Instead of punishing bankers why not disrupt them?

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Instead of punishing bankers why not disrupt them?

I'm not the biggest fan of banks. Not content with crashing the world economy my own bank took the time to personally defraud me. The EU is currently planning to cap banker bonuses and this is just nuts.

It feels like an attack on the UK, where the lions share of our economy is banking and people coming to see the Queen. 

It feels anti-capitalist - why bankers? Why not footballers or movie stars or orthodontists? 

But mostly it feels like the wrong form of revenge, too easy to circumvent and ultimately likely to be toothless. Banks may say they have to pay outlandish bonuses to attract the best talent, but really it means the industry is ripe for innovation. Regulators should figure out and then remove barriers to entry (and throw up barriers to unfair competition, and hold competitions to encourage innovation) so that startups and software can eat the financial services sector.

Too big to fail all at once, but not too big to be disrupted into irrelevance. 

Reviews and Links for February 2013

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Shift Omnibus Edition (Wool, #6-8) by Hugh Howey

3/5

I read this straight after the Wool series. The Shift trilogy fills in the back story of how the silos were created and then starts to overlap with the events from Wool. Shift didn't have quite the same tension as Wool and I didn't care about the characters as much. Still hooked though and can't wait for Dust later this year...

 

Wool Omnibus (Wool, #1-5) by Hugh Howey

Wool Omnibus (Wool, #1-5) by Hugh Howey

4/5

Collection of five novellas set in a mysterious silo. A little more is revealed with each chapter and the series gets more compelling and ambiguous as we learn more about what's really going on. Didn't know what to expect (got this as a Christmas Present) but very enjoyable and I've gone straight on to the next omnibus with a final tranche due later this year.

 

Bringing a SHIELD to a conker fight

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Bringing a SHIELD to a conker fight

I've supported the SHIELD Act before, which would force patent trolls to pay legal bills for unsuccessful shakedown attempts, but a TechCrunch article today made me think this through some more. 

SHIELD would be a serious deterrent for trolls who have their eye on large companies with the means to defend themselves. But trolls eat startups first and a startup is often unable to fight through the courts and get to the point where SHIELD would help. If the troll is after something like $1,000 from every company using a scanner then not many businesses are going to risk going to court. And if the troll isn't interested in any reasonable settlement then the legal fees and management distraction can kill you

SHIELD is well intentioned and would certainly help. But we need to stop examining patents before issuing them and do the job properly for the few that ever get used in anger. 

Chinese New Year

Updated on Sunday, May 3, 2020

Chinese New Year

I can't post a single photo

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

I can't post a single photo

You'd think Facebook or Twitter could scrape together a semi-functional Android client but apparently not.

Twitter has some size limit for photo uploads. In a sane world the client would resize a photo that was too large and just get on with it. Table stakes would be an error message. But no, it pretends everything is just peachy and then fails to upload. To post a photo to Twitter I have to remember to go into the camera settings and ratchet down the megapixels which I remember to do about never. 

Facebook used to work occasionally but now just dumps an ugly immobile progress bar that won't go away until I reboot the phone. 

Google+ probably works fine technically but if a photo is uploaded to a forest and there is nobody there to see it is that still in any sense counted as success?

Reviews and Links for January 2013

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

2/5

I always want to like Kim Stanley Robinson a lot more than I do. The setup here is an interesting mystery set in a fascinating fully populated Solar System and if 2312 delivered on this premise it could have been a great book. But it's bogged down with exposition and a lengthy middle section on randomly repopulating extinct mammals and ended up just being a slog for me.

Going Chrome

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Going Chrome

I came to Chrome OS by a circuitous route. Initially I though a browser in a box was a silly, under-powered toy. But then I needed a meeting machine for work.

To start with I decided to use an old Macbook. It was running OSX 10.5 (Leopard) which is a bit out of date so I thought I'd update it to the latest 10.8 (Mountain Lion) goodness. But this turned out to be impossible to do from my desk. Before I could go to 10.8 I'd have to get physical media for 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and patch it up to the point where it would accept an upgrade. This meant shipping a disc or visiting an Apple Store and getting smarmed at. Unacceptable.

