Monday, August 29, 2011

The Truth is out there

Well, it is the famous quote from the nostalgic hit show ‘the X-files’. This is not what I’m wanna talk about here, but rather I wanna talk about what I approach in digesting what we heard and read in the mass media. I’m not gonna preach here, rather I would say that I wanna share my view about this topic and maybe my sons would be able to know more how their old man thinks if they choose to read this in future.

Information Overload

Before printing was invented, people can only record well-organized data in writing. Though people back then had more time and less distraction in life to concentrate in writing, what they chose to write were largely the most valuable knowledge that they would like to pass on to others, such as religious texts or history. I doubt we could find a written newspaper back then. News was distributed by words of mouth. Naturally, they could be distorted or were lost easily. Remember the game of passing a message in a chain of people? i.e. message was easily twisted via passing along simply through 3 to 4 people. With the development of printing, not only records can be kept better, they can be spread to a much wider audience in the original form as written by the author. With the advancement of technology along with easier and cheaper access to the technical tools, information in the form of text, audio, visual or even video can now be distributed electronically by anybody in real time to everybody all over the world by few clicks of buttons. Such exponential growth of information, even the most skillful experts who live on information full time find it hard to sort information out, let alone regular folks like us who are mostly part-time casual consumers of information. We just have limited time to consume information that is not related to bread-wining. Somewhat like snacks, there is only so much that we can eat everyday.

Information Digestion

Along with analogy above, there are reasons why snacks industry is successful. Snacks are prepared for cheaper, easier access and quicker consumption with controlled quality under certain standardization of production process. Information access is getting similar treatment these days, news broadcasts are subject to rating, newspapers and magazines are subjected to sales, even news sites are subject to hits and ads. With the commercialization of news, it makes sense to ‘news-processors’ to prepare their raw-materials with favors and by their ‘culinary’ skills to make them into consumable sizes. Newscasts have limited in length, news articles are similarly customized with edited content. Journalists are not allowed to report exactly what they see, as media companies have their own commercial, legal and political agendas to comply with. Thus, what news stories are reported, when they are reported, and how they are reported is all ‘processed’. Since many people know that ‘processed foods’ are not healthy and are seeking for ‘organic foods’, why would we be fine with ‘processed information’?

Thank God for internet, at least there are endless distribution channels for individuals to voice out their opinions as well as people who know the truth to tell the world about it. Still, the mass majority of people would still stick to the familiar channels which happened to be the well-managed, most funded and most recognized as their primary source of news. I don’t blame them, there are indeed reasons why all these happen the way they are.

Things are connected

The corporate ‘information processors’ prepared the information in digestible chunks for mass consumption. As such, most people would learn the happening of selected news in sound bites, or through sensational subject titles and carefully selected images. Those selected news meet and are, assumed by the mass media, what most people want and are happy with. Unfortunately, the ‘most people’ includes many young and influential people who are supposed to have critical mind and intelligent to make decisions that would affect our world for current and future. I find it just sad that those people have been ‘stoned’ by such ‘processed info’ for so long that, they just can’t or are uncomfortable to wake up and think. I would say that most of the information and news that we get from the mass media these days are intentionally manipulated to a point that information are made to be perceived as disjointed. Thus, many people cannot see how many events are indeed connected. Even if suspicions of connectivity are raised, it is just hard to see how things are connected. I think that as the mass media are getting more powerful through consolidation in the industry and their growing wealth and power, it is just an intensive and constant tough fight for the truth to come out in the rough sea of information.

Conspiracy has value

Internet is a double-edged sword. It allows truth to come out and be spread, but it allows false information to do the same as well. As such, powerful information brokers have changed their strategy in information manipulation in view of the power of internet. In the pre-internet stage, they basically control the access of information by owning the outlets. Nowadays, they seek to be the ‘loudest’ and most visible one on the internet and meanwhile by creating some ‘shadow characters’ on the internet to discredit those who bring out the truth. In fact, many stories (to be honest, some of them may be actually the truth) which are not reported in mass main-stream media or deviated from the ‘acceptable’ reported stories, are discredited as ‘conspiracies’. Those who raise ‘conspiracies’ are being described as some kinds of introvert ‘wacko’ that are chasing their own shadows. In spite of the fact that, many of those so-called ‘wacko’ or ‘people with offbeat characters’ who are also happened to be scholars and experts of different well-respected institutions. Cuz, conspiracies are not just a weird thoughts, they are usually supported by a matrix of facts or evidence though some of them might be circumstantial. Rather than being raised for discussion and further investigation, conspiracies are being suppressed, discredited and being making fun off by the so-called mainstream. I just don’t think that is right.

