Sunday, December 14, 2008

Apologies for not posting

As some of you have noticed, I haven't been posting news lately, and this blog hasn't been updated in a while.

The reason is that I've been having health issues. By mid-January I'll have a definitive diagnosis.

Until then, don't expect too many updates.

Have a nice Yuletide.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Where have all the cowboys gone?

Okay... so Americans refused the chance of having the Republican Party totally screw their country with another term so they wouldn't win again for at least a decade or two. An opportunity wasted.

Instead, they elected a Democrat, whom no doubt will start being blamed for "not solving the problems" (the same problems created by Bush and Co. over the course of 8 years!) about 6-12 months time, I'm sure. Mark my words...

But the hole that GWB has digged the US into is so big that unless the new president is a magician it would take at least a decade if not more for the US to recover from its cronic deficits, crumbling infrastructure, and social problems.

My point is that if anyone thinks the Right Wing think tanks, CATO, AEI, the military industrial complex and the Halliburton(s) of this world in addition to its press corps (Fox) are going to call it a day, pack their bags and go home just because a black democrat was elected, then that person is very naive.

Yes, it's good from a collective personal growth and inclusive society point of view to see that a black man can reach the presidency of the most indebted deadly military superpower. But that's about it. Will Obama implement the kind of radical reforms that IMHO would be needed to get the USA (and the rest of the World) out of the current mess?. IBIWISI. (I'll believe it when I see it).

Two prophetic front page covers from the German
magazine "Der Spiegel" back in 2001 and 2003

One thing is for certain: "LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON". GW Bush has proven to be a failure of epic proportions, just like his father, if not much worse... and the low-regulations, laizes faire policies that have inspired the GOP since the Reagan years have crashed on a global scale as well.

I remember when GWB was elected the press was full of idiotic news pieces about the "landing of cowboy hats into Washington D.C.", or that Texas style boots were suddenly all the rage.

Now... where have all those cowboys gone?.

PS: Good riddance, Dubya! and don't let the door hit you on your way out...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

India Goes to Space... will a "space tourist" from the UK be its first astronaut?

You heard it here first folks... India is getting into space, and with it, we heard from a good source (the mail delivery boy whom sends wires from VNU to scribblers) that the next mission will be a manned one, and they have booked the first space tourist...

India launches first unmanned orbiter to the moon - International Herald Tribune

You might be surprised to hear whom that space tourist on India's upcoming first manned orbiter is...

Congrats Mad Mike!

Good luck with the training! ... look what happened to that other guy


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Only in Britain...

My hat's off for the fine sense of humour of the British. From the classic "Monty Python" to the more recent "Trigger Happy TV" and masterpieces like "The Office" or "Extras", the British always manage to put a big smile on my face wheres U.S. versions (when avaialble) of the same programmes put me to sleep.

Again, I don't know how they do it, but my hat's off to the irreverent British humour.

According to a BBC report, Lloyds TSB customer Steve Jetley set his password to "Lloyds is pants" following an insurance-related disagreement. He was surprised - though amused - to discover it had been changed to "no it's not".

The BBC quoted Jetley as saying "But what really incensed me was when I was told I could not change it back to 'Lloyds is pants' because they said it was not appropriate. I asked if it was 'pants' they didn't like, and would 'Lloyds is rubbish' do? But they didn't think so. So I tried 'Barclays is better' and that didn't go down too well either."

iTWire - UK bank pulls down pants password


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Here is the News

"I love you, sincerely
Yours truly, yours truly...

I sent a message to another time
But as the days unwind, this I just cant believe
I sent a note across another plane
Maybe its all a game, but this I just cant conceive.

Can you hear me? "


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Simpsons, Science and Borges...

Talk about a strange combination.... Borges, Science, and The Simpsons.... a Google search for "Simpsons thermodinamics" -trying to find a famous quote- got me landing into Paul Halpern's blog. Paul is a book writer, Simpsons fan and Science buff.

