Tag: Wordcraft

New growth required!

New trees offer a good metaphor!

As regular followers of this place know (and a huge thank-you to you all) much of last Friday was spent planting trees in a grassy meadow just to the East of our house.

P1150940
A part view of the area where the trees were planted: Kentucky Coffeetrees; Northern Catalpas; a Red Maple, Eastern Redcedars.

An hour before I sat down to write this post (now 13:30 PST yesterday) I didn’t have a clue as to what to write. Then I read Patrice Ayme’s latest essay and, wow, it punched me in the face. For it resonated so strongly with a few other recent readings.

Patrice’s essay was called Trump A Demagogue? So What? and it opened thus:

“We empowered a demagogue” laments the New York Times ostensibly bleeding heart liberal, the kind Mr. Kristof, in his false “Mea Culpa” editorial, “My Shared Shame: How The Media Made Trump”. By this, Mr. Kristof means that Mr. Trump is a bad person. However, Mr. Kristof’s choice of the word “demagogue” is revealing. (Actually it’s not really his choice: “demagogue” is not Mr. Kristof’s invention: he just repeats like a parrot the most prominent slogan of the worldwide campaign of insults against Trump).

Trump a demagogue? Is Mr. Sanders a “demagogue”, too? (As much of the financial and right-wing press has it: for The Economist and the Financial Times, Trump and Sanders are both “demagogues” and that’s their main flaw.)

To understand fully the word “demagogue” one has to understand a bit of Greek, and a bigger bit of Greek history.

Then later on in that essay, Patrice goes on to quote Andy Grove:

A hard day may be coming for global plutocrats ruling as they do thanks to their globalization tricks. And I am not exactly naive. Andy Grove, founder of Intel, shared the general opinion that much of globalization was just theft & destitution fostering an ominous future (the Hungarian immigrant to the USA who was one of the founders of Intel). He pointed out, an essay he wrote in 2010 that Silicon Valley was squandering its competitive edge in innovation by neglecting strong job growth in the United States.

Mr. Grove observed that: …”it was cheaper and thus more profitable for companies to hire workers and build factories in Asia than in the United States. But… lower Asian costs masked the high price of offshoring as measured by lost jobs and lost expertise. Silicon Valley misjudged the severity of those losses, he wrote, because of a “misplaced faith in the power of start-ups to create U.S. jobs.”

Silicon Valley makes its money from start-ups. However, that phase of a business is different from the scale-up phase, when technology goes from prototypes to mass production. Both phases are important. Only scale-up is an engine for mass job growth — and scale-up is vanishing in the United States (especially with jobs connected to Silicon Valley). “Without scaling,” Mr. Grove wrote, “we don’t just lose jobs — we lose our hold on new technologies” and “ultimately damage our capacity to innovate…

The underlying problem isn’t simply lower Asian costs. It’s our own misplaced faith in the power of startups to create U.S. jobs. Americans love the idea of the guys in the garage inventing something that changes the world. New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman recently encapsulated this view in a piece called “Start-Ups, Not Bailouts.” His argument: Let tired old companies that do commodity manufacturing die if they have to. If Washington really wants to create jobs, he wrote, it should back startups.

Friedman is wrong. Startups are a wonderful thing, but they cannot by themselves increase tech employment.”

Spot on! For in my previous life I was the founder of two businesses. First up was Dataview Ltd, based in Colchester, that was formed in the late 1970s and soon became the global distributor of the word processing software Wordcraft, written by Englishman Pete Dowson. Dataview also initiated the ‘dongle’, a software/hardware security device to protect Wordcraft.

The Wordcraft dongle.
The Wordcraft dongle.

The second company founded by me was Aviation Briefing Ltd ‘AvBrief’ that is still going today, albeit with me no longer involved!

So I can reinforce, with hundreds of hours of lost sleep and tears, that growing a company and increasing employment, especially the employment of great technical people, is a very different matter to the start-up phase.

