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Posts Tagged ‘Information Technology

Amateurs vs. Experts

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Last year I put up a post about some undergraduate geek who, while noodling around looking at Earth Observation Satellite pictures, discovered the Chinese building a new field of ballistic missile silos (The Undergradate NRO).

There’s also this story the other day about a “citizen-scientist” – physicist and engineer Levi Boggs of the Georgia Tech Research Institute, who delved into an area unrelated to his work, upside-down lightning, and found incredible data in places nobody had been looking.

Okay, so he’s not exactly the amateur of the first story, but in a world of increasing Internet information storage and individual computer power, we’re going to see more of this sort of thing. Unfortunately it’s likely be confined to technical or semi-technical fields – and it should not be, as RealClearScience noted in Political Experts Aren’t Really Experts:

Between the 1980s and early 2000s, Philip E. Tetlock, a Professor of Psychology at Penn focused on politics and decision-making, conducted a long-term study in which he recruited 284 people whose professions included “commenting or offering advice on political and economic trends” to predict the outcome of various political events. At the same time, he had laypersons do the same, collecting 82,361 forecasts over two decades. When the study concluded, the experts barely outperformed the non-experts, if at all.

Think about how many “experts” we’ve seen making fools of themselves over the years with their predictions, forecasts and advice.

Then there’s this, The Extraordinary Diplomacy of Ordinary Citizens, which tells the obscure story of one Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East, who was the main driver behind the Abraham Peace Accords:

Greenblatt was surrounded by seasoned officials who arrogantly believed that their professional acumen gave them a certain divine right to manage U.S.-Middle Eastern affairs. But for Greenblatt, since they were the ones who had advised the many previous administrations that had failed countless times to achieve peace in the Middle East, they were not exactly able to lecture him now about how to do it.

As soon as he started, he found the old guard fetishized the peace process and had little imagination about the peace parameters. Their textbook assumption was that everything hinges on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict first and foremost.

Naturally they were also the ones who “warned” Trump against the great dangers involved in moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, just as they had warned off Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama.

Greenblatt would have none of it, arguing that the world, especially the Arab world, had changed in the last forty years:

As a result of these new realities, Greenblatt argued for an “outside-in” approach to the Middle East, which turns the old framework on its head. It is not the Palestinian problem that has to be solved first before everything else, but the other way around.

One could argue that this has not worked either since the Israel-Palestine issue remains unresolved, but the fact is that it increasingly looks like a smart move in the face of Iran and other Middle Eastern problems to have Israel and Arab nations working together openly.

Perhaps the most important lesson of In the Path of Abraham is that being a wise, industrious, pious, and civic-minded American is all it takes for public service. As our founders knew, government does not need to be the exclusive province of specialists and policy wonks. In fact, ordinary citizens may even achieve superior results.

No shit! But read the whole review.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 11, 2022 at 2:15 pm

You will own nothing

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Back in 2020 I was working for an agricultural contractor, driving huge chunks of metal, plastic and rubber around roads and farms (Big Toys for Old Boys). It was a lot of fun – and a lot of hard work.

I discovered how computerised and complex these modern tractors were, incIuding this interesting aspect:

I saw that the big John Deere “choppers” had two thick, heavy plastic “wands” mounted to the central prow of the header and that these could be used to drive the machines through maize fields on automatic pilot. However, when I asked one of the drivers about this feature he scoffed and said they didn’t use it because it meant paying some $US 1500 per year to JD for the related software in the computer system and “It’s not worth it”.

Then today I saw this news.

I’ve heard BMW owners joke that they don’t actually own their cars but merely rent them for an annual service fee, but the above is ridiculous.

It’s also a look into the future, and as I pointed out in that article it may not just apply to cars and tractors:

All of which has had me wondering, as I watch the Big Pharma companies like Pfizer and Moderna gleefully make serious coin from their Covid-19 vaccine shots and now talk of booster shots every few months to maintain immunity, whether the drug industry has moved to the subscription model as well?

Failing to Scale

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It took only a few years for me to learn that in corporate environments a lot of things just don’t scale up, despite the fact that such corporations were scaled up versions of the small businesses they had once started out as, even if a hundred years ago prior to endless takeovers, buyouts and so forth.

Centralised accounting certainly scales, as does marketing, IT and a handful of other core functions. But even then there are limits, what test pilots refer to as “the envelope”, outside of which things start breaking down. Even those centralised things are built upon smaller clones of themselves in the corporation. And corporations often stagnate precisely because the small, inventive, creative parts of themselves get stifled or outright killed off.