As a fan of the Simpsons I was shocked, surprised, and pleased to find a great idea... a book on Science and The Simpsons! :o)

Just ordered mine! :o)


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Open your Firefox profile folder from FF 3.0+

In some instances you might have to copy files to your Firefox (or SeaMonkey for that matter) web browser's "profile". The trouble is often finding that profile, as, for security reasons, the name of the folder is a string of random characters created at the time you created your "user profile".

An extension by some Japanese fellow is available, but he stopped updating it -along with much of his web page it seems- shortly after the Firefox 2.x release.

As a result, his extension refuses to install on Firefox 3.0, 3.01 and beyond. I did a quick tweak and fixed it. It works beautifully in Firefox 3.01.

Find my modded XPI extension over here.

Of course, as 99.9% of all XPI extensions, this is cross-platform and works on Windows as well as Linux.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Microsoft is the Soviet Union

"Microsoft is going the way of the Soviet Union. Their insular management culture simply can't accept that computing is leaving the IBM x86 PC behind, and is moving on to the web, mobile devices, and cloud computing. Apple knows what people want and builds it. Microsoft builds 90s tech and tries to persuade people to want it. Then, on the high end, low cost newcomers are delivering *more* performance and functionality for less money, or even free. I'm thinking of MySQL over MS SQL Server, and for small to medium businesses. There's just no reason to buy Microsoft anything today." (logic Jul 25, 2008 4:23 PM GMT)

Reader comment at:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A couple from India almost killed me

Today I almost die.... of laughter, that is.

Someone was kind enough to forward me the URL of this video


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Get this blog on your web-enabled cellphone

Thanks to AdMob, it's now very easy to read this blog while on the move -not that anyone would in his sane mind would wish to do so, but anyway...-.

Type in your web-enabled mobile (HTML not WAP):

Here, on my Palm Centro:


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Good Riddance Bill Gates...

I forgot to give my farewell thoughts after Bill Gates' departure from Microsoft. If I wanted to give this a serious tone, I'd perhaps write something along the lines of what Richard Stallman has said to the BBC.

But those who know me know that I'm not very serious or "politically correct". So here's my farewell message to "Bill #2" ... the only moment where I smiled after seeing Gates on TV!:

The pie-in-the-face. An hillarious and well-deserved moment.

The young people nowadays whom watch the clip on YouTube seem confused... and don't understand "why" someoone would even think about throwing a pie to the face of this "hero" of theirs, responsible for their "stable, lovely" Windows OS. This is the generation which has grown on Windows XP and think Windows has been stable all the time and they can't conceive or imagine that the company did something abusive and broke the law in the process to obtain its dominant marketplace position. They should know the truth about BillG's firm and its recurring abusive, restrictive behaviour.

I said Gates was "Bill#2". This isn't my own invention... I took it from a very funny book at the time of the Microsoft-DOJ trial aptly titled "The Secret Diary of Bill Gates". On it, the Bill Gates character calls Bill Clinton "Bill #2" -in his view he was always Bill the Numero Uno. [Well, I think the spots were reversed. I always thought of Clinton as "Bill #1" and Gates as "Bill #2" ;-)].

Let's just remember him with one of his internal e-mails that surfaced to the public as a result of the DOJ-Microsoft trial: "what things an app would do that would make it run with MSDOS and not run with DR-DOS. Is there [sic] feature they have that might get in our way?" -Bill Gates, to a number of his employees.

And the memorable response from one of his product managers: "What the [user] is supposed to do is feel uncomfortable, and when he has bugs, suspect that the problem is DR-DOS and then go out to buy MS-DOS" -Brad Silverberg

Good riddance, Bill Gates!

PS: For those interested in the facts with regards to the pie-in-the-face greeting to BillG, you should read this very interesting cached interview with Noel Godin, the man behind it, and whom calls himself the leader of "Patissiers sans frontiers" -Pie Bakers Without Borders-

Saturday, July 05, 2008

PalmSource / Access doesn't need a miracle

With the upcoming entrance of Google into the mobile-OS market... the OpenMoko project... the LiMo Foundation and Palm's own solo Linux development, code-named "Nova" one has to wonder what the future holds for Access Software's own "ALP" Linux based OS with backwards PalmOS compatibility (Access Linux Platform).

One would think that Access needs a Miracle. But nosssir, they do not need a miracle.

