JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 186 : 12 July 2005

Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.

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Technology & globalization works in Ireland

Another good article from Tom Friedman of the NY Times - about the transformation of Ireland from one of the poorest countries in Europe to the richest (after Luxembourg) - summarized here.

The country that for centuries was best known for emigration, famines, civil wars and leprechauns today has a per capita income higher than that of Germany, France and Britain. While other more socialistic European and Western countries are suffering high unemployment and low growth, Ireland continues to grow by leaps and bounds. How this happened in just a few decades is an amazing story - embracing education & globalization.

Ireland's turnaround began in the 1960s when the government made secondary education free, enabling a lot more working-class kids to get a high school or technical degree. As a result, when Ireland joined the European Union in 1973, it had a much more educated workforce.

By the mid-80s, while Ireland had reaped the initial benefits of EU membership, they were still not competitive and many educated Irish were simply emigrating. But the new problems motivated even more change. The government, unions, farmers and industrialists agreed on a program of fiscal austerity, slashing corporate taxes to 12.5%, far below the rest of Europe, moderating wages and prices, and courting foreign investment. In 1996 college education was basically free, creating an even more educated workforce.

The results have been phenomenal. Today, nine out of 10 of the world's top pharmaceutical companies have operations in Ireland, as do 16 of the top 20 biotech companies and 7 of the top 10 software leaders.

In 1990 Ireland's workforce was 1.1 million. In 2005 it will reach 2 million, with no unemployment and 200,000 foreign workers (including 50,000 Chinese). The Chinese Premier has visited Ireland many times.

Ireland's advice is simple: make high school and university education free; make corporate taxes low, simple and transparent; seek out global companies; open your economy to competition; speak English; keep your fiscal house in order; and build a consensus around the whole package with labor and management.

Click Thomas L. Friedman: The end of the rainbow

Click Markets Created a Pot of Gold in Ireland

Click Tom Friedman book - The World Is Flat

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Court ruling cannot stop file-swapping

The Supreme Court recently ruled that software companies are indeed liable for the widespread copyright infringement enabled by file-swapping technologies. However, that decision is unlikely inhibit the "illegal" sharing of online music and digital media.

Of course, the decision makes the fate of Grokster, StreamCast Networks and other companies uncertain. But this does not change the ease and availability of file-swapping. Peer-to-peer network software is already used by more than 8 million people worldwide, and is designed to function and evolve without any specific commercial support. This is chaos-theory and self-organization at work.

Napster started file-swapping and was shut down because their website still had the central file directories for swapping. But other people, working independently, soon developed next-generation software that's now more popular than ever. File-swapping has skyrocketed - in the US, the average number of people swapping media files simultaneously on major peer-to-peer networks jumped from about 3 million in 2003 to more than 6 million in 2004. The vast majority are sharing MP3 music files.

The growth of unauthorized file swapping has slowed a bit as online music stores, such as Apple's iTunes and RealNetworks' Rhapsody, have taken off. Also, the Recording Industry Association of America has sued hundreds of file swappers over the past year or so.

But file swapping still continues to be a serious problem for media companies. People are always be tempted by free things. And besides, iTunes and others lack some the features and flexibility of free file-swapping networks. For example, Apple restricts the number of computers on which customers can store songs purchased through iTunes, and also limits the types of devices that can be used for playback.

So in the meantime, while free file swapping may not provide viable business opportunities, many peer-to-peer software developers and users will continue to do it simply because it's possible.

Click Supreme Court Ruling won't slow file swapping

Click Rethinking the File-Swap Morass

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Automation system security

Today's networked control systems most often use the same hardware architectures (Intel based), software (Windows) and networks (Ethernet and TCP/IP) as corporate office and administrative networks. The use of common networks means that vital production and process control systems can be exposed to the same spam, virus and security threats that corporate IT departments have been facing for years.

Security software from companies like McAfee or Symantec could be part of a good security strategy, but not sufficient. Standard anti-virus and anti-spam packages were developed for typical PC users, not for sophisticated, real-time control systems. They could work initially, but updates may disrupt performance.