In fact, one of the secrets to the creation of Silicon Valley and its fantastic wealth, lay in the fact that people inside existing corporations who had ideas that got flattened or ignored, were actually encouraged internally to leave and set up their own companies to develop their ideas, and where they weren’t encouraged they did so anyway as venture capitalism also grew to supply such start-ups with seed money. This “culture” took off, with one company after another spawning new companies:

With the backing of Fairchild Camera and Instrument in Long Island, NY, eight engineers from Shockley’s lab resigned, including Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce, to form Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957. Led by Noyce, Fairchild would eventually grow into the most important company in the history of the Santa Clara Valley after Noyce independently invented the Integrated Circuit along with Texas Instrument’s Jack Kilby in 1958.

And when I say I “learned” that’s only in terms of learning what specific things did not scale in corporations: even by my early 20’s I’d seen enough of life, let alone business case-studies and history, to understand the principle that big is usually not better, and often worse.

To that end, with Three Waters specifically in mind here in NZ, but also with the gigantic beast in the US known as the Federal government, I appreciated this brief “rant” in Ace of Spades, which I’ll re-produce here in full:

An oft-heard theme from preschool classrooms to corporate meeting rooms is that one should not be afraid of failure. Failure sucks and is a miserable experience – failure hurts – but it’s also the mechanism through which one learns. Failure is a great teacher, and makes you less likely to fail next time because you’ve learned from the experience. This is true, but there are limits to the concept. Sometimes failure is catastrophic.

The higher you are, the riskier failure becomes. If you’re running a small team in a corner of a large company to try to make something new and you fail, the results are unlikely to be disastrous. You might get fired and your staff might get fired, too, but the scale of the potential damage is fairly small. If you’re a senior executive who bets the business on something and that something doesn’t pan out, the entire enterprise can fail and everyone ends up fired with the owners holding worthless paper that used to be shares.

So it is with government and its failures and boy do we have a lot of government failures to consider. Fiscal policy has failed. Monetary policy has failed. Energy policy has failed. Medical policy has failed. War policy has failed. Border policy has failed. Drug policy has failed. Environmental policy has failed. Law enforcement has failed. Intelligence has failed (in every possible interpretation). Both domestic and foreign policy, writ large and in totality, has failed. Its failure across the board and at all levels.

Sure, some of it was probably not failure but rather was deliberate destruction, but that distinction is more important in the final reckoning than it is in the day-to-day reality. Malice or incompetence (or malicious incompetence, which I think is closer to the mark) is less important than the results. The results are similar regardless of the motivator. Poor is poor, sick is sick, dead is dead.

And those failures are increasingly catastrophic as more decision-making occurs in Washington D.C.. This isn’t just because of corruption, dishonesty, malevolence and incompetence, but because of scale. We have forgotten the valuable lesson of subsidiarity. Decisions should be made at the smallest workable scale, not the largest possible scale. A town imposing some insane and destructive policy destroys only the town. When Washington imposes some insane and destructive policy, it can destroy the entire country. Subsidiarity isn’t maximally efficient, but it is highly reliable. It’s expensive but robust. Its opposite – what we have today and will have more of tomorrow – is tremendously fragile. It isn’t even efficient because the government is populated with thieves, liars and fools (and often in combination).

Totalitarianism doesn’t and can’t work for this reason. Even assuming the starry-eyed sincerity of the totalitarians (a situation we most decidedly do not have), mistakes have perfect coverage and no one is immune from the totalitarians’ decisions. Failure not only stops being a good thing from which you learn, it becomes a constant threat and source of terror. This is compounded and made infinitely worse when the totalitarians are dishonest, lying, stupid psychopaths.

Centralization and incompetence, centralization and malice, and centralization and malicious incompetence are poisonous combinations.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 9, 2022 at 2:58 pm

Engaging with a Foreign Business Culture

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Our family have bought rather a lot of electronic equipment from PB Tech here in NZ over the years, in my case mainly small stuff, in my son’s case, everything required to build a computer.

They’re well-known and New Zealand’s largest chain of stores that specialise in computer gear. This gushing Spinoff article (gushy mainly because it raved about their policy of demanding vax passes from customers before they entered a store) explains the “PB” in their name:

“In the early years, [Pat] Huo was supported in the accounts department by his wife Brenda Yu, hence the company name PB Tech.”

