Gongol.com Archives: January 2013
Brian Gongol

January 24, 2013

Business and Finance Lots of people could find their jobs threatened by computers and automation

Iowa Why MidAmerican Energy has been so aggressive about wind energy
Tax credits have made wind energy an affordable option for the utility company, and lawsuits that could shut down coal-burning operations at a major power plant hint that it's going to become more expensive and painful to produce electricity from conventional sources in the future.

Computers and the Internet Conserving cash, Nokia skips dividend for the first time in 143 years
That's the problem with being in the technology business: It's too unpredictable. Nokia wasn't always a tech firm, and though it should be commended for adapting well enough over the years to stay in business, it should be no surprise that morphing into a technology company made it far more susceptible to bad times. It's really, really hard to be resilient when consumers are bombarded constantly with offers of newer, better stuff -- stuff that's expensive to develop and deeply subject to whims in tastes and preferences. On a related note, it's hard to stay profitable in the airline business for different reasons -- mainly an income statement that is deeply price-competitive on the revenue side and highly uncontrollable on the cost side.

Computers and the Internet Twitter takes over the local news
Quite nearly half of the useful information in the initial version of a story about a political operative's car crash in Minnesota was based upon postings on Twitter. Later versions of the story incorporated more original reporting, but it's noteworthy that Twitter -- which probably should have been usurped by now -- has found some surprising durability by entrenching itself among people who like to talk about sports and politics. Those two niche audiences seem to keep it lively while the mass audiences may still be underwhelmed.

Computers and the Internet Bing: Still not quite profitable, but losing less money than before

Computers and the Internet Insurance worries could put the brakes on self-driving cars
But they shouldn't. The ultimate result of self-piloted cars should be a dramatic increase in safety and a much better allocation of human time. Driving may be necessary, but it's rarely a good use of the driver's brain power.

Computers and the Internet Why you see "shva" in the browser address bar when using Gmail
It supposedly refers to "should have valid authentication" -- not The Destroyer or the mourning period after a Jewish death.

News Wisconsin has plans to offer online college degrees
But with a twist: A liberal test-out policy may allow people with the right knowledge to get that degree without ever taking a class. Frankly, it's a long-overdue idea, based mainly upon the premise that about a fifth of adults in that state started college but didn't finish. Making an easier path for them to complete their degrees is a smart thing to do.

News China's time as the world's bulk supplier of cheap labor may be coming to an end
That doesn't mean the country will cease to be the world's greatest exporter of cheap, rip-off, pirated junk. No, "Made in China" may long continue to mean "blatantly copied and stolen from other countries".

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