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The Cheap iPhone That Wasn’t

Apple still won’t compete for price-conscious consumers. That’s an increasingly risky strategy.

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Apple employees walk towards the Apple Headquarters to attend Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' memorial service in Cupertino, California, on October 19, 2011.

The new iPhone 5C is definitely colorful. But is it a good deal?

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

For the last six years, Apple has had a simple, increasingly risky plan for selling the iPhone. Every year, the company makes only one new model, a phone that represents Apple’s platonic ideal—the one phone it thinks everybody ought to have. Apple usually sells the new phone for around $650, and wireless carriers sell it to customers for $199 with a two-year plan. To hedge its bets against low-priced competitors, Apple also keeps selling its previous models, reducing the price of each by $100. Last year, when Apple unveiled the iPhone 5, it kept selling 2011’s iPhone 4S for $550 ($99 with a contract), and the 2010 iPhone 4 sold for $450 (free with a contract).

The advantage of this strategy is clear. Unlike its competitors, which make dozens of phones every year, Apple can focus its design and manufacturing energies on a single new model, and it can push customers to purchase its highest-end, highest-margin device. But the downside is clear, too. The iPhone is Apple’s biggest business, accounting for two-thirds of its profits. By releasing only one new phone every year, Apple keeps putting more and more of its eggs in a single basket. What if that basket has a buggy antenna? What if it doesn’t seem like much of an upgrade? What if its screen isn’t big enough for some customers? What if it’s just too expensive?

This year was supposed to be different. For months now, analysts have speculated that Apple would finally do what many observers (including yours truly) have long called on it to do—to diversify its iPhone lineup. The logic seemed obvious. Samsung, Apple’s fiercest rival, has been cleaning up in developing markets like India and China by offering models that cater to every market niche, from the low end to the high end. By making a new phone that sold for around $300 to $400 without a carrier subsidy—which is how many people in developing markets buy phones—Apple would be able to compete for price-conscious phone buyers, creating a whole new class of iPhone users who currently can’t afford Apple’s shiny baubles.

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But today, Apple whiffed. At the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., CEO Tim Cook did unveil two new iPhones rather than just one. But neither of these phones is the cheap iPhone that people had been predicting. Indeed, Apple didn’t really change its pricing strategy in any meaningful way. Across the globe, it will still be charging the same for its phones as it always has. It’s not a stretch to say that instead of a good price, Apple is now offering budget-conscious consumers around the world a strange deal: OK, the iPhone isn’t any cheaper than it used to be. But hey, look, it comes in lots of colors! Colors! Even pink! How will you be paying?

The new top-of-the-line model—called the iPhone 5S—looks the same as today’s iPhone 5, but it’s got a faster processor, a better camera, and a fingerprint scanner that lets you unlock your phone much quicker than with a password. (I tried it out at Apple’s demo area and found it very easy to set up and speedy to use.) The 5S—which comes in black, white, and gold—will sell for $650, or $199 with a contract, the same as last year’s iPhone 5.

Then there’s the iPhone 5C—the long-rumored cheap iPhone that isn’t. It’s made of plastic instead of the aluminum found on the bigger iPhone. It comes in five colors: green, blue, yellow, pink, and white. Other than that, it’s got the same internals as the iPhone 5: same camera, same processor, same capabilities. And same price. Indeed, the 5C is so similar to the 5 that Apple is discontinuing that model. The 5C will sell for $550, or $99 with a contract. This isn’t a cheap phone. And if the 5C is cheaper for Apple to produce than the 5 would have been—which seems plausible given its plastic body—it might even be a way for Apple to boost its profit margins rather than scale them back.

This is a bold move. In the tech business, it’s rare—and perhaps even unprecedented—for a product to keep its prices steady year after year after year. By holding the line against lower-priced phones, Apple will be able to keep its profit margins high—and at Apple, profits are sacrosanct, considered more important than sales and market share. But refusing to give an inch on prices is also extremely risky. The next big phase of growth in the smartphone market is going to occur in places around the world where people don’t have a lot of money. What’s more, the utility of a $200 phone is quickly approaching that of a $550 phone. If you live in India and you’ve got only $300 or $400 to spend on a phone, the only iPhone you might be able to afford is the iPhone 4S—a 3-year-old device with a tiny screen. Or you can choose Google’s Nexus 4, which sells for $200, and is pretty fantastic in every way. In other words, at that price, you’d be a fool to get an iPhone.

