2/21/2009

Flash vs Silverlight

Some interesting observations I read recently from a Flash blogger:

  • Flash was not intended for RIA applications.
  • ActionScript was created for animated vector graphics; queuing messages on a single thread.
  • It was hijacked to support Flex with complex content; but the threading model didn’t change.
  • But Silverlight was built from the start for fully fledged applications.

I’m looking forward to the MVP Summit and MIX to see what’s coming in Silverlight 3. Currently, I’m developing real – world application with Silverlight. I’m putting together pieces and utility classes that I expect to be able to use going forward.

For me, the clear winner is having a feature – complete subset of the .NET Framework to code with, being able to share my creations in both Silverlight and the full .NET Framework, and not having to deal with the intricacies of the ActionScript learning curve to get what I want. I’ve been coding C# since 2001 and at this late stage of the game I feel pretty comfortable. I’m not particularly interested in learning Python, and certainly not the idiosyncrasies of ActionScript, whether compiled or not.

There’s no question in my mind that Silverlight was built with a view toward enterprise-level, multithreaded LOB application capabilities. I think the playing field is primed to get a lot more interesting in the next six months or so.

I’m giving two presentation at the MVP Summit in Redmond next week, one on Silverlight Object Encryption, the other on Silverlight Fast Binary Serialization over the wire.  We’ll see where everything leads.

2/17/2009

Zombie Banks Coming – Run!

Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.  - Herman Wouk

I heard a good piece about “zombie banks” this morning on NPR. "Zombie banks" was the term for Japanese financial institutions propped up by government in the '90s despite their basic insolvency after their real-estate bubble. In a financial "revenge of the living dead", these unprofitable banks cast a decade-long pall over Japan. US banks like Citgroup, Bank of America and others are now in the realm of the living dead. zombiebankl

US officials urged Japan to give up on failed institutions. Instead, it pumped 12 percent of its gross domestic product into saving the banks and received a "lost decade" of economic stagnation in return. Sound familiar? Economic analysts across the board agree that the Japanese example must not be repeated - even as our government proceeds to do precisely that!

Members of the House Financial Services Committee grilled banking CEO's about their lending practices and bonuses. Rich Lowry says they should have been asking, "Why does your company still exist?" A zombie bank keeps draining bailout capital from the government but doesn't respond with any meaningful lending that helps the economy recover.

Estimates show that even after the Government's huge recent cash infusions, the financial system still has at least another $1 trillion hole in it. The US government has to either continue to try to patch this with massive injections of cash like Japan did in the '90s, or take the gutsy, painful step of chopping off the zombies' heads right now and splitting them up to save the good parts and come up with new, smaller, healthy banks. One expert on the NPR piece said that if they wait another year to do this things will get very, very bad indeed.

There are thousands of small, local, healthy banks that were smart enough not to get caught up in the funny money greed cycle. I think I’m gonna give my money to them and tell them to keep doing what they’ve been doing, just more of it. The morons running Bank of America don’t deserve my money.

When President Obama was asked in his first prime-time press conference if it would take another trillion dollars to rescue the financial sector, he dodged - because a simple "yes" would be just too much the blunt truth.

As it stands now, the government is keeping alive huge zombie banks that would otherwise have gone bust many months ago. Bankrupt banks that really are "too big to fail" need to be taken over by the government, broken up until they're small enough to fold or for a new, healthy bank to be created, with government eating the toxic assets for the time being. That kind of  quasi-nationalization can set the stage for new, healthy banks that won't be long-term wards of the State or long-term drags on growth. Nobody likes nationalization of banks, but what we’re doing now is just throwing our grandchildren’s tax dollars down the toilet. The Japanese already proved that doesn’t work, why can’t we learn the lessons of history? I mean, are our elected representatives really THAT dumb? OMG! The Zombies are coming! Quick – print more money and throw it at them!

You know, I've watched a few of those zombie movies, and you cannot "cure" zombieism - you have to shoot 'em, cut their heads off.

Oh, and while we're at it -- we've got some zombie automakers that need the same treatment. Sorry, but it’s the truth. Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up! Feed me money!  I leave you with the comments of Marc Faber, writing in the Feb. 18 2009 Wall Street Journal:

“The best policy response would be to do nothing and let the free market correct the excesses brought about by unforgiveable policy errors. Further interventions through ill-conceived bailouts and bulging fiscal deficits are bound to prolong the agony and lead to another slump – possibly an inflationary depression with dire social consequences.”

2/14/2009

Brother, can you spare a dime?

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
  - George Bernard Shaw

Our new Administration has set a record:  it’s railroaded legislation through Congress that confers the mandate on Government to spend more in it’s first month of office than the previous Administration spent on all of the Iraq war since 2003.

Not a single House Republican voted for this legislation. Most all Senate Republicans held this line. I’m glad to read that Republicans seem to be sticking to their “small government” principles. It’s too bad that they waited until Mr. Obama got elected to have their epiphany —and suddenly find them again! Not only was the last Administration rampant with runaway spending and printing of money by government on both sides of the aisle, you can bet that the Obama-Pelosi cartel will expand this premise in the months ahead. This represents the biggest increase in the size of our Government’s reach in over 60 years, possibly the biggest in the history of our nation.

