Sunday, December 19, 2010

How to root an Android device and block ads

Use Super One Click to get root access on the device. If the process hangs at "Getting mount point", open Task Manager and kill both running instances of adb.exe and restart Super One Click if necessary.

Install AdAway, a free (and open source) app from the Android Market - it updates the hosts file with entries from several host file sources on the web and runs a local server to return nothing when any of those hosts are queried. (The same as what HostsMan/HostsServer do for the Windows PC.)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Do no evil. Pay no tax.

Do no evil. Pay no tax. Excerpts:

Google has managed to lower its overseas tax rate more than its peers in the technology sector. Its rate since 2007 has been 2.4 percent.

In Bermuda there's no corporate income tax at all. Google's profits travel to the island's white sands via a convoluted route known to tax lawyers as the "Double Irish" and the "Dutch Sandwich." In Google's case, it generally works like this: When a company in Europe, the Middle East, or Africa purchases a search ad through Google, it sends the money to Google Ireland. The Irish government taxes corporate profits at 12.5 percent, but Google mostly escapes that tax because its earnings don't stay in the Dublin office, which reported a pretax profit of less than 1 percent of revenues in 2008.

Irish law makes it difficult for Google to send the money directly to Bermuda without incurring a large tax hit, so the payment makes a brief detour through the Netherlands, since Ireland doesn't tax certain payments to companies in other European Union states. Once the money is in the Netherlands, Google can take advantage of generous Dutch tax laws. Its subsidiary there, Google Netherlands Holdings, is just a shell (it has no employees) and passes on about 99.8 percent of what it collects to Bermuda. (The subsidiary managed in Bermuda is technically an Irish company, hence the "Double Irish" nickname.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Prices: supply, demand and power

An excerpt from power dynamics, free market and inflation
...the most powerful entity in a sector has the ability to set wages and benefits in a way independent of the market for labor if it controls a sufficiently large amount of the sector, assuming a sufficient supply of workers in the sector...
More reading on economic theory.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mandelbrot's fractals in African architecture and in war!

Rest In Peace, Benoit Mandelbrot. An excerpt:
In a fascinating talk at TEDGlobal in 2007, mathematician Ron Eglash shows how, in cultures across the African continent, fractals are a recurring shared technology in architecture, design and culture.

from the TED Blog: Our Q&A with TED Fellow Sean Gourley, whose work hints at a fractal pattern in global war.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On the decline of programming as a serious professional field

From Is LISP dying?
something important happens when a previously privileged position in society suddenly sees incredibly demand that needs to be filled, using enormous quantities of manpower. that happened to programming computers about a decade ago, or maybe two. first, the people will no longer be super dedicated people, and they won’t be as skilled or even as smart — what was once dedication is replaced by greed and sometimes sheer need as the motivation to enter the field. second, an unskilled labor force will want job security more than intellectual challenges (to some the very antithesis of job security). third, managing an unskilled labor force means easy access to people who are skilled in whatever is needed right now, not an investment in people — which leads to the conclusion that a programmer is only as valuable as his ability to get another job fast. fourth, when mass markets develop, pluralism suffers the most — there is no longer a concept of healthy participants: people become concerned with the individual “winner”, and instead of people being good at whatever they are doing and proud of that, they will want to flock around the winner to share some of the glory.
More at The Wisdom of Eric Naggum

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Too stupid to know you are stupid

The Dunning-Kruger effect - our incompetence masks our ability to recognise our incompetence. Excerpt from The Anosognosic's Dilemma: Something's wrong but you'll never know what it is:
Dunning and Kruger argued in their paper, “When people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it. Instead, like Mr. Wheeler, they are left with the erroneous impression they are doing just fine.”

Monday, June 21, 2010

Migration versus currency deflation

Interesting thoughts from a blog post about economic coping mechanisms: American inter-state migration, Australian currency deflation, but European economic implosion?

Australia has a really effective adjustment mechanism to a decline in demand for its product. When metals prices/demand falls the Australian dollar falls. ... Suddenly Australian labor can (again) produce commodities profitably…

America is a large country with many sub-economies on different cycles but with a common currency. If terms of trade move against Texas (as happened in the mid 1980s when the oil price collapsed) you can’t have the Texas Dollar fall because there is no Texas dollar. Houston – we have a problem.

[T]he American solution to (say) a recession in Houston is for people to move out of Houston. America has an amazingly mobile population – with almost all of the world’s busiest airports inside the US. Almost nobody seems to live in the town in which they are born. ... because people in the US move when one part of the economy is struggling. ...

Alas Europe has neither much internal migration nor any ability for say the Greek or Spanish Euro to devalue against the German Euro.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Post traumatic stress is a well known by product of mass massacres. A recent article describes the effect of Afghanistan on the warrior who brought down the Taliban - Andy Kubik.

In the olden wars, pre-WW1, the strategy creators and executors were substantially the same persons and experienced war in a visceral manner that shaped their thinking forever, eg Ashoka at Kalinga.

WW1 changed that. War was now an activity suitable for mass production. No longer was it necessary or practical for the thinkers and doers to be the same people. Napoleon was probably the last of the old warriors in the West.

The separation of the tactical fighting and killing from the strategic aspects of thinking and planning may be more efficient for the prosecution of the war but it short circuits the feedback loop from the battlefield to the command and control center.

The notable points are twofold:
  1. Modern rulers and elite learn precious little from the massacres they orchestrate, whether Mao, Stalin, Hitler or American Presidents.
  2. The fighters on the front go mad, bearing the burden of responsibility for events over which they have no real control.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The national deficit

[The public debt] does not have to be repaid, and in practice it will never be repaid.
That's the economics of reality, as opposed that of the textbooks. Quote from that article:
,,, foreigners do us a favor by buying our bonds. To acquire them, China must export goods to us, not offset by equivalent imports. That is a cost to China. It's a cost Beijing is prepared to pay, for its own reasons: export industries promote learning, technology transfer and product quality improvement, and they provide jobs to migrants from the countryside. But that's China's business.

For China, the bonds themselves are a sterile hoard. There is almost nothing that Beijing can do with them. China already imports all the commodities and machinery and aircraft it can use--if it wanted more, it would buy them now. So unless China changes its export policy, its stock of T bonds will just go on growing. And we will pay interest on it, not with real effort but by typing numbers into computers. There is no burden associated with this, not now and not later.
That concept is exactly the title of this blog!