Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Buy on the Rumor, Sell on the Fact

UPDATE: datacharmer at Bluematter thinks visually.

Bruce, yesterday:

Unless you have had the experience of using an advanced smartphone it is hard to explain how transforming it is to have the Internet in your pocket, if I have a question about anything it is mostly as close as my left pocket. But like the iPhone the Tablet is a lot more than a combined phone/usable web browser, it is a host for Apps, millions of them. And it is the Apps that are the game changer. Because the possibilities are quite literally endless.

Sarah, today:

iPad?! Really?! REALLY? Gosh, I’m sorry I no longer have a Nook now. They would have been great partners.

The iPad, now available in Light, Maxi, and Super (8Gb, 16Gb 64Gb)? As Tessa Dare said, are there NO women at Apple who could have given them the heads up (HA) that this is a BAD NAME?…

This isn’t “standing on the shoulders of Kindle.” It’s giving the Kindle half a nod from across a ballroom full of other people you’d rather talk to….

What about onboard social networks, email functionality, or notation from inside iBooks? Wouldn’t that be a key feature to intregrate with the endless onward wanking about Pages? For example: writing a report… and easily with a single gesture including both the source material and the citation using iBooks and Pages?

I realize that reading isn’t the utmost important thing for everyone else, but come on now! Productivity in all forms includes printed material. The lack of interaction demonstrated in iBook makes me hope for other reading alternatives on the iPad (DEAR GOD THE NAME). Color me underwhelmed in a big, big way.

UPDATE II: Brad piles on:

But ffs, it can’t handle flash, and it doesn’t have any way to access media not on its own HD, no disc drive, no usb port in. That’s fine for a phone but not for a potential media player. Apple has finally made something I have no interest in owning.

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Why the Apple Tablet (and clones) will Change the World

by Bruce Webb

I’m serious. But out of mercy towards those who want to reach for sharp objects every time they see a Mac/PC ad, whether that be to hurt themselves or others, I’ll take this below the fold. Because you don’t HAVE to slow down to see that car crash.

For those living in a cave Apple is expected to release its Tablet tomorrow. The Tablet is expected to be essentially a much larger iPhone with a form factor of maybe 10″ by 8″ by 1/4″ meaning slightly bigger but thinner than a trade paperback. Like an iPhone its surface will be almost entirely a screen, and that screen a multi-touch surface meaning that you move within screens and between screens with finger movements. Text input will be by default a virtual keyboard right on the screen although there is no reason in principal it should not accept external wireless or usb input devices.

The expectation is that the Tablet will provide internet and file access everywhere you go, pull it out, push a button, the screen lights up and there you are and all without separating you from the world in the way a laptop does. Eight people sitting around a table with open lap tops is eight people sitting behind mini-walls. Compare that to eight people sitting around a table with legal pads. That is a meeting. A couple having breakfast at a cafe each with a laptop, it might as well be an advertisement for marriage counseling. That same couple at that cafe each browsing through the Sunday paper on their own 8 x 10 screens flat on the table or held in their hands are free to look at each other and talk and share, it is just a totally different look and feel both between them and from the outside in.

And appearance matters, because frankly if you are sitting at a park bench, or at the beach, or in a museum, or watching football while sitting at the bar in your local tavern you look pretty god damn dorkish with an open laptop, and it is not much better if you are peering at some tiny screen on your cell phone. And while I love my iPhone and spend hours and hours a day surfing the web when I am sitting at a table it is abundantly clear thats what I am doing. On the other hand a Tablet will allow you that same access while maintaining a social presense, the screen is there, you can read or manipulate it without disconnecting from the world.

Unless you have had the experience of using an advanced smartphone it is hard to explain how transforming it is to have the Internet in your pocket, if I have a question about anything it is mostly as close as my left pocket. But like the iPhone the Tablet is a lot more than a combined phone/usable web browser, it is a host for Apps, millions of them. And it is the Apps that are the game changer. Because the possibilities are quite literally endless.

You are travelling and maybe a little lost. Pull out your 8 x 10 Tablet push a button and your location is pinpointed on a street map. You are waiting for a train or bus or trying to make a connection. Push a button you got a schedule and a map. You got ten minutes and want to work on a crossword puzzle, or read your bible, or figure out your next move in your chess game, or check the weather, or catch a litle of the game. Pull out your tablet push a button and select an icon. Or catch up on your e-mail or identify that bird or pay some bills, with a tablet you can have one touch access to easily 100 such applications right from your front screen, with many times more on board or in the cloud.

My brother has a Kindle and likes it a lot. But he gets frustrated when reading military history because the battle maps are just so small and he can’t distinguish the individual unit detail. Well that shouldn’t be a problem with a Tablet you just move your fingers and expand the image.

Obviously there are other tablet and tablet hybrid products out there but none that will have access to tens of thousands of free or inexpensive programs. For example how many kids would kill to be able to just pull an 8 x 10 Tablet from their purse or backpack push a button, hit an icon and have their Facebook Wall right there. Or all your music. Or maybe your textbooks. Or if you are a grand mother maybe an entire gallery of photos.

I think it is a category killer. Because I can’t think of anyone who could not use a portable display that can either lay flat on a surface or up on a frame that will display whatever your standard tool: cookbook, parts catalog, U.S. Code, warehouse inventory but that with the touch of a button can turn into a communication device, all while serving as a clock whatever, and then when taken to the break room seamlessly turns into a Soduku puzzle or a paperback, or a newscast, and then after work into a sports trivia book. People who think this will just be another fancy laptop just have not considered the difference the form factor and the fact that it is a sealed unit makes. You have to be kind of an obsessed nut to take your laptop to the beach, or bikeriding, or camping or really to any tourist attraction. But what if you could just dump all your photos into the tablet and display them immediately, or have all your route or USGS Topo maps preloaded. Particularly since like the iPhone it is likely to come with built-in GPS. Instead of being a geek who brings his office on vacation, you have a way of enhancing that vacation experience (while still being in touch with the office as necessary.)