Frankly, regarding Dataview, it was only the luck of meeting Sid Newman that saved my bacon. For within 12 months of starting trading I was already sinking under the load of trying to be the number one salesman (that I was good at) and being the company general manager (that I was total crap at). Sid had years of experience at general management and very quickly let me get on with what I really loved – opening up Wordcraft distributorships all over the world.

The analogy with planting trees is very apt. For any clown can plant the tree but parenting that young tree into a mature forty-foot high beauty takes professional management.

Clown work! (This is a Red Maple, by the way!)
Clown work! (This is a Red Maple, by the way!)

Tomorrow I will return and offer a viewpoint as to how we, as in society, are currently bereft of professional managers.

The power of a single word!

Happy Birthday Dan! (And that word is ‘fortnight’!)

Back in September, 2013 I wrote a post called Closing my windows. It explained how I first met Dan Gomez; now some thirty-six years ago. Let me republish the relevant section:

Earlier on I wrote about launching Wordcraft, the word-processing software for personal computers. That was in early 1979 and later that year I was invited to present Wordcraft at an international gathering of Commodore dealers held in Boston, Mass.

During my presentation, I used the word ‘fortnight’ unaware that Americans don’t use this common English word.  Immediately, someone about 10 rows back in the audience called out, “Hey, Handover! What’s a fortnight?

It released the presenter’s tension in me and I really hammed up my response in saying, “Don’t be so silly, everybody knows the word fortnight!” Seem to remember asking the audience at large who else didn’t know the word.  Of course, most raised their arms!

Now on a bit of a roll, I deliberately started using as many bizarre and archaic English words that came to me.  Afterwards, the owner of the voice came up to me and introduced himself.  He was Dan Gomez, a Californian based in Costa Mesa near Los Angeles and also involved in developing software for the Commodore.

Dan became my US West Coast distributor for Wordcraft and was very successful. When Dataview was sold, Dan and I continued to see each other regularly and I count him now as one of my dear friends.  Through knowing Dan I got to know Dan’s sister Suzann and her husband Don.  It was Su that invited me to spend Christmas 2007 with her and Don at their home in San Carlos, Mexico.  Jean also lived in San Carlos and was close friends with Su. Together they had spent many years rescuing feral dogs from the streets of San Carlos and finding new homes for them.

Thus it was that I met Jean.  Discovering that Jean and I were born 23 miles apart in London!

So from ‘Hey, what’s a fortnight’ to living as happily as I have ever been in the rural countryside of Oregon.  Funny old world!

The marriage of Jean and Paul wonderfully supported by Diane, maid of honour, and best man, Dan Gomez.
Dan Gomez – Best Man, and Diane Jackson – Bridesmaid when Jean and I were married;  November 20th 2010.

It is Dan’s birthday today. One of those big birthday milestones in life. (And it would be wrong for me to openly state his age today but just let me say that Dan would be seeing a sixties birthday again!)

So to my very dear and special friend …..

Happy Birthday!

Doggedly seeking the truth.

As a dog follows a scent.

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Casey doing what dogs do so well – picking up a scent.

I have been pondering about how one gets to the truth of a complex issue.  And there’s none more complex nor more essential in terms of the truth of an issue than Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW).

It was kicked off by an email received from Dan Gomez.  Followers of Learning from Dogs will have seen mention of Dan’s name as he regularly sends me bits and pieces.  Indeed, let me refer you to a post that came out last August, Feeling depressed? Join your pals in the pool! and this extract:

Regular followers of Learning from Dogs will know that Dan and I go back a long way; far too long! In fact the occasion of me becoming aware of Mr. Daniel Gomez was at a Commodore Computer dealers conference in Boston, Mass.

I was giving a talk promoting a UK word-processing program that I was marketing for the Commodore. That software was called Wordcraft and I think the year was 1979, possibly 1980. Anyway, I used the word ‘fortnight’, which back in England is a common word meaning two weeks. Immediately, a voice called out from the audience, “Hey Handover, what’s a fortnight?“

The session deteriorated rapidly thereafter! Dan and I became very good friends and his LA company Cimarron became my West Coast USA distributor for Wordcraft. And it was Dan’s sister, Suzann, who invited me down to Mexico for Christmas 2007 which led to me meeting my beloved Jeannie! Funny old world!

