Archive for May, 2008

Al Qaeda

We learned recently that their number two leader was killed in Iraq. Well, allow me to correct that.

Al Qaeda’s number two, at that moment in time, was killed in Iraq. Within minutes there would have been a new number two. We may, from time to time, have our hollow little victories, but for each terrorist in the middle east we kill, ten, a hundred or even a thousand more will join.

Our attempt of forcing our way of life upon a people who are not really interested in us, or our way of life, has been doomed to failure from the start. President Bush and Tony Blair have been proved, in Arab eyes, to be dishonourable men (weapons of mass destruction). This has fuelled all the suicide bombing recruits, and there is a never ending line waiting for their seventy-two virgins. (Could there be men amongst them, I ponder?)

One of my favourite ‘one liners’ is: “If we weren’t over there bombing them, perhaps they wouldn’t be over here bombing us?” We are occupying Iraq and Afghanistan and bombing and killing the inhabitants. We are also providing the framework for their inhabitants to bomb and kill each other. For what? Democracy? I don’t think so. In Iraq’s case, it is oil, there can be no doubt about that.

Those who have seen my earlier blogs may recall my favourite Latin phrase… “Cui Bono?” or “who benefits?”. It isn’t the Muslims. So who is benefiting? Well, there is the “arms industry” that’s for sure. And, of course, the politicians as they are seen to be extra important in times of battle, and whether some of them actually get kick-backs from the arms manufacturers will probable never be fully known.

There is another Latin phrase which goes with Cui Bono. This is “Cui Malo?” which means “who suffers a detriment?” OK, who is suffering, apart, of course, from the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and Afghanistanis? Well, there are our citizens, frightened of going too near very crowded places in case of attack by a suicide bomber, there are the police forces, seriously depleted because their top officers have been taken to fight “terrorist” crime, There are Americans and Brits travelling around the world, finding themselves unloved. Then we have our government politicians, who together with the Lords of Industry, Newspaper Barons, and other “important” people who want to keep the rank and file, just that, a rank and file! They now have new weapons to use against us. Such as security: more passes, the introduction of ID Cards. Travelled anywhere by air recently?

You have already read my comments on money laundering and how this does not affect the real money launderers, just us when we want to change banks. Suggested, no doubt by the bank chiefs! And, of course, we’ll never win the “European Song Contest” again.

Ampers.

PS You really will understand more about what goes around you if you use the expressions “cui bono” and “cui malo” with just about everything you hear that the politicians are advocating!

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Is Linux expanding?

And if so, what can the reasons be for it?

If you look at the world, and how Linux has spread just in the last three years, you will find it is growing exponentially. Ubuntu alone has over 9,000,000 installations around the world. A lot of them in Asia and Africa. A small figure but not bad, considering that nowadays they are battling against well established Windows and OS X. Then there are all the other distros (distributions of Linux) of which Red Hat is even more popular than Ubantu.

Oil prices are increasing, US expenditure (on their 702 military bases in 130 countries) including their battles in Iraq and Iran are costing a trillion dollars a year. The dollar is diminishing as it is not based on anything solid – and their Government (and ours) are printing money, almost daily, to fuel supply. What will this all mean?

It could well mean that people will have to start cutting costs, not just in their computer software but in all walks of life. As I mentioned above, Britain is following the same path and I have already started to move my savings into Gold as have many Americans. The US Government are trying to bring in legislation to stop people doing this so this British based business will be banned for Americans quite soon.

When I say things like: I think Linux is getting more popular, I am thinking of every aspect. As you know we, and the Americans, are pretty much hated around the world. This is one reason why a lot of third world countries are taking up Linux rather than Microsoft or Apple as their operating system. The European governments also, I have heard, fear the American government may have forced Microsoft to introduce code that may eventually turn out harmful to them. We already know that our computers send Microsoft information about our computer operations on a daily basis.

Although a lot more Ubuntu Linux distributions are downloaded than this figure, Canonical estimates there are approximately 9,000,000 users of Ubuntu and its derivatives around the world. And growing with each release.