Trust no one

Despite saying what I’ve said so far, I don’t mean that all conspiracies are true. However, I just don’t feel comfortable that many people are being manipulated by what they are told. I don’t think we should believe the mass media, nor the conspirators themselves unconditionally. We should exercise our intelligence to expose ourselves to a wider spectrum of information, and try to analyze them to understand how things are connected (aka the karma behind issues) and form our own opinions, rather that being passive accept what we should think. That’s why I would say for young people, with their relatively ample of time, lighter burden of responsibility, and more open-minded in acceptance of ideas, they should be encouraged to learn how to seek out a wider spectrum of news, to digest them against what are being told in the mainstream media, to then analyze them critically to form their own opinion of issues that are happening in our world. I think that has been the way that we have achieved in scientific advancement. In which, nothing is accepted without proof, suspicions are always investigated. Such methodology should be applied in seeking truth in non-scientific information as well.

What really matters

I always believe that human’s spiritual advancement is always lagged behind the developments of most other things such as technology, finances, and political systems. It is part of human nature that people do tell lies, powerful ones are control freaks, and most people put their own self-interests over the others. As such, we should look after our own, don’t just blindly accept what are being told and develop a critical mind to seek out the truth. That’s the only way we can improve ourselves. Without doing that, any perceivable advancement is simply building on mirage, that won’t last. Just use our God-given mind to think critically. Otherwise, we might just be a humanoid with a mind of a sheep, happily cruising our life in herds, what a waste!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Steve Jobs - Resignation

“To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you. Steve”

Echoed from the words above, thousands of news stories about the resignation of Steven P. Jobs as the CEO of Apple Corp have been popping up on the net in the last 2 days. His legacy in the industry, his place in history, his impact on the company and the effect of his departure from the active management of the company have been talked to depth all over the press.

As a fan and user of Apple products, I wanna add my 2 cents to this news story. I wouldn’t be able to draft as well-written and cohesive as other writers. Instead, I’m just gonna put some headers with random pieces of thought as follow. Some of them may be found similar to what some other bloggers/writers had already said since we may share the same/similar view of certain topics, but you will definitely find something more unique that I come up on my own.

Reason for his resignation
Almost everybody believes that it is due to his health. Certainly, I wish him will get well by all means. However, I think that his health is certainly deteriorating. To me, he seems to be a fighter who fights till the end, definitely not a quitter. He just chooses to leave Apple after he has won in business and focus on his other ‘fight’- to live a healthy life.

Timing of his resignation
On his personally basis, he may just wanna spend more time to take care of his health and with his family. He certainly would like to stay healthy enough to see more Apple products being release and particularly the new Apple headquarter compass that he has been passionate about to be built on his watch. I don’t think he is on death bed yet, I hope not. But, for being as elusive as he is, nothing can/should be ruled out. He may unfortunately reach the final stage of his life. Connected in my thought that, it may be the reason why he might have instruct the earlier publish of his first and only authorized autobiography in coming November rather than next year. Reportedly, he chooses not to read the book before release, so he may just wanna read that before he’s gone. Just my share of conspiracy!

For Apple wise, I think his timing of departure just coincide the best time of the company financial and operational wise. It has become the largest or second largest corporation in the States in terms of capitals and with 76 billions of cash. Its products are selling like hot cakes with next versions on the verge of release. Usual fanfare is expected. I think he just left behind a very strong company for his successors to take on without an ounce of regret and did that on his own term unlike last time.

Steve Jobs related news reports in future
The press will continue to talk about him. If he thinks that he is healthy enough, I think he will give one or two exclusive interviews to 60 minutes or his trusted reporters in coming period. We may still read news on something that he alleged have said here and there. But, if his health is really bad, the next big story would be the report of his death. Something like…

On DD/MM/201X, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, SVP Jonny Ive, etc visited Steve Jobs at his residence in Cupertino for the final farewell of Steve Jobs, the ex-CEO, Chairman and finder of Apple Corp, who passed away last night at the age of 5X. The cause of his death is XXX. Steve Jobs was….. Reportedly, his best friend Steve Woz, cofounder of Apple, his sister Mona Simpson, his wife, Laurene Powell, and his hildren XXX were on his bedside at the time of his death……His funeral is scheduled to be on DD/MM/201X at….