So I decided to ditch OSX and install Windows 8. This was a cheap online purchase and a painless install... but Windows 8 is a disaster on a non-touch device. Everything takes an extra few clicks or a half-mile scroll to the right. 

Live tiles seem like a good idea until you realize that you're not looking at the start screen often enough for them to be of any value. If Microsoft had introduced a permanent ticker at the bottom of the screen or a secondary tile screen on all Windows 8 certified devices life could have been more interesting. 

Removing the start button so you have to go into touch and swipe mode to do anything is a pain. A boot to desktop mode would be great for older devices.

The deal breaker though is the increasingly assertive Windows Update. Twice in meetings it decided to reboot the computer. It used to be you could delay updates for hours but Windows 8 just knows that the latest patch is more important that whatever you happen to be working on and cheerfully pulls the plug. 

Admittedly you can figure out how to find the vestigial, non-Windows 8 config for Windows 8 and go to manual mode. And then figure out how to turn off the nagging for not having the recommended Windows Update setting. But but by this point you realize that you've got a operating system that is about updates first and getting work done second. And Windows 8 Windows Update doesn't even update Windows Store apps so you've got a live tile nagging for updates every five seconds as well. 

On top on the Windows 8 horror the Macbook was old, heavy and had a puny battery. Also, after installing Windows 8 the only software I needed to install was Chrome and the office VPN client. Once this sunk in I ordered the new Samsung Chromebook.  

Setup on the Chromebook is: 1. Login to your Google Account (with support for two-factor authentication), 2. Choose a wallpaper (optional). 

I'm not likely to use a Chromebook as my primary machine any time soon. It is however a meeting powerhouse for email, IMs, calendar and note taking. I replaced Skype with imo.im (which I've used on Android for a while). Full Outlook web access took a bit of head scratching - see this post for details. Google Apps and Hangouts work seamlessly as you'd expect. It's light and the battery lasts all day.

The only niggle so far is that Chrome OS doesn't support the flavor of VPN that my company uses. It would be nice to get to the wiki, but it's not a deal breaker (If you have a Cisco VPN that insists on a group name go vote for this bug). 

Microsoft and Apple should be really rather worried.

Updated 2013-07-17 13:54:

Two quick updates.

Providing a group name to use with Cisco VPN devices was added in Chrome 28. Unfortunately it still doesn't work for me. I've filed issue 261241 on the chromium bug tracker for this - you can star this issue if you have the same problem.

Skype has managed to block Imo.im so that no longer works for Skype on a Chromebook. I'm using IM+ for now, but it's not nearly as good - it doesn't remember passwords and it keeps silently losing connectivity so it's easy to miss chats.

(Read the full Chromebook adventure: Part 1: Going Chrome, Part 2: Staying Chrome? and Part 3: Leaving Chrome)

Full Outlook Web Access on Chromebook

Updated on Monday, May 11, 2020

Outlook Web Access

When trying to load the Outlook Web App on a Chromebook you'll find that you can only access the 'light' version. It's pretty easy to fix, you just need to spoof the user agent. 

On a regular desktop computer launch Chrome and type chrome://version in the address bar. Find and copy the user agent string. 

On your Chromebook install the User-Agent Switcher extension. After this installs click the icon and choose Settings. Enter a new customer user agent - name something like 'Chrome Desktop', the user agent string is the one you copied from a desktop PC above, group is Chrome, type is replace and enter a character or two for the indicator flag.

Next click the Permanent Spoof list tab (still in User-Agent Switcher) and enter the domain of your outlook site (i.e. outlook.mycorp.com) and choose the user agent we just created from the drop down list (i.e. 'Chrome Desktop').

Finally log out of Outlook Web Access. You should now be able to uncheck the 'light' experience and get the full version of the Outlook Web App.

(Read the full Chromebook adventure: Part 1: Going Chrome, Part 2: Staying Chrome? and Part 3: Leaving Chrome)

 

Last Light

Updated on Sunday, May 3, 2020

Last Light

Last light of 2012 (up Bernal Hill). Happy New Year!

Reviews and Links for December 2012

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
Phantom (Alexander Hawke, #7) by Ted Bell

Phantom (Alexander Hawke, #7) by Ted Bell

2/5

Sigh. The man can contradict himself in the space of a single sentence. Must stop...