hankrules2011

A polymath rambling about virtually anything

Posts Tagged ‘business’

Amazon: 25 Years Of Loyalty Down The Drain

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 18, 2020

For the moment, I only have the time to copy and paste a very short post I published on LinkedIn today, but I hope to return to this topic later with a lot more to say, including specifics, details, statistics, and commentary. All I know is I have been more loyal to Amazon as one of its earlier customers for the past 25 years than nearly any other company, but after a number of events over the past few months, they are now permanently on my SHIT LIST from hell, I feel betrayed and I want them — and everyone else — to know about it. Apparently they’ve gotten so big, they don’t and won’t give a shit, but I still have a right to speak my mind, so I will…

From my LinkedIn post today: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6646086971418566656/.

 

After 25 years as a loyal customer, Amazon has made it to my shit list & it’s sad. I’m so ticked. Lately, when I have the gall to order things & give them $, they’re screwing me by declining legit orders, terminating my password & ALL recent orders – for no good reason. It’s INSANE! Today, I spent 3 hours finding items, ordered dozens for $$ & they shut me down for the 2nd time in 3 days. They no longer like it when I order 100 items or $1000, though they liked it for 24 years. (Also shut me down for 2 Kindle books!) There’s no $ problem, I’m NEVER close to credit limits, not late on payments, but now twice in 3 days, the 5th in 6 weeks-I can’t reset my password, have to CALL IN (prehistoric). The 3 times I’ve done so, I average 2 hours & 4 reps per call due to alleged “unauthorized party access.” I’ve said if true, my banks would be calling within minutes: they don’t. No one else has this problem with me. ALSO, there isn’t a black market for $4 Kindle books; they’d get gift cards to sell instead. I’ve spent $2.5 MILLION+ personally & $4 MILLION+ professionally with them & this is what I get? They’re stupidly throwing away a $7+ Million customer?? I’m going elsewhere. Others want my $$….

 

[To be continued…]

I can’t believe @JeffBezos would endorse or approve of this. If so, his principles have taken a big hit & he’s joined the legion of other Internet greats who had awesome ideas, built something wonderful, grew a great customer base (with myself as one of them), only to abandon a number of customers by apparently thinking he’s too big or good for them now or they don’t matter anymore. I really have no idea what else it would be because idiocy of this magnitude would have to come from the top. I really have had so much respect for him for over two and a half decades. This is massively disillusioning. There’s a reason that moron in the White House got voted in with his transparent crappy statements about “making America great again,” because while neither he nor his followers are the ones who can or will do that, he’s actually right in the sense that most Americans no longer have the work ethic, principles, common sense, business sense, intelligence, dedication to service or quality we did as a nation for so very long. There’s a reason the US has dropped in nearly every field and category that exists. I thought Bezos was one of the few left who still had some of those qualities. Apparently I was mistaken. Pity…

 

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Book Review: Dot.Con: How America Lost Its Mind and Money in the Internet Era

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 23, 2020

Dot.Con: How America Lost Its Mind and Money in the Internet EraDot.Con: How America Lost Its Mind and Money in the Internet Era by John Cassidy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a relatively interesting book and not poorly written. Indeed, for those who don’t remember or didn’t live through this period, I would likely be recommending it and giving it a higher rating. So my rating might be viewed as both subjective and somewhat unfair. However I feel I have a different take on the subject that gives me a different and possibly more comprehensive understanding with greater overall context that I have neither the time or energy to delve deeply into, which makes this content a little…basic and lacking a more complete historical insider perspective that I feel I posses.