That would explain all the Chinese immigrants running the store in Penrose. I may have seen the occasional Indian or White chappie but they’ve been rare. I guess you go with the culture you know.

According to the blurb in the link above, they deliver lower prices by “cutting out the middleman”, doing direct deals with manufacturers and so forth. Then there’s this:

Being able to support the products we sell in-house gives PB Tech a huge advantage when it comes to rectifying faulty hardware quickly and painlessly for our customers. The scale of our in-house service operation and our team’s vast experience are the reasons why we’re an authorised repairer for leading brands such as HP, Samsung and LG, as well as top insurance companies within New Zealand.

Oh really? About six months ago my son’s two year-old PB Tech supplied monitor began glitching so he contacted them since it was still under warranty. Bit of a run-around but he finally was able to drop it off.

Then silence. No response to emails or phone calls where he left messages. Buck passing as to who to talk to and just a general run-around.

However, a couple of months later a box appeared at the door. It was “a” monitor: not the original one repaired but a replacement. No contact made to say it was on the way. Before opening the package he tried to find out via email and phonecalls what the story was. Same run-around again but worse.

Finally he opens the package and this is what he found.

They sent him an identical, replacement monitor – that’s damaged.

By now – seriously pissed – he went looking for reviews of PB Tech to see if he was an exception. He wasn’t. Click on the image to read.

There’s plenty more where those came from, and you can read about the $77,000 fine here.

I don’t understand how a company can continue to remain in business while pulling this shit on its customers – even in the wake of that fine, although given that the company is worth $280 million perhaps they don’t give a shit about such a number. Perhaps it’s simply that they sell a lot of tech gear to companies that chuck it quickly before it even hits the depreciation age and operate at such volumes that they don’t care about the occasional failure? Perhaps such business customers have … replace and fix arrangements with PB Tech that the latter accept because they’re not individual customers? Although I see some small business owners also getting screwed in those reviews.

But it’s this one that gives the clue as to the real problem with that third point.

I know a number of companies that have dealt with Chinese businesses, both here and in China, and that last one is a symptom of the real problem with their business culture:

They just assume everyone is lying and trying to rip off everyone else, so why are you complaining? In fact you’re probably lying to us now about your “problem”.

Which is exactly the experience several reviewers talk about and which my son is now experiencing; they’ve accused him of damaging the monitor. At first this might seem shocking, but that just how it be in Chinese business. Next stop is the small claims court: it seems they do respond to legal threats – which is also another aspect of Chinese business culture.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 7, 2022 at 2:49 pm

The Plastic Plinth of Capitalism

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It has taken a year but I finally completed building a new fence around the farm house after changing the layout of the track leading to it. It was only while sorting photos in the online library that I discovered how much time had passed during the Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter of Chinese Lung Rot.

However, I only lost time whereas other people lost jobs, businesses, and in some cases their homes and pretty much everything.

There are of course some businesses that thrive in good times and bad, courtesy of the fact they’re a monopoly.

Thus I introduce to you to Chorus.

Well, one of their objects anyway. That plastic plinth contains the old copper lines for the phone/internet connection. When it was put in I have no idea, but I replaced the old fence with a new one in 2001 without changing the fence line, so it could date back to the 1970’s, although I suspect it’s something that arrived with de-regulation in the late 1980’s when the local phone systems were upgraded with the arrival of Telecom NZ.

In a history of the district published a decade ago I was amused to read a chapter specifically about the phone system here over the years, starting with local farmers doing some of the work themselves, including cementing a beer bottle to the top of one large rock as an insulator to allow the line to run across a deep gorge. Who actually climbed said rock (it’s over 100 feet high), what climbing equipment and rock climbing experience they had, is not recorded. It was also interesting to read of the endless applications to government for the NZ Post Office to improve the system, something that reached high levels of frustration in the 1970’s/80’s with fuzzy, buzzy connections, hours-long drop-outs and so forth. The system just wasn’t improving, not even at the glacial pace of the past. We still had a party line in 1989 – two long tones for us, a long and short for “Y”, three shorts for “X”…. and that occasional “click” on the line that told you that someone had been listening to your conversation.

All that miraculously changed with de-regulation; no more years-long pleading with the bloody government. In the late 80’s the system was upgraded in just a couple of years in almost all ways and it would not be until the demands of the Internet arrived in the late 90’s/2000’s – meaning the actual use of farming apps and farm supplier websites – that the system began to show its age again, although I have no complaints about streaming speeds and the like now.