But if the 5C is not any cheaper than the 5 would have been, why did Apple go to all the trouble to make it? Why depart from the just-sell-last-year’s-model plan if the new device is pretty much the same as last year’s, only dressed up in a colorful new shell? I suspect it’s because Apple believes the colors will prove an important selling point. Yes, really.

Two years ago, I argued that one of Apple’s underappreciated skills is the way it cunningly plays with the colors of its devices in order to make old things look new. “Apple makes us covet certain colors today, while also making us scoff at the colors it convinced us to covet yesterday,” I wrote. “Every few years, it cycles through a new palette for its gadgets—it goes from white to black to multicolor to silver and back again. As it shifts, the whole gadget world moves along, too.” I ended that piece with a prediction. Because it would become increasingly difficult for Apple to change the design of the iPhone—you can’t do much with a slab of rectangular glass—the only element left to play with was the color. “A new color, for Apple, can represent as much of a reason to upgrade as a new processor,” I wrote, predicting that we’d soon see the iPhone come in a variety of colors.

And that’s what’s happening now. The iPhone 5C doesn’t do anything different from the iPhone 5. But because it looks different—because it comes in colors—Apple believes it can sell it as something new, something worthier of your attention than last year’s model. In India and China, Apple devices are often considered to be “Veblen goods,” meaning that they are attractive precisely because they are more expensive than rivals. Part of their appeal is the fact that you can’t afford them. The 5C’s colors make that exclusivity part of the sales plan: Here’s the new iPhone. Sure, it’s just out of your price range. But it’s colorful. Everyone will notice it. Surely you can save up for blue.

 

 

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China’s Tight Job Market Defies Economic Downturn

Investors all over the world have been stunned by China’s defying job market economics. Workers across many countries have experienced the slowest run of economic growth in three years, causing a cull in jobs and a bleak global outlook for the job market.

However in China, the very place investors have been most concerned about, has reported the highest amount of job vacancies in over a decade, despite six continuous quarters of slow growth.

Workers in China have found themselves in the luxury position of picking and choosing their jobs, defying the faltering job market and leaving hoards of investors scratching their heads.

Fire to Rehire

During the height of the recession, thousands of businesses based on the mainland let go of a countless number of workers to stem the leak in their financial losses. However, when the economy rebounded quicker than expected, the same businesses ended up paying more to rehire the same workers.

As the world’s second largest economy moves up the industrial value chain and becomes ever-more eye-catching to businesses looking to invest, there is still a huge shortage in skilled staff.

What’s also impressive is that China has managed to punch through this global default even with their shifting demographic, brought on by its government’s one child only policy.

Learning from their mistakes, businesses have instead cut the hours of their works, instead of their jobs all together.

Workers Taking Control

If China’s export and output dip doesn’t improve, things could quickly go from bad to worse for the country’s firms. However there have been some positive results from job fairs in Beijing and Shanghai, which suggest that instead of hiding in the job market recession, employees were actively looking for new work.

The world renowned media agency Reuters reported that among the people looking for fresh work at the job fairs, most had just left school, and had only been searching for work for less than two months.

Furthermore, the rest were looking to quit their manual labour, uninspiring and tiresome jobs for better employment prospects and more money.

In short, China has more job vacancies than there are people to fill them. This fact has been backed up by data of China’s urban labour to supply ratio, which has remained above 1 for seven solid and consecutive quarters.

Socially, very few workers actually felt the full effects of the job market slowdown, or even felt that their job was under threat. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – China’s job boom is causing people to reassess their quality of life and look for better employment.

Timid Statistics

Although house prices in China are holding at a record high, workers refuse to compromise on pay. The government have surprisingly agreed, declaring that the minimum wage will grow by at least 13 per cent by 2015.

However, during the economic downturn in 2008, China had to inject 4-trillion Yuan into its economy to provide stability as well as social rest, though this was a knock-on effect after 20 million factory workers lost their jobs in a matter of months.