I don’t want to write my own book here, but a little personal background info. I acquired my first computer in 1982, took my first programming class in 1984 and “got on the (pre-Web) Internet” in 1985 when beginning to send and receive personal email. I quickly migrated to BBS’s and used other Internet protocols (email is one, actually) such as ftp, telnet (especially), the primary search tool, Gopher, and what kind of served as a pre-Web before the Web was invented by TBL — Usenet. I also got on the legendary and influential WELL, where I resided and interacted with many movers and shakers for close to 15 years. (One of my biggest regrets is giving up my longtime WELL email address.) With the introduction of the Web, I quickly learned HTML, opened my own consulting company in Beverly Hills and created small basic websites for companies using HTML 1.0 (and VRML, as well as other forgotten markup languages and scripts) with the text-only Lynx browser, charging $350 per web PAGE because with 100 international web servers then, back then there was no one to provide such services and you could just name your price. When the GUI Mosaic browser soon came out, things just exploded. I was already doing work with many ISPs and other Internet companies and got involved with the IETF to help create Internet protocols. I turned down awesome offers from companies like Oracle, Sun, Nike, Adobe, Apple and more to take much less to join a growing ISP I was betting would go big time, which turned out to be a good bet. During my time there, I helped grow the company into the 2nd largest ISP in the world, built my own Engineering department, worked in the largest data center on the west coast, traveled the country as the company’s sole rep for RFP bidder meetings and much more, as well as collaborating with NASA, Cal Tech and various national research labs (LBL was one) on several major projects and again, much more. Early on, we were idealistically (and naively) scaling the Internet, investing in massive redundancy, educating consumers and businesses, and trying to theoretically even the playing field by providing free access to education, information, technology, and social improvement efforts and opportunities for everyone in the world. I also spent a lot of time researching new technologies, such as the then-unnamed cloud technology that a decade later would become all the rage, as well as researching competitors and potentially interesting new tech/Internet companies to (personally) invest in.

Yet before the end of the century, many of we “old timers” were starting to feel nervous about the future and where things could lead, especially as the Web became more commercial with tons of new companies having IPOs, creating tons of overnight millionaires with companies that Wall Street had decided were somehow valued at many millions while virtually none were making ANY revenue, let alone profits, and while “experts” assumed there would somehow be ways to make big money, only the porn industry (and offshore gambling) were successful in doing so while people in the industry had no concrete ideas of their own on what to sell (everything had been free) and how to make real money. As the government gave up domain management (to begin with) and commercial entities moved in, I started to develop a queasy feeling in my stomach over what *could* happen in the future.

Soon many of we “veterans” starting worrying the public valuations were insane, it would take awhile as well as major changes for anyone to actually succeed, and concerns about things possibly getting “darker” as our ideals faded. Of course there had always been hackers, but old school hackers did it to 1) learn (and “free” information) and 2) for bragging rights. Even though the government threw the book at infamous hackers like Poulson and Mitnick, none were *truly* criminals in the sense that “hackers/crackers” would later become. Security became a major headache since TCP/IP packet switching had not been invented to support major financial transactions securely. As the number of viruses being created and released daily started to beat Moore’s Law exponentially, as more commercial companies got online, as more tech companies started up with nothing to sell, financial analysts, shareholders, and certain geeks in the tech/Internet industry started saying “No” and “I told you so” while VC money started drying up – the bust became predictably inevitable. Many of us in the industry unloaded our stock options while they still had value and started bailing on companies (I left less than a year before the Bust started demolishing the industry) and then it happened and everyone who had invested heavily in Internet stocks (like my parents years before on my advice) lost entire fortunes while company after company became forgotten historical footnotes.

A final observation. None of the original inventors of the ARPANET (like at Xerox PARC) and my 2nd generation who made this happen ever imagined in their/our worst nightmares what would become of their idealistically great inventions and efforts. Back in early Web days, spam was the outrage of the tech world and considered by some to act as viruses. Today, identity theft, kiddie porn, human trafficking, cyber warfare??? No. For several years I’ve become more and more concerned and regretful of what became of my efforts and when talking with other old friends and colleagues around the world, many share the same disappointment, disillusionment and regrets as me and I’ve spent much of the past three years trying to get myself and my digital footprints offline as much as possible. I’ve closed hundreds of online accounts and closed virtually all of my social network accounts and I hope to soon be almost entirely off the Net, aside from an email address and a couple of other things – and now here I went and wrote way too much, so I apologize. I could actually write infinitely more. But as for this Dot.Con book, like I said, it’s not bad and addresses a short but major part of our recent history. I should give it a higher rating. It’s just that I know this stuff, predicted this stuff, could go far further in depth if I had the time and energy, and feel like this offered me, personally, little. However, as I previously implied, if you didn’t live through this or don’t know the history, it’s probably a valuable book and worth 4 stars. Thus recommended for people who don’t know this (but if you do, I wouldn’t recommend it)…

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Book Review: The Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st Century

