Posts Tagged ‘economics’

Tencent

Posted: 20/06/2010 by Toby in Informative
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Reading about Tencent over on Techcrunch. it’s the superbig internet company you’ve probably never heard of. if you read this blog, you probably don’t care who’s bigger than eBay or Yahoo, and honestly nor do I really, but I was struck by what the CTO said, according to the article (here).

Tencent has also made forays in online payments and ecommerce, but it has had the least success in that category. The company isn’t giving up. I met with Tencent’s CTO Jeff Xiong in Hong Kong last week and when I asked him what the company’s core strength was, he answered “patience.”

Frankly, patience isn’t something you hear about in the tech world much. What you do hear more are words like ‘agile’ and ‘rapid’ and ‘nimble’ and ‘responsive’ maybe even ‘cutthroat.’ Is it possible to be nimble and patient? I suppose it is. To wait for the right moment and then to act. It also makes me realise that some of the other large companies, such as Google have been patient in some ways. A lab, for example, requires patience while amazing solutions are cooked up, and the gadgets and tools that come out of Google Labs are pretty neat, but they didn’t get made in one day.

On the other hand, as the article goes on to say, the position that Tencent is in will not last forever, they need to captialise on their position before someone else captialises on theirs.

I just thought I’d share that strange concept of patience applied to technology.

Also, according to the article, Tencent’s main product/portal is QQ.. so I googled it, and the resulting website was very different from the sites I’m used to. It’s a little bit Yahoo! maybe, but still not very interesting, and just covered with words. Utilitarian, you might say. Check it out!

If you build it…

Posted: 02/05/2010 by Toby in Informative
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This was an interesting story, I know linking to an Al-Jazeera clip is tantamount to blowing up the white house, but I’m pretty sure they’re just a TV station like HBO or BBC.

The story is about the idea that in China there’s so much surplus cash in one particular city (because of oil) that they are simply building buildings that no one needs yet.

Check it out! (SLYT)

Carbon Trading

Posted: 10/11/2009 by Toby in Informative
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This one is for Granddad Frater, who has mentioned several times this week that the next big market is going to be carbon trading. I assume he hears this stuff on the radio. Apparently it will be like a mini version of the stock exchange, or a mini version of the property market, where rights to emit x amount of carbon will vary in value according to supply and demand, and according to the ability of smart people to manipulate the market.

For example, according to Granddad, a farmer could make more money planting trees than planting crops, since the trees would create a reduction in carbon, and that reduction be sold on the emissions market.

I have no idea how that would all work. I have a sneaking suspicion that I will not get rich this way. This is on top of my sneaking suspicion I will not get rich at all.

Anyway, I thought this article was interesting, because it didn’t take long after the reality that carbon emissions will become a market unto itself, before someone decided to sound the doom and gloom early, to be able to say “I said it first!! Ha ha!”  I think it’s more the I told you so factor, than it is the actual dire situation that is described, for two reasons 1) This market is relatively new, and I don’t know much about it, so it couldn’t possibly pose a threat, and 2) Hello, tree huggers are drama queens.

First, read part I.

In part II we get into a specific case where your preachy writer had to choose between an ascetic conservationist approach and a crazed consumer approach, and chose crazed consumer.

I recently found myself in a quandary on the buying used issue. We needed to get some more luggage for the trip to Australia.

First, could we borrow some suitcases? Well, no. Not only did we plan to re-use the luggage, but we were also somewhat limited in our ability to borrow the bags we needed for two reasons: One, we don’t have that many friends here in DC, and two, to return the bags from Australia would cost a bunch.

We wanted stuff we could keep, since Sharole and I want to travel, maybe as often as once a year. I have a very nice carry on bag which Sharole got me last year. I’ve used it on countless trips now, and it’s really quite nice to have. Sharole doesn’t have one, so we decided she would get a carry on as well. I then suggested we go for a duffel type suitcase, because they would fold down and not take as much space when they were not being used. We have one from Sharole’s brother Seth which has been great, because when we’re done using it, it just folds up and fits right inside another suitcase.

We sat down and worked out how many items we could carry on, and assigned items to each person. We needed to get three more large bags and a carry on for Sharole. We also needed two smaller bags, on wheels, for the kids to lug their own diapers and snacks in.

We tried to get used suitcases. We saw one ad on craigslist for two practically new suitcases, but we were not quick enough, they sold fast. For some reason there aren’t a lot of listings for suitcases right now. I kept telling myself we should be able to settle for some junky ones, just to get us over the Pacific. The problem here, of course, was one of quality. Even low quality items can be recycled, true, but they don’t last, and their value to others, i.e. selling it to someone else, falls off quickly. Low quality items fray at the edges, break at the seams, need repair, age in the wrong places, or one small part will break, rendering the rest of it partially or completely ugly, and partially or completely useless.

So a high quality used item is ideal. In the end we didn’t find items that fit our needs 2nd hand, even on eBay. Has anyone else noticed they have shifted heavily towards new items, sold at comparable prices to online stores, and the actual used recycled stuff is rare?

So we bought two duffels that were over 30″, and probably could have gone for another large duffel, except I saw a Samsonite hardside that I simply had to have. Ever since my Atlantic vault hardsided suitcase was smashed by.. American? United? I forget at the moment, I have been pining for another of the same. They don’t make that suitcase any more. The airline did replace my Atlantic with a Delsey, but I don’t like it at all, because when one carries it, top or side, the lip pops out. The Samsonite I saw had the 30/70 lid, like the Atlantic, rather than the 50/50 like most suitcases. We will be using the Delsey to travel, but I plan to sell it on the other side, and keeping the Samsonite. We also got Sharole a nice lime green 21″ carry on, with a hard shell bottom and a cloth top for expandability.

To summarize, two things drove us to purchase new: The specific type of bags we were interested in, and our willingness to keep and reuse the stuff ourselves. Driven to buy, we were unable to find used items that fit what we wanted. Maybe our preferences were too specific, and could have been relaxed, but I didn’t even see used items that would meet enough of the requirements to make it usable. We also justified going the purchase route by recognizing that Sharole’s bag should get re-used, and the large bags would get re-used. The large bags were duffel style, so they’d collapse when empty, and wouldn’t take a lot of storage space in between uses.

We Are Russia

Posted: 26/03/2009 by Toby in Informative
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In this interesting talk, Dmitry Orlov discusses Russia during the 1990′s when that country experienced economic collapse, and suggests that we can learn from their tactics.  I have linked to his blog page; he has links to the audio and video in the first paragraph.

It’s very Jane Jacobs, which would explain why I enjoyed it so much.