Tag Archives: China

News You Can Use: 12/13/2017

  • The Internet Is Dying. Repealing Net Neutrality Hastens That Death.

    You didn’t need permission for any of this stuff; some of these innovations ruined traditional industries, some fundamentally altered society, and many were legally dubious. But the internet meant you could just put it up, and if it worked, the rest of the world would quickly adopt it.

    But if flexibility was the early internet’s promise, it was soon imperiled. In 2003, Tim Wu, a law professor now at Columbia Law School (he’s also a contributor to The New York Times), saw signs of impending corporate control over the growing internet. Broadband companies that were investing great sums to roll out faster and faster internet service to Americans were becoming wary of running an anything-goes network.

    Some of the new uses of the internet threatened their bottom line. People were using online services as an alternative to paying for cable TV or long-distance phone service. They were connecting devices like Wi-Fi routers, which allowed them to share their connections with multiple devices. At the time, there were persistent reports of broadband companies seeking to block or otherwise frustrate these new services; in a few years, some broadband providers would begin blocking new services outright.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/29/technology/internet-dying-repeal-net-neutrality.html

  • China’s Tech Giants Have a Second Job: Helping Beijing Spy on Its People

    Users of Tencent’s WeChat app who run large group chats say they have received automated warnings about politically sensitive content. Some political activists say their WeChat accounts have been suspended or closed for posts critical of the government.

    During important political events, staffers with China’s internet regulator set up shop at Chinese content providers to catch anything that might slip through the cracks, people familiar with the operations said. The regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

    Along with access to online data, China’s government wants something else from tech companies—the cloud computing prowess to sort and analyze information. China wants to crunch data from surveillance cameras, smartphones, government databases and other sources to create so-called smart cities and safe cities.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-tech-giants-have-a-second-job-helping-the-government-see-everything-1512056284

  • The real reason American health care is so expensive
  • Amazon is putting Alexa in the office

    The first focus for Alexa for Business is conference room. AWS is working with the likes of Polycom and other video and audio conferencing providers to enable this.

    In addition, AWS also worked with Microsoft to enable better support for its suite of productivity services, as well as other enterprise services likes of Concur and Splunk to bring their services to Alexa. Other partners include Capital One, WeWork and JPL.

    Just as developers can build skills for Amazon Echo users, businesses can now build out Alexa skills for use within their own company. You could imagine voice access to an employee directory, Salesforce data on various clients and accounts, or company calendar information.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/29/amazon-is-putting-alexa-in-the-office/?ncid=rss

  • Verizon to Sell Wireless Home Broadband, Challenging Cable

    Verizon said Wednesday it would sell high-speed internet access in three to five cities, starting in Sacramento, Calif. The cities are all expected to be outside Verizon’s existing landline footprint in the Northeast, where it sells high-speed fiber-optic internet called Fios. The company said more details, such as its price, would be unveiled later.

    The wireless giant will use fifth-generation, or 5G, technology, which is capable of delivering significantly faster internet speeds than existing 4G technology, also known as LTE. Customers will likely have to place a box in their windows that will convert Verizon’s wireless signals into Wi-Fi inside the house.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/verizon-to-sell-home-broadband-over-wireless-network-1512037801

Photo: Pana Vasquez

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News You Can Use: 12/6/2017

  • Tim Wu: Why the Courts Will Have to Save Net Neutrality

    But Mr. Pai faces a more serious legal problem. Because he is killing net neutrality outright, not merely weakening it, he will have to explain to a court not just the shift from 2015 but also his reasoning for destroying the basic bans on blocking and throttling, which have been in effect since 2005 and have been relied on extensively by the entire internet ecosystem.