Although official unemployment data has remained static at 4-4.3 per cent since it was published in 2004, the data omits around 160 million rural migrant workers whose status is in a constant state of flux.

As the Chinese Communist party’s once-a-decade leadership transition is due this year, the risk of social discontent from unemployment remains high. However the party remains extremely sensitive to these issues, and continues to put a focus on jobs and employment, which is playing a key indicator in the country’s successful economic rise.

This news article has been contributed on behalf of Nuffield Health Careers.

 

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Outsourcing and Its Benefits

Outsourcing refers to working with one or several third party contractors, instead of regular employees, to perform certain business tasks, operations and functions off-site or on-site for a specific time period.

Outsourcing contractors who do the job off-site is commonly referred to as offshoring. It simply means working with overseas contractors, commonly from China, India or the Philippines, to accomplish some business tasks.

When done right, outsourcing helps a business grow and gain more profit. Aside from that, here are the other benefits of outsourcing in detail.

Outsourcing helps owners and managers concentrate on core functions

Owners and managers do not have to worry about the minor but necessary tasks because outsourcing will provide them the human resources to do those. This lets them put their 100% attention and effort on the core business functions that keep the company successful.

Examples are: Outsourcing security services from a contractor specializing in security; and outsourcing of purchasing personnel to take care of the expanding purchasing tasks, while the bosses take care of the more important leadership and decision-making tasks.

Outsourcing helps save money

A company does not need to spend so much effort and money to address complicated back office tasks. Outsourcing contractors who are experts in back office functions will help. Aside from providing excellent back office operations, it also reduces the overhead costs.

Outsourcing is cheaper than hiring additional employees to perform minor tasks. Also, it keeps a company from spending money to expand the office space and buy additional equipment for the new employees.

Outsourcing provides flexibility

Outsourcing provides a company with additional human resources during peak seasons or when the demands are high. In addition, it allows the company to release those staff when the job is done or when the demands are manageable.

For example: A company outsources from an accounting firm to help the accounting department during tax and auditing seasons.

Outsourcing provides stability

Outsourcing is a great solution for departments gone out of control. Contractors can help in sorting out priorities and providing better management skills. They also provide human resources to help the department accomplish the projects on time and at a lesser cost.

Outsourcing provides continuity and risk management

A company can rely on outsourcing once there is a high employee turnover. It helps the company continue the operations despite the people leaving for some reasons.

For example: Outsourcing keeps the administrative tasks from being unattended or abandoned when an administrative assistant leaves abruptly for a new job.

Outsourcing helps a company’s employees grow

A company can also count on outsourcing when there is a big project in the works and its employees do not have the skills yet to accomplish it. Outsourcing experts and making them work with the current roster of employees will not only accomplish the project on time, but also help the employees learn new skills.

So those are the benefits of outsourcing that may help you decide if you are going to outsource or not. Just remember, study your business well. Know its needs by heart. This will help you tell if outsourcing is right for you.

This article is written by Louis Liem. He is a fulltime blogger and an online marketer. You can visit his blog Homebiz Resource that contains helpful resources about blogging, SEO, social media and freelancing.

 

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Diesel Exhaust is Raising Serious Health Concerns: Here’s Why

These days, the earth’s resources seem to be vulnerable to the wear and tear of humankind, and people all over the globe are clamoring to repair the ill effects of modern convenience. Included on that priorities list is the earth’s atmosphere, itself, and automobile emissions appear to be public enemy number one. Not only do these fumes affect our environment, but they also undoubtedly affect the people who must breathe them in (which is basically all of us). Diesel exhaust, especially, is getting a lot of attention lately, and is raising some serious health concerns. Here’s why.

All about diesel. For many years, diesel has been classified as a known carcinogen – or, cancer-causing agent. Diesel is used to power high-powered engines in trunks and other large machinery.

The study. A study by the National Cancer Institute, spanning about twenty years over which 12,000 mine workers were tracked, just recently shed light on the depth and gravity of diesel’s effects on the human body. These workers were housed in facilities that mine things like potash and lime, and were exposed to diesel fumes emitted by mining machinery on a daily basis. The amount of exhaust they inhaled varied according to the stage of the job they were in, but exposure was certainly chronic.

