Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More on Apple vs Dell vs Linux

I agree. You want an Apple -- a computer that works out of the box with little fuss, and that keeps running fast without crashes, and that has better security. Apple hardware and software comes from the same company. Apple does not sell so many different kinds of machines. They get lots of revenue per machine. So they can get what they do sell to work better, like a Porsche.

Linux is great if you have a lot of people in your company or school that will help you along with your particular hardware and software setup. Classes, tutorials, etc. Most people do not have that in the USA unless they happen to work for a company or school that has professional staff dedicated to your particulars. Like a custom built hotrod.

Windows has millions of users and is fairly well understood. But it has security weaknesses and is built on a crumbling infrastructure. Windows Vista was a flop, too complicated. Windows 7 is simpler and better, like an updated XP. But is still not stable and rock solid. What is amazing though is that some Microsoft software I bought in 1985 runs just fine on the new Windows machines. Backward compatibility makes things complicated. In contrast the Matlab software I bought in Fall 2005 will not run on the Mac I bought in Fall 2008. They changed chips to Intel.

You just want something that will work, reliable stable fast.

"I think Linux it too out there for me. I need something a little more conventional. I am very used to Windows, but there are always problems when a new version comes out and upgrading is difficult. It also takes a long time to boot and even wake up from hibernate."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Apple vs Dell vs Linux

If you already know Microsoft Windows it is probably not worth the effort to learn either the Apple Mac or Linux. They do take time to learn. There are lots of nice laptops from Dell, HP or eeePC that are much cheaper than Apple for the same specs. Linux is cheaper than Dell or Apple because the operating system is free, although Dell has such huge sales that they can squeeze down the price to nearly as cheap as Linux.

I would prefer an eeePC laptop based on Linux that can be faster and lighter and cheaper than either the Apple or Microsoft. Some versions of Linux like Ubuntu are big and sloppy and easy to use. I prefer the simpler, leaner and meaner versions of Linux. All are faster than Microsoft and more stable. Probably faster and more stable than Apple and a lot cheaper. But the hardest to learn, especially if you are doing anything out of the ordinary.

Linux tends to be used by experts and hackers so can be a little rough and hard to use but you can get it to do more. Free open source means it is easy to modify, they are not trying to rip you off and hit you with fees for everything you do. Linux is very popular in Germany, India, China and most of Europe. Linux got started by a Finland student "Linus" Torvalds.

Apples are very expensive because users tend to be naive ipod listeners and artists -- not engineers -- so naive users need it very easy to use. As a result things are fairly solid and idiot proofed.

I only got an apple because it is required to write programs for the iphone.

Yes, My PC is very cluttered after 2 years. There are programs such
as "registry Mechanic" that can fix some of the problems, and I have
to do a lot of cleaning up on my own. I may be getting some clutter
and confusion on my mac but it has been nearly 2 years now. I hear
they do get problems and there are software fixes, but it seems much
less.

The other point in stability is that I often have to reboot several
times per day when the machine hangs or starts acting strangely. My
macbook stays on for days weeks before I feel it is time to reboot.
It does automatically download security and other fixes and sometimes
require a reboot for those to take effect, and that is enough. I have
only to reboot my mac once or twice per year due to the machine
freezing.

I do not know much about linux but I used similar machines 1973-1983
and sometimes since then and they are usually rock solid. Although
there are so many different kinds that some probably do have some
problems. Stick to the most popular "distributions" each linux is a
different distribution with different purposes and histories.

China II

I saw a scary vision of what might happen to Los Angeles and the great Central Valley barrios. It was a TV program about Detroit that once was USA's most prosperous city in the 1950s and 1960s where a negro could get a job without a college education and still live a middle class
life. Now the city is bankrupt, has lost half the population, high
murder rate, crime, decaying schools, low test scores, and finally the
city is razing whole neighborhoods and converting them to farms.

Farms might be a good idea in California too -- the Central Valley and Los Angeles used to have a lot of farms before being paved over by roads, housing, and shopping centers. People need to eat more fruits and nuts to help solve the health care crisis that to a large extent is caused by too much junk food. The Central Valley and other parts of California still produces a lot of fruits and nuts and could produce more.

