit $100 a barrel”, “oil price bubble will eventually burst because it is fuelled by geopolitics and not shortage.. – ops, quite right – …”) are not all hitting the target. Cisco loves globalisation and opens up a globalisation campus in Bangalore, India (as if you do not know where Bangalore is..), and Chinese companies may adore the support of China Netcom directly into the heart of the City of London to foster European operation.. and Indians are supporting consumer services, in another sort of globalisation trend (person-to-person outsourcing.. for Heaven’s sake…). The World is definitely shrinking, and the Web is the hydraulic press..

UK is moaning about IT skills shortage (as well as energy shortage for this winter…), whilst one of his sons is talking about human limits and the endless possibility of a motivated individual.. nice one, Ben! I would like to close with this, we all need some inspiration, every now and then.. after all, we have our challenges too!!!

See U later!!!

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Categories: Finger Food

China goes safari… hunting banks..

October 29, 2007 2 comments

I believe that most people have noticed that there is a massive economic and geopolitical struggle going on in Asia since quite a long time.. to cut that short (any drill down most than welcome and I would like to discuss it with any of you..), China is today the most powerful threat to USA on Earth, US are building up (or trying to..) a “wall” of cross alliances to limit the energy of the Chinese steamtrain (a revamped friendship with Japan, an attempt to equalize troubles in Korea, missed out badly with Russia..and more..UPDATE: sorry, forgot India in the count!!!!!), and attempting to choke the country in a”war” to control oil pricing (which China is sort of dodging with agreements in Nigeria, Angola, Congo, and South America, plus I believe some rejuvenated interest in nuclear.. want to see that one..) and block some markets …

In an nice turnaround, China is strengthening its presence into the potentially massive African marketplace, via (also…) acquisitions in the financial services sector. ICBC buys into South Africa’s banks enclave… what could be better for China to let some of its cash out to troubled Africa for, say, some rights over the immense wealth the “savannah” actually holds?? Would be possible for China to lead African development and artificially foster the creation or explosion of an easily manageable marketplace, perfect for its less-costly industrial production?? Should check it more carefully, certainly, but nothing happens without a reason, and even more so when considering geopolitical moves…

Thoughts welcome..

Categories: For thoughts.., GeoIdeas

Italy, Italians and a country free fall..

October 29, 2007 Leave a comment

I am back from my usual week end off.. Milan is welcoming me with a saddish clouded sky, the Southern wind usually does that, it brings clouds and humidity, it turns everything so sticky, and it seems that the sand in the air, coming from the South Eastern deserts, drives you nuts, everybody is so nervous, tense, on the verge…

That is a perfect condition for what has been broiling for some time here in the Bel Paese.. firstly it was very much Italian.. always discussing, always scorning, always complaining about politics, politicians, the country, the laws, the taxes and everything else you could ever complain about.. it made the conversation at bars and dehors, it added some critical sparkle to otherwise marvellous cobbled stone hallways full of cheers.. and this is the way we would like to consider Italy: a stunning country populated by nice people, with some witty tongues and a ever-present critical attitude towards “the establishment”. It all made such a superb holiday brochure..

Then the truth..

A country that, in a decade of history, has been steadily falling to pieces, sliding down in every possible ranking apart from those regarding the less appealing features of a country: pollution, criminality, scandals, financial debts and a bunch of others, including a poor research and development investment, appalling country infrastructure, a low level Internet distribution and knowledge, somewhat primitive use of IT (regardless what someone may claim, we are talking “country” here…), let alone a ridiculous education system… in a few words, a Janus-like country… blessed by Nature, offended by its own people.

The past years have been peppered by scandals (political, social, economic ones..) that until recently made mostly those glossy pages on magazines, something we used to laugh and dismiss as “usual”… scandals became more and more significant, massive amounts of money paid to bribe politicians, stolen from the healthcare system,vaporized in unpaid taxes, allocated to elitist privileges…nothing new?? Maybe, but the old Italian way got into a virulent metastasis process and started to permeate and pollute every single aspect of Italian life. The entire system got into Defcon 1, at light speed, since its survival has been put in danger.

The fundamental are above and beyond worry: ageing population, low productivity, poor renewal rate in the working population, cumbersome legal canvass, a stellar public debt, and most importantly a totally inexistent awareness of the importance of “excellence”. if you combine this with the fact that, as a stand-up comedian stated, the sentence written in every court “Everybody’s equal under the law” turns out to be a question with “NO” as an answer, the scenario is pretty depressing.

On the Times on Line there was an article regarding the proposed law to tax (and thus control) everything ever produced on the Web, including blogs… Now, despite the fact that seemingly blogs are “out of the scope of the present law” as stated by some deranged, asinine and seriously daft politician (how on Earth you may come out with this sort of absurd law in the first place, this is beyond my understanding.. almost..), the saddest thing is about making the press for those sort of occurrences..

This is the first time I have actually felt … no, I may be wrong.. I was 11 when an Italian politician was killed by some terrorists.. in May Italy is so beautiful, and yet the day Aldo Moro was killed I felt fear in the streets, I heard the silence of otherwise buzzy streets, I almost remember people walking like immediately before a curfew..and I did not like the feeling at all.. these days I feel a louder, more evident fear, but the smell is the same, fear.