The findings. Published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in late February of 2012, the National Cancer Institute study findings sent a shock wave through the public forum. The study revealed that the mine workers who had the most exposure to diesel exhaust were three times as likely to die from lung cancer as were the workers who had little exposure. Workers who had mid-range exposure (as compared to the high and low exposure groups) were twice as likely to die from lung cancer.

The reach of diesel danger. Of course, we are all exposed to diesel fumes, on varying levels, even if we don’t work in a mine . . . so how does this study affect the average person? Well, it depends on where you live. The world’s more highly populated and industrial areas (like Mexico, Portugal and China, for example) have a relatively high exhaust pollution rating – comparable to the miners who were mildly exposed to exhaust. Therefore, diesel exhaust could have a devastating effect on some very major portions of the world.

There is no question that what harms the earth, harms its people. Serious reform is our only defense (and protection) against diesel’s harmful effects.

About the Author: Buford Nessner love studying the impact of fuel on the environment and is carefully watching studies regarding diesel. When he’s not working, he can be found researching sites like yeastinfection.org while learning more about common health conditions affecting both men and women regularly.

 

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Global 500 Brand 2012: Observations and Evaluations

The Brand Finance Global 500 has always been one of the most anticipated and authoritative brand rankings in the world, and is used by investors and companies alike to familiarise themselves with the value of particular brands. The methodology of determining the Global 500 brands is fairly complex, but ultimately it uses the technique of discounted cash flow (DCF) to estimate future royalties at an appropriate discount rate. From this Brand Finance determines the net present value (NPV) of the trademarked brand as well as its intellectual property. The result is an accurate ranking that has authority with companies and business experts from around the world. The 2012 Global 500 brand ranking saw some major changes in the upper ranks, and some interesting evaluations can be made by examining the upward direction of lower ranking brands. This article highlights some interesting observations that have been made according to Global 500 brand reports.

Technology and Information Brands Dominate

The Global 500 brand reveals that the majority of the top ten ranking brands are information and technology brands, which reinforces the view that the current economic era is driven by these two industries. Overall, technology and information based brands increased by 79%. Apple trumped Google to make first place, followed by Microsoft and then IBM. Apple’s number one ranking may come as a surprise to many, since the luxury brand may have been expected to take a dive considering the economic downturn. However, according to the Global 500 brand, consumers still seem to be enjoying indulgent lifestyles. Brand Finance also reported that having the latest gadget is a necessity for consumers of today, according to the Global 500 brand report.

China’s Most Valuable Brands

Are BanksConsidering China’s rising global dominance, it came as a surprise that only five Chinese brands made the Global 500 brand top 100 ranking. Of these five companies four were banks, suggesting that China still lags behind the United States and Europe with regards to having globally recognised companies. According to the Global 500 brand, China’s Construction Bank is the most valuable brand at 48th position, with an estimated value of $15.5 billion. This is followed by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (54th), Bank of China (67th) and the Agricultural Bank of China (84th). The only non-banking company was oil company PetroChina.

Africa’s Only Global 500 Brand: MTN

Only one African company made the Global 500 brand. South African mobile service provider MTN maintained its position as sole African representative, but impressively moved up twelve places to 188th position. The improvement indicates MTN’s growing importance in twenty two African and Middle Eastern markets. According to the Global 500 brand report, MTN’s revenue increased by 9.7% from 2012 and now connects over 164.6 million subscribers. MTN has emerged into a world class mobile operator and is set to be the African company to watch in the future.

Penny Munroe is an avid writer in business related news and topics. Articles range from how to conduct the best office search to sourcing the best executive suites San Diego has on offer.

 

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Pink Slip Mitt: Salvation for a Hungry Nation?

MITT RONMEY ON THE CRITICAL ISSUES

On Spending… 

Governor Ronmey wants to cut government waste and spending. Plain and simple. Forget the stupid things Obama thinks are important, like health care and education.  If we just let nature take its course, the ignorant inner city bastards will just all kill each other and we’ll have plenty of money left for oil subsidies and country club memberships.  What the hell, we can even muster enough of the minorities that survive to form one hell of an Army, and invade another country that doesn’t have any weapons of mass destruction!