    This will be a difficult task. What has changed since 2004 that now makes the blocking or throttling of competitors not a problem? The evidence points strongly in the opposite direction: There is a long history of anticompetitive throttling and blocking — often concealed — that the F.C.C. has had to stop to preserve the health of the internet economy. Examples include AT&T’s efforts to keep Skype off iPhones and the blocking of Google Wallet by Verizon. Services like Skype and Netflix would have met an early death without basic net neutrality protections. Mr. Pai needs to explain why we no longer have to worry about this sort of threat — and “You can trust your cable company” will not suffice.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/opinion/courts-net-neutrality-fcc.html

  • The Next Billion-Dollar Boom in Chinese Tech

    Businesses and government departments in China spent only 122 billion yuan ($18.5 billion) on software in 2016, compared with $245 billion in the U.S., according to Forrester. While Salesforce has a market capitalization of $78 billion, its dozens of Chinese wannabes are startups, with none valued at $1 billion.

    At this point, investors see the fragmentation as a plus, setting the stage for a fast uptake in enterprise applications. More businesses are turning to cloud-based services for data storage and software applications. According to a survey Deutsche Bank conducted with CIOs at about 50 Chinese companies in the finance, internet, manufacturing and other sectors this year, 84% of respondents plan to make “heavy use of cloud services” by 2019, up from 4% in 2016. Alibaba Cloud, the biggest in China by market share, doubled its revenue last quarter from a year earlier.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-next-billion-dollar-boom-in-chinese-tech-1511435069?mg=prod/accounts-wsj

  • How Emotion Hides What You Mean to Say—And How to Listen for It
  • How bad decision making could undermine good innovation

    “The patents that Kodak developed around digital photography — especially the 1989 [digital camera] patent — could have given Kodak a huge leg up in meeting the emerging consumer needs around digital photography.”

    Yet Kodak seems to have missed all the signals coming from the marketplace. “The market was captured by other competitors without the technological advantage or the IP [that Kodak had] — for example, the Casio QV-10, which was introduced in 1995, actually saw where the future of point-and-shoot digital photography was going, and pioneered the onboard LCD display that can be seen as a direct precursor to the smartphone, which came along equipped with cameras as early as 2000,” she explained

    They never saw the problem as converting their customers to a digital world, but rather as finding a way to increase their brick and mortar presence. That ended up taking the form of a kiosk that sort of answered a digital user need of printing out hard copies from the digital system. It wasn’t a terrible idea, but it completely missed the real digital mark.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/25/how-bad-decision-making-could-undermine-good-innovation/?ncid=rss

  • The 6 Laws of Technology Everyone Should Know

    There is no absolute good or bad here, just how good or bad a technology is in a given context. This points to a problem tech companies are too often reluctant to face: Their enormous power means they have an obligation to try to anticipate the potential impact of anything they produce.

    “The dirty little secret of highly accomplished people is what we’ve had to neglect to achieve that,” says Bill Buxton, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research and one of the creators of the multitouch interface. “To become spectacular at any discipline in technology means you’re not well-equipped to address these questions.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-6-laws-of-technology-everyone-should-know-1511701201

Photo: Xan Griffin

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News You Can Use: 8/16/2017

  • China’s Next Target: U.S. Microchip Hegemony

    Today, the industry is riven by a nationalist battle between China and the U.S., one that reflects broad currents reshaping the path of globalization. Washington accuses Beijing of using government financing and subsidies to try to dominate semiconductors as it did earlier with steel, aluminum, and solar power. China claims U.S. complaints are a poorly disguised attempt to hobble China’s development. Big U.S. players like Intel Corp. and Micron TechnologyInc. find themselves in a bind—eager to expand in China but wary of losing out to state-sponsored rivals.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-next-target-u-s-microchip-hegemony-1501168303

  • Does 99.5% planned uptime = 99.5% actual uptime?

