Categories
Business POLITICS

Greece using Covid19 to leapfrog ahead!

This is no conspiracy theory. The Greek government has done an admirable job handling the pandemic. To be honest, it was much easier than others. We have no economy. Sending everyone home when half the population isn’t working anyway is no big decision. Taking an aggressive approach when your economy depends largely on tourism is also an easy choice. If we manage to salvage July and August on the Greek islands it will be a major victory. Leaders of countries with actual working economies that produce something had a much harder job. Sure Trump and Boris Johnson are inept, but we should not disregard how much harder it is to make any decision when there are billions riding on it.

Here in Greece it was easy to stop schools. We have a terrible educational system run by civil servants who do their best not to work or be evaluated. Not much difference if they close. In England it could cripple many companies when parents have to stay at home. Here it is easy for most people. Same with our enormous civil sector. Nobody misses the paper pushers when they are gone.

Some years ago, when my kids still thought I knew the answer to everything, they asked me what I would do if I became prime minister. (Because it was so obvious that I was the wisest man in the world!) I didn’t have to think much, the answer was obvious: “I would force everyone to get on a single IT system for everything.” This would solve most of our woes, from the black economy, to corruption.

And voila!

We now have most of the population at home. Online most of the time. How will they return to work when this is all over? They won’t! Our Prime minister used to be minister of Interior. He had a thing about organizing the civil service better. Here is how he will do it: What we will do is ask them, under the pretense of health and safety, to work online. Civil servants in Greece have managed to avoid using computers. About two decades ago some minister tried to make it compulsory for them to use email. He failed. They still don’t. But they could now!

These civil servants are all being paid full salaries and bonuses even though they are at home. So you could easily ask them to start signing in on a computerized system. Next step would be to get them to monitor some simple procedure, much as they would stamp approval on paper in their offices. Then more procedures on the same electronic platform. “Hey, we are paying you, it is dangerous to go back to the office, this is the only way!” It is not hard to imagine the entire civil service being restructured in less than a year like this. And the best part is that whoever can’t or won’t join the digital revolution will be self exiling themselves.

I am optimistic I know. My kids tell me that too now that they are older.

Categories
Health

How come flight attendants don’t get the virus?

My partner works for a major airline. They have tens of thousands of people that come into contact with travellers every day. Here are some aspects of flight attendants in particular that make them worthy of being examined for possible clues about the new coronavirus:

1. It is impossible for a flight attendant (FA) to lie about being ill. They are a fairly unique professional group. For most of us if we feel unhealthy, it is just an excuse at work or an email from home and we disappear off the grid. I could be writing this while burning with a fever and you would be none the wiser. FAs are in very public scrutiny for many hours before and after every flight. The FAs flying to and from China since last November when this outbreak begun were at the airport many hours before and after flights and had to go through a number of check points. If one was burning with fever they would have been flagged.

2. It is also impossible for a FA to be ill with this coronavirus and all their colleagues not to know about it. They are a tight knit bunch with intense social media (chat groups) to solve every day issues. Even on their Facebook groups they often post about minor medical issues. Especially for American based FAs it is completely impossible that one would have coronavirus symptoms and at least 5-6 people would not be instantly alerted.

So for starters it is a group of people that is impossible to under report. It is also a pretty large sample size. Let’s look at their daily grind for clues:

1. They are in close proximity to 100-200 people in every flight for many hours.

2. Before the outbreak they wore no gloves or protective equipment.

3. Airplanes have no particularly special air filtration systems (for viruses).

4. Airplanes are stationary, full of people and FAs for several hours in total, often without air conditioning working at zero altitude. (In case you had some theory about cosmic rays killing corona virus.) So even if a pressurized cabin impedes the circulation of water vapour it isn’t always pressurized.

If someone more expert than me on air travel thinks about it, there are probably a dozen more factors like the above. And someone more expert than me should really look into the fact that so far only one flight attendant has contracted coronavirus. Maybe there are valuable clues in this (pretty large) sample of professionals for a fast solution to what needs to be done.

(In terms of cases of flight attendants with coronavirus, at the time of writing I can find only two. One Korean and one Japan Air.)