I saw on TV that Nazis are marching in downtown Los Angeles to promote
white supremacy. I doubt if that movement will take off, but they are
getting exercise. latimes

China is showering USA with products and loans, and causing an
imbalance that must be corrected eventually. In the meantime USA is
getting addicted, lazy and dependent.

" China will surely have to pull back its exports and start laying workers off in the factories."

Yes. USA cannot import at this rate indefinitely. Already many
Americans groan at all the debt and some cannot even make their house
payments. They thought they were rich while house prices were rising
due to loans from China so they bought too many goods from China. Now
they have to buy from China because China has low prices that
Americans need to survive.

" Most have been relocated to the cities from rural parts of China and it will be interesting to see how Chinese labor unions accept this."

The China government is very worried about possible unemployment if
the USA quits buying, and that drives this imbalance. It seems they
should be able to increase domestic demand -- Chinese should be able
to buy their own goods instead of exporting so much to the USA. That
might ameliorate social unrest due to higher unemployment. More
domestic goods would lead to lower prices in China so if one family
member is unemployed they could live better on the remaining
paychecks.

" Most unionized labor in China is structured and controlled from the political arm in Beijing."

I am not able to understand the nature of unions in China. The whole country was converted to a big labor union under Communism, so what can they be a force to negotiate with managers when they are the managers? Now under liberalism they have rich capitalists to fight against, but how does that work? Their system is so different and still to some extent run by Communist bosses possibly disguised as something else and corrupt. Probably payoffs everywhere. How does it work?

" As I understand the makeup, the Chinese don't not have an income tax, but deduct revenues from salaries before being paid by the corporation."

I am under the impression that their "tax burden" is lower than USA, far lower. That might be one reason why they are so competitive, they do not have massive taxes imbedded in every product. USA also pays more for health insurance. Combine the high taxes with high health benefits costs and our companies are burdened in competing with China. Also we pay a lot for education but do not get very educated
graduates.

American companies in China pay subsidies directly to the Chinese government and submit to government inspections. The big arm of Communist Party has all of a sudden become the tax collector, and operating like a Capitalist nation. China's wealth comes from subsidies that it charges others to operate in their country and causing rich Chinese to replace the British in mansion homes along Repulse Bay, Hong Kong and super condos overlooking the harbor.

This may be a big source of revenue to China Communist bureaucrats. But much money is earned by manufacturers -- they hire cheap skilled labor and make big profits by selling the goods overseas.

These rich Chinese are appointees from the Communist party and hold great wealth, which is mostly deposited in American bonds (Treasury Bonds). Very little is plowed back into the country, which leads one to believe that they are affraid of their own history repeating itself, like bank runs and Maoism, so they try to get it out of the country legitimately through the government they control.

I think they are wise to be worried and to move some wealth overseas. The politics is unstable and can deteriorate quickly -- that is why they reacted to the Tiananmen Square riots so violently, and the Falun Gong religion. Communists must maintain tight control or the big country can go haywire. Chinese in Taiwan have also been moving to the USA, Canada, etc or at least having 1 child born here for citizenship. It will take some decades to achieve political stability. The Taiwan question is still not settled.

"In my opinion, this is very dangerous because a collapse of the working class in China could cause revolt against the Party with the Chinese leadership leaving the country and coming here. I look at San Francisco, and think that it has already happened. With large cash holdings, these Chinese live very well here.."

I have known quite a lot of these rich people, they are all over SF.
They will buy a million dollar house for their kid to live in while
going to some flunky music school. Another destination is Vancouver,
BC, Canada which is a third Chinese most living in the expensive
neighborhoods. wiki

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

China vs USA

I can only quote Winston Churchill's radio broadcast in October 1939: "I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest."

I cannot figure out what China is up to, but it is probably rational and in their self-interest. By making their currency cheap, Chinese goods become cheap and exports huge so Chinese employment stays high and Chinese accumulate vast wealth in the form of US bonds, etc. However, this cannot continue indefinitely because the interest payments on those bonds will require USA tax increases. Eventually USA taxes will get so large the USA population will starve to death. There will probably be a USA revolution or default on the debt before that happens -- the tea party movement is an early warning. USA is still far away from catastrophe, but USA domestic manufacturers are hurt by the competition, and jobs are fewer, and Americans are just upset about getting deeper into debt because they know that will lead to problems eventually (as they just saw in the real estate crash).