Fear that what was once some silly attitude to laugh about is now a gangrene that start to rotten with a foul stench, fear that all the words you hear from TV-interposed politicians are more like those from a sci-fi B-movie, fear that all the movements, people in the “piazza” and those blogging heavily are just the neural reaction of a dead body… people are scared and try to mask with endless queuing for a plasma TV or a tiny stretch of beach, nevermind being strangled by debt, rising housing prices and low salaries ( as stated by an Eurispes study) with a massive social contribution and (incidentally) poor services..

Read the comments to the above Times article.. 70+ comments and lots of them asking for help.. to give Italy some hope, to freed Italy from a strangling class of new Thugs, to distribute some sort of decent future for the younger generations.. someone, quite ironically I love to think, pledged for the UN to send the Blue Helmets… what a saddness.. we need to be conquered to be able to keep going… as it has always been at least for the past 500 years…

There is a nice and quite wise saying, I thought it was Italian but I am beginning to question it, stating “Aiutati che Dio t’aiuta (Help yourself and God will help you)”… I wander when people will stop moaning for the sake of it and begin to take action, but first and foremost how long will take people to understand that life is at stake here, and you cannot leave your life in someone else’s hands..

Categories: For thoughts..

Finger Food (15)

October 25, 2007 1 comment

Earlier than usual, here we are… I will be heading down to Tuscany this eve, have to spent some time there sorting out few issues, including some family business and a round over my bike (far too long since the last proper one!!!), but haven’t forgot to put together some stuff for you all to browse.. there are few jewels and a funny collection of Web 2.0 you may want to look at.. here we go, Finger Food again!!!!!

  • Social networks risiko rises the bar.. Microsoft into Facebook, as Google was (is… IMAP on Gmail..) into office application.. retaliation theory at its best? Love to discuss about corporate strategy, pressure points and gyro theory with anyone interested…
  • eBay is luring back sellers with.. a 33% price cut, and more to come!! Competition stiffens for all…
  • Cisco goes shopping, just in case WiMax turns out to be a real blockbuster..
  • Gosh… now is about Twine.. no, hang on a sec.. the Complete Web 2.0 Directory!! This is a Frankenstein site we may begin to love (courtesy of Marketing Routes)!!!! And still I am wandering: is it all this necessary, how critical we have to become? Anyone for Web-overload??
  • A new carbon trading facility, to oblige to the phenomena..it is incredible how there will be people able to make money out of a planetary blunder such as this..do we have to expect a price rise for those industries heavily involved into retail markets, such as aviation??
  • Meanwhile, China goes over the Moon (in Spanish, since I started to read back some Iberian newspapers..) which incidentally could possibly divert attention from oil to space for a little while.. it would be nice to see how long will it takes for someone to claim we have to foster democracy on Mars..
  • China on the moon, Japan and USA into mobile virtual worlds!!! Gemini S’town hits the streets.. I noticed Japanese youngsters were deeply buried into their mobile phone, guess this will be an interesting development, as long as the communication capability is the primary focus .. and you do mind the lamp posts!!!
  • And Wii is getting virtual, as VW News states here. Which, incidentally, seems to be the best of two worlds (both virtual, indeed!) to create a powerful customer experience.. at least, on paper! Sometimes, as seen in the past, to combine spikes of market excitement does not yield the expected returns…
  • An update on Larry going shopping (the Oracle-BEA drama..): now Mr Ellison got offended and he wants a clear answer back by Sunday..wow, very much like a Jane Austen hearth-breaking stuff…
  • China is having its Internet champion, the B2B site Alibaba is skyrocketing and asking for some market hard cash … the hottest IPO of the year…..

Some other interesting occurrences, such as the combination of India and Egypt to improve healthcare, with a seemingly mutual effort, and also India is in nice talks with Iran over some oil pipelines (guess Georgie will try and export democracy nearby New Delhi), Italian luxury lifestyle gets kuodos, Maserati doubled its sales in UAE, whilst China will keep down investments to cool down economy and pollution (nice…despite a stunning +11.5% in the last quarter..), EU still wonders how to deal with Russia in the upcoming summit (and I dare add the upcoming winter season.. gazprom..supply…that thing..), the A380 flies over to Australia, and I am off to Tuscany!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have a nice We you all!!!

UPDATE: finally, Oracle gave up the chase… as it seems!! The lions does not always get the springboks….(as the Rugby World Cup has incidentally demonstrated!!!! )

Categories: Finger Food

Twitter, low expectations and “being critical”!!

October 24, 2007 Leave a comment

Again.  Another social phenomena. Twitter is making the press in a more pressing manner than before.