On Trade… 

Candidate Ronmey supports predatory trade and opening our pockets beyond the American border. This means, Mitt wants complete extortion regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, create the Dead Reagan Economic Zone, reinstate the Trade Promotion Authority and persecute new trade agreements that promote the occupation of all oil producing countries.  Hell, when we own all the oil, we can have George W. Bush re-negotiate our debt with China.  After talking with him for a few hours the poor bastards will be so confused they will give us anything we want.

On Jobs… 

Mitt Ronmey has an exceptional understanding of labor relations from his experience exploiting government and business. He recognizes the value of immigrants, but is focused on protecting the white Stanford/Harvard educated sons of Governors they serve. This means appointing experienced NLRB individuals, amending the NLRA and reversing Obama’s organized labor orders. Mitt also supports the right of all Americans to be set for life  with companies like Blain Capital, and their daddy’s connections.

On Wimmins… 

Mr. Ronmey supports a fundamental redesign for personhood amendments and the Blunt Amendment as evidence that he’s going as far to the right as anyone can when it comes to women’s reproductive health. Candidate Ronmey also sees his opponent’s folly in condemning Rush Limbaugh after he attacked Sandra Fluke. He and the boys are also working overtime on repealing the women’s suffrage act in time for the upcoming presidential election. “There is plenty to be done in the kitchen and the bedroom, not the boardroom.”

On Immigration

Governor Ronmey is well versed on the issue of immigration in America. While Governor, he opposed the DREAM Act. He was the Governor of the home of the first maids and gardeners to move up from Cuba through Florida.. Everyone should be welcome to come to the United Statesto serve us, as long as they don’t take any of the jobs a twenty year old in Boston wouldn’t refuse, but they need to do it correctly, as have countless generations of Americans did with the slaves, before us.

The first act of an immigrant should not be an illegal one. Damn it, his parents came here as immigrants, and they had to work hard for his money.  There is now way in hell he wants to share it with anyone else, no matter how unsafe the conditions were where they came from.

“Give us your tired, your hungry, your poor,” Should have read:  “Give us your educated, your young, your investors.”

On Homeland Security…

Governor Ronmey believes that the best offense is a good offense. Our country should be able to and must defend itself, both home, overseas, and by doubling Guantanamo. Governor Ronmey supports the PATRIOT Act and believes it allows the Government the access it needs to deny due process to anyone wearing a turban, or looking like they might even know the location of a Mosque. He firmly supported the National Defense Authorization Act that would have given the President the ability to arrest and detain any United States or foreign Citizen suspected of being a Muslim, a Democrat, or one of them Women’s sympathizers therefore making them a part of al-Qaeda.

He believes that the number one job of the Government is to keep its middle class citizens paying, and as President he will do what it takes to secure our safety from the acts of thought-crime we might unknowingly commit.

I’m Sure You’ve Noticed the Date

 

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Chic Cubicle Decor for the Adventurous Minded Employee

Your office cubicle doesn’t need to be boring or dull. With a little bit of imagination and some decorating savvy you can transform your office compartment into a cosy retreat.  Cubicle decor comes in different sizes, forms and means and there is not specific way of going about it

One thing to keep in mind before you go ahead with decorating the wall of your cubicle is that you don’t won’t it to look like a teenager’s bedroom or a public bathroom. Covering every inch of your workplace with scraps and scrawls will only make your space seem smaller and won’t result in an attractive finish.

The dos and don’ts of office decor

Do’s:

  • Do include a colourful plant in your cubicle. A poinsettia, with its bright red leaves, will definitely bring that much needed touch of colour and natural allure to your cubicle.
  • Do pick out interesting wallpaper for your compartment wall. Unlike an office with proper cement walls, you can’t paint a cubicle. Wallpaper is your solution to overarching colours and designs to your workplace.
  • Do ask your employer to invest in a modular cubicle design. It’ll modernise the entire office space and move away from classic Taylorism; a design best left in the past.
  • Do look into interesting collage arrangements as a focal point for your space. Photos are the personal touch of choice for many businesspeople.
  • Do look into interesting jars for utilities that cause potential clutter on your desk. Be it glass or pastel plastic, a jar can lend a rustic feel to your corporate space.
  • Do pick a mousepad that suits your personality. They come in different colours, shapes and are inexpensive. They are a perfect way to start off your cubicle office decor.