    There are 744 hours in a 31-day month. Without digging further into how the vendor calculates the uptime percentage, it would be natural to do simple math and quickly determine that .005 downtime equals four hours per month. This seems very reasonable, on the surface, but remember math is tricky and the vendor controls the math. Some vendors calculate their uptime percentage as:

    Actual Hours System Up divided by (Hours in the Month minus Planned Downtime)

    The key question to ask is “how much planned downtime do you have in any given month?” You will find a wide array of answers to this question. For example, one leading vendor plans for 40 hours of planned downtime a month to apply patches, fixes, and general system maintenance. The very reasonable four hours of allowed downtime in their marketing equation equals 44 hours, or almost two days, of actual downtime a month. Very tricky!

    http://www.cio.com/article/3209041/cloud-computing/does-995-planned-uptime-995-actual-uptime.html

  • Kristi Hedges: “The Inspiration Code: How The Best Leaders Energize People
  • This is how Travis Kalanick is plotting his comeback as Uber CEO

    Some company executives are concerned that Mr. Kalanick could use a SoftBank investment to dilute other shareholders’ stakes while he continues to buy stock back from employees in a bid to amass power. And aligning with Masayoshi Son, the founder and chief executive of SoftBank, could provide Mr. Kalanick with a key ally, especially if Mr. Son seeks to appoint new board members who favor Mr. Kalanick’s return as chief executive as part of an investment.

    https://www.fastcompany.com/4045787/this-is-how-travis-kalanick-is-plotting-his-comeback-as-uber-ceo

  • Supply chain’s continuing image problem

    And this is making recruitment a challenge. DHL surveyed over 350 supply chain and operations professionals in the five major regions of the world as a basis for its research. Fifty-eight percent of the companies surveyed said that it is hard to find potential employees who possess the right combination of tactical/operational expertise and professional competencies such as leadership and analytical skills.

    Although supply chain managers are aware that their jobs require taking on a more strategic role, that perception does not seem to be shared by job candidates or even internally at managers’ own companies. According to the DHL report, almost 70 percent of surveyed companies said that their search for supply chain talent is hampered by a “perceived lack of opportunity for career growth” and the “perceived status of supply chain as a profession.” This same misconception is also an internal problem, according to the survey. Only 25 percent of survey participants agreed that their own companies view supply chain as equally important as other disciplines.

    http://www.supplychainquarterly.com/news/20170728-supply-chains-continuing-image-problem/

Photo: Bryan Minear

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News You Can Use: 7/12/2017

  • China’s All-Seeing Surveillance State Is Reading Its Citizens’ Faces

    China is rushing to deploy new technologies to monitor its people in ways that would spook many in the U.S. and the West. Unfettered by privacy concerns or public debate, Beijing’s authoritarian leaders are installing iris scanners at security checkpoints in troubled regions and using sophisticated software to monitor ramblings on social media. By 2020, the government hopes to implement a national “social credit” system that would assign every citizen a rating based on how they behave at work, in public venues and in their financial dealings.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-all-seeing-surveillance-state-feared-in-the-west-is-a-reality-in-china-1498493020

  • Ira Glass on structuring stories, asking hard questions

    I’ve said this many times in many places, but the structure of stories on our show in this kind of narrative journalism is there’s plot and then there are ideas. And those are the two elements that you’re constantly monitoring to know whether or not you’ve got them. And in part I feel like when people hear that they don’t even know exactly what is meant by that. All plot is is a series of actions where one thing leads to the next—sort of like this thing led to this next thing, led to this next thing, led to this next thing, led to this next thing, and then some of the things in this list can be, “And then he said this to me, and as a result, I said this back to him, and then he said this back to me, and then I got angry and I stormed out and I wrote a bill saying…” What you want is one thing leads to the next leads to the next leads the next and the reason why we do that is because once you have any sequence of actions in order of like, this happened and then this happened and this happened that creates narrative suspense because you wonder what happened next.

    https://www.cjr.org/special_report/qa-ira-glass-turnaround-npr-jesse-thorn-tal.php

  • Act Like the Leader You Want to Be
  • There’s Now a Name for the Micro Generation Born Between 1977-1983

    So here it is, according to Dan Woodman, an associate professor of sociology at The University of Melbourne: Xennials.