Categories
Society

Major scientific breakthrough on the virus from Greece

Did you know that contact with silver kills the coronavirus? In fact, according to most Greek priests, it kills all strands of the virus, even the new ones, even the ones we don’t know much about yet. Because the spoons used in communion are silver. 1+1=101

In case you haven’t visited a Greek church, Holy communion here is not like the rest of the world. We don’t do a wafer, biscuit or whatever else would make sense. No, Orthodox Christians in Greece share a spoon and drink from the same cup! And if you think that is ludicrous, wait until you hear the excuses they give for this. They range from “Christ kills all evil contained in communion” to “it is the alcohol in communion that saves us.” Fifty, a hundred or more people, gather on Sundays and basically exchange saliva based on the belief that this is an on-demand miracle, much like the spontaneous combustion every year in Jerusalem that gives us the fire to light our Easter candles.

For Greeks this is normal. The Greek Orthodox Church pretty much controls the Justice system and government. Greek schools teach more of what the church demands than most other topics. They own enormous parts of the country, prime real estate in central locations and of course an entire peninsula which in direct contrast to every single rational argument remains only for men. The President of Greece, now a woman, can not visit a part of the country because …well, because the church says so.

It is, of course, the right of every human to believe whatever they like. But in terms of public health, such irresponsible behavior that flies directly in the face of all available scientific knowledge is truly and monumentally criminal. The only miracle in this whole ridiculous farse is that the World Health Organization hasn’t intervened.

The image is from a preposterous article explaining away various cases

(Image link https://www.vimaorthodoxias.gr/peri-zois/i-theia-koinonia-se-eidikes-periptoseis/ )

Categories
Society

I think Greta should cut her hair

No, I am not one of those that make fun of the girl. I admire her and fully support the effort. From a communications point of view, Greta Thunberg greatly helped both bring forward important issues and the idiots that oppose global warming initiatives with no valid scientific or logical counter-arguments. In fact, I have an idea to cut emissions immediately, drastically and effectively.

Shave your head.

In fact don’t shave it, use a machine, less waste. If the entire planet shaved their heads the benefits would be enormous. I challenge some universities to calculate them in detail. We start of course with shampoos and conditioners and all those other hair washing products, their plastic containers, moving them across the globe, disposing of them. Then there is the water wasted in hours of washing hair, the energy to heat that water. Chemicals, gels, dyes, poisoning us and the planet. Electricity wasted drying hair, straightening or whatever else you do to hair. Time and energy wasted going to hair salons and all other trips related to hair. If we run the entire chain backward and eliminate hair care, I am pretty sure we can shave off 1 degree Celsius from the planet just by shaving our heads.

Starting with Greta.

My head. (I am setting a good example for the rest of you)
Categories
Business

The end of Apple has begun (Forbes deleted this article)

Just take whatever the article says and add “oh, and somebody thought it would be a good idea to delete this article”. I wrote about how Google got revenge on Apple for their privacy initiative through the Pixel 3a some time ago. Here is what the original article said:

The End of Apple Has Begun

Stephen McBride

Stephen McBrideContributor MarketsThe editor of RiskHedge Report

The End of Apple
The End of Apple© 2019 BLOOMBERG FINANCE LP

When Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage this September, nobody expected the shocking news he was about to deliver…

He unveiled the new iPhone 11—the most advanced phone Apple has ever made.

But it was not the triple-lens camera and lustrous finishes that stole the show. It was the phone’s price tag.

For the first time ever, Apple cut its iPhone price.

As I’ll explain, Apple made this move out of desperation… and it may well spell the beginning of the end of Apple’s run as a dominant company.

Apple Is a Phone Company

Let’s get one thing straight…

Apple is not a computer company anymore.

Apple is a phone company.

Since it introduced the iPhone in 2007, Apple has sold 2.2 billion phones raking in over a trillion dollars in sales—more than any other phone maker in history. Meanwhile, Apple stock shot up over 2,037%… and became the world’s largest publicly traded company.