Dont’s:

  • Don’t include cubicle decor that could potentially become clutter. Your design plans should alleviate disorder not instigate it.
  • Don’t in any way, shape or form use glow in the dark glue or glitter. They’re difficult to remove and are a source of glitzy schmaltz.
  • Don’t put poster up. Posters are for love-struck teenagers that aren’t aware that they’re staining their walls.

Don’t put up a pinboard. In a small space, a pinboard is a potential danger and a probably irritation. If you accidentally bump it you could poke yourself and if you brush it you could knock some of your pins off.

Can it really be done?

Cool cubicle decor ideas can transform your workplace into a trending space. When your boss starts eyeing your compartment you’ll realise that inspiring design can make any dull desk or wall an avant-garde marvel.

Don’t be put off by your the present look and feel of your cubicle decor. Dull and boring can be swept under the rug with just a few tweaks and additions.

Bella Gray is a burgeoning professional who has moved up the ranks and loves to give office decor tips that she’s tried and tested in her own cubicle and present exectuive suites. She is an innovative employee who is passionate about the marketing industry and her serviced office China.

 

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5 Top Tips for International Exhibitions

As well as the plethora of local exhibitions and trade shows, it is important to spread the word about your company internationally. Before making the transition to foreign tradeshows, you need to make sure you’re fully prepared:

1) International Etiquette

First of all, don’t assume that everyone speaks English. Make an effort to learn the language, or at least some basic words and phrases that will prove beneficial. This looks polite more than anything and international peers will respect your effort.

Take your time to learn international greetings. In the USA and UK we shake hands but in other countries such as Asia, body contact should be completely avoided. This will help you come across as respectful and culturally aware. First impressions are key.

2) Understand the Significance of Colours and Numbers

This follows on from learning about a country’s etiquette. Many colours and numbers hold varying significance for different cultures. For instance in China the colour green should be avoided on packaging. It has negative connotations of adultery.

The Chinese also associate the number ‘4’ with death. Avoid this on your packaging and displays. For Japan and other Eastern cultures, white is associated with death so do your research.  Where possible ensure that goods are packaged in different amounts to avoid causing offence.

3) Go Portable

There are now many quality exhibition stands that are both durable and portable. You want a stand that is easy to assemble and clear away so you can move from one venue to another efficiently.

Portable displays are also much easier to transport than large, fixed displays. This will reduce and hopefully prevent damage in transit. Any damage caused can easily be removed from the display to keep you looking tidy and professional.

4) Manage and Maintain Your Marketing

Even international exhibitions will require a certain amount of preview marketing. Target the appropriate social media platforms and maintain your posts. Where possible live blog and live Tweet your event using the appropriate ‘hash tags’ and key words.

It is also a good idea to research what marketing methods hold the most authority in that specific country. For instance, some places may limit social networking so you will need to revert to more traditional methods.

Make sure any printed marketing such as business cards and flyers are printed in two languages. That way your international peers and potential clients will be able to see exactly what you have on offer. Just make sure any translations are accurate as this could end up in mis-communicated messages or offence.

5) Network

As you would on home soil, keep up with your networking. Your business may be new to the host country and it may take a few visits before you achieve what you have set out to. Use social media and the Internet to keep in touch with fellow exhibitors or clients you have met abroad.

Preparation is key with any exhibition, both here in the UK and abroad. Make sure you have done all of the background research and leg work to ensure a smooth transition and an effective exhibition.

If you’re looking for an exhibition stand design that will help your business stand out abroad, look no further than RB Displays. Contact them today to transform your next exhibition.

 

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Megacities and the Scale of the Future

  by Mike Macartney

Demographic trends in society are pointing towardsmegacities, defined as populations of 10 million or more, as the future for how most people on the planet will live. There are 21 such cities today and they include Cairo, Mexico City, Lagos, Los Angeles, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Manila, Moscow, Tehran, London, Paris, and others, growing every day. Tokyo was at 34 million in 2011. These cities and what supports them are at the core issues of scale and sustainability.

