The Anonymous Widower

Do On-Line Advertisers Waste Their Money?

I monitor my INR using a Coagguchek device. And very good it is too!

But how many times a week do I get an on-line advert for the device? I’ve not counted, but it must be many.

Why does on-line advertising, preach to the converted?

Google needs a better algorithm!

October 22, 2016 Posted by | Computing | , , | 2 Comments

Is Google Burying The Truth?

In this blog, I do occasionally criticise individuals, but my comments are always fair and based on fact, unless it is something like fair comment on a design. As a supporter of the Libel Reform Campaign, and as someone who lived with a barrister for forty years, who did her first pupillage in Libel Chambers, I hope I know the difference between libel and fair comment.

But I am worried by the story of Robert Peston and his reporting of the banking troubles of the last decade, where Google has been asked to remove a story from their searches, he wrote in 2007. It’s all reported here on the BBC web site.

This morning the story is on the front page of The Times, and their report names the individual, who asked to be forgotten.

But they are also saying Google’s action might have backfired, as the story of the forgetting has been retweeted and commented on hundreds of times.

The story has been picked up by numerous newspapers including this story in the Mirror.

July 3, 2014 Posted by | Computing, News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Transport for London’s Two Iconic Brands

I have a Google Alert for the word Overground to pick up any stories about Transport for London’s newest railway system the Overground. The link is to the official site and on a straight Google search, it is number one in the list.

It’s only rarely that the Google Alert picks up a news item, that is not about the Overground.

So how does the Underground fare in Google searches.  As with the Overground, the official site for the Underground is first in the search list. On the first page, there are only a couple of pages that are nothing to do with the London Underground.

Even the word Tube typed by itself into Google, produces virtually a complete page of information about the Underground.

I suspect that London’s two iconic brands; Underground and Overground, together with their nickname Tube have one of the best worldwide recognitions.

Frank Pick, who led London Transport in the early days and oversaw the creation of the original corporate branding, will be laughing through history.

Who would have thought that a man from Spalding, who qualified as a solicitor, would have become one of the people with the greatest influence on the look of today’s London? Only Christopher Wren and Joseph Bazalgette come close.

June 18, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Google Chrome Problems

I use two computers; an old Compaq 6720s, running Windows Vista and Office 2007 and a newer Sony running Windows 7 and Office 2010.

To access the Internet, I generally use Google Chrome. And to update this blog, I use Chrome, as sometimes Internet Explorer doesn’t work with WordPress.

I’m putting this post on the Internet using Chrome on the ancient Compaq, as for some reason Chrome on the Sony won’t access this web site.  I can access it and create new pages with Internet Explorer.

With all the money they make, you’d think Google could get a browser that worked corrrectly.

I spoke too soon, as Chrome now won’t access this web site on the Compaq.  So I’m creating this post in Internet Explorer on the Sony.

If anybody has any problem accessing this blog in Chrome could they please tell me!

March 12, 2014 Posted by | Computing | , | Leave a comment

Are Google And ARM Holdings Forming An Alliance On Servers?

There has been a couple of reports on the Internet about a link-up between ARM Holdings and Google forming an alliance to create low energy use and high power servers. The Register bills it as Chipzilla versus The Chocolate Factory, in this article.

The last paragraph of the article, wich refers to the reports, is significant.

Such a scenario would be far worse news for Intel than merely losing a few million CPU sales each year.

So has Intel finally met its match in a small Cambridge company?

I think the answer is yes and we must make sure that this amazing UK company stays independent.

December 16, 2013 Posted by | Computing, News | , , | Leave a comment

The NHS And Disruptive Innovation

I’m a great fan of disruptive innovation.  It summed up in Wikipedia as follows.

disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology.

In some ways the classic disruptive innovation is iTunes, where Apple changed the music industry totally.

I, of course, would be a fan, because my first great success was Artemis, which took the project management industry out of the domain of large mainframe computers and cumbersome management structures into a computer that fitted under a desk.

But I have given this post, the title I have, as the NHS and other health systems is coming under pressure from disruptive innovation.

My other big innvation success was also disruptive innovation.

I was one of the backers of the technology that led to Respimat, a metered-dose inhaler.

That device seems to be too disruptive, as despite many years of development, I don’t think it is in general use.

It doesn’t use any batteries, compressed gases, nasty chemicals and is affordable to be throwaway. But despite their HCFC propellants, the incumbents in the healthcare industry, have not given market share.

But I have the satisfaction, that because of my scientific knowledge and practical experience, I spotted that the guys I backed could do something special. At least too, when I sold my share, I was well rewarded.

I do feel though that the NHS doesn’t do things in the same way as perhaps John Lewis would, when it comes to handling new methods of working.

As an example I was talking to my excellent GP about how having my cholesterol  results on my blog, helped the doctors in Hong Kong when I had my stroke. I said it would be great if all our medical records were searchable on line. We were also discussing a small operation I had on my nose ten years ago and wondering if it should be done again to stop the nose bleeds I sometimes get.

We then both said that computerisation had been an expensive farce, but we were both agreed it would be a good thing, especially if like me you travel a lot.  He did say Google launched something called Google Health, but that has now been discontinued.  Read about it here.

So did the general conservatism of health professionals and a lot of the general public kill the project.  Google don’t have many failures.

Reading about it, it seems that it would have been something I would have used.

If I look too at my Coaguchek, that is classic disruptive innovation. I don’t know how many use the device in the UK, but I suspect it’s not a large proportion of those who could benefit from such a device.