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 16, 2020

The Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st CenturyThe Future is Asian: Commerce, Conflict and Culture in the 21st Century by Parag Khanna
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This isn’t a bad book. In fact, it’s pretty good. But I’m torn on what to rate it. On one hand, it could potentially deserve 5 stars for accuracy, a good overview, it being topical. On the other hand, I feel inclined to give it only 3 stars because it’s really rather late to the party, so to speak. It’s not like there’s much that’s new here, and tons of things have been written and published on this very topic for over the past decade. Indeed, some may argue it’s SO late to the party, the author may have missed some important signs. The CFR’s noted Director of Asia Studies, Liz Economy (whose own potentially more topical book, “The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State,” was released last year) has been writing and publishing articles in most of the major foreign policy journals that China is actually on its way down — and fast! I don’t know that I agree with her, but others do and it’s no secret that China’s economy is in the midst of a serious slowdown — there was no feasible way China could sustain that GDP growth. Indeed, it appears India is poised to leap into that position as China fights a huge aging population crisis combined with the additional population crisis prompted by its one child rule, so its workforce will be radically impacted over the next 20+ years. Thus, those who adhere to Economy’s viewpoint — and there are quite a few — might give this book only 2 stars. I’m giving it 4 because I think it’s still currently relevant and probably will be for the next decade to come with much up in the air over that time as India strives to attain regional hegemony status, and while people are making noise over Indonesia’s possibilities in the region — Australian leaders are already discussing forming defense treaties with that country should the PLAN push further into international waters to its south… The ECS problem could turn into a nightmare should the CCP decide to do more than test Japan over the The Senkaku Islands dispute while South Korea is busy trying to match the PLAN with carrier strength buildouts while continuing to watch its northern neighbors. So, yes, the future IS Asian, but it’s faulty to assume it’s solely Chinese or will remain so because yes, it’s no longer a unipolar world, but then when people refer to a multipolar world, they’re no longer necessarily referring to the US, China and Russia. In addition to India, Brazil is trying to ambitiously strive for southern hemisphere regional hegemony status, and Britain has just sent a new carrier to the SCS while committing to invest more in such ships. The CFR’s Sheila Smith published a book last year on Japan mobilizing militarily for potential offensive purposes for the first time since WWII, largely contrary to the constitution we wrote for them since our current US administration is apparently leaving its longtime allies in the East to fend for themselves. Can we say powder keg? I think we can. Geopolitical observation and analysis have become all the more “fun” again, just as it’s becoming all the more frightening. This book is good but I doubt it stands out from a crowded field very much, but for those watching the eastward shift, it’s another good resource to invest in and thus, recommended.

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Some More Book Reviews

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 8, 2020

Being ThereBeing There by Jerzy Kosiński
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Postmodern brilliance. Stunning in what is says in what it doesn’t say. I actually prefer Kosinki’s The Painted Bird, which is a little more brutal, but I honestly think Being There is the author’s best truly “postmodern” work, translated well to the screen, and perfectly holds a mirror up to society. Will they even glance at it? I did. Kicked my ass. Couldn’t be more recommended, but for those of you don’t like minimalist postmodern, you may find yourself bored, possibly not picking up on some subtleties, or simply unimpressed. Or you may actually walk away feeling more and more impressed the more you think about it. (In fact, I was so impressed with it that I wrote a short paper on it from a Reader Response position and it was published in a peer-reviewed, MLA-indexed journal: The Arkansas Review. It’s titled “The Dialectics of Getting There: Kosinski’s Being There and the Existential Anti-Hero.” It’s actually online somewhere, but I don’t know what the policy here for giving our URLs is, so if you’re interested at all, you can either do a search or go to my blog listed on my profile (hankrules2011), with hyperlink, and find it listed among a few publications.) Feel free to leave comments re your own observations, if you’ve read it. It’s definitely not a universally admired or appreciated text. Which makes it all the more delicious for me. 😉

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MashMash by Richard Hooker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have always loved this book! I think it was a unique and special book for its time, a lightweight counter to the heavy stuff going on around it, such as Catch 22, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, A Clockwork Orange and the like, all of which are great, but are a reflection of their times, as well as what was going on socially, culturally and politically in the US, particularly with Vietnam — and Hooker using Korea as an obvious substitute in his commentary on such things couched in humor. The beauty of this novel is, it DOES allude to and address some really serious issues and things, similarly to the other books mentioned, but again, differently so that one didn’t feel so threatened, to use an odd description of possible/probable reader response to others of that time. Brilliant, IMO. And of course, the TV show that came out of the movie that came out of this book was one of the best loved TV shows of all time, including by me as a major fan, so the book set off a chain of awesome (cinematic) events that impacted millions of people, largely in a good way. So while most people probably wouldn’t consider this novel as more than a cheap comedy, I tend to see much more value in it and I’ll stand behind that as long as I’m alive. Definitely recommended!

