Posts Tagged ‘business practices’

Many Happy Returns Webby!

Posted: May 10, 2014 in bankers, Business, Computers, Current Events
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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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World-Wide-Web

The World Wide Web, created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, turned 25 years old this year, 2014.

There has never been anything like it before, certainly not as regards the impact it has made on society and the way we live our lives. Many of those changes are good, many are not so good and a few are downright annoying.

Here’s my take on some of them.

To concentrate on the good parts first, the one thing the www has done, for those who can use it effectively, is to give access to information that was previously only available to the elite few who managed to claw their way into the lofty heights of academia, or who worked in places where information was readily available. Now the same information is accessible at the touch of a button to anyone and everyone with a smart phone, tablet or computer.

Another benefit, in my view anyway, is that is has sent a massive wake-up call to telephone providers world wide, many of whom were fast asleep, content to rake in healthy profits from antiquated systems. No longer do we have to settle for slow and temperamental data transfer lines. Nowadays, particularly in the last few years, people are demanding systems that can cope with download streams in the gigabyte range. If you are old enough to remember the first modems you will know you wasted too much of your life trying to download at 12Kb/sec., sometimes less.

Freedom is also a welcome by-product of the World Wide Web.

The freedom to work in any country in the world, from virtually any country in the world is one big plus – it is for me anyhow. Another one I particularly like is the freedom to watch TV programs that I like, when I like, no longer tied to the schedules of some brainless bean-counter working for a broadcasting company. And the freedom to have your say on things as and when the mood takes you – they call that blogging don’t you know! – is also a great advantage to the ordinary person.

www words

As is the freedom to disseminate information across the globe instantly, as Mr Snowden ably demonstrated, although I would hazard a guess that the powers that be would not agree with me on that one.

Indeed, this is the one aspect of the www that really bothers big brother.

China for example is one country where access is controlled by the state. Coincidentally this year also marks the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, you’ll find articles about that if you do a search, but probably not in China. They get away with it because they are not a democracy and do not pretend to be one.

In other countries, like the good old Land Of The (Not So) Free (Anymore)), the powers still like to con their people into believing that they are living in a democratic nation and that the people have the power to vote for this or that. But think for a moment, when was the last time you got to vote on whether to start a war, or whether to give $billions of your money to the greedy banksters to pay themselves huge bonuses and gamble away the rest?

It is because they need to keep the pretence of democracy going, that they do not yet have the confidence to start overtly censoring the internet. But they do all they can to snoop on what people are reading, or writing, or looking at.

This is where the freedom the www and associated technology provides can also be a negative, when it is used by governments to surveil us and record every piece of data they can. If they were doing this selectively and targeting terrorists and criminals no one would be too worried. But they are doing it to all of us, guilty and innocent alike.

big brother is watching

They are also doing everything they can think of to impose taxes on internet commerce – of course they have to coz they’re stoney broke.

The www has revolutionized business practices and created all sorts of new commerce opportunities, Amazon perhaps being the best example of a company that has gone from nothing to a multi-billion dollar business in just a few years.

Communication and social interaction are also areas where the www has liberated the ordinary person – first with email and more recently with social media. In the near future expect to see social media expanding to become much more than individual platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. We are already seeing many new applications that are allowing people to communicate more widely, more easily and more often.

social media

Another negative is that the World Wide Web has unwittingly facilitated the proliferation of pornography and violence, and is teaching a generation of morons all the wrong things. Things that will ensure they become a burden on society, not an asset.

And it has also opened a whole new environment in which criminals can operate. Millions of dollars are being stolen every day through scams, confidence tricks and outright theft.

You could say (and I frequently do) that people dumb enough to fall for these scams deserve all they get, or all they lose, is perhaps a better way of putting it. You know, the idiots who believe they really have won a lottery they didn’t buy a ticket for, or who think that Dr Umbungo Watanga from Nigeria is being truthful when he tells them that someone they never heard of has left them $25 million and all they need to do is send all their personal details and a few thousand dollars to unlock the fortune that awaits them. There really is one born every minute it seems!

All that said, and twenty-five years on, the www is still in its infancy. We have come a long way in the past 25 years, but we have really only scratched the surface as regards what the web has the potential to do to further improve our daily lives.

Where the vision to develop the www will come from in anyone’s guess. The only thing we know for sure is that the initiative won’t come from governments or their bureaucratic servants, simply because the people we elect to those positions do not have the required intelligence.

So its up to you. If you have any great ideas you want to share, send me an email.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who created the World Wide Web.

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“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I did a few posts recently about the resignation of pope Benedict and the election of Francis I (here  and here ) and that reminded me of something that happened in the way distant past of the internet. In fact it became the first internet hoax.

I am sure a great many of you are far too young to remember this, so here is the story.

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Sometime in early 1994 a press release began circulating around the internet claiming that Microsoft had bought the Roman Catholic Church.

The press release, allegedly from the Vatican City itself, announced that this was “the first time a computer software company has acquired a major world religion.”

