I’m heading off overseas with my 15 year old son. Turns out the cheapest way to get to the US, where we’re spending most of our time is via China. And, in case you’re interested and didn’t know of it, Flightfox is a great way to pay people who know what they’re doing to do lots of research for you on the best value flights.
So this is a list of places we’re going. I’m after any tips you may have on where to stay and what to see. Or useful web resources to plan the trip. Or best car hire etc.
I hear you have fallen on hard times. I have two product suggestions:
1. Make a mobile that is purely a telephone
2. Make a phone in the shape of a pen
The two could well be combined.
1. Pure phone
There are countless millions of older people who would appreciate a mobile phone but they can’t manage the complications. If they were offered a phone, which was just a phone, they might be interested.
You could promote it as “SMS-FREE!” “CAMERA-FREE!” “INTERNET-FREE!” “MENU-FREE!” “Like phones of old: you talk on it!” You would have to invent a generic name. Purephone? Cleanphone? Straightphone?
It would have no alarms, no recording, no FM radio, no messages, no answering service, no “settings,” no adjustments. Continue reading
Malware is slowing down my Mac :(
For a month or so I had a small Bing sponsored magnifying glass appear over all graphics. Then it went. But now, whenever I’m on a news-site I get a ‘Discovery Bar’ appearing at the bottom of my screen. It only appears in Chrome which I use as my default browser. But it and the Mac generally are slowing down after about two years of use. Anyway, if anyone has some tips on how I can reliably restore my Mac to better working order without a full system rebuild, I’d be grateful. Here’s what I see when I go to the SMH for instance – see the bar at the bottom.
Our language is changing all the time and is probably changing faster than at any time in its history. We now tweet things and Google them and have LOLs AFAIK.
In any event there are some things our language is stubborn about. It doesn’t like innovation deep in its operating system. We don’t have lots of basic words which we should have. The word ‘whose’ works for a person, but not, strictly speaking for a non-person. So you can say “that person whose property was stolen”. But not really “That company whose property was stolen” – though lots of people do say things like that. If you want a non gender specific pronoun for a person - because you don’t know their gender, you can’t say ‘it’ – or you can but it’s both strange and rude. There are lots and lots of examples, and I know you can’t wait to point to some in comments.
Sometimes when things get political we fix things like this – as we did with “Ms”. But it’s a pity we can’t fix the other stuff. Why can’t we? And what could be done about it? (Actually I know the answer to the second question – not much. But not the first.) So O Troppodillian
s what dost thou reckon?
This is an email I received earlier today from Karen Mahlab – and I offered to reproduce it here for the delectation and contribution of Troppodillians everywhere. The winner of the competition will be flown steerage to London for a weekend at Buckingham Palace with the royal carriages at their command.
In partnership with Philanthropy Australia, The Myer Family Office, The Myer Foundation and the Sidney Myer Fund, Pro Bono Australia is seeking nominations for the most significant 50 philanthropic grants in Australia.
Our aim is to increase the profile of Philanthropy in the public eye nationally. We are well below international standards in this area. We already have a couple of hundred nominations registered which is wonderful at this stage.
I’d be most appreciative if you could have a think about whether or not you have a personal favorite for nomination. It can about the impact a grant has had not necessarily its size.
I am sending this to you because of your extensive professional networks and your interest and/or deep involvement in your own areas of specialisation and philanthropy.
See below for more details and please excuse the non personalised email. Also, feel free to pass this on to anyone else in your networks who may have a potential nomination.
Economists love tradeoffs. Indeed, their basic model of the world breaks down where such tradeoffs don’t occur. Lucky for them since the world really is full of tradeoffs. If you want more carrots, you’ll have to do with fewer of something else. Here they’re substitutes. But, to use an ugly word which first became faddish in the 1980s, where there are synergies between things that you’re after, you’re in a wonderful world.
Economists love arguing that there is a tradeoff between equity (or perhaps equality of income) and efficiency. Of course there are such tradeoffs. If you tax work at high enough rates, especially of more productive people who are likely to be earning more, if you buy yourself sufficient equity between their own take-home pay and those who are less productive, you may also buy yourself less work from your most productive people – a classic equity/efficiency tradeoff.
But of course the world is full of synergies between efficiency and equity.
As some readers may have noticed (assuming you can access us at all), the performance of Troppo is still distinctly dodgy despite Jacques shifting from his original choice of WordPress web host. Its name was WpEngine and it provided next to no service during the day in Australia (because it’s the middle of the night in America where they’re based). Moreover its servers crashed for prolonged periods of time and repeatedly.