Bernanke must know that Reagan / Volker caused a "super dollar" in the early 1980s by tight money, high interest rates drawing capital in from around the globe. This hurt houses and cars but set off a boom with all that capital and big federal deficits. We are in a similar situation now with big deficits and a mini-super-dollar caused in part by China holding down their currency. I don't know if that rest of the big boom can be replicated now with so much debt being held by China. and so much manufacturing and employment in China. Interest rates remain low and will remain low because the economy is depressed. So the situation is not completely comparable to the 1980s.

Our situation is unique and unstable. We know some trends will have to reverse at some point and the longer the wait the more disruptive the reversal will be. California and Los Angeles bankruptcy may be a leading indicator of how the USA debt may get resolved. We will see more on that this summer!

Seems Bernanke is looking much older in the past 2 years. I would not be surprised to see him resign. He said nothing about the Chinese holding our debt other than it would be in their favor if they would adjust their own exchange rate. To me, this indicates his naive understanding of the Chinese. He never expounded on how it would enhance their position, and not a word on how it would discount the value of their Treasury holdings. He's evidently playing some kind of game with Congress.

China is an enigma. It is always full of surprises, and much of that comes from Chinese culture and a way of life. Crisis in China is always spontaneous, like droughts, bank failures, revolutions, and anything else that grows large in China then falls flat. Where we live by routine, the Chinese live by exageration, even their dams. The failiure of real estate in China would not be surprising, and there are also other more inflated problems in China. The uncontrolled industrial expansion and extravagant overbuilding in rural sections of China has to have some kind of political disruption to an old time Communist regime that is still in power and Maoist. Too, mother nature is not kind to China. They limited childbirth with family size laws to fight overpopulation, but have done nothing to stop famines, which could happen anytime. I believe the last one was in 1953-55 or thereabouts.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Triple Bubble Inflation Coming

I agree with you on the Bernanke Bubble. The politicians are putting pressure on the fed to cause another inflationary boom so that the Democrats and Obama can get re-elected. The problem is they hurt the economy so bad that it is taking too long to recover so they may get booted out of office.

"I agree with you about the bond market. I believe the Fed is behind the curve again and stocks are surging into dangerous waters. The P/E ratios are ridiculously out of whack, and you are right, institutions are diving into stocks big time because the bond market is destined to fall out of bed. I am at a loss as to why the Fed does not let the free market determine bond rates and to readjust their portfolio holdings."

I think the answer is politics and the inherent inflationary bias of third world banana republics and mobocracy in general. Theoretically the Federal Reserve is supposed to be above politics, like the Supreme Court, and act in the best interests of the economy. But in practice the Fed will succumb to politics, especially now that financial institutions are being called in to testify before congress and heavily criticized.

On a positive note, industrial production is recovering sharply, and business profits are improving after they have fired many employees and the worst businesses went bankrupt. Now these unemployed can find work in leaner and meaner firms in parts of the economy that need to grow.

"I see where they have decided not to relinquish mortgage packages, low rated bonds, and other holdings as Bernanke testified before Congress. I believe that he is under political pressure to hold rates where they are for Treasury to float more debt."

Yes, I expect this pressure to continue and eventually cause inflation. Most of the economy is still too weak to raise prices -- people don't have enough money to buy very much. But as the recovery continues this will change and people will spend more freely and the result of massive liquidity will materialize into price increases.

"The institutions see this and are getting out of the bond market recognizing hidden bond retractions and going into stocks."

Yes, it looks like the smart money has already left and the dumb money is suffering losses on their bond portfolios. I expect to see this in the stock market later this year. Many think the stock market has gotten ahead of itself and are moving money elsewhere. The problem is where? Maybe overseas. I just had the idea to move to Mumbai India which is the English-speaking business capital on the west coast with weather similar to Hawaii (which lacks business.) China is more booming but the language is too difficult.

" Somewhere this has got to give way, and interest rates will have to go up. Looks like the Fed is screwing up again."

Yes, this is the third Fed induced bubble we have had in the last 15 years! When will it end? How much can the economy take?