On robots replacing workers

Image source Wikipedia: Phasmatisnox

Decades of factory automation have already replaced many good jobs–You’ve seen the pictures of the robotic assembly lines building case and such. We’ve heard and maybe have seen kiosks in fast-food establishments…

Automation To Hit Poorer Workers Hardest, Says Report
By David Curry – Sunday Jul 16, 2017
The Proliferation Of Robots And Artificial Intelligence Into The Workplace Will Make Social Inequality Even Worse And Lead To Significant Job Losses, According To A Report From The Boston Consulting Group.The Report Says That While Automation Will Affect A Broad Range Of Jobs, The Rich Will Be Able To Retrain And Deploy Themselves Into New Fields, While People On Lower Incomes Will Not Have Access To Those Same Opportunities.

The economic stimulus package. Can I have that in Chinese Yuan?

China drives tech as US becomes the backseat driver

A report released from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Georgia Tech today link to pdfs, shows that China will soon overtake the US as the driver of high technology innovation. Anyone following the economy in the last year or two knows that China’s demand for raw materials (high oil prices) has already caused a dramatic shift in our daily lives.

Over the next week or so the government will work out details of a stimulus package to put dollars into the hands of Americans to avoid or delay a recession. When it finally is signed, people should see checks by late spring. I’m not going to debate the value of it here, or justify bailing out those who took risky mortgages. I have no idea, but maybe we can get the stimulus in an oil voucher? or if this report is right, in Chinese Yuan?

Back to the report. The have been studying these high tech indicators since the 80’s. It started as a way to measure what country would become the next Japan. In the last 14 years (93-07) the US has dropped some, but China has gained a HUGE amount. See their chart below.

High tech indicators

Today the US has some leverage over China. We innovate and they manufacture. Even with the lost value in knock-off or bootlegged material, we still get value out manufacturing our goods there.

In the near future, they will not only manufacture, but innovate and create new products to sell to us, possibly keeping both slices of pie. China is growing fast and the younger leaders in charge are slowly opening up their economy embracing a more western outlook. I think its too soon to tell what the impact of this inevitable change in the world economy will have for us here in the US.

Comcast begins blocking customers legitimate emails

UPDATE: just received word over an hour ago that comcast has lifted the block on our IP range. Better late than never. Thanks to comcast, they must have real people, paying attention to things after all.

I’ve never posted work related material to this blog before (my real job, that is), but I have to rant and expose the nonsense going on over at comcast. Maybe I’d be going too far in calling it censorship, but I work for a medical news and information site.

It seems that a few weeks ago they implemented what is called a feedback loop. Basically, it means that if one or more users click a “This is spam” link or button on the comcast webmail website, not only will that email go into the users spam or junk mailbox, but they’ve taken it to another level, and blocked ALL email from our server to EVERY comcast.net mail account holder.

We have a decent number of comcast users that have requested daily news emails from us and are being denied a legitimate piece of email. (BTW, we are a 100% opt-in list and don’t buy or sell addresses to send to) As I said, we’re a medical news website and we don’t sell anything in our emails or on the site.

The outrage in this is that “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” So denying someone a legitimate, requested email because someone else marked it as spam, is a bad thing.

Despite several attempts to resolve this, comcast is unresponsive. After sever weeks, comcast has not taken any action on our requests. Comcast ignores their users as well. We forwarded to them, copies of email from our users demanding that we restore their medical news email. We’ve also reccomended that our loyal readers contact comcast directly as well. So far, comcast continues ignore their customers and to deny their customers wishes.

I am not in favor of spam, I get several hundred or more spam messages per day that I could do without.

I also get email that is not spam, that like the emails we send out, I have signed up for at various businesses, news or tech websites. Many times I don’t get to read them. Many times I sign up because I think I would like to read them, but it turns out they are not what I expected or just don’t have the time.

As you may know, most users have been taught to NEVER click on the unsubscribe at the bottom of the emails, because you’ll just get more emails.

There’s a good chance some of our comcast.net readers may not remember signing up for our email. Surely some of these comcast.net readers decided our email wasn’t right for them. Maybe some of them clicked the “SPAM” button because its faster, easier and as they’ve been warned, safer for them. Why chance being bothered with an unsubscribe process fraught with the consequence of getting more junk mail (although, I assure you, ours doesn’t sign you up for more mail).

Thanks for listening. If there’s anyone out there in the same boat, please add a comment. I’d love to hear it.

the problem with iChat…my face

I can see myself.

There it is. Right up there—first sentence. That’s the biggest reason for the lack of use of iChat videoconferencing (in the workplace, at least). At home its a big hit with the kids. They eat it up. Especially in Leopard, with the addition of cool “Effects” that let you distort your image like a Picasso or have a dynamic background using a poor man’s green screen. There are also developers creating add-on effects for it.

Back to the work issue. I think iChat would be a great tool at work. Especially with increased telecommuting, increasing numbers of permanently remote users, and for groups who need to collaborate, it can be a valuable tool. All of the new MacBook and MacBookPro laptops in our group have the video capability built-in. I can count on one hand the number of times it has been used.

I was wondering why we use it so little, then it hit me. I don’t want to see my ugly mug on screen and if others feel the way I do, that explains it. Its not that I or any of my friends and co-workers look particularly unappealing (People have told me I look a little like Andre Agassi and Uncle Fester, so go figure).

Nobody, wants to see themselves on screen. When you’re speaking to someone, you don’t see yourself. When I’m talking to someone, in my head I look like _______________ (fill-in the name of some Hollywood mega-star), but on iChat, its not that guy.

So rest assured, there is a solution, in Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), but it is not enabled by default. From Apple.com:

Hide Local Video
Remove the picture-in-picture view from your iChat video conference if you prefer not seeing yourself in the chat. Just select Hide Local Video from the Video menu.

Link: http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/300.html#ichat

So, the challenge for me now is to fix this on every machine in my group. Which I will attempt to do next week. I promise to report back if the use of iChat video increases.