Microsoft has also caught a bit of a cold with Windows 6 (Vista) and recently they announced they were bringing the launch of Windows 7 forward a year. And some say their announcement of increasing the life of the home edition of XP is because they don’t want to lose customers to Linux. I didn’t believe this at first but began to wonder when they persuaded the OLPC organisation (one laptop per child) to add Windows to their portable PC to co-exist with Linux. There would be no reason why OPLC would have accepted this if Windows wasn’t given them supplies totally free.

Linux has grown enormously in the last three years, and the growth of the Indian and Chinese economies are really expanding. MS and Apple are produced in countries that are not liked or respected and, in addition, these are people who like to wheel and deal and love a bargain. “Free” is a bargain, if it works – and as I said – Linux is getting better every day.

I take a keen interest in world politics and world economics and it is because of this that I think Linux will come into its own within five to ten years. Those who understand the Bell curve in marketing will have realised that the present users are part of the “15% early adopters”. There is a simplified version on this website.

Ampers

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Keep it simple, stupid (K.I.S.S.)

I want to tell you a story about Network Marketing. It is not really what this blog is about, but it helps to illustrate the point I will be making afterwards. First of all, I will tell you that I am not involved in any way with Network Marketing and wouldn’t be in any way!

Network Marketing originated in Japan and I believe became successful enough to have people selling cars this way. The Americans took it to heart but they had good sense in that they understood the principles behind it. Something the Brits never did.

The Americans would come in at the lowest level and be happy being an agent for their distributor. They would potter around at weekends making the odd sale here and there. As their reputation spread and their friends introduced our agent to others, he made more contacts, made more friends and sold more products. After a year or so, he would ask if some of his customers would be interested in doing the same. He would keep everything simple, and after a while would have four or five people working for him. His sales would increase and he would become a distributor. It would have cost him nothing, and he would not have ended up with a garage of unsold, and more important, unsaleable stock.

In Britain, we did things differently. We didn’t want others to make money out of us (a British trait) so bought a garage full of stock so we could be a boss all at once. Selling to householders was beneath us, so we told tall stories of how much we were earning, to get others to buy in as distributors, thus pushing us up the line. We also made the whole routine more complex as our egos wouldn’t allow us to be in something so simple.

So Network Marketing got, in this country, a justifiably bad name. And the unfair claim that it was immoral. The top man sold his stock to a middleman, who sold the stock to a distributor, who sold the stock to a dealer. That’s how business works, dammit! In the ordinary business world, the manufacturer sells his stock to a distributor, who sells it down to the wholesaler, who then sells it to the shop. If there is a difference here, I must be missing something.

Meanwhile, back to the Americans. Yes, Network Marketing is still alive and well in the USA and I personally know two families involved with it. One whose father started it when he was 25, left work and made it full time at 33 and by the time he was in his early forties he retired, and he and his wife moved to the west coast and left his children running the show. He is in his seventies now and still gets a share of commission from the huge business he built up.

The other is in his sixties, but loved his work so ran this as a sideline for most of his life, but has never wanted for anything although he is nowhere as rich as the first guy.

But we can’t do this in the UK so don’t try!

Long intro, short theme…

My beef here is, why do we British try and make sure we make things so difficult. Take Income Tax. If we abolished it and put the money on purchases, what would happen. We would get rid of thousands of government employees and force them out into the real world at a stroke. Save a fortunate on their index linked pensions, wipe out the black market and tax evasion, and people would end up saving more which – in the longer term – would benefit our country more. Simple, but too simple, we must complicate the system or we can’t justify our massive egos.

If I said to you, pay me £50 a week and I will protect your home from vandals. You would go screaming to the police. But why? What am I doing that the government is doing to you through Income Tax? If you don’t pay me I will smash your windows. If you don’t pay the government you will go to prison. If there is a difference here once again, I must be missing something!

But I am just giving an example here. I am not necessarily advocating abolishing Income Tax. What I am saying is, let’s remember the old Marketing saying, K.I.S.S. And use it more often in all walks of life. K.I.S.S. Stands for “Keep it simple, stupid”. The stupid is you for making life so complicated.

Use this word. Every time you are arranging something, say to yourself three times “Kiss, kiss, kiss” and try and do whatever you are doing in a more simple way.