I suspect though that in a few years this device and its probably simpler successors will be as accepted as the monitors used by diabetics.

Small personal patient used technology like this will become more common.  After all, we now have a population, who love their gadgets and what better gadget is there, than one that helps you improve your health.

The NHS is going to have to get used to new technology and especially where that technology shows substantial cost savings.  But a lot of it, will mean changes in methods and management structures.

Disruptive innovation will improve the NHS, but it will be an NHS with a different number and type of hospitals, and staff not always deployed as they are now.


October 5, 2013 Posted by | Computing, Health, World | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Enormous Amount Of Energy Used By Computer Servers

In all the hot air talked about fracking, wind power and nuclear power, very rarely does the argument stray into energy usage. The only thing people seem to worry about is the cost of their household energy bills and filling up their car.

But accpording to this academic report from Stanford University in 2010, over ten percent of all US electricity was used to power computer and IT equipment. Here’s the relevant part.

In 2010, over 10% of electricity in the U.S. was due to computer and IT equipment usage. At the current rate we’re going, analysts and experts figure that 10% of the world’s power bill will be spent on running computers. To give a more concrete example of how much energy this is, Dixon shows that one 50,000 square feet data center uses about 5 megawatts, but continuously. This energy output would satisfy the needs of 5000 homes. In another staggering example, assorted US data centers use a collective 7000 megawatt data centers from seven different plants; this is more power than is used by the State of Mississippi. Even more surprising is that this astronomical power consumption is just by the plants themselves – cooling systems use as much energy as the plants.

Also in this article in the FT. it says that in 2010, Goggle used about 258 Megawatts continuously.

Since this refers to 2010, I wonder how much of the UK’s energy usage goes in that area now.

According to this article, in 2012 average demand for electricity was 35.8 Gigawatt.  Just imagine having to pay that bill!

So let’s assume that only five percent of that energy is used for computer servers, so that is 1790 megawatt. Bear in mind that the UK’s largest power station,  Drax,  has a capability of generating 3960 megawatts or seven percent of the UK’s electricity. So nearly half of its output and the enormous amount of CO2, Drax emits could be used to power computer equipment.

I need better figures here, but it would seem that a substantial part of UK electricity is used in computing.

But help is at hand in this area. To make computers use less power, you can do many things; like write better software and install more efficient cooling systems.

The biggest fight though is in the area of making chips that consume less electricity and there’s a war going on there, between the dominant Intel and the upstart from Cambridge called ARM. Whether Intel can hold off ARM is a subject for debate, but in a year or so, the average server will consume a lot less power than it does now. Unfortunately, the search, social networking, data storing and other IT companies will be a lot bigger, so all we will be doing with better technology is eating into the growth in energy usage.

I think though, this will mean that many large server farms will relocate to countries, where energy costs are lowest.


August 17, 2013 Posted by | Computing, News, World | , , , , | 1 Comment

Have Google Lost The Plot?

This morning, the BBC is running a story about revamping the West Hackney Burial Ground.

I’m not sure whether you would describe Dalston as West Hackney, but it struck me that it could be near where I live. If it is, then it would be worth a visit for before and after photos.

So I typed West Hackney Burial Ground into Google Maps and got a load of useless information and adverts for places around Hackney including Jury’s Inn Hotel halfway between the Angel and King’s Cross. If I were to score the information I got, to give it zero out of ten would be generous.

Google seems to be getting less useful as the years go by, as it concentrates too much on making money and inventions such as driverless cars. Incidentally, I could probably drive the latter, but here in London, I prefer the big red taxis.


July 15, 2013 Posted by | Computing, News, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Are Google Adverts Sometimes A Waste Of Time?

I buy a lot of things on-line.

Three companies I deal with this way are East Coast Trains, John Lewis and Southern Railway.

As when I want to go to any of these companies web site, I know where to look, surely displaying their embedded adverts in other web sites is a waste of time for me and that advert won’t get me to use their company, as I would anyway.

So they are just preaching to the converted!

Interestingly, I’ve only ever got train company adverts from companies that I use.

So how much of the money paid by companies to Google to promote companies and products is wasted?

Incidentally, I think, I’ve only ever bought one product because of an advert on a web page. I have though thought, that I won’t use that company or product because of their intrusive adverts.

But then i like to think I’m not susceptible to advertising.  Or at least in the way that advertisers want me to be!

June 1, 2013 Posted by | Computing | , , , | Leave a comment

Google, Amazon, Starbucks Etc. And Tax

Google’s Eric Schmidt says he is perplexed in this article about the debate on his company’s tax status.

I’m not, as what these companies do is fraud.

Not necessarily on Corporation Tax, but with respect to VAT.

If say I go into John Lewis and buy say a television, I will pay VAT on the purchase. If I buy it from Amazon, I’ll probably pay some fiddled VAT rate, which will make it cheaper.

My belief is that by doing transfers like this, companies like Amazon are hurting genuine UK businesses. Andy Street of John Lewis is saying just that here.

So it should be that if you buy a television and it’s delivered in the UK, then the VAT rate should be 20%.

But Eric Schmidt is against this and is quoted in the BBC article.

The Google chairman has previously argued that corporate taxes should be paid on a company’s profits, not revenues, and should be levied in the country where it conducts economic activity and takes risks, rather than where products are consumed.

The trouble with Google, is there is no alternative, to some of the things they do.

On the other hand, I don’t use Amazon, Apple, Starbucks and quite a few other companies.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Business, World | , , | 2 Comments