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The Late Great Planet EarthThe Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Utter trash! I still can’t believe how this POS swept over America during the 1970s, resulting in millions, I’m sure, for Lindsey, that asshole, as well as a horrible POS wildly fantastic, mythological horror show of a movie that was traumatic as shit to kids like me and others I knew whose fundie parents forced them to go see it. In retrospect, it was a total joke, a hoax, and Lindsey was and remains an utter fraud. Personally, I think those of us who are “fundie survivors” from the 1970s — and there are a LOT of us: read Seth Andrews — should file class action lawsuits against Hal and his publisher, as well as those assholes responsible for that shitty movie, A Thief In The Night, which traumatized me and tons of people and kids like me, not only at that time, but to this day, resulting in decades of therapy which has never been effective, scarring me for life. Another target of a wished for class action lawsuit would be the publisher of those damn Chick tracts, which also scared the shit out of me and most of the other people I knew. All those awesome cartoons and drawings of demons, the flames of Hell, drugged out ’70s hippies destined for Hell, etc. All of these and much more contributed to fucking ruining my life and tens of thousands like me, of driving us away from fundie/evangelicals forever, of feeling nothing but disgust and disdain, if not outright hatred for the hypocritical, lying fire and brimstone manipulators trying to use prehistoric rubbish to scare everyone possible into doing their damn will (and filling their pockets at the same time). I’ll never forgive them and I’ll never forgive Lindsey for this wretched joke of a piece of total shit book that did so much permanent damage to untold legions of people. If you wonder why people are leaving the churches in the US in droves these days and why over 20% of the American population are called the “Nones,” as in no church, no mythological supernatural tooth fairy in the sky, etc., you can thank Lindsey, those responsible for the other atrocities mentioned here, and the assholes who carry on their tradition, like Tim Lehay , who field a softer brand, but still put through the same apocalyptic message (while raking in millions on the side). If it were possible, I wouldn’t give this book a “0” – I would give it a “-1,000” or onward to infinity. If you value reason, logic, sanity, human decency, facts, etc., and if you frown upon or even despise those theistic religionists (particularly conservative Christians in the western world) who use terms like “love,” “morals,” “peace,” “family values,” etc., when they’re too lazy and stupid to read their own holy book and discover the atrocities committed by the god of the old testament while claiming their Jesus was a holy man of peace and love, while he stated he came with a sword to split up families and turn parents against children, etc., bragged that he spoke in parables so his idiot disciples literally wouldn’t be able to understand anything he said, and left no writings or proof of his existence, and none from any witnesses were ever written down so much could be said about the gospels, etc., aside from the millions of literal lies, discrepancies, untruths, fraud, etc., in their holy book and especially the new testament, then by all means, avoid this idiocy. I couldn’t recommend it any less than I am doing now. Truly one of the most despicable books in history by one of the most despicable humans in history… If there were an actual hell their mythology describes, he and his ilk would be destined for it.

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Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Not remotely impressed. For two primary reasons, among others. One, this just seems like a lot of fluffy filler. I have no idea how Godin made this into a full length book because I just got the feeling a decent, well thought out and written magazine article would have sufficed and even been more successful, perhaps. More importantly, I disagree with the title, premise and some possible conclusions that may be drawn from the book’s thesis.

OBVIOUSLY there are typically “linchpins” in most companies and certainly most successful companies. That should be so transparently understood that I fail to see the necessity in even writing a book about it at all. However, I learned early in my business career, initially from advisors and mentors, later from employers and bosses, and sadly, from personal experience as well as witnessing such with various colleagues in many companies and businesses — the thing that was drilled into my head from the beginning both verbally and through observation and experience — is that NO ONE is EVER indispensable! To think someone is, is utterly foolish, totally naive, completely wrong, and places too much value on “linchpins,” whom while no matter how valuable, can ALWAYS be replaced — I’ve seen it dozens of times at companies throughout the country from the lowest on the rungs to the very highest, at Founder, President and CEO, etc.

So, I have well over 30 years of business experience and I’ve seen this play out too many times to count. I’ve seen teachers with experience, great success and tenure get sacked. I’ve seen founders of startups that quickly grew into multimillion dollar public companies get dumped by the board. No One is Indispensable! I literally have only seen one person at one company who very likely may have been and was treated as such and who basically calls the shots as VP Engineering — after her former boss, the VP of Engineering with multiple degrees from Georgia Tech — was let go to move her up. Bizarre world… Book? Not recommended.