They already have one:

Sorry, couldn't resist.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Banana magazine "Forbes" mocks Argentina

I should be outraged. But after reading Forbes headlines on my GMail Inbox, and occasionally some stories on the web (I´m glad to say I never ever bought the print version), I was not surprised. For the record: I think BusinessWeek is the (mostly) drivel-free magazine to read.

I´ll cut the babbling: It seems Argentina is a "banana republic" according to Forbes´ Tim Ferguson . Well, I guess he better tell Intel, Motorola, Google, Tata, Globant and other IT powerhouses which have selected Argentina as their regional HQ and to install their development centres down here instead of across the border or elsewhere in the Southern Cone.

Forbes reporters know in-depth the countries they write about.
While sipping coffee from the comfort of their local Starbucks.

This level of drivel and bias for countries that do not strictly bow to the financial pundits´ words of wisdom ( CATO / IMF recipe books ) is to be expected from them. As one famous lawyer and content licence author whom I won´t name once told me when I inquired him if a positive mention by Forbes was a compliment or a stain on my resume: "they're just buttering you up..." was his response.

We have to thank the financial press like Forbes for their wonderful analysis
and early warnings about the housing market crash, the dot-com bubble bust, and more!


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Great Scandinavian Euro-Pop...

The Cardigans, performing "Explode". This version performed Live is even better than the studio recording present in its album "Gran Turismo" !


Butterfly effect causes fire in Mexico

You might have heard about the "butterfly effect" ... the popular version of the Chaos Theory, stating that the tiny air disturbance from the flapping of a butterfly's wings in China ultimately can lead to a hurricane in Florida.

The butterfly effect is a phrase that encapsulates the more technical notion of sensitive dependence on initial conditions in chaos theory. According to it "small variations of the initial condition of a dynamical system may produce large variations in the long term behavior of the system."

[If you are impatient, skip the long paragraph below and go straight to the video below :)]

The Whackypedia enlightens us further by explaining: "The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly's wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in a certain location. The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different. Of course the butterfly cannot literally cause a tornado. The kinetic energy in a tornado is enormously larger than the energy in the turbulence of a butterfly. The kinetic energy of a tornado is ultimately provided by the sun and the butterfly can only influence certain details of weather events in a chaotic manner."

Well... I don't know if it's true that the flapping of a butterfly in China can create a hurricane in Florida, US of A, but it surely can create a fire in Mexico!!.

Whatch this poor lady at her 15th birthday party... (*)

I couldn't stop laughing for half an hour after seeing this one...

Watch out for butterflies!!


(*) Note for readers in other cultures: I don't know if 15th birthdays for girls are a big thing elsewhere, but for us latins (the video is from Mexico, but it's the same down here as well) it's a big formal celebration, marking a girl's passage into adulthood. That explains the cake, the big attendance, etc. Down here the parent often wears a suit and tie, etc.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

US of A needs four years of McCain to hit bottom, then real change will come

I had hopes the Americans were smarter than that, and would elect Hillary as the Democratic Party candidate.

Instead, they selected this half-hearted "yes we can" empty speeches candidate, the smiling guy who's way too eager to please everyone. Thus, what can be expected from him are compromises, not real, drastic change.

Obama has been moving to the right since day one, trying to capture the Republican votes... and even praised Reagan and the GOP as the party of ideas...

Obama panders to the right, throws Democrats under the bus

It is thus with gread sadness that I say I expect John McCain to win!. Just as Roosevelt's New Deal needed a great socio-economic crisis as the motivation for such reforms, I think the US of A needs to really hit bottom before making real social progress once and for good, and a continuation of the GWB policies in the hands of McCain will surely accomplish that.

The Associated Press has a story here where middle-class women say they'd prefer to stay at home on election day rather than give a vote for Obama.


Amid all the talk about a first black president, many women are deeply disappointed, in some cases furious, that Clinton's own historic campaign fell short and that Obama's campaign undercut her along the way. Her loss was painful for women who have encountered sex discrimination themselves, especially older women who saw her as the best hope for electing a female president in their lifetimes.