Life will become much easier for you.

Ampers

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Teleworking

Now that climate change has taken hold and the summers are cold and wet, and the overall land temperatures have plummeted, we can see that the pundits are still being wheeled in to prattle on. On Radio Four this morning we had two of them nattering on, and John Humphries was just too exasperated to even try to correct them.

Surely the answer nowadays should be to promote teleworking. What with Computers, VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) the Internet, PDAs (Personal Digital Assistant, such as a Palm) and mobile phones, coupled with the cost of petrol, public transport, and the violence out there on the “streets” there was never a better case for management to consider having staff working from home.

But, alas, it is management, who don’t trust their staff, who are at fault. There are two issues here, people who don’t trust others are often untrustworthy themselves – which is why they don’t trust others. The other issue is that people who are obviously not trusted tend to be less trustworthy than those who are trusted by others. A bit of a vicious circle really isn’t it?

In addition to this, staff are often a lot more intelligent than they seem. The trouble is, you hire a new clerk and they don’t take any initiative and just “follow orders”. One should ask “why” rather than condemn. Perhaps that youngster has had his initiative “knocked out of him” by a previous employer and feels he has “learned his lesson”. If you manage staff, the best management book (and I have read, literally, hundreds) is a short 150 pager, costing a little under a fiver, called The One Minute Manager meets the monkey. There are a whole lot of these books in the series but this is the only one I recommend. It teaches you to take this poor sod and recreate his initiative again so he can become a pillar in your company – and will worship you – no doubt – in the process.

But I digress. I do know of one company who have taken Teleworking to its natural conclusion. It is a top rate company in the Financial Services industry. They are Management Consultants who tend to train the trainers in the companies they service. Amongst their clients are all the UK banks, some European and American banks, most of the building Societies, and more recently, the Post Office and the Department of Works and Pensions.

The core staff of the company are four directors and one executive in charge of administration and accounts. They all work from home, using computers, cell-phones, the Internet and their PDAs. Each home is provided with ADSL and there is an SDSL line in one of the houses with a server and each staff computer is linked to this using a VPN so all the company data is on the respective machines and also on the company server to ensure proper backups. In addition, full use is given to call forwarding so rather than answering machines and voicemail, calls to the director/consultants are rerouted directly to the “office” at the admin exec’s home.

In addition to the top five, there are about thirty independent consultants who are called on from time to time according to their expertise and the new job in hand. Eight years ago they operated out of an office in the City of London and when they went “teleworking” in earnest, each member of staff received a large rise out of the large pot of money saved. A big difference as most people are offered lower salaries for working from home! Not to mention the ten hours a week travelling saved. Every two weeks all team members met in the centre of London for a meeting (often at the Institute of Directors) so they had personal contact.

My wife, the administrative manager, has been with the company since the nineties and loves working for them. She has retired recently but still works for them one morning a week handling all the accounts. She is a highly trusted member of staff and part of her accounts work is to pay the salaries, and to record invoices, deciding when they should be paid, and then writing and signing the cheque. Not really something I recommend as controls should always be put in place. But if you had met my wife it might be easier for you to see why she is trusted so much.

So my point here is, teleworking is possible and can work. I am not suggesting that other companies do as much but why not try dipping your feet in? Initially find out which members of staff can do their work efficiently at home. Then find out whether each had a “space” at home where they could work away from their children and wife. Train them in how to deal with requests from their spouses and children. The best one is, “If I don’t produce, they will stop this and bring me back into the office

Set up a management oversee solution responsible for kit, expenses etc. Don’t be too concerned about cost, you can always end the experiment and bring the kit back into the office, if the experiment is successful, but then once you have everyone working from home, you can downsize your office space and have different employees coming into the office one day a week but each group on different days. Most companies who have tried this report that they get far more work out of their staff.

If the subject is of interest, type: teleworking information into Google and a wealth of useful information will appear. Most of it is well worth reading.

Ampers

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Did you watch the Grand Prix this Sunday?

Lewis Hamilton won the race and is now in front with points for the World Championship.

Here is a young man who has done so much more for race relations in Britain than, for example, Trevor Phillips OBE and the rest of the Intelligenzia!