Dan is a smart cookie. He holds a degree in psychology, as well as being a very easy guy to get along with.  We have been good friends for more than 30 years.

Anyway, back to the theme of the post; determining the truth of a complex issue.

Recently, Dan sent me an email with the subject heading of The Controversy Continues – A couple of Articles for your Digestive Tract….

The first article was:

Report shows UN admitting solar activity may play significant role in global warming

A leaked report by a United Nations’ group dedicated to climate studies says that heat from the sun may play a larger role than previously thought.

“[Results] do suggest the possibility of a much larger impact of solar variations on the stratosphere than previously thought, and some studies have suggested that this may lead to significant regional impacts on climate,” reads a draft copy of a major, upcoming report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The man who leaked the report, StopGreenSuicide blogger Alec Rawls, told FoxNews.com that the U.N.’s statements on solar activity were his main motivation for leaking the document.

The second article was from the Dick Morris website, from which I offer this extract (if, like me, you hadn’t heard of Mr. Morris before, details are here):

According to Bloomberg News, US carbon emissions are down 13% over the past five years and that they are now the lowest since 1994. In fact, we are more than halfway to President Obama’s goal of a 17% reduction below our peak year of 2007.

….

Coal has fallen to only 18% of our energy use (down from 23% in 2007) and natural gas is up to 31%. Natural gas has half the carbon emissions of coal.

Evidence suggests that climate change and global warming are happening, but at a much slower rate than doomsday warnings suggested. We are now on track for an increase in global temperatures of one degree centigrade by 2100. This increase is not enough to cause major flooding or rises in sea levels.

Please feel free to read the whole Dick Morris piece here.

So on the face of it, two convincing reports, especially the one from Alec Rawls.

Professor McPherson
Professor McPherson

Now let me turn to Professor Guy McPherson; professor emeritus at the University of Arizona.  Just take a peek at the professional recognition granted to Professor McPherson.

Guy McPherson writes a blog called Nature Bats Last.  It is described thus:

This blog focuses on the natural world, with a particular emphasis on the twin sides of our fossil-fuel addiction: (1) global climate change and (2) energy decline. Because these phenomena impact every aspect of life on Earth, specific topics range widely, and include philosophy, evolution, economics, humanity, politics, current events, and many aspects of the human condition.

Less than 3 months ago, Guy McPherson visited Greenfield Community College in western Massachusetts to deliver his presentation “The Twin Sides of the Fossil-Fuel Coin: Developing Durable Living Arrangements in Light of Climate Change and Energy Decline.

It lasts for just 40 minutes and needs to be watched.  Why do I say needs to be watched?  Because tomorrow I delve deeper into the challenges facing ordinary folk and watching the presentation and reflecting on the start of this post are very pertinent to following the scent of truth.

Feeling depressed? Join your pals in the pool!

A wonderful video sent in by Dan Gomez.

Regular followers of Learning from Dogs will know that Dan and I go back a long way; far too long!  In fact the occasion of me becoming aware of Mr. Daniel Gomez was at a Commodore Computer users conference in Boston, Mass.

I was giving a talk promoting a word-processing program that I was marketing for the Commodore.  That software was called Wordcraft and I think the year was 1979, possibly 1980.  Anyway, I used the word ‘fortnight’, which back in England is a common word meaning two weeks.  Immediately, a voice called out from the audience, “Hey Handover, what’s a fortnight?

The session deteriorated rapidly thereafter!  Dan and I became very good friends and his LA company Cimarron became my West Coast USA distributor for Wordcraft.  And it was Dan’s sister, Suzann, who invited me down to Mexico for Christmas 2007 which led to me meeting my beloved Jeannie!  Funny old world!

On to the video

The male golden dog on the left-hand side of pool is Willis, a two-year-old Golden Retriever who has cataracts and is practically blind.  Then there is Gwendy who seems to have been with Dan for an absolute lifetime.

Then the black dog is Bella, a flat-coated retriever, that belongs to a neighbour.