Obama himself must heal the rift with women, said Clinton fundraiser Susie Buell of San Francisco, or a new brand of "stay-at-home moms" might sit out the election. "I know that women are very worked up right now," she said. Obama "has never apologized for the way Hillary has been treated."

"Worked up" could describe Cynthia Ruccia, a Democratic activist in Ohio who got a phone call from party chief Howard Dean about her concerns last week."Way too little, way too late," says Ruccia, who also says she'd prefer to see McCain elected over Obama based on how the campaign unfolded. "This is about feeling that the party completely disrespected us, let us down, and we don't feel that we want to be with the party," she said.

Emotions boiled over at last weekend's televised meeting of a Democratic Party rules committee, when some women chanted "McCain '08" after the Clinton team lost its bid to win more disputed delegates from Michigan.


If, instead, they elect Mr. Obama, his lukewarm "half-reforms" have a great chance of accomplishing too little, too late, and the Republicans will be breathing behind his neck, blaming him for all the consecuences of today's GWB policies.

Moral of the Story: Go McCain, go!.

This blog endorses John McCain, for real change ... in 2012

(if there is still a World then... and that's a big IF...). ;-)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Too much smog? Blame Big Oil and car manufacturers

The film details the California Air Resources Board's reversal of the "Zero Emissions" mandate after suits from automobile manufacturers, the oil industry, and the George W. Bush administration. It points out that Bush's chief influences, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and Andrew Card, are all former executives and board members of oil and auto companies.

Well worth the viewing time.

Available for $9.99 with free ground shipping on DVD at, HERE.

PS: I couldn't help noticing how the name of California's air-quality regulatory agency was changed over the years... yea, like the original "Motor Vehicle POLLUTION CONTROL" was too harsh on car manufacturers. Let's name it something more ambiguous... let's see... mmm... yea... "Air Resources Board" sounds meaningless enough, and no mention of "Pollution" next to "motor vehicles"! ;-)

Agency overview
Formed 1967
Preceding Agencies Bureau of Air Sanitation

Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Board
Headquarters 1001 I Street Sacramento, California
Annual Budget $759 million
Agency Executive Mary D. Nichols, Chairman
Parent agency California Environmental Protection Agency

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Earth to BBC: Bring Back Sebastian to HardTalk...

Several years ago... on the brink of the Iraq invasion, I really really enjoyed the Beeb programme "Hard Talk" hosted at the time by Tim Sebastian.

However, for some unknown reason (to me at least), he's been replaced by someone younger but who is not nearly as good.

On the other hand, Sebastian has moved to host "The Doha Debates" a truly boring program with high aspirations, a mix of reality-TV voting system and debate, which ends up being neither.

If I had any power to influence the Beeb, I'd bring back Sebastian to Hard Talk.
I didn't always agree with him, but I really liked his style.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Farmer dimwits put Buenos Aires under a big smoke cloud

Once again, we're suffering the consequences in the big cities of irresponsible behaviour of the uncivil countryside farmers and ranchers.

Bloomberg has a nice report over here. Which reads, in part:

Smoke from fires set by farmers to clear fields for grazing covered Buenos Aires and shut down some highways leading into the Argentine capital.

Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo called the smoke a ``disaster'' and said 292 separate fires covering 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres) had been detected in the provinces of Buenos Aires and neighboring Entre Rios. The smell of smoke filled homes and offices across the city, and views of landmarks, including the downtown Obelisk and the Defense Ministry building, were clouded.

``Those responsible are farmers who are burning their meadows to cut their costs and maximize their profits without considering the consequences,'' said Randazzo in a news conference at the Presidential Palace. ``We are conducting investigations to find those responsible.''

The use of fires to clear land in the Argentine countryside and the Parana River delta is an annual occurrence. Randazzo said more land is being burned in the delta area near Buenos Aires this year as farmers seek new pastures for cattle that previously grazed on land now dedicated to soybeans.


Here's what it all looked like from my flat, yesterday night, and this morning.

I have to ask something more... the unaccounted damage to the city's image to the thousands of foreign visitors that choose Buenos Aires for their stay. I can imagine several thinking "never again, you can't breathe down there when the wind brings the smoke from the countryside farms".