With the old fence and fence line now gone it was time to move the plinth so the lawn can be extended and to avoid having to mow around it. I just wanted to move this thing about 3m closer to the house, so a few weeks ago I applied to Chorus to get that done. I received their reply a couple of days ago:

Four thousand seven hundred and fifty five dollars?



And twenty five cents – just to rub it in.

Even better are the list of “work” things that this cost covers:

God, I can just imagine the fees being internally charged for all the record searching and the intense design work, plus the fees charged by external agents for the “build works” paperwork.

Naturally I won’t be picking up this fabulous opportunity to enrich Chorus. What I do now is either try to move it myself (ummmmm..), put a giant pot plant over it, plant a native tree right beside it, or would there be ex-Chorus/Telecom people who would know how to do the job – for much less money?

But that’s where the monopoly status of Chorus comes into play. They own this equipment so you likely are not allowed to bugger around with it yourself or via some hired gun.

No wonder people are moving to all-cell technology or a combined model with cell tech to a local box that then mimics a landline inside the house. I know of a number of these and they work well: in all cases the telecomms company simply said it was cheaper than re-routing an old copper line or extending off an existing one to a new house – or fixing the old one. I’m guessing that those are not options for me because the line was torn up by a digger last year and was fixed in place by Chorus with no suggestion of setting up a new cell-box system.

Perhaps the same thinking applies here but in terms of just not wanting to do the job and putting a cost on it that the customer will refuse?

Still, it’s a good example of the challenges faced by businesses in this nation when even a simple job like this is converted into such an expensive “project”. One could argue that it’s just capitalism at work, in that it forces you to explore alternatives like cell-tech. But I can’t help thinking that this is just another of those false choices forced on a marketplace; if there were a plethora of Chorus competitors and rules around buggering with the cables – you assuming the risk in other words – would we see excessive cost bullshit like this?

Written by Tom Hunter

June 6, 2022 at 1:22 pm

A different kind of war

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Putin and his cronies have recently rattled their nuclear sabres over Ukraine, in a rather pathetic effort to frighten the West into stopping their support for the latter and thus hopefully achieving some sort of Russian success in the conventional war.

Given that no Western nation has increased their nuclear alert levels it’s clear that they don’t take this threat of nuclear war seriously, and I think they’re correct (circumstances can change of course).

But there are other ways to wage war. We’ve already seen how much a part of warfare drones have become in Ukraine, a capability that has built up steadily in the last twenty years and, like planes in WWI, has gone from mere observation in the battlefront to combat and whose capabilities are sure to expand given that a $10 million tank can now be destroyed by a $300,000 drone.

But one thing that has not been considered very much is the prospect of a full-scale Cyber War. If this sounds less harmless then read this:

The event that would come to be known as “Cyber Harbor,” or “Cyber 11th,” started small. One morning, the “autopilot” mode on some Tesla cars started going haywire. First, dozens, then thousands of cars began veering into oncoming traffic all across the country. Emergency rooms were swamped with crash victims. Then, office workers in dozens of industries watched in shock as their computers began spontaneously deleting files. It took about 24 hours for officials to realize that these scattered problems were connected. The power grid was next: Blackouts began in California and soon rolled across most of the U.S. The Internet started crumbling as well. Routine communications became impossible.

It took only a few days for grocery-store shelves to go bare. Gas stations put out “No Fuel” signs. Even if supplies of food and gas were available, trucks couldn’t deliver them. The country’s banking system had collapsed; with credit cards and ATMs disabled, truckers had no way to buy diesel fuel. The backup generators powering hospitals, police stations, water-treatment plants, and other critical infrastructure eventually drained their fuel tanks and went silent.

There is also an eerie similarity to nuclear warfare in that you can’t really defend against this sort of attack either because to do so involves a degree of rebuilding our IT control networks and systems far beyond even what’s required to build a missile defence. As with nuclear warfare the best that can be hoped for is to make it clear to potential attackers that you have the same weapons and they have the same vulnerabilities.

But what if an enemy calculates that dragging the West down to its level would enable a second war, more conventional, to be won? The old nuclear First Strike scenario but without the radioactivity?

Written by Tom Hunter

May 22, 2022 at 10:29 am

A second answer to Why?

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Why? was the title of a post by Nick K, my co-blogger here at NM, as he grappled with the “reasoning” behind the vaccine and mask mandates here in NZ and similar approaches taken in most corners of the globe.