One thing you can be sure of; McLaren did not give their car to Lewis because they wanted to give a black person a chance. McLaren didn’t give their car to Lewis because he is a nice clean-cut, well-spoken and personable young man. Lewis got his place on the team because of his terrific hard work over at least 15 years of racing. The earliest win I can find was at the age of ten in go-karting when he was the British champion–although he did start racing two years earlier.

Lewis is a true celebrity in as much as he is truly famous, works hard and has been consistent for 15 years at his profession and, in addition, refuses to join the “television celebrity set“. That alone puts him high up my list of true celebrities.

Keep up the good work, Lewis, and help be an ideal figurehead for your brothers and sisters all over these islands who desperately need proof that hard work and diligence really can make a difference.

Ampers

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I plead guilty Mi’lord

In my younger days I believed what I read in newspapers and what I watched on television. I am referring to the news of course. I never really believed that there was a “Superman“, or “The Incredible Hunk”!

The trouble was, like so many other people, I was busy making a career for myself, marrying the right girl, and although working hard, spent a lot of my after hours time playing hard.

Alas, because I accepted everything, the country is in the state it is today. For this I would like to apologise to all the people in our islands. I plead “Guilty”.

I should have taken more of an interest in politics. But I don’t think that would have been the answer. I should, rather, have taken more of an interest in the welfare of my country. The difference here is, I admit, semantics, but this would have included politics, rather than have been just interested in politics alone.

I should have read the political pages in the newspapers more, and then have questioned what I was being told. I should have joined a discussion group once a week where we could have analysed the newspaper headlines. Then perhaps joined a political group and, with thousands of others, helped build it up.

But I didn’t. I was more interested in my future, rather than my country’s future. Never realising that they are inexplicably linked.

More fool me.

I often see people who have had an upset with their bank manager, so they move banks with all the upheaval that this creates. If I disliked my bank manager, I just changed branches. No upheaval, but that bank manager is out of my hair.

The same with political parties. Lets, for the purpose of this article, just include the two main parties. Those who hate businesses and want to bring people down to a lower common denominator might join the Labour party. Those who would rather raise people’s aspirations to the next plain, and realise that by helping business you create more jobs, might join the Conservative Party.

OK, I can see your thought processes working, you are thinking “He’s a Tory”. But you’d be wrong. Granted if these two parties were my only choice, I would favour Cameron to Brown any day. But let me explain why I used to be a Tory.

My mother was so left wing, she’d be in the left wing of Old Labour. When I was old enough to vote, I sat down and thought about it. I was young and wanted a job, and wanted a choice of jobs, so I decided that a party who favoured business might be the party I should vote for, so I became a Tory voter. I even rose to Chairman in the Young Conservatives. But now must admit to you that it was “Bar Chairman”. We had our own dedicated bar with two draught beers, 8 bottled beers, and masses of aperitifs, spirits and brandies together with a good selection of soft drinks. I ran that bar with a team of six.

I became political in the seventies and never forgave the Conservatives for knowing they were taking us into the forerunners of a political union when they joined the Common Market. Ted Heath, before he died, admitted it on television as, when he was asked by the news anchor if he “knew the Common Market would develop into a Political Union” answered, and these were his exact words, I repeat, his exact words – on television:Of course I bloody did!”. The absolute arrogance of the man.

Margaret Thatcher got the heave because ordinary people didn’t take an interest in their futures and we had one disastrous Conservative leader after another. People still don’t take an interest in their future, and now we have Gordon Brown.

I can’t help thinking that “People get the government they deserve.

Referring to my bank manager story, what I am saying here is, if you had “got involved” right from the beginning, then rather than changing your bank (party) you could campaign to change your branch (leader). So much more important if the party you joined was the party you identified with. How unhappy you would be if you were a Socialist who hated the “nobs” and never wanted to aspire to be one of them, or if you were a Conservative and hated a party who tried to bring everyone down to the lowest level.

We deserve Gordon Brown because, as a nation, we have done nothing about our rulers for decades.