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Strange Attraction: The Best Of Ten Years Of ZyzzyvaStrange Attraction: The Best Of Ten Years Of Zyzzyva by Howard Junker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to confess that during my decades of writing several hours a day, 362 days a year, and submitting work to hundreds, thousands of zines, journals, magazines, publications around the world and during my decades of prolific success, while I had a very good acceptance percentage and was fortunate enough to be published in many high quality literary journals as well as newspapers, commercial magazines and more, there were really very few “major” ones I actually liked to read. I know that sounds nuts, but I was never a big fan of the New Yorker or the Paris Review, nor the Southern Humanities Review, Ploughshares, etc. Too damn mainstream, too much a party of the only “acceptable” literary canon, as defined by those who thought and think they are the official arbiters of such. Most of whom are idiots with no talent.

However, there were some journals, as well as many zines, magazines and the like, that I DID look forward to, often because they weren’t so freaking obsessed with calm ponds, chirping robins, lovely deer in the forest, calm lake waters and all that bullshit. At a minimum, they’d publish a diverse selection of material and writers, typically mixing the totally unknown with the most famous around. And on more topics of interest, relatable to me and others who weren’t Black Mountain fans, and Zyzzyva was one of them. Some others included Exquisite Corpse, New York Quarterly, Long Shot, Wormwood Review, Chiron Review, Caffeine, ONTHEBUS, Rattle, Poetry, Asheville Poetry Review, Main Street Rag and several others. The interesting thing about Zyzzyva was it centered largely on West Coast writers, and that intrigued me even before I became a West Coast writer!

Zyzzyva was a large, beautiful perfect bound book-sized journal and Junker, as editor, picked some great stuff, a nice fairly diverse selection of works, with a great mix of writers, and it was one of the few I read through cover to cover. I must admit though that one of my great publishing disappointments was I could never get Howard to accept ANY of my stuff, and I submitted annually for years! And I couldn’t figure out why because he published a ton of writers I was often published with in other magazines. It didn’t make any sense. But every editor is different and frankly it’s often subjective. Sometimes you like a person’s work and never another’s, no matter how qualified or whatever. I was an editor and publisher myself for some years, so I know what I’m talking about. There were two sides to this. On one hand, if various literary journals rejected me a couple of times, I usually crossed them off my list and moved on, but there were – for reasons I still don’t know – some others out there that I continued to submit to every damn year for YEARS, both hoping and convinced they’d eventually accept some of my work, only to be rejected annually by 98% of them. It was disheartening. It’s been a long time and I forget virtually all of them, but I do recall one was Arizona State’s Haydens Ferry Review, the annual issue of ONTHEBUS – and Jack Grapes, the editor, was a freaking friend of mine! – the Sierra Nevada Review (seriously???) and a few others. One that finally accepted my work after over a decade of submissions was Emory University’s Lullwater Review. Funny, that… And so Zyzzyva was one of these journals.

Conversely, there were some high quality writers, editors, magazines, journals and zines that liked me personally, liked what and how I wrote, liked my work and in some cases, loved to publish me constantly. As in the opposite of the example I just gave in the previous paragraph. Some of the writers and editors who seemed to like me included the great Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gerald Locklin (author of over 125 books, as well as editor), Michael Bugeja at Writer’s Digest, who liked to quote me as an SME in the annual Poet’s Market they published, the incredible Charles Bukowski, the longtime editor of the esteemed Poetry Magazine, Joseph Parisi (who amusingly secretly confided in me that he loved my work but worried that some might be “too much” for the traditional Poetry Magazine reader, which I thought was funny and it made me happy to see people like myself and the most openly anti-establishment poet around – Bukowski – start to appear in Poetry and other high quality literary journals, in some cases with the editors gritting their teeth, I’m sure), Black Flag’s Henry Rollins, who was publisher of his own press, and many others. And as stated, there were some journals and magazines that seemed to like to publish my work regularly to constantly in virtually every issue. Some of these included Chiron Review, Caffeine (where I regularly appeared alongside Bukowski), Hawaii Review, Pearl, Long Shot, Finland’s Sivullinen (and many other Finnish magazines, where they often shockingly put me on their covers alongside Bukowski – I mean photos and everything!), Belgium’s De Nar, Poetry Ireland Review (with Seamus Heaney, and they paid very well!), the infamous longtime punk magazine, Flipside, whose poetry editor loved my stuff, the famous horro magazine, Wicked Mystic (they paid well), L.A.’s big Saturday Afternoon Journal, music magazine Industrialnation, and a number of others.