Yes, some of this money will indeed create jobs. But most all of the rest is PORK that just amplifies BIG GOVERNMENT. We didn’t need it, period. If our Forefathers had any inkling that the new nation they created would eventually engage in this kind of chicanery, they would be HAVING CONVULSIONS!

Deficit Spending and History

Deficit spending occurs when a government, business, or individual's spending exceeds income. The practice also is called a deficit, or budget deficit, the opposite of a budget surplus.

Government, companies and households sometimes indulge in deficit spending, but with a plan to repay the debt, plus interest charges, over time. This technique is a standard government and business practice, but personal finances managed this way often end up forcing an individual into bankruptcy and poverty. Rules for repayment are different for individuals, business and government.

What happens when a government creates money without a fiscally responsible plan to repay it – as we’re doing now – is that the “credit score” of that government begins to decline on the world stage. When that happens, it become more and more difficult to monetize that debt by having other entities (China, for example) be willing to invest in the debt (US Treasury securities, primarily).  At some point in the future, things become so bad that nobody will buy this debt anymore and you will have financial collapse. Take a look at Zimbabwe (currently) for a recent example. Inflation is so high there as to be virtually incomprehensible to the human mind.

We got ourselves into a very bad situation here in the US through a combination of the Fed being “asleep at the switch”, and plain old unchecked greed in the financial sector. It’s not really about partisan politics at all, because spending our way out of the mess we’ve created with artificial manufactured money (government debt) simply may not work any longer.

I read a lot of Liberal friends’ comments (such as on Twitter and other places) that the Bush Administration is to blame for our current problems. Not true! You had a Congress where for the past eight or more years, both Democrats and Republicans were all too willing to spend money they knew full well that they didn’t have, not follow simple common sense in regulating the financial and related markets, and generally turn a blind eye toward clear economic signs that we were headed for a disaster.  Well, guess what? Now we have it!

Larger Forces At Work

Individual Presidential Administrations are much less responsible for the long term economic cycles that mature economies such as ours undergo than most people think. If you study the very long term climatic record, we’re at the beginning of a new Little Ice Age – which will mean colder winters, lower crop yields, famines, and other socio-economic disruptions in the next ten to twenty years. You can forget about Al Gore and his global warming alarmist theories – in the next decades, you’ll be reading headlines about global COOLING!  If we don’t learn to get our economic house in order, and start to understand these long term economic cycles better – and soon – we run the risk of our own economic collapse taking the rest of the world’s economies down the tubes along with us.

The bottom line

One thing is for sure. SOMEBODY is going to have to figure out how to pay the Piper. And the Piper will come – sooner or later. There is no such thing as a free lunch – not in capitalism, not in government, and certainly not  for my kids and potential grandchildren – who’ll be saddled with the bill for this moronic bullshit spending for decades to come. I’m not talking Greek – think about it.

2/08/2009

Kill Internet Explorer!

“The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously”  - Henry Kissinger

I’ve got Internet Explorer 8 RC running on Windows VIsta x64 and occasionally it freezes up, usually when it is making a request. I have some ideas about why this may be happening, but there isn’t much I can do about it other than kill IE from Task Manager.

However, there is an easier and faster way:

Download KILL.EXE from Matt Kruse’s “Must Have Utilities” Listing.

Put the executable in a folder (I have one called C:\MISC for just such “stuff”).

Now make a batch file that looks like this:

KILL.EXE -f IEXPLORE.EXE

and save it in your folder right next to KILL.EXE as “KILLIE.BAT”. (The ‘-f’ switch means ‘force’, as in ‘DIE NOW, PROCESS, NO MATTER WHAT!’).

Now, in Windows Explorer, right –click on KILLIE.BAT and choose “Send to Desktop”.

You can change the icon to something meaningful, and you can even drag the shortcut down onto the TaskBar so it is even easier to get to.

“Internet Exploder” froze up? Just click on your shortcut and it’s gone! Now that’s POP --Pragmatism Over Process!

2/06/2009

Just send out the checks!

So it looks like the “stimulus” bill is going to be $935 Billion. Divide by 133.9 million American taxpayers, and you get $6,983 per U.S. taxpayer. In my opinion, most all of this is throwing good money after bad. Not only will it not create any immediate economic stimulus, but a lot of it is simply growing the government way beyond it’s already enormous size and complexity.

Truth is, we don’t need all these new laws and all these new programs. The consumer is 70 percent of the U.S. economy. If you want to stimulate the economy quickly, just have the Treasury Department send out the checks to all U.S. Taxpayers. More will get spent – and faster – than any other way. And it won’t grow government by one bit.

I am not suggesting “send out the checks” is “the answer” to the problem. But it does shed light on part of the reason why we have the problem in the first place.

2/02/2009

Is Twitter Mainstream?

 

OK, well instead of making guru-like  pronouncements, we decided to ask our visitors and users, since they know better than anybody!

Here’s the Eggheadcafe.com Twitter poll.

You can follow Eggheadcafe.com (new articles and new forum posts) on Twitter here.