…..Hundreds of Apple fans left flowers at entrances of Apple stores all over the world to commemorate the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs…..Thousand of fans also left messages at Apple’s corporate website, and many fans also setup pages on Facebook for people to leave messages to this tech giant…….

What Steve has left behind
I agree that Apple will be fine in next 2 to 3 years as relatively well defined plan for product/services development should already be in pipeline. iPhone 5, 6, 7, iPad 3, 4, 5 will be released as predicted. iTunes, iOS, Mac OS, Macs, etc will continue to develop incrementally. The issues that people will be talking about are the micro and ultra-macro things that Apple does. The former would be the final touch of the next versions of products., like whether the back of iPad or iPhone to be ceramic, plastic or metal, be flat, curved or whatever, whether the new patented screws would be in star-shaped or hexagonal, etc. People will say something like ‘Would Steve approve this?’, ‘Do they get Steve’s blessing to be released? ‘

What matter to most people would be ultra-macro level direction that Apple will follow in future, i.e. the next phase of strategic development that company will pursue. Given Apple’s business, under Steve’s management, had dramatically evolved more than once in terms of shifting focus in product lines. What will be next under Tim Cook? I think some general directions must have already been made like some analysts (aka fortune tellers) have said. Apple will make Apple TV - the real TV set. Apple will merge Mac OS and iOS down the road. Apple will drop optic disc support altogether, etc. However, what more Apple will do? or most importantly ,what they can but won’t do? I think that’s a bit philosophical rather than operational.

Thus, I think that the most important thing that Steve has left behind to Apple is the ‘philosophy’ that he might have preached, but definitely shown in practice day in and day out when Apple was under his watch. I’m talking about Steve would complain how sweet the mango juice is in Apple’s cafeteria, but more like how Steve perceive the relationship between Apple and people (including customers, staff, vendors, suppliers, the press, the fans and non-fans) in terms of technology. I’m sure scholars in various top management school of business will write papers if not books to death about Steve’s management. I also read that Steve himself does pass some philosophical management materials to his senior staff in house to bring them in Apple’s culture. So from now on, I guess it shouldn’t be a question like ‘what would Steve do?’ being asked internally in Apple when there is problem. Rather, it would more be up to the senior staff to determine on whether they would like to carry on the way Steve do things, or they would strike on their own which may deviate from the existing core of Apple’s culture preached by Steve. I think that as long as Steve’s DNA can remain in Apple’s future strategy.

Apple will still be Apple.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

般若波羅蜜多心經 Prajnaparamitahrdayasutra


(梵文Prajnaparamitahrdayasutra, 屬於《大品般若經》中600卷中的一節)



“般若”即智慧、心靈。 “波羅”是過渡到達彼岸(目的地)。 “密”即終極,“多”指萬法、萬種、萬有、萬物。佛家語“心”(梵語hrdaya ),指心靈,亦含有精要、精髓等意。心即心靈、大智慧、宇宙之心。 “經”通“徑”,路徑、通道。






















19) 不存在眼所見、耳所聞、鼻所嗅、身所感、意所念





24) 無見生命、衰老、死滅也不見不會衰老、死滅者
兩次否定成為一次肯定。 ]



























“菩薩”是bodhisattvaa“菩薩摩訶薩”的音譯,本意為“覺有情”、“導眾生”的大士。 “摩訶”,意為“大”。 “薩”為“薩埵”的略音,意為“有情”或“眾生”。摩訶薩指引導救度極多眾生,使之得度脫生死。


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Question about Window 8

After Microsoft flunked with Vista, it has regained consumers' confidence with Window 7. For being a W7 user myself, upgraded from Window XP, I'm happy with the performance of W7 myself. Though I, every now and then, have been tempted by Mac OSX, I'm still staying in the MS ship for the time being.

Reading news reports, W7's adoption is viewed as one of the few successful stories that MS can boost these days. Though many companies are still sticking with the decade old XP (mine is one of them :( ), I think many corporate IT would jump on the W7 ship in near future, since W7 is quite stable and not too much deviated from XP in terms of UI.

