Wednesday, May 25, 2005

say goodbye to cheap voip

Anyone who thinks that VoIP services for long distance and international calling are going to continue growing unabated is sadly mistaken. Anyone who watched the battles in the late 1990s between independent DSL providers and local and regional Bell phone companies knows that these one-time monopolists can play hardball with the best of them, and this isn't about to change.

The future of VoIP is clear. No matter who invented or thought of it first, the telcos will own it. You'll be getting your VoIP from them eventually. They'll buy out the more pesky competitors and trick or ruin the others. A few cooperative small fry will be allowed to exist as tokens to show the world that there is an open and competitive marketplace.

Roche prepares flu drug for developing countries

In the face of worries about a potential flu pandemic that authorities believe could kill millions of people worldwide, Swiss pharmaceuticals group Roche is in talks with the World Health Organization to donate up to one million treatments of its antiviral drug Tamiflu for use in less developed countries, primarily in Asia where bird flu is showing signs of transmission to humans.

Roche has already given 120,000 treatments of Tamiflu to the WHO. The new talks come at a time when less developed nations have said they would be hardest hit by an outbreak of flu and would not be able to purchase does of the drug, which is currently the only antiviral that is notably effective against the flu.

The concern is to get the drug to locations where an outbreak of flu would be likely to start, so it could be stopped before it begins to spread more widely. Orders of the drug have doubled in two months, but have come mostly from developed nations. Roche has not commented on the retail price of Tamiflu, but government figures from the UK indicate a price of £13 ($24, €19) for a course of treatment with the drug.


japanese economic numbers improve

Japanese economic growth reached a surprisingly high 5.3% on an annualized basis in the first quarter of 2005. This followed nine months of economic stagnation that resulted from a slowdown in export growth, despite strong growth remaining in place in the US and China, Japan’s two main export markets. Previously, Japan had recorded strong economic growth in late 2003 and early 2004 as a result of strong export demand.

A significant rise in consumer spending and an increase in inventory building were the main two catalysts of this strong growth over the first three months of the year. However, this inventory building indicates that this latest surge in economic growth might not be sustained unless domestic demand remains strong. Should economic growth in the US and China slow significantly in the coming months, Japan could once again find itself in the midst of another recession.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

has wal-mart gone too far?

Wal-Mart is trying to put supercenter in Flagstaff Arizona. The city council of Flagstaff passed an ordinance preventing Wal-Mart from developing the super complex. The ordinance must now be ratified by the voters. Wal-Mart has ran a newspaper ad which shows a historic photo of people throwing books into a large fire, with a clearly visible swastika – has text that reads: "Should we let government tell us what we can read?" It ran in a northern Arizona newspaper and was paid for by a political action committee the company helped fund.

After many complaints, Wal-Mart is running an apology ad and is sending an apology to the Anti-Defamation League of Arizona.

first responders get help

The National Library of Medicine has created software for handhelds to help first responders when they arrive at a hazardous-material incident, such as a chemical spill. The Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders (WISER) provides critical information and WISER versions for handheld systems that run Palm OS and Pocket PC are available as free downloads.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Star Wars flu may hamper IT work

The new Star Wars movie may prove to be IT's problem with productivity in the next several days. The self-proclaimed geeks freely admit that they are Star Wars fans and some have even called in sick so that they could see the movie on opening day.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

U.S. economy shows good numbers; dollar higher

The dollar surged to a six-month high against the euro and gained versus the yen after U.S. retail sales in April rose the most in seven months. U.S. retail sales climbed 1.4 percent, the Commerce Department said in Washington. Wal- Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said first- quarter profit rose 13.6 percent, below analysts' estimates.

The European Commission cut its forecast for second- quarter growth to about 0.4 percent, from a previous forecast of 0.5 percent. The U.S. economy is expected to grow at a 3.2 percent pace in the second quarter.

Interest-rate futures show traders are increasing bets the Fed will lift its interest-rate target three more times to 3.75 percent by year-end. The yield on the December Eurodollar futures contract was 4 percent in New York, up from 3.815 percent before last week's jobs report.

One item still hanging over the dollar is Chinese yuan revaluation. Two events happened recently that makes me concerned about the USD's steady climb. One is concern that the yuan was going to be revalued early this week. Traders sold off the USD/JPY pair and it fell hard. The rumor was/is that the revaluation could happen on May 18. The other is the trade imbalance situation. The U.S. had good numbers earlier this week, but that was due to the import pipeline being full. Once the import product pipeline loosens up we could be right back where we started (104.25 USD/JPY on May 4, 2005).

This China GDP growth of 9.5% has me wondering if the Chinese economy can maintain this pace. If Chinese imports take-off again, will thier economy overheat a bit? If so, the yuan would have to add value. About 4% is the general consensus. Does the Bank of Japan want a stronger yuan? Maybe not. If their export markets don't expand with a weaker yen, than they certainly would not improve with a stronger yen as a result of a value added yuan. Japan is in a bit of a lerch. The Bank of Japan may intervene by buying dollars and ask yourself when will they intervene..... before or after the yuan is revalued?

Friday, May 06, 2005

dollar devaluation

Fed chairman Alan Greenspan set the wheels in motion for a dollar devaluation last November. That's when he predicted to members of the European Banking Congress in Frankfurt that international investors would eventually tire of financing the burgeoning U.S. budget deficit and trade imbalance. Among the bleaker predictions is that central banks, particularly Asian banks that hold more than two-thirds of the funds invested in U.S. Treasury debt, may pull the plug at some point in the next several years.

This may be inevitable, particularly if China, which has its yuan pegged at roughly 8.3 to the dollar and is judged by forward contract markets to be undervalued by about 4 percent, sees its economy start to overheat. China's GDP is running at 9.5 percent.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Classified Defense Information Exposed

A report on the shooting death of an Italian security agent includes classified data that can be easily deciphered. The report was issued on Adobe Portable Document Format on April 30. The classified data can be copied and pasted into Microsoft Notepad to reveal the blocked text of classified material.

Intelligence officials must be more careful when using computer programs to store and dispense classified information. Lives can and are at stake in the entire war on terror.

Fortunately this report did not contain information that could have put lives at risk, however the need for more security in the document realm is evident. Authorities need to assess the entire intelligence document storage area so improvements may be made to prevent this from happening again.

This particular story informs us that communication breakdowns are the main cause for the incident. We can easily deduce that other communication problems are happening at Iraqi checkpoints.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

look at growth as a strategy rather than an outcome

Stalled by sluggish demand, companies have slashed spending.Investments in growth can produce disappointing results. Traditional sources of revenue growth have been tapped out. Where is the growth going to come from? Companies should create new growth and value by addressing issues that surround products. If a company can combine high growth and low risk by moving systematically into products, services, geographies, or cutomer segments that are highly related, or adjacent, to the company's core business, then expansion into new markets is almost certain.

One example is UPS. By the mid-1990's, UPS was failing to deliver on its growth goals. From 1994 to 1997, revenues grew at less than 5 percent annually. A new source of revenue was needed. A few big customers had asked UPS to warehouse goods near its main U.S. air hub in Louisville. Those customers wanted to take orders up to the last minute and still have those orders shipped overnight. In 1995 UPS Supply Chain Solutions was started. The business was built out of the existing shipping network. The company has 750 distribution centers in 120 countries. Inventory is managed, orders are prepared, and good are delivered.

The bottom line for customers includes better inventory management, accelerated cash flow, and lower working capital. In 2003, 2.9 billion dollars of revenue was added to UPS, which accounted for more than half of the company's new growth from 1998 to 2003.