Most experts agree that automation networks should be completely separate, using specifically designed routers and firewalls. Users and applications should be limited to those specifically required for the process - no email, no games, no Internet browsing.

You might like to read my latest article on automation systems security, published in Automation World June 2005. And hey, you know I like lists - take a look at Microsoft's "10 Immutable Laws of Computer Security" (see web links below).

Click Protecting automation systems against cyber threats

Click 10 Immutable Laws of Computer Security

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Australian automation industry news

Hey, I'm happy to let you know that I'm now a featured columnist on the new Australian "Automation Industry News.net" web-based newsletter. My weekly column "Pinto's Perspectives" appears every Thursday. To do this, I e-chat regularly with Editor Sabian Wilde and am developing my down-under lingo, eh mate?

Automation Industry News.net is an Aspermont web news service focused on global automation technology, equipment and services. AIN delivers high-quality, specialized news and information on key developments and trends in process and factory automation, advances and applications in machine/robotic movement, automated system control and instrumentation.

Aspermont is Australia's leading publisher to mining, oil & gas and related sectors. Aspermont's publishing business includes both printed magazines and Internet news services. Aspermont dominates its business in both print and net for two reasons: a highly regarded team of editors, journalists and contributors; and, competitively priced products.

AIN is primarily a B2B industry news site designed to connect providers of automation technology, products and services, to users of these services and technologies. It is also designed to inform formulators and regulators of policy, and those with direct and indirect investments in the automation products and services industry.

If you're "down under", and even if you're not, take a look at AIN to stay up to date on what's happening in industrial automation.

Click Jim Pinto to join Automation Industry News

Click Aspermont website

Click Automation.Industry-News.Net

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Mohnsí Laws

I've had a lot of feedback on my June 23 coverage of "Ten Laws of the Modern World". Lots of people sent me their own additions to the list.

My friend Dr. Ted Mohns [drtedmohns@yahoo.com] has been tracking these "laws", and I thought you'd be interested in his collection. About half of Mohns' Laws are from other sources, and half he made up.

  • Those who dance are considered insane by those who can't hear the music.
  • There is no free anything.
  • Nothing should ever be taken entirely seriously.
  • Laugh some about everything, eventually.
  • No bad deed goes unpunished.
  • If you can't get out of it, get into it.
  • Reconsider the human tendency to feel that too much is barely enough.
  • Where there's life, there's a close relative of yours.
  • Expect nothing and you will vastly enlarge your experience.
  • To have a good life, put more back in than you take out.
  • Sorry is exactly as good as safe. Mistakes are essential.
  • Killing time is the second-stupidest act possible.
  • Gratuitous harm is the stupidest act possible.
  • All you need is love. Really.
  • Steadfastly challenge all arbitrary authority.
  • All authority is arbitrary.
  • Mathematics and law aside, all "facts" are only approximations, some less crude and more useful than others.
  • It's better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
  • What we want is commonly not what we need.
  • Every day above ground is a good day.
  • Appearing full of oneself reflects emptiness.
  • When you think you entirely understand something is quite often the moment at which you know the least about it. On occasion, the converse statement may be true
  • No unsolicited proselytizing allowed. Any belief system should work well enough that others first ask to hear about it.
  • We can only participate, never control.
  • In many situations, the only difference between stubborn and stupid is one of degree.
  • Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups. Awareness of our mortality is the father.
  • Limits are made to be tested.
  • Find the good and praise it.
  • Above the poverty line, there is no correlation between more money and satisfaction in living.
  • Always believe behavior over words.
  • What you are able to hear is more important than what you say.
  • The heart knows more than the head.
  • Avoid anyone who gives a personal name to their house, their car, or their genitals.
  • It works best to focus on process and benchmarks rather than on "outcomes", which are largely an illusion.
  • IQ and wisdom are not correlated.