Let's pave the countryside. There's plenty of other countries without land space which import wheat and and still manage to eat. We have plenty of cows on feedlots as well. The rancher and small farmer are a dying species, anyway. Yes, I'm mad at these morons and pricky rednecks. And the wealthy landowners whom surely gave the orders to start these fires, are even worse.

Here's a nice satellite pic from our Big Brothers up North, where you can see the extent of the fires and smoke damage created by these dimwits...

640px wide version uploaded to my blog just in case deletes it

[Click to zoom it]
PS: These *ssholes caused several deaths due to the reduced visibility in several roads. has shut down airports and air traffic, as well as inter-state bus traffic. Two people are apparently in custody already for the illegal fires. I hope the land owners are sued to death.

PS#2: Even right-wing pro-agriculture paper La Nacion says it clearly here "the expansion of the agriculture frontier is being developed with great violence. There's a thirst for exploiting the fields that leads agriculture producers to an irresponsible management of their production. That's the reason why the smoke has reached Buenos Aires city" told Claudio Bertonatti, communications and Education manager at the NGO Argentina's Wildlife Fundation, Fundación Vida Silvestre."

and it continues:

Soybean. The problem is that the soil there is fragile, say the experts, it might be useful for cattle but not so for agriculture 'while we do know that some soybean producers have bought cheap land there to use it for soybean, the problem is also the large number of cattle that is being entered into the area" said Gerardo Mujica, director at the INTA's Experimental Station at the Parana's Delta."

FUCK EL CAMPO, fuck them all... (no, really)

Friday, April 11, 2008

My love affair with a lovely bread maker

Or "Make your own bread at home every day, with a
one-time, $45 investment"

If you told me several years ago that I'd be cooking my own bread, I'd have told you that you're nuts. Being a tech type I can't see myself "wasting time" (even if the alternative is sitting in front of the puter browsing random web sites :) with the sticky flour+water mess. (I used to manually do my own pizza once a month, but stopped because of the mess I created in the kitchen).

But then... I found about these nifty kind of tech toys... BREAD MAKERS!.

And not only that, but I found a VERY AFFORDABLE one (45 greenbacks in the US of A, and ~ USD $76 locally in Buenos Aires in 220v AC version, including 21% V.A.T. -remember the local version has local warranty, and the importer has to make a living as well, so they likelly make around USD $10 per unit discounting import duties).

While the local brand isn't Sunbeam, the Chinese manufacturer is the same. It works great!. In less than two hours after pouring the ingredients and pressing the right keys (make sure you put water first and powder dry yeast last), I have my own hot bread ready to eat (and the smell of fresh bread throughout the house).

The same exact China-made bread maker sold with the
local ATMA brand down here, sold as Sunbeam in the US of A

I've found that natural powdered "dry yeast" is readily available in 10 grams envelopes (keep in the fridge and it lasts several months!) in major local supermarkets like Carrefour, Disco or Coto (sadly the French chain 'Leader Price' across the street doesn't carry the powder version, just live yeast).

For comparison's sake, here's an off-the-shelf piece of commercially made bread:

And here so you compare the size with the machine's container. With the machine I bought, you get a ~680 grams to 950 grams (1.5 to 2 pounds) piece of bread.

What's best is that you pour the ingredients into the removable teflon-coated "cooking pan" (I really really hate teflon, but I have to agree that it'd be almost impossible to create this kind of device without it, and it's almost impossible to know if the commercially produced bread doesn't involve teflon along the way... so in the grand scheme of things, at least I do know what ingredients -or lack of chemicals- I put in my own homemade bread).

After pouring the ingredients, you set the program using the keys, push Start and go away!. You'll know when the bread is ready a hour or so after that because of the beeping, and fresh-bread smell.

The unit at work
(note: light is a flashlight I was holding to take the pic)

Work complete!

Here you can see the cooking pan out of the unit. (I did the first run with the unit standing on the floor and closely watching along the process fearing any spills/smoke/etc nothing happened! :).

As you can see below, the mixing-pad is part of the cooking pan and stays inside the unit, and inside the bread as well, but being all teflon-coated, it doesn't stick to it.