RiskHedge
RISKHEDGE

iPhone Is Apple’s Golden Goose

Apple has earned a whopping $1.99 trillion since 2007. The thing is, more than half of it came from iPhone sales.

iPhone is not only Apple’s best-selling product by far. It’s also the company’s most profitable product.

For every dollar an iPhone brings into the company, Apple earns $0.60–0.74, according to PhoneArena. Compare that to the MacBook Air… Apple’s most profitable notebook…which earns a mere $0.29 on the dollar.

If it weren’t for the iPhone, Apple wouldn’t be where it is today. Without the iPhone, Apple would be a mediocre computer company like Dell at best.

iPhone Sales Stalled Out

For years, iPhone revenues have sprinted higher at an exponential pace.

But in 2015, Apple reached an inflection point. The growth of its iPhone sales has died out, as you can see below…

RiskHedge
RISKHEDGE

Last year, Apple sold 14 million fewer phones than it did three years ago.

That’s not unusual, though.

When Apple unveiled the first iPhone, the smartphone was groundbreaking technology. The typical lifecycle of a groundbreaking technology looks like this:

Sales skyrocket out of the gate… then flatten out as the market matures… and finally take an inevitable downturn.

Twelve years ago, only 120 million people had a cell phone. Today, over five billion people own a smartphone, according to IDC.

Apple Found a Way to Extend the iPhone Lifecycle

As I wrote earlier, Apple has found a masterful way to extend iPhone’s prime time. The company raised iPhone prices to offset slowing sales and keep its revenue figures growing.

Think about it… In 2010, you could buy a brand-new iPhone 4 for $599.

In 2017, you would have had to fork over $849 for the iPhone 8 and $1,149 for the iPhone X… Apple’s most expensive phone.

The price hikes kept Apple’s growth engine alive… and for this reason, its revenues have gone on marching higher since 2011.

But there was also another reason Apple was forced to hike its phone prices…

iPhones Are More Expensive for Apple, Too

Take a close look at the chart below. It shows how much it costs for Apple to make an iPhone…

RiskHedge
RISKHEDGE

With the exception of a few years, the cost of making an iPhone has been climbing higher since 2007.

The first iPhone cost Apple just above $200 to make. Meanwhile, iPhone XS (the latest iPhone Apple reported on) costs double that.

Apple has always set records with its phone prices. But as you can see, it did it for a reason. It had to offset the ever-growing costs.

But as I warned my readers before, it was just a matter of time before Apple had to pull back with its pricing.

It didn’t take long….

iPhone Has a New Feature: Lower Prices

Last September, Apple unveiled iPhone XR, a less advanced and more affordable version of the iPhone X.

It cost $749, a 35% drop from the iPhone X’s $1,145 price tag.

But in truth, it was almost the same iPhone X, only disguised as a budget phone. It was basically an excuse for Apple to release a cheaper phone to get its sales figures back on track.

This year, Apple went a step further. It slashed the price of its full-fledged iPhone. The newly released iPhone 11 started at $699, a price point not seen since 2017.

Apple did it as a last resort to spur lackluster demand. But in doing so, it has signaled the beginning of the end of its lucrative iPhone business.

The End of Apple

See what’s happening?

Not only is Apple selling fewer iPhones, it’s now earning much less on each one.

Recent financial reports show that iPhone revenues… which have been Apple’s lifeblood… are starting to sink.

Last quarter, Apple earned 10% less from iPhones than it did during the same period last year. That’s a loss of about $20 billion!

Apple has never earned so little from iPhones… and all this will start showing up in Apple’s financial reports very soon.

Let me make it clear: half of Apple’s business is going off the rails, and there’s no turning back.

While Apple admits the demise of iPhone and is looking into new business directions, these things don’t happen overnight. Meanwhile, Apple’s money-making machine is grinding to a halt.

As I warned you earlier this year, Apple is a ticking time bomb… and for this reason, I’d recommend staying away from this stock.

Written with the assistance of Dainius Runkevičius.

As it appears in Google search cache

Pretty straightforward stuff. Forbes’ analysts have made similar predictions in the past, that is what analysts do after all. Last August Forbes published one entitled “Dark days are closing in on Apple” for example. But getting an article deleted like this now is either Apple with its usual heavy-handed journalist blackmailing techniques or a very clever and sneaky Forbes self-promotion.