Click Forbes, Rich Kaarlgard - Ten Laws Of The Modern World

Click The 10 Laws of Sales Success

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Shreesha Chandra [Shreesha.Chandra@sg.yokogawa.com] discusses growth in India and China:
    "A lot of people are predicting phenomenal growth of both India and China. Some recent news items are worth looking into, to understand that that there are indeed limitations that hold back the progress:

    1. There are power failures in Mumbai, the financial capital of India
    2. China is facing terrible power shortages
    3. China may still be at a risk of resurfacing SARS <>LI>Theft and sale of personal data from India call centers

    "It is obvious that both India and China suffer from lack of infrastructure for existing business, let alone the predicted growth. Even if decisions are made quickly, the power and roadways requirements will take years to implement. And given the volume of consumers in both these countries, demand will outstrip supplies for a long time.

    "China may have a better chance of catching up because of tight Government controls. But it will still take longer to integrate into international business. It may take decades to overcome the language barrier.

    "India has a better chance due to seemingly unending capacity with English speaking people. But, the decision making and political implementation processes are so weak that the pace of infrastructure building needed will not happen for decades. Anyone who has experienced commuting even short distances to work in Bangalore (the IT capital) will vouch for the total mismanagement.

    "No one is forgetting that "The World Is Flat". A SARS type scare in China can really scare away the investors and will take years to recover. The recent theft/sale of confidential personal data from a call center in India will make overseas customers stop to think.

    "The above issues sometimes seem to be trivial in the respective countries, but are viewed very seriously by outsiders. But the decision to drastically change any dependencies will spell disaster to the world economy. These issues are the tip of the iceberg of future warnings, as there are no adequate systems in place to contain them. So cultural integration is needed for the World to become really 'flat'."

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Eoin ” Riain [readout@iol.ie] provides a different view of the recent European Union NO votes:
    "John Carver's view on the failure of the European Vote in France and the Netherlands is not a universal one in Europe. He fails to give a reason why these people voted No, although he does tell us in detail why he would vote No!

    "The reasons that France and the Netherlands voted the way they did had little to do with the document they were voting on.

    "Mr. Carver quotes somebody who states that the European Parliament is 'not designed to have any powers.' But this is belied by the fact that the European Parliament has in fact sacked the European Commission at least once. The EC is the unelected body that runs the community. Yes it is unelected but it is a civil service and in that sense it runs the Union. It has rejected individual Commissioners (who must present themselves before the Parliament before appointment) when they were put forward for appointment and it has certainly delayed, if not rejected, Commission budgets in the past.

    "It is not the strongest of the European bodies; but to say it has no power is incorrect. In fact the views expressed by Mr. Carver in some way explain how 24 out of 25 members of the European Countries blame Mr. Blair for the recent collapse of the European Council meeting.

    "I find it very interesting that, in his diatribe, John Carver says nothing at all constructive. Yes the European Union has much wrong with it; but these will not be improved by negative and destructive comments."

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Jerry VanEe [javanee@shaw.ca] comments on recent topics:
    "Several months ago, my wife and I were watching a program that was aired with a scrolling 'information bar' at the bottom of the screen. I do not remember what the program was, or what information was scrolling along the bottom. What I do remember, it that I taped a piece of paper along the bottom 1.5" of the screen to blank out the scrolling section. This made the 'primary' program viewable. This is one illustration that for the most part, multi-tasking does not work.

    "I appreciate your regular recommendations of books and I often order them on Amazon. One "multi-tasking" practice I have found effective, is to order the books on tape or CD and listen to them while driving.

    "I bought Harry G. Frankfurt's book "On Bulls--t" on CD and enjoyed it immensely. Even after I listened to it several times, I was still not sure if Mr. Frankfurt has written a book about BS, or has simply contributed to the overall supply.

    "I was raised on a farm, so I do not find regular use of the "S" word offensive, but I can understand that some people would. I have vivid memories of my dad pushing back from the dinner table and announcing, 'Well; time to go shovel some s--t.' Today I find this expression could be used at the start of many work days, or as we go into meetings at the office."

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