It's easy to recognize pieces of bread made with this unit because of the small hole made by the mixing pad that it leaves at the bottom.

And here, the tasty result!

In short: Highly recommend one of these contraptions!.

Not bad for USD $45 huh?

PS: I'll see if I'm so happy when the first electricity/power bill arrives. This unit uses 600-Watt while cooking, and less than 100 while mixing.

A (North) American friend thinks GWB should end in jail

I have a friend who lives up in Sunny Cali-Phone-Ya, U.S. of A.

Let's call him John.

He just emailed me this with his thoughts about George W. Bush and what should/might happen to him after he leaves office.

Worth a read, IMHO.


Could Bush Be Prosecuted for War Crimes?

After re-reading the 2003 John Yoo Torture memo <>

I was reminded of Benjamin Ferencz, former chief prosecutor for Nuremberg war crimes trials comments there is a case for trying Bush for the 'supreme crime against humanity, an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation.'

Ben Ferencz also said "unauthorized war-making is neither legal nor inevitable." <> and his views on "fair standards to prosecute terrorism" <>

In July 2006 the question was asked "Could Bush Be Prosecuted for War Crimes?" <>

So after the fall election will Bush Inc give themselves a "free pass" on being prosecuted for the illegal Iraqi war?

If there is an attempt to prosecute the Bush Inc White House will the new administration give a "free pass" to Bush - Cheney - Rumsfeld - and the rest of the neocon war mongers?

John X

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Today´s coup d´etats are done with the media

I was surprised today by a post from YANQUI MIKE. He reports on the "lack of meat" at the supermarket, and appears to blame it on government actions. The fact is that there´s plenty of meat to be delivered to supermarkets, but ARMED PICKETS by the wealthy landowners are PREVENTING FOOD AND ALL AGRICULTURAL SUPPLIES from reaching Buenos Aires.

There has been FOUR separate incidents of people getting hit by mobs and sent to the hospital for not stopping at the protest pickets on national highways. Try to do that in the good old US of A, land of liberty and freedom, you´d be sent to the clink faster than you can say ¨...wait!".


In my view, this is a coup d´etat attempt by the same wealthy landowners that in past decades supported the military. If you or any serious economist looks at the figures, "el campo" (the countryside agriculture sector) is more profitable here than in Brazil.

I´m afraid that Mike, being a foreigner, doesn´t understand all the political and economic forces at play here.

Today´s news story

Argentine agriculture sector more profitable than Brazil, even after taxes

and here automatic translation...

We´re calling a gathering for Thursday and Friday in front of the Sociedad Rural Argentina, Florida 460, to protest the armed pickets in argentinian routes and the fact that big cities are being held hostage by armed gangs of the wealthy landowners who´re doing an AWFUL LOT BETTER than they did in the 1990s at the time of the right wing Chicago-school ¨free market rules" economic programme.

Oh an another thing... as early as last THURSDAY, I saw commenters on centre-right paper LA NACION calling for "countryside patriots" to SABOTAGE THE ELECTRIC GRID, how about that?.

I continuously reported those messages as "inciting violence" but those were REPOSTED OVER AND OVER, for a period of SIX HOURS, from 1:00am to 7:00, by four different people.

COINCIDENCE?. If this wasn´t staged, I don´t know what was.

And how about the 2,000 people showing up with banners in Plaza de Mayo? Did they make the HUGE banners "supporting the countryside" on short notice? Or did they have those already prepared for the "event"?.

Argentina has a long tradition of infighting. And a friend says that Argentina is not a democracy, it´s a country in perpetual civil war, only that "it´s frozen from time to time, then the war is revived".


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dollar sinks even lower...

``Sentiment for the dollar continues to deteriorate very, very rapidly and if we're not careful this will turn into a dollar crash, said Mitul Kotecha, head of foreign-exchange research in London at Calyon, the securities unit of Credit Agricole SA, France's second-biggest bank."

"President George W. Bush acknowledged the U.S. currency's decline was not ``good tidings.'' The dollar's drop may prompt Middle East central banks to reduce dollar holdings, Greg Gibbs, a strategist at ABN Amro Holding NV in Sydney, said in a report."