When I spoke with Dan over the phone about Willis, Dan said that he is not in any way a disabled dog.  In the pool, he listens to where the ball lands, swims towards it and then lets his nose locate it precisely.  Out walking, when Dan throws the ball, Willis is just able to see Dan’s arm move through the air.  Willis then computes where the ball is heading, runs in that direction and, again, uses his power of smell to pin down the ball exactly.

What fabulous animals they are

Trip down memory lane

The amazing development of electronics over 50 years.

(A republication of a post first shown on the 13th August, 2009)

The calendar reliably informs me that this is my 65th year.  My brain, of course, lags somewhat in accepting this!

My step-father during my early teenage years worked for Elliott Brothers (the link goes to an interesting history of the firm that started in 1804) in Borehamwood, just north of London.  He encouraged me to fiddle with ‘steam’ radios and

try and understand how these basic circuits worked.  It was then a small step to deciding to become a radio amateur, popularly known as a radio ham!  In those days it was a case of some pretty intensive studying to pass a Theory exam as well as being able to pass an exam in sending and receiving Morse code.

So joining the local radio society seemed like a sensible idea.  That was (and still is!) called the Radio Society of Harrow.  That it is still in existence after all these years is truly delightful.  Those Friday night sessions at the Society and extra-curricular classes on Sunday morning at Ron Ray’s  (G2TA) house, an hour’s bicycle ride away from home, ensured that shortly after my 16th birthday I was granted a Licence, G3PUK.  It was a very proud moment.

Anyway, once granted a licence it was time to build my own radio transmitter.  Most of the details have been lost in the mists of time but what is recalled was that the final amplifier was a pair of 803s driving an 813 (These are radio valve numbers).  It sounds like something from the ark!  But again ploughing the inexhaustible files of the Web, it’s possible to see what these radio valves looked like.  Thanks to the National Valve Museum.

Here are pictures, courtesy of the National Valve Museum of those two radio valves:

803 – The substantial wide glass tube envelope is 58 mm in diameter (2 1/4 in) and, excluding the special five pin base pins, is 216 mm tall (8 1/2 in).

813 The classic envelope is substantial at 60 mm diameter (2 1/3 in) and 170 mm (6 2/3 in) long excluding the special base pins. The anode is 53 mm long and 48 mm wide. The metal is 1 mm thick.

803 radio valve
803 radio valve
813 radio valve
813 radio valve

It’s difficult, today, to imagine devices which are essentially diodes (well, technically the 803 was a pentode and the 813 a tetrode) being between 6 and 8 inches tall!

My own self-build transmitter had not really been successful emitting more heat than light, so to speak.  Literally, in the sense that these large radio valves kept me warm in my converted garden shed at the bottom of the garden.  They also completely wiped out TV reception for those households with a 1/4 mile range that had invested in early television sets!  It was time to move on to the R1155.

Around this era, less than 20 years after the end of the War in Europe in 1945, war-surplus equipment was widely available including ‘compact’ transmitter-receiver units.

One popular one was the RAF R1155 which had been fitted to RAF Lancaster bombers and RAF marine craft.  It was also fitted to the Sunderland flying boat.  This information plus the photos below is from this fascinating web site for those wishing to be ‘geeky’ about this.

RAF R1155B transreceiver
RAF R1155B transreceiver
Internal view of the R1155B
Internal view of the R1155B

Just compare the view on the right to the inside of your domestic radio or your cell phone.

A lot happens in 50 years!

My personal journey now leaps to 1978 and I have just left IBM UK having had 8 fabulous years with them as an Office Products salesman.  My fledging company, Dataview Ltd, has just become the 8th Commodore Computer (CBM) dealer in the UK, based in a small office in Colchester, Essex, about 50 miles north-east of London.

The CBM PET (Personal Electronic Transactor) released in 1977 initially with a calculator type keyboard was useless for any business application but soon came out with a typewriter sized keyboard, making it a more viable business

CBM computer, circa 1978
CBM computer, circa 1978

machine.  Today, as this is typed on an ‘old’ laptop with 2GB RAM, it seems unbelievable that these CBMs were sold with between 4k and 96k of RAM (memory) and no hard disk, although one could purchase an add-on that comprised dual 5 1/2 inch floppy disk drives.