Our NHS is bankrupt, our schools are failing us. The breakdown of the family and the laws disallowing parents and teachers to slap children has led to the masses of feral “animals” who roam our streets. European laws stifle our agriculture, our fisheries, and much of our remaining industry. “Health and Safety” and “Political Correctness” are stifling the Anglo-Saxons ability of independent thought. And I read recently that Gordon Brown as Chancellor has been the cause of an extra 800,000 additional Public Sector jobs since 1997.

No country can succeed if it manufactures jobs. All organisations should be lean. It is only by subscribing to this philosophy that our country can grow rich enough to provide “real jobs” for everyone.

So my Rant, and rather rambling message here is, I hope, still very clear. If you don’t put something into this country, you will get less and less out of it. I have little sympathy for a pensioner who complains about the value of his pension, if he has not done his “bit” to get the government he thinks he deserves. I am a pensioner (68) and do deserve more as I have spent a lot of my time trying to make changes.

But alas there were so few of us out there.

Ampers

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… you’d best do something About it!

Everywhere I go, people are complaining. But 99.99% of them do absolutely nothing about it. And then complain because matters don’t improve or don’t change.

And the excuses are oh so amusing. “I don’t have time.” “It won’t make any difference.” “Someone else will do something.”

No, someone else can’t do anything, not without your help. And, you are wrong, if you do something, together with others, it will make a difference. If you don’t have time, then nothing will get done, so why waste precious energy complaining?

But it isn’t just people complaining. People develop a “comfort zone” around them and are happy to remain in that warm comfortable and pleasing area.

These include managers, directors, housewives, clerks, restaurant owners and chief constables.

The Richard Branson’s of this world know that to succeed where others fail takes many steps, but the first step of any importance is to break out of your comfort zone. It is only by breaking out of your comfort zone that you will begin to put in place the other steps needed to succeed.

The more alert amongst you will have seized on my words “chief constables” and began to wonder if this is what my blog is really about.

You’d be right.

I read on the Telegraph website this morning, an article about Bernard Hogan-Howe, from Sheffield, a man who was the product of a one-parent family but who managed to get A Levels at school. His second job, after a stint as a laboratory assistant, was that of a Police Constable who soon made such a huge impression on his superiors that they sent him to Oxford University to study law. Clearly someone from a poor family who had the gumption to pull himself up by his braces and make something of himself.

Andrew Pierce of the Telegraph wrote: “Mr Hogan-Howe’s Merseyside police force has, for the second year running, reported the largest fall in crime, down 18 per cent after an 11 per cent drop last year. His no-nonsense approach appears to be working, making him a serious contender to replace Sir Ian Blair as the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. “

So what can we learn from this? Evidently he is doing something right. This is a chief constable who believes in zero tolerance, people with knives are immediately arrested whether the knives have been used or not.

He is only one man who wanted a safer place for people to live in. So he joined the police force and diligently rose through the ranks until he was in a position to do something about it.

I am not advocating that everyone be so dedicated when they complain about things. One doesn’t have to take such drastic steps. But how many of you, who do complain, spend their evenings sitting on their arses watching television. The biggest way known to debilitate man? Why not give up an evening or two to pursue that which you are unhappy about?

If everyone, of working age gave up one evening of three hours a week, that would be approximately 624 man weeks, a huge amount of time and effort being put in to solve our problems. That is 12 man years – and these working population figures were based on the 2005 census before the huge influx of people from the EU into these islands. A man week (or man month or man year) means a collection of all the peoples efforts added together and treated as if it were one person. It is a standard unit of measurement in these issues.

So let’s take a look at these excuses again?

I don’t have time.” “It won’t make any difference.” “Someone else will do something.”

If you say you don’t have the time, are you saying you don’t spend lots of time watching television or drinking in the pub?

If you say that it won’t make a difference, your tiny share could be part of twelve man years every year. OK, not everyone else is doing this, but there are thousands of people out there who, instead of complaining, are doing a small “bit” to try and make a difference.

Finally, saying someone else will do something just means you won’t be adding your tuppence worth to the collective effort. And whereas doing something by yourself may not make a difference, withholding your share for the collective effort could ensure that effort fails.

Ampers.

The full Daily Telegraph article is here

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