Dollar Falls to 12-Year Low of 100 Yen on Carlyle Fund Failure

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Argentina's Great Cellphone Heist

Mexican Telecomms mogul and billonaire Carlos Slim -of TelMex fame battling Telefonica throughout LatAm, and his own Mexican monopoly infamy- got a truckload of cellular phones stolen in Argentina. Slim owns mobile provider "CTI" in the country, which has been and so far still is the most agressive and innovative -of the three networks available-, as I reported here.

Today, local news media reported a truck full of mobile phones and accessories imported by CTI into the country was STOLEN AT GUNPOINT by an unspecified number of armen men in three cars, right from the parking lot at the TCA Argentine Airfreight Terminal, right across the Buenos Aires international airport, Ezeiza. The value of the goods was reported at $800,000 greenbacks (USD), and it was stolen after it cleared the customs. There was no mention about the number or brand/model of cell phones, but if we assume a value of $200-400 USD per phone, it could be between two thousand and four thousand phones, which is an awful lot to sell on auction sites and street corners...

Horrible, broken, automatic translation, here.

Carlos Slim Image courtesy of Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency. Image released under the Creative Commons License Attribution 2.5 Brazil, and found on the WikiMedia web site.

PS: If you want to see what the *cough* high-security *cough* TCA parking lot looks like, well it looks like this on a busy day (notice the reserved handicapped space).

I had to go there a couple times when PR bunnies fail to follow orders and ship items via DHL, ending up stuck at the TCA customs depot.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Another Frankenstein M&A, this time in the Public Safety space?

The good thing about writing for the INQUIRER is that after years of practice (I started back in 2002) sometimes you find great news on your own. But even better, sometimes NEWS FINDS YOU, and in some cases, about companies you´ve never ever heard about .

In this case, people who prefer to remain nameless have expressed their worry and outrage about a probable M&A on the Public Safety space. The main source who sent me this rumor has been around public safety organizations for nearly twenty years and often hear rumors, most of those are mundane and without much consequence, but he swears this one is not that case.

From the heart of Texas... the rumor mill says the marriage from hell would involve tiny European EADS trying to match (or digest?) an unnamed West Coast public safety company several times its size.


Here´s the first message I received, un-edited:


For nearly seven years, EADS - Security Networks - North America (a.k.a EADS-PS) has been educating American public safety officials about their multi-billion dollar parent company in Europe. EADS wants to escape their saturated market places in Europe, regarding Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems, where they have the greater market share in Tetra/Tetrapol based radio.

The only problem is that the non-Tetra/Tetrapol technology based Public Safety first responder folks in North American and USA markets want to see an installed working fully mature LMRsystem without flying to Europe. These same Public Safety first responder folks want to obtain P25 technology (APCO and TIA-based current technology platforms) and do not want to fork-lift out all their working legacy radio and dispatch equipment aka infrastructure like reporting software and computer aided dispatching software).

Instead, they want to evaluate a functioning Public Safety first responders turn-key, LMR system, integrated to dispatching equipment of various types, which includes emergency telephone answering points, records management systems, mobile data, graphics and other database systems and equipment - _ALL of which uses standard-for-USA radio RF and dispatching protocols.

Some background info:

Since 2003, the U. S. Department of Homeland Security has been passing out big checks to the regional and state public safety organizations who will install a P-25 protocol based system. Only problem is that there are really only two folks who can install a complete turn-key, end-to-end, P-25 system -- namely Tico MA/COM and Motorola.

So to overcome the deficiency of having only 25 percent of their competitors’ capability, EADS is talking about buying an American public safety company. How does a big fish (like EADS) eat a small fish (unnamed American company) and not get a belly ache? It is widely accepted that merging two companies is never easy.

Accenture is a specialist studying this problem. They have over twenty years' experience and have looked at over 400 mergers and acquisitions Accenture agrees with a February 2003 Harvard Business Review article which says the results for a merger are determined by what is set up at the beginning. The biggest factor which leads to failures of a merger is cultural differences between the companies. Now, a group of business people with European backgrounds needs to buy a public safety vendor in the USA for one of their smallest divisions. Where should they look for such a deal?