Now, it comes to recent news of Window 8 which is supposed to be released in 2012. It all started with the fact that MS doesn't want to roll out Window Mobile 7 on tablets. Instead, MS proclaimed that W8 would be the solution. Many people wonder how the hell W8 (without much details, but it was assumed to be big) can be clammed into a tablet to compete with the instant- on iPad running on iOS. I think that's still pending to be seen... I've read some news stories today which reported more details about the features of W8 which would include some gesture interface or kinect type interface. I think that make sense from product evolution perspective. However, I will wonder if W8 will face much higher hurdle in corporate adoption of such ambitious enhancements.

W8 would not be cheap, even if it is on par with W7, why would not companies choose W7 which is a proven system. Also, it seems like, in order to fully enjoy the enhanced features in W8, you will need hardware enhancements, such as touchpad-mouses or tablet. I don't know if companies are ready to indulge in such corporate expenses given the current economic environment. So, there is so much uncertainty in the W8 roll out. Of course, most people will stay put till they see it. For me, I doubt I will update to W8 given my desktop is about 1 year old and my previous one lasted for over 7 years. Considering the halo effect of iPad and iPhone, many Window users have already moved to Mac and never look back. I think W8 is really enemy is Mac and time. Would MS be able to retain those about the defectors (and potential one, me included) on time? That's interesting to be seen.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Google's Motorola Mobility Acquisition and how Apple spends it cash

Google’s US$12.5B purchase of Motorola Mobility is the most eye-catching tech news in the last few days. I’ve read many articles on the web about what this purchase means to various parties, how that would affect the mobile phone industry and all that. I think that’s quite an interesting topic. Regarding what are being said on the street, basically, these are what I read and can remember so far:

The reason of the purchase

- Google is deeply involved in patent war with Apple and Microsoft. As patent has become a key arsenal in this war, with Google’s recent loss in the Nortel patent bid against Apple and MS. Google has to turn to other sources. Motorola is the pioneer in mobile technology with a war-chest of patents. So, it became Google’s target naturally.

- In spite of the surge of Android adoption in the market, Google still felt that it has been short-changed in competition with Apple which has a vertical integration of the whole smartphone industry components. Thus, acquiring a hardware (handset) manufacturer makes sense to Google. Now, Google can directly compete with Apple from end to end. In addition, Google may be able to enjoy both the advantages of having open sourced Android to various smartphone manufacturers as well as having its own, versus Apple which goes alone.

Speculated Effects on the industry:

- Microsoft may be happy that many Motorola’s competitors like LG, Samsung, HTC will devote more resources to ‘hedge the bet’ on Android alone, by producing Window Mobile 7 Phones.

- Motorola’s competitors will still stick with Android for now, but would either push Window 7 phones as MS wishes, or do something on their own. E.g. Samsung is pushing Bada which is a customized Android that would give a different user experience to its users.

- Google will have problem integrating Motorola’s 19,000 staff in house, given its experience of being a search company without prior experience in manufacturing, a lot of things have to learn and can happen.

- Microsoft may be driven to purchase Nokia outright. Also, other manufacturers may become targets themselves, particularly those with many patents, such as RIM.

- RIM is doomed, given the current consolidation and alliances in the smartphone industry. Will it become another Palm?

- Google will also gain on the TV front, given Motorola’s prominent status in TV set top boxes. So, Apple TV would be under pressure somehow.


Well, I think those speculations are, by no mean that, have certain validity. What I would want to say is that this acquisition wouldn’t have much impact on Apple, at least, not from the strategy planning of its development. $12.5 B is not a small amount though Google has a lot of cash on hand. I don’t think that would push Apple to make its own giant acquisition deal to top Google’s. I do admire Android and really like Chrome myself. I do use many Google services, such as youTube, Blogger, Document, Gmail, Earth, etc. I also like Google search much more than Bing. However, I still don’t see Google’s current development strategy on par with Apple’s.