Categories
Communication

Thanos Dimadis: a media phenomenon

Twitter, Instagram and a variety of blogs yet I hadn’t ever noticed him. Apparently he was a journalist for AlphaTV or something. Which isn’t saying much. And then the Guardian expose stated that “multiple email communications from 2018 and 2019 detail the entwinement of two senior executives at Bayer’s US operations with a Greek journalist and “communications strategist” named Thanos Dimadis who served briefly as executive director for the 101-year-old New York-based Foreign Press Association (FPA), and the related Foreign Press Foundation (FPF).”

That sounds important. As if he was quite high up in the pecking order. Wikipedia says that ” Athanasios “Thanos” Dimadis is a Greek journalist, political analyst, communications strategist, TV news personality, In 2018, Lally Weymouth, the senior editor of Washington Post, stated publicly about Dimadis “sets a great example to all young people who want to become journalists.” ” Wow. A great example eh?

So it was interesting to read a Facebook post by a Facebook friend which openly described him as completely useless and well, a moron. (Doubt Google translate will help you, he lays on the verbal abuse pretty heavily.) I was just about to defend Mr Dimadis. After all the expose was not really focused on his abilities or lack of abilities but the organization he worked for. And then Mr Dimadis decided to intervene himself.

In what must be a model of “how NOT to handle a negative Facebook post”, unless the profile is a fake account and/or being written by a vicious troll, Mr Dimadis first tried to intimidate though a veiled threat of legal action. Kostas called his bluff. It was too easy. Then the Thanos Dimadis profile decided to call me a “malaka” (common Greek profanity -literally means “masturbator”) which was not only uncalled for, it was downright ridiculous. This man held positions of responsibility in the Foreign Press Association (FPA)? It can’t be.

Yet there he was, just digging himself deeper and deeper into a completely ludicrous position on a public Facebook post. I have seen six years olds handle such situations better than him. The scandal is not really if he sent the emails the Guardian article refers to and what that may mean for Bayer, lobbying and corporate pressure on news’ organizations. The scandal is that someone like Thanos Dimadis was on the other end of such an email in the first place.

Categories
Communication

If you live in the UK, switch off Facebook for a few weeks

I have a Masters degree in Media, Communication and Society. Yet I have no exact data to give you about precisely how Facebook messes up our heads. But I know it is dangerous before a snap election. And you can’t win. So take a break.

Facebook is evil. Those that try and bunch it with Amazon, Google or Apple are completely missing the point. Facebook reflects all the immaturity of Mark Zuckerberg, essentially still an adolescent hacker, just with more money and power. That is a really bad combination. And he isn’t improving. Anyone that uses Facebook knows how often it just breaks, weird things happen and normal things don’t happen. Mark doesn’t care. If you use it for business it is even worse. It feels like a very one-sided relationship. He pretends and strongly suggests you do something, you do it, win for a little and then he screws you. He says “everyone make a Facebook page for your company” and then he neuters pages. Effectively nobody sees your page unless you pay. Then he says “video is the future”. At first videos get ridiculously good response. Then, you guessed it, pay to be seen. Groups, Live, every feature the same trick.

Does Facebook sell your data? Hell yeah! In as many ways as it can get away with! And if you catch them with one Cambridge Analytica it will just find different ways to do the same thing. It is more of a losing race than building antibiotics for new viruses because in this game Facebook holds all the cards.

But no, you think, I am a mature adult, with good critical thinking skills and a firm grip on what happens around me. So you think you will “help” your friends read the political situation do you? Guess again! Nobody is reading your posts. Facebook is designed to surround you with a few, the same, people liking and commenting. Your impact is close to zero unless you want to pay a few million to Facebook HQ for a deal as good as their big customers.

So to all fellow British passport holders, anyone going to vote in the upcoming UK elections I say “turn it off”. Deactivate your account for a month, no big deal. You will have more time to do yoga, meditation or anything that will help you be calm and accepting of the results. You are not deciding who wins. Mark is going to do you over again. So just prepare for the morning after.