Last but not least this thing will a blogger’s dream, particularly for the casual blogger. Because it will allow monitoring and updating your blog to be done everywhere without the hassle of trying to deploy a laptop. Now you wouldn’t want to sit down and pound out serious copy on a virtual keyboard the size that a 10″ tablet with accommodate but it is plenty big to pound out a 400 word post or a five thousand character comment. And live-blogging anything becomes a snap.

Best feature of all? Nearly beer-proof. Spill a ball park beer on your laptop and you really will be crying, and not over the beer. Spill it on a tablet and absent some really bad luck you are a wet towel away from being back to a blogging machine.

(No word if it will have a video camera like the iPod Nano but if it does, we got Dick Tracy’s Wrist TV. Only 70 years later!)

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Technology and unemployment


Sandwichman, the go to guy on labor issues and author of the series Chapman, Labor, and Unemployment at Econospeak suggests an alternative to the myth of supremacy of capital, which is after all an idea that reminds me of King Midas in our little child version, but in the adult world has several versions some of which include the daughter “life”, but in the Illiad is described as a son and a “reaper of men”.

Technology doesn’t destroy jobs. What technology does is make possible and make necessary either increased consumption, increased leisure or both. Unemployment results not from a quantity of jobs deficit but from an adjustment deficit. Unemployment results, that is to say, from a failure to establish a new income, consumption and work time regime commensurate with the new production potential offered by the technological advance.

Furthermore, adjustment is no more “automatic” than is technological change. Hello? Has anyone ever heard of “patents”? Or of government financial subsidies to research and development. On the contrary, adjustment should be considered an inherent part of the reciprocal process of technological innovation. Why it is not treated as such by so-called economists is a question 26,000,000 unemployed and underemployed Americans deserve an answer to.

Update: Yves Smith has a post worth reading at Naked Capitalism regarding Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in The Telegraph.

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Just Because You’re Paranoid Doesn’t Mean Law Enforcement Isn’t Out to Help You

From the coolest possibly-corporate-espionage story of the week:

If only the FBI were to tackle cases of national security and loss of life with the same speed and precision as they confront presumed high-frequency program trading industrial espionage cases… especially those that allegedly involve Goldman Sachs.

The original is from Reuters.

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A Short Note on Optimality

Via Eszter, there is one thing that is very clear from this graphic (duplicated below because I can’t figure out how to embed it):

There is an excess of home-based internet capacity in the United States, for which people are definitionally paying too much.

The question is whether this is a problem. If you argue it is not—that the excess spending gets reinvested and used to develop new products and services that, on balance, benefit the economy—then please explain this in the context of any contemporary economic model.

Discuss in comments.

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A Civil Libertarian is a Congressperson who got Wiretapped

Greenwald on Harman. Read the whole thing.


when the U.S. Government eavesdropped for years on American citizens with no warrants and in violation of the law, that was “both legal and necessary” as well as “essential to U.S. national security,” and it was the “despicable” whistle-blowers (such as Thomas Tamm) who disclosed that crime and the newspapers which reported it who should have been criminally investigated, but not the lawbreaking government officials. But when the U.S. Government legally and with warrants eavesdrops on Jane Harman, that is an outrageous invasion of privacy and a violent assault on her rights as an American citizen, and full-scale investigations must be commenced immediately to get to the bottom of this abuse of power. [links in original omitted; emphasis his]

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Non-Hormel Spam is also an Inferior Good, and there are also Inferior Enablers

Why Yahoo! e-mail may be worth using again, non-Jerry Yang edition:

Security researchers, anti-spam groups and the whole security community in general were taken by surprise yesterday when reports of a sudden drop in junk mail activity started flowing in. This was the result of ISPs depeering McColo Corp., a U.S. based company offering web hosting services to many international cybercrime organizations.

First, there was the gathering of evidence:

McColo Corp. is based in San Jose, California and offers web hosting solutions. Nothing bad so far, but according to many reports and an important amount of evidence, a large number of their clients are shady at best. Security experts estimate that the spam generated by the illegal activities hosted by McColo amounts for a whooping 75% of the junk mail sent everyday on a global level.

Then it was presented to the companies that could do something about it.

Brian Krebs, reputable journalist at The Washington Post, informed on the Security Fix blog that he was involved with forwarding evidence of the criminal activity to Global Crossing and Hurricane Electric, McColo’s two major Internet service providers. “For the past four months, Security Fix has been gathering data from the security industry about McColo Corp. […] On Monday, Security Fix contacted the Internet providers that manage more than 90 percent of the company’s connection to the larger Internet, sending them information about badness at McColo as documented by the security industry,” he writes.

Then it was left to two companies to examine the evidence. Compare and contrast:

According to Krebs, while the response from Global Crossing was rather evasive, Hurricane Electric was a lot more responsive to the abuse report and even quick to act about it. “We looked into it a bit, saw the size and scope of the problem you were reporting and said ‘Holy cow! Within the hour we had terminated all of our connections to them,” Benny Ng, the Freemont-based ISP’s Director of Marketing, told Krebs.

And the result was immediately clear.
Go read the whole thing.

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