Apple’s current development strategy is all about providing the best user ‘experience’ as possible. Apple is doing it my creating its own ecosystem, tries to control every components down to a key stroke or nuts and bolts. It owns its software, the IOS, and MacOS. They are protected and controlled totally in house. It designs its products. From the material being used, the chip, the form factor, the color, even is tempting to create its own type of screws in upcoming products. They just want its product to be not just working, but also cool to own and fun to use. Then, it creates its own stores. The physical ones are with top notch interior design with lots of glasses, black and white benches that display products for customers to play with and its friendly experienced staff can really help users on the spot. Then, it has virtual stores of iTunes/App stores, and Mac App Stores, which have been very effective distribution channels. iTunes is top music store in the world. It collection of podcasts and courses on iTunes U are unparallel. The App stores set the trend in the industry and its sister spin-off of Mac App Stores also strike the core of users. Apple has a line of products that are highly distinguishable from its competitors and it can charge premiums. Also, Apple has the mystic power of its iconic leader Steve Jobs, the aura of Apple being a brand used by cool people like artists and musicians for decades on top of the top advertising dollars it spends, the brand of Apple has still been able to stay cool so far in spite of its widely adoptions by many regular Johns and Janes is simply amazing! I couldn’t think of any other company could generate that amount of buzz for its upcoming products or even some ‘unicorn’ products that never exists. That kind of rumors, reports, speculations in the media are free ads that Apple doesn’t pay a dime for, certainly invite envy from most companies. iPhone 5 and iPad 3 are what people are talking about. Apple chooses not to release a lot of products, that makes it easier to control its quality and keeps customers’ focus, rather than releasing so many similar products with forgettable names. That’s why, to me, I still see Google is playing the catch-up role, though it is much better than MS which is still a bit clueless and chaotic. I would wish Google can march its own alternative development from Apple but as good as Apple.

While Google spending a fortune on this acquisition, that reminds me of an article that I want to share with readers. The title of the article has been changed as times goes by. It is about how Apple spends its cash. Since its cash amount has kept on growing, the latest title is that…

“What would be a good use of Apple's $76.2+ billion in cash?”

This is what he (Anon User) said:

Apple actually uses its cash hoard in a very interesting way to maintain a decisive advantage over its rivals:

When new component technologies (touchscreens, chips, LED displays) first come out, they are very expensive to produce, and building a factory that can produce them in mass quantities is even more expensive. Oftentimes, the upfront capital expenditure can be so huge and the margins are small enough (and shrink over time as the component is rapidly commoditized) that the companies who would build these factories cannot raise sufficient investment capital to cover the costs.

What Apple does is use its cash hoard to pay for the construction cost (or a significant fraction of it) of the factory in exchange for exclusive rights to the output production of the factory for a set period of time (maybe 6 - 36 months), and then for a discounted rate afterwards. This yields two advantages:

Apple has access to new component technology months or years before its rivals. This allows it to release groundbreaking products that are actually impossible to duplicate. Remember how for up to a year or so after the introduction of the iPhone, none of the would-be iPhone clones could even get a capacitive touchscreen to work as well as the iPhone's? It wasn't just the software - Apple simply has access to new components earlier, before anyone else in the world can gain access to it in mass quantities to make a consumer device. One extraordinary example of this is the aluminum machining technology used to make Apple's laptops - this remains a trade secret that Apple continues to have exclusive access to and allows them to make laptops with (for now) unsurpassed strength and lightness.

Eventually its competitors catch up in component production technology, but by then Apple has their arrangement in place whereby it can source those parts at a lower cost due to the discounted rate they have negotiated with the (now) most-experienced and skilled provider of those parts - who has probably also brought his production costs down too. This discount is also potentially subsidized by its competitors buying those same parts from that provider - the part is now commoditized so the factory is allowed to produce them for all buyers, but Apple gets special pricing.

Apple is not just crushing its rivals through superiority in design, Steve Jobs's deep experience in hardware mass production (early Apple, NeXT) has been brought to bear in creating an unrivaled exclusive supply chain of advanced technology literally years ahead of anyone else on the planet. If it feels like new Apple products appear futuristic, it is because Apple really is sending back technology from the future.

Once those technologies (or more accurately, their mass production techniques) become sufficiently commoditized, Apple is then able to compete effectively on cost and undercut rivals. It's a myth that Apple only makes premium products - it makes them all right, but that is because they are literally more advanced than anything else (i.e. the price premium is not just for design), and once the product line is no longer premium, they are produced more cheaply than competitor equivalents, yielding higher margins, more cash, which results in more ability to continue the cycle.