    The idea is there’s this micro or in-between generation between the Gen X group – who we think of as the depressed flannelette-shirt-wearing, grunge-listening children that came after the Baby Boomers and the Millennials – who get described as optimistic, tech savvy and maybe a little bit too sure of themselves and too confident.

    http://didyouknowfacts.com/theres-now-a-name-for-the-micro-generation-born-between-1977-1983/
    While I agree that the generation I grew up with does not fit with GenX or Millennials, I hate that name.

  • If You’re a Top Performer, Get on Your Coworkers’ Good Side

    The study, led by Elizabeth Campbell of the University of Minnesota, and published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, looked at several hundred stylists working in a wide variety of salons—chosen because they represent a socially dynamic environment where colleagues have to work individually and interdependently in order to succeed. They found that peers were far more likely to speak ill of top performers and try to damage their reputation. Furthermore, the more collaborative the environment, the more peers tried to drag down top performers.

    http://lifehacker.com/if-youre-a-top-performer-get-on-your-coworkers-good-si-1796716739

Photo: Trinity Kubassek

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China: Bust or Boom?

sn_china_Travel Coffee Book

China is a country that captures imaginations and can fill the role of the exotic destination, land of adventure and opportunity, and in some cases, it can be painted as a villain.

As Americans, we bemoan the loss of manufacturing and scowl at the influx of affordable gadgets and exploding hover-boards that have flooded into our homes. We fret over Chinese businessmen coming into this country and snapping up all of the available real estate:

Between 2010 and 2015, Chinese buyers put more than $17bn into US commercial real estate, with half of that spent last year alone. Unlike many countries, there are very few restrictions on what foreigners can buy in the US.

But during the same period at least $93bn went into US homes. And in the 12 months to March 2015, the latest period for which relatively comprehensive data could be gathered, home purchases totaled $28.5bn.

China’s economic advancement has come at a cost to the country and its 1.35 billion people. This post highlight some of those issues to give my readers a better understanding of difficulties China will face in the coming years.

Population

Everyone knows that China has an enormous population, but you might not be aware that 194 million people in China are over the age of 60. That is close to 15% of their population.

You might say to yourself, 15% doesn’t sound too bad. From a percentage view, the United States has a similar age distribution.  However…

Until last year, China had a population control methodology in place that limited couples to only one child. The policy started in 1978 and impacted an entire generation of Chinese families.

Thanks to modern medicine, people are living longer. China is no different.  But the unintended consequence of the population control measures and people living longer is that China doesn’t have enough people to care for their elderly population (yes, that is ironic)

This dynamic is called the 4-2-1 problem: 4 grandparents, 2 parents, all being looked after by 1 child who is also the person who is expected to earn an income.

Another interesting wrinkle in the 4-2-1 problem is the lack of brides. Due to the one child policy and China’s cultural preference towards male children, there are almost 40 million men in the country that will remain bachelors:

Today, an estimated 35 to 40 million women are “missing” from China’s population. For years, demographic experts have predicted the huge surplus of young men would cause a rise in sexual violence and social instability. Now the first generation of children born since 1980 has reached marriageable age, and problems such as bride-kidnapping and forced prostitution are soaring.

The bachelors in areas like Da Xin are the least likely of all to find love. As the gap between rich and poor widens in China, uneducated rural men have little means of upward mobility. “I don’t have any money to move away to look for a wife,” says Jin. “I must stay here to work our land and support my elderly mother.”

Think about these 30-something men (basically men my age) who work all day, not to come home to a wife or child (and a reason to get up everyday and go to work), but to their aging parents and grandparents. Knowing that the only way to change things is to abandon their family.
sn_china_paygap_rural_urban

Working Conditions

Some people do leave their villages and their families in the hopes of finding better jobs and better romantic prospects.

Manufacturing represents 44% of China GDP and is supported by an estimated 100 million workers. In the video above, you can see hundreds of people waiting outside the factory every day with the hopes of finding work inside the plants.

sn_china_employ_manufacturing

Once they do get jobs, employees might find themselves working 12 hour days, 6 or 7 days a week, and living in cramped dorm rooms.