I came across one possible answer to that question covered in the post, One answer to Why?, which looked at the control of popular thinking via language control in the modern context of Tech companies in the Webosphere.

Here’s some background to those companies and their leaders in this article from City-Journal in 2017, The Disrupters, which is all about the new Lords of Silicon Valley:

In just ten years, Facebook built a global empire that surpassed General Electric in market value—and did it with just 4 percent of the Old Economy giant’s workforce: 12,000, compared with 300,000. Whatsapp, a recent Facebook acquisition, managed an even more impressive wealth-to-labor ratio, with a $19 billion value and just 55 employees. Combined, both companies reach roughly one-sixth of humanity. Facebook’s entertainment colleague just to the south, Netflix, crushed Blockbuster’s mammoth national network of 9,000 stores and 60,000 employees with its more nimble workforce of just 3,700 employees.

Capitalism in action. Many firms have been so destroyed in the past by new competitors. The article goes on to explore what might happen next with AI, robotics and so forth, providing examples along the way involving brilliant young people, like Michael Sayman. In doing so the writer interviewed a number of the leading lights of this IT revolution and even got an opinion poll done of them to assess where they thought it was all going.

That’s where it gets sad – and scary. For a start these founders (147 were polled) don’t like talking about inequality, probably because of this:

As far as the future of innovation and its impact on ordinary people, the most common answer I received in Silicon Valley was this: over the (very) long run, an increasingly greater share of economic wealth will be generated by a smaller slice of very talented or original people. Everyone else will increasingly subsist on some combination of part-time entrepreneurial “gig work” and government aid.

Now I’ve done pretty well out of capitalism, but to me that future sounds like it sucks ass, even with a theoretical Universal Beneficiary Income (UBI). Fully Automated Luxury Communism it is not. It’s actually Marx’s “disguised form of alms”. It’s quite clear that these “thought leaders” are very leary of what may happen when they’ve built robots that can do most things better than a human.

And what of the political and philosophical attitudes that go with all this? Well it’s not actually as obvious as you might think. First with the political:

Contrary to popular opinion, most of Silicon Valley is not a libertarian ATM. The tech industry is overwhelmingly Democratic. In 2008, 83 percent of donations from the top Internet firms went to Obama, not John McCain. Many of the Valley’s household names, including Google’s then-chairman Eric Schmidt, personally helped Obama in both presidential campaigns. Republicans rarely get much money or talent from the Valley.

Yet they’re against unions and regulations (of their industry) and big on free trade of course, which is why Bernie Sanders gets no love from these people, nor would any Democrat of the pre-1990’s. Nor Donald Trump. Bill Clinton sniffed the winds well.

Then there’s the philosophical ideas that drive their politics:

What I discovered through my survey was that Silicon Valley represents an entirely new political category: not quite liberal and not quite libertarian. They make a fascinating mix of collectivists and avid capitalists…But Silicon Valley philosophically diverges with libertarians and conservatives in a key way: they aren’t individualists. 

He gives a great example of the latter:

When the libertarian icon Rand Paul began his early run for president in 2015, in San Francisco, he expected to be greeted like a hero. During the rally that I attended, Paul got rousing applause for railing against mass government spying. But when Paul asked, “Who is a part of the leave-me-alone coalition?” expecting to hear cheers, the room went silent. “Not that many, huh?” he nervously asked.

He’s not the only one who is nervous on hearing that, and it leads straight into this:

In my survey, founders displayed a strong orientation toward collectivism. Fifty-nine percent believed in a health-care mandate, compared with just 21 percent of self-identified libertarians. They also believed that the government should coerce people into making wise personal decisions, such as whether to eat healthier foods. Sixty-two percent said that individual decisions had an impact on many other people, justifying government intervention.

That is, tech founders reject the core premise of individualism – that citizens can do whatever they want, so long as they don’t harm others.

And consider that several of these fantastically wealthy men control companies that very much can aid (or oppose) a government via their extraordinary reach into influencing the lives of hundreds of millions, probably billions, of people. This is the world of “Nudge Theory”, and it’s very applicable to the last two years of the C-19 pandemic – a period that has seen their fortunes skyrocket beyond what was even thought possible in 2017, in several cases almost doubling to $150 billion or $200 billion plus.

Hold that thought.