Some readers comments on this article with some insightful views as well, such as this one from Alston Ho:

By not buying the plants out outright but instead assisting the plants, Apple shifts the operations and management to the people who understand that new component the best as well as that component's suppliers as well as the labor force and political locality. The company can then focus on its strategy of designing the new products rather than designing the new products and all the new components that go inside of it. By doing so Apple gains these additional benefits as well:

1) Company focuses on its core competency and out-tasks the periphery.

2) Company deploys less capital and has less capital at stake than fully buying it outright, allowing them to accumulate more cash and generating more ROIC.

3) Company gains additional teeth in the way their suppliers operate, reducing this element of uncertainty.

4) Technology and its rapid pace of innovation has an element of creative formation and destruction. Apple has to be able to design and incorporate and source and integrate a component into their products, then subsequently/simultaneously moving away from it onto something new.

I think the author of the top article has a very in-depth view on Apple’s development strategy. I also find his view make a lot of sense and actually ties to reality.

From Wikipedia, you can see what kind of enterprise does Apple buy?

For example:

1997 Next (programming services). Value: $404 million

1997 Power Computing (cloned computers). $100 million

1999 Xemplar Education (software). $5 million

1999 Raycer Graphics (graphic chips). $15 million

2000 NetSelector (Internet software). Value: NA

2001 Astarte (DVD authoring software). Value: NA

2001 bluebuzz (Internet service provider). Value: NA

2001 Source Technologies (graphics software). Value: NA

2001 PowerSchool (online info systems services). $62 million

2002 Nothing Real (special effects software). $15 million

2002 Zayante (software). $13 million

2002 Silicon Grail Corp-Chalice (digital effects software). Value: NA

2002 Emagic (music production software). $30 million

2002 Propel Software (software). Value: NA

2005 Fingerworks (gesture recognition). Value: NA

2006 Silicon Color (software). Value: NA

2006 Proximity (software). Value: NA

2008 P.A. Semi (semiconductors). $268 million

2009 Placebase (maps). Value: NA

2009 Lala (music streaming). $17 million

2010 Quattro (mobile advertising). $275 million

2010 Intrinsity (semiconductors). $121 million

2010 Siri (software). Value: NA

2010 Poly9 (Web-based mapping). Value: NA

2011 Share in the Nortel purchase, Value: $2.6 Billion

See? Not a Facebook or Disney among them. And the largest acquisition -- by far -- was the 1997 purchase of NeXT that brought Steve Jobs back to Apple.

Reported by on Jan 18, 2011, Apple's chief operations executive Tim Cook revealed that the company had entered into long term component supply contracts worth $3.9 billion over the next two years.

The article said:

Cook noted that the secret deals were a "fantastic" use of the company's cash reserves, which have now grown into a $59.7 billion stockpile.

When asked what components were involved in those long term commitments, Cook answered, "I don't want to give it out, because I view it as a competitive… something I don't want our competition knowing."

Cook references A4, RAM as examples

Cook added, "Let me talk in general. From our point of view on design side, we design components where we believe we can innovate beyond the market. Most recent example, A4 chip. With the A4 chip, we didn't think we had to invest in a fab [chip manufacturing facilities], so we focused on design."

"On the operational side of house," Cook stated, "we've historically entered into agreements with others to supply; largest one was with flash memory suppliers back in 2005 that totaled over a $1 billion, because flash would become increasingly import across product line and industry."

Apple is now the world's largest consumer of memory chips, in large part because it bundled large amounts of flash RAM in its iPods, and subsequently introduced the iPhone with far more memory storage than other smartphones, beginning with 4 to 8GB on the original iPhone at a time when most smartphones shipped with 256 to 512MB of storage.

"We think that was an absolutely fantastic use of Apple's cash," Cook said of the company's decision to pre-purchase a billion dollars of flash RAM, "and we constantly look for more of these. In the past several quarters, we've identified another area and come to recent agreements."

Nearly $4 billion of component strategy

Cook described the deal as "similar to flash agreement, focused in an area that we feel is very strategic," but said he would "prefer not to go into more details about what specific area it's in, but it's the same kind of thinking that led us to those deals."

Cook had earlier discussed the generally favorable pricing environment for components that had reduced the company's costs in the quarter more than expected, and noted that going forward one could "expect a favorable pricing environment for DRAM," while "some prices for raw materials such as key metals are currently increasing due to anticipated strengthening of worldwide economy. Bulk of other commodities from NAND to LCDs to batteries and most others are generally in supply/demand balance."