For EADS, that is a triple whammy. Their parent is as big as Lockheed and, like Lockheed, their bigger customers are government organizations. If EADS European headquarters asks their European bankers, who in turn will ask American bankers, they’ll probably end up looking at someone who is larger and has a polished offering. There are two locations in the USA where European companies most often go to look for this sort of an offering: Boston and Silicon Valley. That is where the big venture capitalist firms are located. These are the VC who specialize in finding that “something special in our portfolio that just might fit your needs.”

Is the rumor true that EADS Public Safety has less than 40 people and that they are thinking about buying a West Coast company that has nearly 600 employees and five locations? The supposed West Coast company was created by at least four acquisitions since 2005. Hmmm, looks like there has to be multiple cultural dimensions for that West Coast company. Are all the hiccups of those multiple acquisitions completely worked out? The same Harvard Business Review article says that in the first year of a merger nearly 25 percent of the executives and other talented employees leave – three times the rate for a similar company without a merger. In the second year, an additional 15 percent leave, which is twice the normal rate. This high departure rate continues for up to nine years after a merger says Harvard Business Review. If you apply those percentages to that newly grown West Coast company with four mergers since 2005, it is probably a safe guess their best leaders and their brightest team members are probably already gone.

The goal of EADS Public Safety in Texas and their European headquarters, may be a good one, but the method of reaching it could leave them with more problems than they bargained for. Seems to me at this point, EADS Public Safety really needs to develop a clear plan for how they are going to integrate all these different cultures into their own giant European corporate culture.

People from two affected companies see this as setting up a disaster which will hamper EADS over the long term. They think a completed buyout of PlantCML "would give backchanell info direct to Motorola". That "would keep Motorola safely in the drivers seat for controlling USA Public Safety even though that division is not profitable".

"It remains a part of the whole operation by having its low profitability folded into a larger division of Motorola." said one source.

Asked about why the disliking of Motorola, THE SOURCE told this scribbler that Motorola apparently has an arrogance problem "I have a long standing dislike of Motorola Public Safety telling cops and fireman that _only_ Motorola knows how tobuild Public Safety radio communications. This buyout will keep the USA on the path for non-world-side interoperability" he concluded "we have enough of that "not invented there" thinking in the industry now".


Agree? Disagree with these sources? I admit in shame not being well aware of the U.S. public safety marketplace but I can surely identify with the "not invented here" syndrome which is and has been poisoning most IT firms I´ve known over the years, which a few notable exceptions.

So, do you have anything to do with public safety tech? Agree/disagree with this rumor and conclusions? Shoot out on the comments section.... Also if anyone from Hello Moto reads this and wants to comment, feel free as well. I´ll give equal air time to all positions.

Several warnings:

1. Take this as what it is, a rumor. It might happen, it might not. I´m just interedted in the "what if" factor. If what my source said is true, what will happen?.
2. I have to admit that I kinda agree with Mr. J in that in very few instances I´ve seen a small firm buy another several times its size. And he has a point with regards to the cultural differences (Mormon Utah based Novell and cold German Engineering based SUSE comes to mind).
3. I do not share my source´s contempt wrt Motorola. Well, I can´t speak about thier public safety division, but I don´t think Moto sucks, as a whole...

(OK, on second thought I do remember how they had the upper hand with the PowerPC and blew it)
4. I plan to buy myself a Linux-powered Moto A1200 soon. Wonder why Moto isn´t promoting these phones more. :-) :-(

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pacino and De Niro go for an ice cream

I saw this on cable and while I didn't manage to record it, I looked it up on the Net until I found it.... Haven't had such a good laugh in a while. These guys are genius. ENJOY!.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year. Now let's work to make '08 the best

So... 2008 has already started. Now... enough with the partying and let's get to work.

I hope we can all make 2008 an even better year than '07, which for some of us was pretty good to begin with.

But let's all take things seriously... do not rush things. Let's take things slowly, nobody is chasing you. :-)

[ PD: Yes, it's a Honda CBR-600. Thanks, Gus. :) ]