YouTube obligingly finds  a short video on the Commodore PET for those really wishing to enjoy the nostalgia!

So to turn to the 21st century and to run out of understanding.  We appear to live in a world of multi-later printed circuit boards of unimaginable (to me) component density, assuming that the word ‘component’ is even relevant today.

Haven't a clue what this is but it's very modern.
Haven’t a clue what this is but it’s very modern.

What an amazing period it has been!

A long way from yesterday!
A long way from yesterday!

Now let me see was it Pin 920 to Pin 140, or Pin14 to Pin 860 connected to Pin 56 ………?

Always two sides

I am indebted to my life-long friend, Dan Gomez, for this piece.

Background (Personal nostalgia warning!!!)

Dan and I go back too many years; I mean way too many!  He and I met in Spring 1979 when I was addressing a national conference of US Commodore PC dealers in Boston, USA.  I was there to promote a British Word Processing program called Wordcraft, written by Peter Dowson, that I had exclusive rights to.  I was also a Commodore PC dealer in Colchester, Essex, England; indeed I was the 8th dealer appointed in the UK.  The luck in finding Wordcraft is underlined by the fact that between 1970 and 1978 I was a salesman with IBM UK Office Products division and ended up as a word-processing specialist salesman for IBM.

Anyway, in my sales pitch to these US dealers, I used the word ‘fortnight’, a common term in England.  From somewhere out in the audience, this Californian voice shouted out, “Hey Handover, what’s a fortnight?”  Many readers will be aware that Americans don’t use that term.  That Californian voice was Dan!

From that cheeky start came a great relationship including Dan being my West Coast distributor for Wordcraft.  It was Dan’s sister, whom I have also known for countless years, who invited me to her Winter home in San Carlos, Mexico, to spend Christmas 2007 with her and her husband and which was the catalyst of me meeting Jean, who is now by most beautiful wife!

Dan, my Best Man, at the wedding of Jean and me, November 20th 2010

————————ooOOOoo————————

OK, to the theme of this article.

Shortly after the Newsweek ‘Weather Panic‘ article on the 10th, Dan sent me this email,

Paul – Saw your blog vis a vis Newsweek’s recent cover.

Don’t forget to publish the other side of this perennial story without all the sensationalism of selling newspapers and proselytizing to the unwashed masses or you could end up drinking your own cool-aid.  The science of weather cycles, sun activity, ocean currents, high-altitude jet streams, colliding warm/cool fronts have been at work long before any creature walked the earth, let alone man. The facts demonstrate this time and time again. Good science is skeptical science and needs to be viewed carefully by way of verifiable and constant testing of hypotheses.

The below article, although not at all sexy, has a different view, in general, as to the vagaries of weather extremes.  There are many like this and represent unbiased, and to some, unpopular scientific reasoning at work.

Just food for thought.

–DG

He then included this.

Recent Weather Extremes: Global Warming Fingerprint Not

by Chip Knappenberger
March 21, 2011

On occasion, I have the opportunity to assist Dr. Patrick J. Michaels (Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies at the Cato Institute) in reviewing the latest scientific research on climate change. When we happen upon findings in the peer-reviewed scientific literature that may not have received the media attention that they deserved, or have been misinterpreted in the popular press, Pat sometimes covers them over at the “Current Wisdom” section of the Cato@Liberty blog site.

His latest posting there highlights research findings that show that extreme weather events during last summer and the previous two winters can be fully explained by natural climate variability—and that “global warming” need not (and should not) be invoked.

This topic—whether or not weather extremes (or at least some portion of them) can be attributed to anthropogenic global warming (or, as Dr. Pielke Sr., prefers, anthropogenic climate change)—has been garnering a lot of attention as of late. It was a major reason for holding the House Subcommittee hearing last week, is a hot topic of discussion in the press, and is the subject of an in-progress major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

As such, I wanted to highlight some of the findings that Pat reported on. I encourage a visit to the full article “Overplaying the Human Contribution to Recent Weather Extremes” over at Cato@Liberty.

The Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010

A new paper by Randall Dole and colleagues from the Physical Sciences Division (PSD) of the Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) examined the events leading up to and causing the big heat wave in Russia last summer (which was also part of an atmospheric pattern that was connected to the floods in Pakistan). Here is what they found:

“Our analysis points to a primarily natural cause for the Russian heat wave. This event appears to be mainly due to internal atmospheric dynamical processes that produced and maintained an intense and long-lived blocking event. Results from prior studies suggest that it is likely that the intensity of the heat wave was further increased by regional land surface feedbacks. The absence of long-term trends in regional mean temperatures and variability together with the [climate] model results indicate that it is very unlikely that warming attributable to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations contributed substantially to the magnitude of this heat wave.”

As Pat commented, “Can’t be much clearer than that.”

Recent Winter Severity

From Pat’s article:

Another soon-to-be released paper to appear in Geophysical Research Lettersdescribes the results of using the seasonal weather prediction model from the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) to help untangle the causes of the unusual atmospheric circulation patterns that gave rise to the harsh winter of 2009-2010 on both sides of the Atlantic. A team of ECMWF scientists led by Thomas Jung went back and did experiments changing initial conditions that were fed into the ECMWF model and then assessed how well the model simulated the known weather patterns of the winter of 2009-2010. The different set of initial conditions was selected so as to test all the pet theories behind the origins of the harsh winter. Jung et al. describe their investigations this way: “Here, the origin and predictability of the unusual winter of 2009/10 are explored through numerical experimentation with the ECMWF Monthly forecasting system. More specifically, the role of anomalies in sea surface temperature (SST) and sea ice, the tropical atmospheric circulation, the stratospheric polar vortex, solar insolation and near surface temperature (proxy for snow cover) are examined.”

In a nutshell, here is what Jung et al. found:

“The results of this study, therefore, increase the likelihood that both the development and persistence of negative NAO phase [an atmospheric circulation pattern that was largely behind the harsh winter conditions] resulted from internal atmospheric dynamical processes.”

Or, as Pat put it “Translation: Random variability.”

Pat also examined a third study by Roseanne D’Arrigo and colleagues who found an historical analog of the conditions responsible for the harsh winter of 2009-2010 way back in 1783-1784. The winter of 1783-1784 was a historically extreme one on both sides of the Atlantic and has long been associated with a large volcanic eruption that occurred in Iceland during the summer of 1783. Even Benjamin Franklin connected the winter conditions to the volcano. But D’Arrigo and colleagues now suggest a different mechanism. According to Pat:

But in their new study, Roseanne D’Arrigo and colleagues conclude that the harshness of that winter primarily was the result of anomalous atmospheric circulation patterns that closely resembled those observed during the winter of 2009-10, and that the previous summer’s volcanic eruption played a far less prominent role:

“Our results suggest that Franklin and others may have been mistaken in attributing winter conditions in 1783-4 mainly to Laki or another eruption, rather than unforced variability.

“Similarly, conditions during the 2009-10 winter likely resulted from natural [atmospheric] variability, not tied to greenhouse gas forcing… Evidence thus suggests that these winters were linked to the rare but natural occurrence of negative NAO and El Niño events.”

Bottom Line

The take home message of Pat’s post is worth repeating:

The point is that natural variability can and does produce extreme events on every time scale, from days (e.g., individual storms), weeks (e.g., the Russian heat wave), months (e.g., the winter of 2009-10), decades (e.g., the lack of global warming since 1998), centuries (e.g., the Little Ice Age), millennia (e.g., the cycle of major Ice Ages), and eons (e.g., snowball earth).

Folks would do well to keep this in mind next time global warming is being posited for the weather disaster du jour. Almost assuredly, it is all hype and little might.

Be sure to check out Pat’s full article which includes much more in depth coverage of these three soon-to-be-released scientific studies.

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I need to mull over this when I am back home with more time.  In the meantime, comments from readers most welcomed.