Components that may be considered strategic enough to warrant a $4 billion advanced commitment may include the rumored very high resolution Retina Display anticipated for iPad 2, or may relate to the custom design technology Cook discussed regarding the A4, such as component supply capacity for the coming A4 replacement, Apple's custom battery designs, or a combination of commodity parts, custom fabrication or Apple's original chip designs, and state of the art components.

So, I guess Apple’s 2011 purchase of Nortel shares is more for the patent war, I don’t think it would be a start of change of its all along strategy, as paraphrasing BusinessWeek's Arik Hesseldahl: "Apple's business philosophy is to acquire small companies that can be easily integrated into existing company projects." The Nortel purchase may just be an exception after all.

Well, we will see…

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Updates from my homefront for 1H of Aug 2011

Just haven't update the blog as often as before, it doesn't mean that I've abandoned this platform for sharing and keeping my thoughts with readers. It is just the fact of life for urban dwellers to struggle time and attention among all types of communication channels. For me, besides Blogger and Facebook, I've started to use Google+ and Weibo lately. I've not been an active user of the latter, but hey, those take time as well.

On the home front, my wife is gonna end her maternity leave this week. Once she goes back to work, it will be different at home front, 'stormy weather' is expected given the past history. What I can is that I just need to up my EQ to deal with it.....

A part-time helper is gonna come few days a week to help out with our housework. My current housemaid is just got her hands full with an infant and a toddler. The home environment is deteriorating, i.e. it is getting messy and dirty. We hope this new pair of hands would help to do some cleaning besides her core tasks of meals preparation. With a new helper, new set of arrangement/logistics are needed, such as give her money for grocery shopping and paying her for her works. As we wanna keep our housemaid's hands off on these items and the part-time helper will work in our working hours, we just need to manage them somehow. Also, I expect my wife will have 'comments' on her performance, expenses, the tastes of meals, etc. Hopefully, things will work out after some initial hiccups.

I've just ordered an very expensive 'toy' for my son - a digital piano that cost me like....2 new iPhones! My wife said she would pay for it. Surely, I'm fine with it, given that she is paying well now. Money is an issue, but the bigger issue to struggle with the limited space at home to fit it. I hope my observation is right that my son does indeed love music and has enough skill to handle it. I don't and won't force him to be a master of it. Since I'm a music lover who don't know how to play any instrument, I still welcome my son to have the chance to learn something that his old man didn't. Hopefully, he will love it and stick to it somehow. Cuz, it is a relatively long term commitment. Even though it is a thought that if he doesn't like it, his younger brother may like it. Still, I still would like my older son to be able to enjoy music at home and hopefully music will become an useful tool for him as a leisure, an escape, a sanctuary, or a way to express himself given that he does have his own 'character' from my observation. The next step is to hire the music tutor to give him private lessons - $$$ again!

In the last few months, with the birth of our young son, money just drained everywhere. Just take a reflection of what large items that cost $$$:
- Wife's doctor visits and delivery at hospital
- Healthy foods and dietary supplements for my wife
- Baby powder/diapers
- New AC
- New kitchen hood
- New bedroom cabinet and bookcase
- Digital Piano
- Home security cameras

Still, my wife and I are still tempted to update to iPhone 5 in next few months and iPad 3 next year! Come to think of it, the rational/logical side of my mind must be saying: what we are thinking? Given the deteriorating economic environment, i.e. inflation on all fronts - foods, transport, energy, RENT! We should try to save more and improve our investments rather than still thinking about expending more. Well, I don't have an answer to that. Maybe, we just want to live more comfortably, maybe it is because 2012 is coming! Who knows? Anyway, I think I'm a prudent consumer who doesn't make too many impulsive purchases before. I think things would be fine....

Friday, August 5, 2011

Being independent

I’ve not blogged for a while, just kinda busy both at home and at work. It’s just hard to squeeze time to do things truly for myself these days. I don’t wanna just bullshit in my blog though I’ve all the right to do so. Since I became a parent myself, I don’t think my blog is simply a forum for me to express my thoughts. I would like to share my blog with my kids when they become old enough to read and in case they would like to understand more about their old man. So, I only want to say things here that I wouldn’t regret telling the world, including my kids.