What has all this done to the US state that is home to almost all of this wealth and genius, California?Well, as this National Review article describes, it’s not good, The Crumbling California Model. Again it’s lengthy with a lot of links to prove its points, but basically it comes down to this:

Yet it’s time now to see what California’s “success” is all about. It reflects a new kind of economy — dominated by a few large companies, with an elite workforce, a large service class, and a population increasingly dependent on wealth redistribution. This emerging oligarchic regime, however progressive it likes to label itself, is more feudal than egalitarian, more hierarchical than competitive, financed largely by the same tech giants who help fund Newsom’s successful defeat of the recall.

Exactly what was described by that 2017 poll of those Californian tech leaders. That state was once a remarkably diverse, job-rich economy, with vibrant aerospace, oil, trade, manufacturing, business services, and agriculture sectors, as well as software and media. But aside from the IT industry those sectors have fallen away, taking with them the well-paid jobs for people who can’t program a computer. If living on wealth redistribution sounds great to you, consider this:

For most, the reality on the ground is increasingly challenging. The state is now the second-most unaffordable state for home-buyers, a particular challenge for Millennials, and it suffers the highest rate of “doubling up” — only our friend Hawaii does worse. California has the largest gap between middle and upper wage quartiles in the nation, and it has a level of inequality greater than that of Mexico and closer to that of Central American countries such as Guatemala and Honduras than to such “progressive” developed counties as Canada and Norway.

The paradox is that California Democrats, the voters as well as the politicians, adore those welfare states and wish to be more like them without recognising that there is more to “welfare” than government money.

Back to that article I linked to the other day, looking at the control of language and ideas in our modern world. It finishes with this:

During the last three decades and possibly more, Western governments working hand in glove with large corporate interests have spent enormous energy and resources on perception management techniques designed to effectively undermine citizens’ ability to oppose the policies that these same elites, in their incandescent wisdom, have decided are best for the people. 

The attacks of September 11th gave these corporate and government leaders both the additional funds and the political latitude they needed to greatly accelerate work on these culture-planning processes. The Covid crisis has put the whole game on steroids. 

We have many ways of ignoring these frightening developments, most common and intellectually lazy of these being to dismiss them without examination under the rubric of “conspiracy theories.”

The GCSB is on the case?

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I would think they would be for the Ministry of Health, following this news:

Websites under Brazil’s Ministry of Health (MoH) have suffered a major ransomware attack that resulted in the unavailability of COVID-19 vaccination data of millions of citizens.

Following that attack that took place at around 1 am today, all of MoH’s websites including ConecteSUS, which tracks the trajectory of citizens in the public healthcare system, became unavailable. This includes the COVID-19 digital vaccination certificate, which is available via the ConecteSUS app.

Especially since the Waikato DHB was hit with a similar cyberattack some months ago which is still causing ongoing problems, according to people I know in that system.

I had to chuckle at the Twitter site, ZeitgeistNZ, carrying this news, because it turns out to be a New Zealander and I first saw it on the huge Instapundit blog, which undoubtedly will have delivered huge numbers of visitors to ZitgeistNZ.

It’s amazing how often the people running these systems find out that their backups are not as good as they thought they were, since such things should mean attacks like this are a mere inconvenience to the owner of the system, although having personal information being published by the hackers is a problem for both parties.

It sure beats a backpack weed sprayer

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Very cool news on the farming weedspraying front.

Farming robot kills 100,000 weeds per hour with lasers

Carbon Robotics has unveiled the third-generation of its Autonomous Weeder, a smart farming robot that identifies weeds and then destroys them with high-power lasers.

As it drives itself down rows of crops, its 12 cameras scan the ground. An onboard computer, powered by AI, identifies weeds, and the robot’s carbon dioxide lasers then zap and kill the plants.

The Autonomous Weeder can eliminate more than 100,000 weeds per hour and weed 15 to 20 acres of crops in one day — for comparison, Myers said a laborer can weed about one acre of his onions per day.

A robot!

With lasers!

Shit, it doesn’t get any better than that and this is the 21st century after all. I’m sure it can be adapted to work the slightly more random world of the average Kiwi sheep, cattle and dairy farm.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 1, 2021 at 12:14 pm

Welcome to the Internet

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“Could I interest you in everything all of the time?”

The song was only posted on YouTube in June but already has 56 million views.

Pure genius from this guy Bo Burnham.

Also scary. I can’t help thinking that when the histories of the Chinese Xi Snot pandemic are written, The Internet is going be a big part of the picture of hysteria.

Written by Tom Hunter

November 27, 2021 at 11:47 am