Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Don't Pirate, Support Alternatives

People just consider the marginal cost of the media when they steal it and don't consider it as theft. But most of the cost is for the licence, you've stolen a piece of data, just like one can steal an idea or steal a name or steal a title. You don't deprive the owner of the item, but you do deprive him of the value of your extra copy.
If I steal your idea without your permission and implement it and gain from it, without giving you your cut, then I have deprived you from those gains.

What really disgusts me is when people justify piracy this way as their means to acquire material if they don't agree with the price and distribution mechanism. That's the same kind of thinking as that of a thief, a thief doesn't want to pay the price of something so steals it instead. That is bad for everyone. If one is really angry at the movie, music and software production and distribution industry or their prices and media, stop consuming their stuff.

For example, it's better to switch to Linux than pirate a copy of Windows. If you pirate a copy of Windows you create a dependence on the product with the bad price and distribution method, where you will land yourself in a position where you have to purchase the product anyway. If you switch to Linux and throw your support behind it instead, you're contributing to an improved alternative, Linux grows, gets better and beat Windows.

Stop listening to big music record label chart noise and rather support artists that offer you their music through distribution methods you agree with instead.  There's a darn lot of good music out there like that, and the big record labels will lose your business and learn to adapt or go out of business.  If you pirate the chart rubbish instead then you develop a dependence on formula music and at some stage will cough up for their music, shows, merchandise or be influenced by it if they're used in advertising.

Do your bit.  Support Linux, eMusic, Spotify, Rdio and Netflix.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

We Don't Need No Population Control

Yes, the world can't sustain the current level of growth of population forever if everything else continued to be done in the same way.

The reality is, everything else doesn't continue to be done in the same way.

If we kept on using wood like we did 100 years ago, we would have run out long ago. It's not because we suddenly came to this realisation, it's because we ended up in a position that other materials are better and cheaper to use and used more of that instead. You know, economics.  Population growth through birth is also subject to the same economics, these things adjust themselves, it's beautiful.

Starvation is not an issue of a lack of resources today, it's because of the lack of efficiency and distribution and horrible economic atrocities committed by the governments of some third world countries.  We produce more food than we consume, and waste some, yet people go hungry in other places.

Just because the problem in these areas would affect less people if there were less of them, doesn't mean the solution would be to make less people.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Life in the First World, and London

You leave the house, with your car parked in the garage, where you could get to the garage through an inside door. Garage door opens electrically with motors.  You drive to work, you park in the parking garage underneath the office, get out and walk to take the lift up to the floor where you work.  After work you can drive past the ATM and get some cash out, and to the drive-through take out and get some food, and drive home, and park in the garage.

When you go shopping, it's to a mall, where you can park. The mall has a roof over it, so when it rains the water doesn't fall onto your head when you move between shops, and has air conditioning so you don't break too much of a sweat doing your shopping in summer, or heating in winter.

It's only when I moved to London that I realised this way of life is not obvious, and people spend much more time just getting the basics done like getting to work and back and shopping, and also less free time to spend with friends and family.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tech Bubble Popping

I've lived through the previous tech bubble, but was only an employee. It didn't really require a lot of cash back then to start up, depending on what you are doing. A shared server at an ISP or university and some perl scripts could get you going. Racks of modems in your garage to start a small ISP. What really drove the bubble was that larger companies would buy these small operations, often including shares in the bigger company, and package them together into a group which then in turns gets sold to even bigger companies like Cisco or do an IPO.  This is not very different from what's happening at the moment, except the action on the IPO front is not as strong.

Things also got crazy because a company's turnover could mostly be based on paying Cisco, Microsoft and Compaq money for equipment and software.  It was all based on growth of revenues, not profits, so moving stuff in expensive chunks while spending all your investments cash gave you that growth.

I know some people who didn't sell, they remained small in comparison but are still in business today and doing very well.  My advice is that if you sell, make sure you get some cash for it to park somewhere to use during the bad times when raising cash will become impossible and skills will be cheap when you actually do have cash.  Parking might mean an asset you can borrow against when it's hard to get funding based on a promise.  Don't sell with a deal made up of mostly shares in the acquiring company, based on an assumption that tries to time the market. Most experts can't even time the market right.

Apart from that, keep making stuff people outside of the technology industry use and give them value that is worth paying money for, and try not to make it depend on things you get during a bubble: easy funding and clients with easy funding. Trust me those things are hard to determine, you only realise how much of your client base also depended on the bubble after it's over. Most importantly the effects of bursting bubbles take several years to unravel, so don't think that if you're still fine a year after the crash that you are in the clear.

That said, if you currently have a business that at least breaks even and doesn't make all your money off technology customers, then you're already at an advantage.  During a bubble salaries are very good and it takes some guts not to get lured in by an easy salary and rather take the initial cut in income to do a startup instead. When the music stops and you are still turning some profit you will be glad.  You will be cutting expenses, but you won't be without a job.