Why am I busy? It is because I’ve responsibilities to fulfill. There comes to my thought about independency, the subject of this blog. I wasn’t growing up with lots of materialistic leisure. Living in a place where most of our neighbors have more or less the same economic status, families did know each others well. We talked to each other face to face, not by Facebook or via web. Inter-personal relationship and skills were much more developed back then than people these days. In that aspect, I don’t know if technological advancement is really a blessing or a curse. Anyway, for families without lots of means, bending together to trade helps and favors became very natural. I’m not talking about things that materialistic i.e. money, but simply sharing simple tools or even services like helping out watching others’ kids, things like that were very common back in those days.

Within the family, siblings did know the virtue of sharing, cause it was not just being polite or diplomatic, but out of necessity in view of shortage of resources. As a result, we learnt how to accommodate of not having certain things at certain time. We learn to be patient, taking turns, cherish the chance of our turn and being responsible for maintain the well-being of things on hand. In cases that we just don’t have what and when we want, we would improvise, coming up with alternatives, or simply practice tolerance.

As a result, all these contribute to our growth and maturing experiences. We might not be able to be financially or materialistically independent, but we have independent mind and composure to deal with ups and downs. We became more responsible to deal with what being put on our plate. We would either automatically start doing ourselves, or seeking others for help. Certainly, not simply push it back or to other people. We just know that if something is put on our lap, it’s ours to deal with.

On the contrary, kids these days just behave irrationally from the point of view of most parents. For me, rather than complaining, I would choose to understand and then take actions. Cuz, whether our kids are angels or monsters, they are largely our own creations. Again, that’s being responsible of our own making. We can’t just blame on the others, like the government, the media, the society or whatnot, without reflecting ourselves on what we have said and done!

For the understanding part, it is our own making. We give our kids more than they need even though we thought that they want/deserve it. Actually, giving them certain things is not really an issue, but the problem is the missing lesson that should be come with those things. For example, giving toys to a kid is fine, but giving too much too often would diminish their values. More importantly is that we should allocate time to play with them. They may be creative enough to learn playing them themselves, but giving them proper guidance and observing how they play are as important as if not more than the toys themselves. That’s the lesson that I’ve been learning right now. I love to buy books for my older son, but there are already enough books at home for his access. What’s lacking is spending time with him to read and to share my understandings of the book content with him. To be honest, sometimes I do use TV/video as babysitting tools. I know that was not the best, but I just couldn’t help it when I’ve other responsibilities to be taken care of. Yes, my kids should always be my top priority, but it is easier to say than done in some occasions. I do feel bad of not spending enough time and attention to them, at least not as much as I want to/can.

There are just so much to teach my kids. I think becoming independent is one of the most important things. I would never like my kids to be relying on others all the time, particularly for things that they should be capable to do on their own. I don’t want them to give themselves excuses of not trying or doing. They should be encouraged to learn, to experience failure and to pick themselves up again, and to practice. Unlike some parents who want their kids to be perfect in certain things by pushing their kids beyond their limits, at which they hate what they are doing, I would rather take a step back to examine what are the needs and what are simply nice to learn. I think it would be ideal if kids will learn something just by encouragement or motivation. Sometimes, a bit of pushing, using carrots and sticks would be needed. On the other hand, for the things that are nice to know, pushing alone should never be used and carrots may not be preferable in the long one. Ultimately, it is up to the kid himself to choose whether he wants to learn, let alone master those skills.

I believe that there are geniuses, but they are rare and I don’t think my kids are. I also believe that practice drives improvement and intensive/long term practices create experts. However, when it comes to become a master of certain skills, a passion has to come from within in order to sustain the long term ups and downs of the journey. It is something that just can’t be forced.

I hope my kids will truly learn the importance and appreciate the advantages of being independent. First of all, the more a person knows the more independent a person becomes. Secondly, you can help people. It is always a nice to help others. Thirdly, you have more control of your life as you do certain thing at the time you want on your on term. Also, if you don’t need to ask for external help which would incur costs, you may not need to return favor simply to get even. Lastly, don’t perceive that knowing how to do something means that you are automatically responsible to do it. Rather, it means that you have a choice to do if you have to.

The above are based on my life experience as well as lesson learned from others. I’m sure it can be subjected to criticism or arguments on certain points. However, as I always believe, you don’t need to blindly accept everything, just take what works for you, and discard those that don’t. That should be good enough.