Categories
Technology

World Health solved (it is still noon)

Nope. Not yet. I will not buy a smartwatch. Not smart enough. Sure, if you like wearing a watch anyway, there are plenty choices that also measure things. It’s not that I am waiting for more sensors. Even with what is available today on a $30 smart band we should be getting more useful information.

My phone knows how much ground I am covering when walking my kids to school. The watch knows my heart rate. So why isn’t it telling me if I am getting more or less fit? My phone knows how much screen time I am getting late at night. My watch knows how well I slept. So why isn’t it telling me exactly what to change in my schedule? Hey Google, should I watch a movie or mess about on Facebook right now?

These examples are simply scratching the surface. As I fire up Google Docs and start writing, it could even give me ideas like “go drink something, you are struggling to get a decent sentence” or “I see you can’t find a catchy title. Maybe tomorrow you go for a walk first, statistically, you come up with titles much faster on days that you walked in the morning before.”

The only rational reason a company like Google isn’t doing this is so that we don’t freak out. It is far from inconceivable that the company knows when we go to the toilet and how long we spend there. Without demanding any user input (that’s how I like it best) we could be getting very very useful advice on diet and lifestyle that really make a massive difference. Our phone knows which doctors we visit and when anyway. Our Google searches, the apps we use, the speed with which we click or even how often we idly play with our phone’s screen unlock, all these data points, when connected, surely give a powerful insight into our health, mood and potential at any point in time. Over time and with millions of people on this platform, it is safe to assume major new roads of inquiry would open in terms of global health. If a pandemic struck the world, we would not be blind begging for more test data; we would already have it as some combination of heart rate/temperature/activity/blood oxygen would surely fit a pattern which would fairly accurately predict if you have SARS or something like that.

The more you think about it like that, it is ludicrous that doctors aren’t demanding this data in order to make better decisions.

Categories
Technology

World “adopt an iPhone user” day!

We all have blind spots. In technology, we get excited about them too very often. Opinionated. Most times it doesn’t matter. People buy what they want to buy and find ways to convince themselves it was a good choice.

Especially if it costs more than a thousand bucks.

My partner was an iPhone user. Not one of those that just uses it as a phone and for posting selfies on Instagram. Due to her demanding work, she really puts it through its paces, uses many apps for many parts of her life. And then she met me. With a 250 dollar “flagship killing” Chinese Android smartphone that kicked the iPhone’s ass on every front.

First it was the wifi. “Alex, how come your phone is already connected and mine is struggling?” Don’t know hon, maybe because Apple has always been a walled garden technologically? “OK, let’s say they do it for some internal political or security reason. But why does your phone see eight wifi networks and mine struggles to see three from the exact same location?”

Then it was the signal. I mean the actual “I need to use the phone” connection. On the same provider, from the same location. I am loud and clear, whizzing at 4G speeds on my browser and not even the ghost of Steve Jobs holding the iPhone “correctly” could save this poor device.

Even I, the great iPhone hater, the person that has ranted against Apple since 1981 more or less without a toilet break, thought it must be the device. Maybe it is faulty. Try a hard format. Try changing the device. Nope. Nada. Even if you uninstall dozens of apps and have it running as “clean” and lite as possible, the iPhone is no match.

Do you care? Well, unless you are next to me, you won’t notice. My PocoF1, an old phone by now, only scores 91 on DXOmark for its camera, the iPhone should be blasting me with its fantastic camera, shouldn’t it? Well it doesn’t. Because I have flexibility. And sure, theoretically, a well informed iPhone user has options in software and add-ons to make feature films and masterpieces. But the Apple mentality is “keep it simple stupid” and that is what the users end up being. Stupid. I could go through hundreds (literally) things like that. Plug an Android phone into your computer, drag and drop mp3s, documents or movies to your memory card. Watch them cringe with envy as you say “damn, that 256GB cost me almost 30 bucks!” Anything an iPhone does, an Android does better, faster, cheaper or for free and with more options. Even if you are rich, even if you have zero time to think about your smartphone, some of these are important to your life. Important to real things that make a real difference. Sure you can work around them. You can ignore them. You can be, well, stupid.