The conditions became so bad at some factories that administrators had to put up nets to prevent employees from jumping off the buildings:

The Foxconn suicides occurred at the so-called “Foxconn City” industrial park in Shenzhen, China. The 18 attempted suicides by Foxconn employees resulted in 14 deaths—the company was the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer at the time. The suicides drew media attention, and employment practices at Foxconn were investigated by several of its customers, including Apple and Hewlett-Packard (HP). Foxconn is a major manufacturer that serves high-profile consumer electronics firms such as Dell, Motorola, Nintendo, Nokia, and Sony.

Chinese workers are concluding that perhaps factory work is not for them and are shunning that life:

Finally, many first-generation migrant workers have worked in the cities for 10-15 years, yet they are still denied entitlement to any social benefits. While government policies now require employers to pay benefits for their employees, implementation is still at a primitive stage and differs vastly across the country. Naturally, migrant workers would prefer to work in regions where social-welfare policies are better implemented.

In addition to potentially poor and cramped working conditions, Chinese workers are also rejecting factory work due to the health issues…

Environmental Problems

Why has the rest of the world outsourced their manufacturing to China? Yes the labor is cheap and (mostly) abundant, but they are also very lax in their regulation of pollution.  Yes, our beloved gadgets are a result of some very toxic manufacturing processes.

So toxic in fact, that many employees have been poisoned:

In mid-July, Long found herself unable to move her legs. “I was just lying on my bed all day and needed help to eat,” she says. Long ended up in a hospital in Guangzhou with more than 30 other Fangtai Huawei workers. Doctors found they’d been exposed to n-hexane, presumably in the “banana oil.” It’s an industrial solvent that causes neurological damage at just 50 parts per million. Workers using it are supposed to wear respirators and operate in a ventilated area. As treatment, Long endured daily injections—she says they “hurt more than anything else in the world.”

Not only does making the stuff cause pollution, but keeping the lights on at all of these manufacturing cities takes energy… lots of it.  And like many other countries (including the United States), China’s primary sourcing of energy is burning coal

sn_china_energy

Burning coal is dirty (as seen in the video above)

China’s apparent demand for crude oil will reach 550 million tonnes (11 million barrels per day) and apparent demand for natural gas will hit 205 billion cubic meters, Nur Bekri, head of the National Energy Administration (NEA), said, according to Xinhua.

Electricity consumption will rise to 5.7 trillion kilowatt-hours and coal consumption will be 3.96 billion tonnes.

Burning coal and running factories is such dirty business that China has a tendency to shut down production when visitors arrive. They shut down factories for the Beijing Olympics, and they are planning to do so again for the G20 Summit in September.

Since this is a supply chain focused webpage, I am curious to see how the supply chain will be impacted by this production shut down. If you think you could be impacted, check to see which of your suppliers (n-Tier) are receiving goods from the affected region (especially from chemical, electro mechanical, building material, and pharmaceutical industries).

Conclusion
This is not a condemnation of China. America has a long and horrible history of mistreating workers and our natural resources:
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Cuyahoga River Fire (Cleveland), 1952

In the coming years, Americans won’t be moaning about China taking their jobs, because the Chinese don’t want them. Those jobs will taken by automation and robots.

There is actually an opportunity for America to re-emerge as a manufacturing leader, but powered by the same robots and AI that will replace Chinese workers.

China is at a critical point in their own history: they have a massive population with needs that are going unmet and they don’t have the infrastructure in place to address those needs. Additionally, the poor treatment of their own natural environment is going to lead to even more medical and social distress.

As the country grows and becomes more connected with the rest of the world, the people who are making the stuff you love, are going to want stuff to love for themselves. It is already happening.

China is going to grow and evolve regardless of what I type here.  But will the country continue to be the hands and feet of the global economy or will they clean up their cities, open their borders (for workers and for brides), and create something new?

It is going to very interesting to see how this plays out.

Note: Here is the Fair Labor Report referenced in the video.

Photo: Travel Coffee Book

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