Which I do not mind, but it all seems like adding to that disease I once called “cyber-inadequacy”. You’re not twittering???!?!? How sad could your life be??? Small circle of friends??? No friends whatsoever??? Meanwhile, I am enjoying my lifetime  three friends hanging around the Mediterranean with the newly bought 39-feet Azimuth one of the above decided to get to reward himself, nevermind someone with a weird nick lost somewhere…

Still, it is interesting to notice that someone pointed out as, for this new born communication arena, you may have a sort of a batch approach, a lower expectation level, an on-off style. Something like  I AM NOT ALWAYS CONNECTED!!!!!!!!!!! TO YOU AT LEAST!!!! Which I believe is pretty much a revolutionary and almost blasphemous thought. Nonetheless, I love it!!!

This is the first hint, the initial sparkle, the subtle rise of the “power of disconnection” we spoke in an earlier post, it is about being a “critical” user of technology..

Nice one, we get back some room  for ourselves, not to be shared necessarily with the rest of the Planet, and most interestingly we should not feel guilty about!!!!!

IMF crucifies IT, the source of all evil!!

October 24, 2007 Leave a comment

So much for the evolution of society towards a tech-aware, 2.0, whatever eSociety.. the IMF, in its World Economic Outlook 2007, stated that Information Technology and its ecosystem are the fundamental cause of World’s inequality (here an excerpt..).

There is here an interesting (!!!) theory about globalisation, free trade, financial flows (Foreign Direct Investments) and technology. In short, but you may want to go into deeper details here, PDF version) it is stated that globalisation is, overall, reducing inequality due to a diverse effect combination of free trade (which is a positive impulse to evolution) and a rather not-so-positive FDI (which eliminate some diversities albeit augmenting some turbulence in the countries originating the FDI flows). The reduction in inequality should be better translated into an income rise amongst the (once??!?!? please..) poorer part of the World population, whereas inequality is, whoops, actually rising due to … technology!!

Lots of articles and commentaries have addressed the issue, from Financial Times to The Register, and yet I believe nobody has ultimately pointed out a major factor: technology divide may be a more likely suspect, a better one than tech itself.

FDI flows go to countries that, for a number of reasons, are more attractive than others to investors, and unfortunately this fact cannot fully exploit a real, global organisation of production, wealth, innovation, evolution. China and India are attracting a severely different level of FDI, both in terms of origin (around 60% of Chinese FDI comes from what has being called its “diaspora”, and investments are capital intensive and with – relative – low tech level, 70% of Indian FDI measure comes from Western countries and includes a strong level of technology transfer – courtesy of S. Majumber on The Hindu Business Line on IFM data) and, again, usage: Chinese production vs. Indian services. First point: is the country economic and social development plan that drives inequality within the country, not really the FDI or the technology.

Tech is a first and foremost a fabric, a neural system upon which building up, is an energy source enabling further advances. If this energy is “held in hostage” by a small fraction of any given country, it is not a tech “genetic” fault, isn’t it? Extend this at macro-geographic level and it may still apply.

The actual chasm between deployment and usage of tech resources determines the inadequacy of a given country system to compete in a given “scenario”. What it should be important to notice is the fact that there are multiple scenarios to fit in, and the combination of all scenarios are making up the “global wealth”. Therefore, as far as providing “living energy” for the Planet (since we are talking about globalisation..) is the main task, we all need a China (with less pollution maybe??) and we need an India. We need tech and we need plough. Question is about how to rightly value both.

Capital flows are not actually designed to improve a country systemic wealth, or a macro-geography systemic advance, but generally serve the purpose of few “actors”, and capital moves around to foster any potential mid term return. To ignite technology in a system is the easiest way to foster a mid term return, it is like a steroid cure for the weakest, that seldom conduct to long term gains if the cure is not supported by a targeted and systemic distribution of the new “booster”. Again, it is about the divide and not the tech itself.

Someone, guess it is the FT columnist, argues that on a global scale inequality is certainly shrinking, I am questioning whether this is a statistical statement, which clearly encompass a massive rise of rich limited portions of a country population and a significantly larger grouping still feeding the former with brute manpower….

And on we could go… bottom line is there still are three, if not four “planet Earth” on the same celestial object we all inhabit and whether there are rich or poor nations and people it is not because of technology, which ultimately the human race has developed and still control, but it is about the stronger against the weaker, it is about profit and power, not about bytes and IT services.

Plauto, a latin author of III century B.C, gave us “homo homini lupus”, which Hobbes transformed in a castle of thinking, and Shakespeare, in his Julius Caesar, made Cassius pronouncing “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

Have a thought.

Loopt and your whereabouts on display.. why???

October 23, 2007 Leave a comment

I have been reading an article, courtesy of the Italian “Corriere della Sera”, about the advent of GPS based localisation services in USA, nothing new to be honest, and the consequent ramp up within the youngsters.. for a mere $2.99 a month, everybody connected to services from Loopt and Helio Buddy Beacon may actually be seen and found over a GPS-enabled map… OK, fair enough, you do have the possibility (how kind..) to decide who can map you down (try and say “no” to your wife/husband or girl/boyfriend..) but nonetheless other “someone” will always know your whereabouts…

How hard will it be to ask and answer to the question “Where the …. are you???”. Not too long since the power of disconnection will hit the roads..trust me!!!