  • How large will these cities grow?
  • How will people in the future supply them with energy, food, water, transportation, jobs, housing, education, health care, and not least of all, entertainment?
  • How will these cities fit into national models – will they become city-states like earlier times in human history?

Scientific groups like the Santa Fe Institute are studying that very sustainability. Other, informal web based groups of people like New Geography are also thinking about what cities and human society will become.

The issue of scale may be the defining issue of the 21st century. The solutions are not simple or even invented yet. For example, it is well known in investment circles that alternative energy does not scale like the Information Age cornerstones of semiconductors, telecommunications, and software. Because of the laws of physics in the universe we live in alternative energy requires large investments in land, labor, and raw materials. These are needed to provide grid energy systems like the current fossil fuel and nuclear powered electrical grids. Innovation in alternative energy is not information or knowledge based. It is execution and implementation based. Even if we think we know how to do it, we still have to get it done. Very large physical scale collection and distribution systems are required to implement alternative energy solutions. Presently, the profit for investment in large-scale energy systems ties to large-scale tax systems. These are linked to government subsidies and government funded infrastructure build-out to solve the scale problem. Will the same go for alternative energy?

The scale needed for alternative energy competes directly with the scale needed for agriculture, housing, environmental preservation, and transportation. One example is the Three Gorges Dam project in China that displaced over 1-million people. Hydroelectric power systems are solar energy systems. The water behind a dam is stored solar energy. Very large amounts of land are required for hydroelectric systems just like for proposed solar, wind, and biomass systems. All the systems require very large solar collectors to operate in a grid power model. Efficiency can never be greater than one. There is no Moore’s Law of exponential growth hidden in the current efficiencies of a few tens-of-a-percent and 100-percent in alternative energy collection components. Are grid power systems the future of alternative energy?

The solutions to the scale problems of megacities with high consumption rates of food, energy, and living space are complex and competing. Complexity is one of the areas of study by scientific think tanks like the Santa Fe Institute and government funded institutions like Harvard University and MIT. How do you think scale will be achieved to support megacities in the future?

About the Author

Mike Macartney

Mike holds a BS and MS in mechanical engineering with emphasis in heat transfer and computational fluid dynamics. As a staff system engineer he developed advanced cooling systems for more than 15 different spacecraft and missiles, ranging from cryogenically cooled sensors and pre-amplifiers to on-orbit problem resolution of failing spacecraft. Mike has managed over 200 proposals for advanced aerospace systems, and terrestrial IT systems and custom code development for corporate customers.

Mike has advised start-up companies and high-tech incubators wishing to “spin-in” technologies from NASA and the National Laboratories as well as helped Russian enterprises do business in Silicon Valley. Mike has been a founder in three start-up companies for enterprise SW and publishing as well as a trade show manager for NASA technology transfer activities, and an executive liaison manager to facilitate business cooperation between aggressive Fortune 500 competitors. Mike has developed reengineered business processes for quality control, proposal development, and lean manufacturing.

He currently operates a small publishing company, Shoot Your Eye Out Publishing

 

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An Inspiring American Story – The Last of a Dying Breed of Craftsman?

Authors note:  There is something about this guy that just got to me.  This is real Americana.  His prices are fair, and the quality is great, but you have to hear his story.  If you have any Americans in the family, think about them at http://store.theleatherbeltshop.com/ for Christmas.

Hi, Bill here, Thank you from all of us here at theleatherbeltshop.com.   I started working leather at the age of ten with my grandfather.  I was raised on a dairy farm in Connecticut where my grandfather made all the leather tack, and saddles, not only for the farm, but for all the other farms around us.    After my grandfathers passing, I kept working leather untill i went in the Army.  After my time in the Army, I moved to California where i worked in construction.  I still worked with leather, making tool bags, belts, and holders for other construction workers i worked with.   After having to retire, I found it was hard to find top quality leather products.  I found “so called genuine leather” belts coming in from China, and other places made with a very thin piece of leather on top, and bottom, with cardboard or other things in between.  So I started theleatherbeltshop.com.   I was surprised to find so many looking for real leather belts.  There are now five of us here to serve you.  Our belts are made in the U.S.A. from U.S.A. products by Americans.   Thank you from all of us for keeping American working.    Bill, Allison, Christian, Pat, and Richard.

 

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