The current host (called Page.ly) apparently answers support requests although it doesn’t actually seem to solve problems. Its servers don’t crash for hours on end, they just have intermittent outages every couple of minutes! It’s very irritating but ultimately Troppo is just a hobby blog, albeit one of which I am proud and wish it was actually hosted reliably (as it was for years by Jacques Chester before career pressures forced him recently to enlist the “services” of a commercial web host).
While Troppo is just a hobby, however, I’m in the process of creating a brand new law practice as part of a plan to flee the Tropics and migrate back to southern Australia in the next couple of years. The venture is heavily dependent on a reliable web presence. Hence this bleg. Does anyone (either with an IT job or a small-medium business that is heavily web-reliant) know of a reliable and at least vaguely affordable web host that does a good job with WordPress-based sites? Our site will be based on a WordPress platform and will ultimately be fairly large in size and hopefully have significant traffic (although not at first obviously).
PS And Page.ly’s latest hijink is that in its latest crash a couple of minutes ago it has (yet again) deleted most of the sidebar images that I spent over an hour this afternoon reinstating. What a truly marvellous service!!!
PPS No hang on, the images have returned now! Bizarre …
I just came across an impressive philanthropic venture that nevertheless felt the need to articulate its ‘values’. I won’t go into it at any length here, but the more I think of formal articulations of values the less impressed I am.
So many organisations do it that perhaps it’s worth doing, but the thing that concerns me is that values tend to be articulated in tension with each other. If one of my values is ‘honesty’ and another is ‘consideration for others’, the illuminating thing is not the fact that I rehearse them as values – most people would claim to support the values – but how they are traded off against each other. When does honesty give way to consideration, or vice versa. Statements of corporate values – to the best of my knowledge never tackle this at all.
Anyway there are firms that think all this stuff is so much hot air. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is one. And it’s a clear thinking, generally right doing outfit. No shortage of values, and no lack of clarity of values there.
Then I wondered about another impressive outfit. Platinum Capital about whom I’ve written before. I searched its website for its ‘mission’ and the word appears once in its entire website and all its newsletters. It’s on the first newsletter and appears as a simple statement – rather than up in lights as a Capital M ‘Mission Statement.
As this is the first letter to investors, it is appropriate to remind readers of our mission. We aim to add to your wealth by scouring the world for listed companies which we believe are trading at valuations below their intrinsic worth.
That’s it. I can’t find any reference to the word “vision” or the expression “our values” on its website. And while it says it doesn’t ignore ethics in its investment approach (I presume if things get egregious enough), it has no formal ‘ethical investment framework’ because it’s aware of how difficult it is to actually come up with one that isn’t riddled with paradoxes.
Anyway, here’s my bleg, do you know any other successful companies that haven’t been swept up in the ouija board nonsense of visions, missions and values.
The 1950s saw Australia’s Italian Renaissance which now leaves its traces in the tourist traps of Lygon St. Well they’re not too bad, but if you wanted to go to a good Italian Restaurant you’d have to know what you were doing to get a really good one in Lygon St. But things have been changing. With the slow, grinding, ongoing depression European bureaucrats have cooked up for their populations there’s a steady flow of migrants from the worst hit ‘periphery’ countries.
And the owner of the DOC chain of restaurants is sponsoring them out and giving them work in his three restaurants – one on Lygon St, one on Faraday around the corner and one at Mornington (where the vegetable lasagne is to die for.) The most popular is the Faraday St Pizza joint (which – very rarely for Australia - has queues outside it), but our favourite is the Carlton Espresso on the Eastern side of Lygon between Faraday and Grattan. There wonderful waiters and waitresses who I presume are here on ‘backpackers’ visas, treat you to fabulous Italian hospitality and completely fabulous food. The papardelle porcini mushroom is fantastic, as are waiters Ameliano, Andrea, Leon, Martina and any number of others. Most of the waiters are men. And a preponderance of the diners are women. Then again one of the waiters is called Eros, so I guess it’s not that hard to guess what some of the drivers are.
In any event lots of these people are here and trying to get into Australia. They’re all incredibly nice people and being italians lots of them are very well trained. One of them (a really nice person – like them all really – in her mid-twenties from Tuscany) - has a degree in economics and engineering is doing research assistance for Lateral Economics! It seems to me, while we scour developing countries to snaffle their resources of skilled labour to enable us to maintain the shitty wages we pay teachers, nurses and such like, we should be over in Europe with our shingle out on the street trying to get some more great migrants from Europe.
Anyway, I thought I might do an op ed on this. And here is my bleg – and why this post is here. Since my column is published in both the Age and the SMH, can someone point me to some similar phenomena in Sydney (it would even be good with a different ethnicity).