No pressure from me, my partner switched to Android. Now we marvel how much better the GPS is, how I can guess where she is on the plane as our Location Sharing becomes amazingly useful rather than the vague blob it was before. She has a 4000mAh battery and doesn’t have to carry cables, adaptors and worry about running out of juice all the time. Working seamlessly with Google Calendar, Keep, Gmail, Photos, Docs and all the other truly amazing free services from Google improves life instantly and effortlessly. And what she is starting to understand as the phone learns around her Google account is just how well Android adapts to your life and interests.

An occasional Google user, through Gmail and even Chrome if you use it instead of Safari, really isn’t experiencing Google magic. My phone usually knows what I want to do or learn within two or three moves of my finger. That is why I gladly give Google whatever it needs to know about me, my life is infinitely better, more productive and hassle-free. Tim Cook was wrong to start using privacy as a differentiating factor. Not only is Apple as guilty as everyone else in this respect, but it risks making Apple AI and Apple devices even more stupid than they are right now compared to Google.

So adopt an iPhone user. If you love somebody, set them free from Apple blindspots and show them how the rest of the world, even in poor parts of the world, even with sub 200 dollar smartphones, the world is coming together to celebrate the marvels of information-done-right AI productivity.

Categories
Technology

Why do Pixel phones exist? (and how they just hurt Apple in revenge big time)

I never cease to amaze how wrong tech writers get some things. For years now I read about how Google has failed with Pixel phones, “never quite got it right”, “hasn’t got market share” and other such comparisons with companies that are nothing like Google.

Pixel phones were never meant to sell a lot. That would be suicidal. Google is not a hardware company. (Yet) And if it becomes one, it will not be from selling phones that the profits will come. Google sells ads. Everything else is an enticing freebie. To get you to buy ads.

Case in point, Android. The dominant superpower of smartphones globally. Unless you live in a bubble in the West Coast, New York ….or the magazines and tech blogger world. They write about a company with less than 1/10th of the market share globally, as if it is an equally powerful opponent. It is a rerun of the PCs vs Mac “wars” of the past. Again, a completely insignificant market share of Macs was held up so antitrust authorities and whoever doesn’t like monopolies could pretend Microsoft had an opponent.

But Google needed to find a way to control the ecosystem. They tried Nexus, they tried Google One (Google Go, whatever) and they tried Google Pixel. They don’t want to sell million of phones. They want to sell just enough to goad the rest of the market in the right direction. Everyone now talks about a “clean Android” experience as a major selling point. Bloatware on Samsung and other market leaders has gone down dramatically. You are either with Google or …well, with Google but they let you add a twist here and there in case you come up with something innovative.

Enter the Pixel3a. Now that is something different and mysterious. So far they artificially kept Pixel prices high so as not to antagonize other Android manufacturers. Here we have a different story. This is revenge. The product launched just as Tim Cook had decided to make privacy a major selling point on iOS. And with the launch of one device, Google kicked him back in the groin. Just as millions of iPhone users are wondering if it is worth spending 1000 bucks on a new device, the Pixel3a offers premium everything at 400.

Google will not pursue it further. You can be sure that there will be problems with availability and all the other excuses they have used in the past years to purposely stop Pixel and Nexus devices from eating up market share from Google’s Android partners. Tim Cook seems to be backing down on his privacy-based effort to differentiate Apple products. If he doesn’t, Google can easily wipe more value off his company by launching a Pixel 4a or shelling out Amazon Prime day offers for the 3a at 300 bucks or whatever it takes to demolish all that magic dust Apple took years to rub onto their overpriced devices. Google doesn’t even need to make another mid-priced phone. They have just officialized the category. Xiaomi and other manufacturers can now capitalize on it.

It is a great example of how a company loses focus and fails. Apple is too big to fail of course, more an international currency than the dollar. But some of us, in times like this, get a glimpse at just how well a behemoth such as Google can play the monopoly game with style.

Oh, and grab a Pixel 3a, it really is a stunning device for that sort of money.