The release also quoted Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates as saying that he considered religion to be a growth market and that, “The combined resources of Microsoft and the Catholic Church will allow us to make religion easier and more fun for a broader range of people.”

The deal would allow Microsoft to acquire exclusive electronic rights to the Bible and would make the sacraments available online.

Similarities were drawn between the business practices of Microsoft and the Catholic Church’s historical conversion efforts, claiming that throughout history the Church, like Microsoft, had been “an aggressive competitor, leading crusades to pressure people to upgrade to Catholicism, and entering into exclusive licensing arrangements in various kingdoms whereby all subjects were instilled with Catholicism, whether or not they planned to use it.”

At the time very few seemed to get the joke. Stained Glass Windows 3.1 was not in fact about to be launched, but still many people telephoned Microsoft’s public relations agency to inquire if the news was true.

In the end it got so bad that Microsoft had to issue a formal denial of the release on December 16, 1994.

Pope Bill 3.1

Pope Bill 3.1

A follow-up hoax release announced that in response to Microsoft’s acquisition of the Catholic Church, IBM had bought the Episcopal Church.

Since then hoaxes on the internet have gone from strength to strength, from end of the world scenarios, thru Nigerian 419 scams to the plethora of “warn all you friends about this new deadly virus (that doesn’t really exist)” hoaxes.

People were dumb, are dumb and will get dumber!

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I have reproduced below the original hoax announcement.

Would you have fallen for it?

If you are reading this blog I doubt it. But read it anyway for amusement value.

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By the way, the authors of these hoaxes remain unknown – good for them.

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Here it is:

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MICROSOFT BIDS TO ACQUIRE CATHOLIC CHURCH

By Hank Vorjes

VATICAN CITY (AP) — In a joint press conference in St. Peter’s Square this morning, MICROSOFT Corp. and the Vatican announced that the Redmond software giant will acquire the Roman Catholic Church in exchange for an unspecified number of shares of MICROSOFT common stock. If the deal goes through, it will be the first time a computer software company has acquired a major world religion.

With the acquisition, Pope John Paul II will become the senior vice-president of the combined company’s new Religious Software Division, while MICROSOFT senior vice-presidents Michael Maples and Steven Ballmer will be invested in the College of Cardinals, said MICROSOFT Chairman Bill Gates.

“We expect a lot of growth in the religious market in the next five to ten years,” said Gates. “The combined resources of MICROSOFT and the Catholic Church will allow us to make religion easier and more fun for a broader range of people.”

Through the MICROSOFT Network, the company’s new on-line service, “we will make the sacraments available on-line for the first time” and revive the popular pre-Counter-Reformation practice of selling indulgences, said Gates.

“You can get Communion, confess your sins, receive absolution — even reduce your time in Purgatory — all without leaving your home.” A new software application, MICROSOFT Church, will include a macro language which you can program to download heavenly graces automatically while you are away from your computer.

An estimated 17,000 people attended the announcement in St Peter’s Square, watching on a 60-foot screen as comedian Don Novello — in character as Father Guido Sarducci — hosted the event, which was broadcast by satellite to 700 sites worldwide.

Pope John Paul II said little during the announcement. When Novello chided Gates, “Now I guess you get to wear one of these pointy hats,” the crowd roared, but the pontiff’s smile seemed strained. The deal grants MICROSOFT exclusive electronic rights to the Bible and the Vatican’s prized art collection, which includes works by such masters as Michelangelo and Da Vinci. But critics say MICROSOFT will face stiff challenges if it attempts to limit competitors’ access to these key intellectual properties.

“The Jewish people invented the look and feel of the holy scriptures,” said Rabbi David Gottschalk of Philadelphia. “You take the parting of the Red Sea — we had that thousands of years before the Catholics came on the scene.”

But others argue that the Catholic and Jewish faiths both draw on a common Abrahamic heritage. “The Catholic Church has just been more successful in marketing it to a larger audience,” notes Notre Dame theologian Father Kenneth Madigan. Over the last 2,000 years, the Catholic Church’s market share has increased dramatically, while Judaism, which was the first to offer many of the concepts now touted by Christianity, lags behind.

Historically, the Church has a reputation as an aggressive competitor, leading crusades to pressure people to upgrade to Catholicism, and entering into exclusive licensing arrangements in various kingdoms whereby all subjects were instilled with Catholicism, whether or not they planned to use it.

Today Christianity is available from several denominations, but the Catholic version is still the most widely used. The Church’s mission is to reach “the four corners of the earth,” echoing MICROSOFT’s vision of “a computer on every desktop and in every home”.

Gates described MICROSOFT’s long-term strategy to develop a scalable religious architecture that will support all religions through emulation. A single core religion will be offered with a choice of interfaces according to the religion desired — “One religion, a couple of different implementations,” said Gates.

The MICROSOFT move could spark a wave of mergers and acquisitions, according to Herb Peters, a spokesman for the U.S. Southern Baptist Conference, as other churches scramble to strengthen their position in the increasingly competitive religious market.

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