The point? The point is that while I was very successful, pretty well known around the world in those kinds of literary circles, appeared regularly in publications featuring Ginsberg, Bukowski, Amiri Baraka, Ted Berrigan, William Burroughs, and other heavyweights, I felt I *should* have been good enough to have my work appear in most publications I submitted to — because I did so strategically, avoiding those I knew wouldn’t like my style or my stuff — and so Zyzzyva remained a constant disappointment for me as a writer because I could not understand at all why Junker wouldn’t publish me when he published so many others in my various circles. But I never let that disappointment ruin my appreciation for and love of that journal, and while I’ve not seen it in a long time, I’ll always remember it fondly and with great respect. If you missed out on it, I recommend looking up old issues, or perhaps … of course, getting this book because Howard picked an assortment of quality writers and material to appear in these pages, so I strongly recommend it.

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My Years In Books: 2019

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 24, 2019

Every year, I participate in the Goodreads Annual Reading Challenge. At the beginning of each year, you set a goal for how many books you’ll read that year. Goodreads keeps track of your running total and then lets you know how you’ve done and what percentage of your goal you met. You can also see other participants in the Reading Challenge. Each year, they provide an end of year webpage showing your stats, how you did, etc. For some reason, they recently decided to make them only able to share to a few social network sites where I no longer have accounts. I remain annoyed by this, so I’m doing the next best thing for the second straight year. (And you can see my blog entry for 2018’s results here:  My Year In Books: 2018.) I’ve taken several screenshots showing information like what they describe as your “Year in Books,” parts of the webpage showing how many books, pages, etc, you read that year, the average length of the book, etc., my 2019 Reading Challenge results, my Reading Challenge results since 2013 and something I’ve never done before — an intro to the webpage of My Year in Books because as you’ll see, my numbers are tremendously skewed up this year and are thus somewhat deceptive, so I felt obligated to explain. For what it’s worth, I set my 2019 reading goal at 90 books. Goodreads is reporting I read 443 books, or 492% of my original goal. Like I said, I wrote an explanation because while I exceed my goal every year, it’s never by that much and there are a couple of reasons why this year’s numbers aren’t completely accurate. So I’m going to post these screenshots for you to see. If you want to see the actual books I read this year, you can go to my Goodreads profile here. (I believe you have to be a logged in member to view it, however…)

And now, the promised screenshots. Comments are welcome…

 

2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge

My Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge Results

 

 

 

My Goodreads All-time Annual Reading Challenge Results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Year In Books: 2019”

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Year In Books: 2019” — Introduction

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“My Year In Books: 2019” — End Of Webpage

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Not Just Huawei and ZTE…

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 4, 2019

I published an article on my LinkedIn page on April 4, 2019. This is the gist.

There are other technology-based companies in China, some much bigger and wealthier than Huawei, that *could* be capable of things some accuse the more famous companies of while hiding beneath the surface. Here is the link to it if you’re interested: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/its-just-huawei-zte-scott-holstad.

 

Well, what I found after publishing the link on my blog here was that while, if memory serves me correctly, for many years LinkedIn has been an open site, if not for posts, articles, original content, etc., at least for people’s profiles, often viewed as expanded digital resumes. The impetus was simple. Your profile, and hence your digital resume, could be located by anyone, anywhere, most prominently headhunters, recruiters, HR professionals, etc. That was, after all, the original point. But no more! I really don’t know when changes started happening, but I discovered sometime last year that if one searched for me by name and my LinkedIn profile came up in the search results, clicking on it would take you to a black page with a login, and subsequently ever since, everything I’ve posted, shared, written, published, created, and yes, even my ever fluid profile has been completely off limits to anyone who cannot log into LinkedIn, presumably anyone who does not have an account. I’ve said publicly what I think about this new trend, but for this particular purpose, that’s a topic for another post.

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In any event, when I posted the original post with the link to my article here, I heard from some of you telling me you couldn’t access the article, was there another way for you to read it? And yes, there is. Forgive me for taking so long to address this, but I’ve been ill, busy and out of town, so I’m only now getting to it, but my solution is to simply reproduce my article in its entirety as it appears on my LinkedIn profile here on my blog, at which point it will be accessible to all. The formatting may not be as perfect, but the content will be the same. So, as requested,

 

It’s Not Just Huawei and ZTE…

 

Yesterday, Foreign Policy magazine published an article titled “The Improbable Rise of Huawei” with the tagline reading “How did a private Chinese firm come to dominate the world’s most important emerging technology?” (https://bit.ly/2HXEcU2) Current trendy topic, legitimate questions. I get it. And I don’t blame the authors or the journal. It’s a good piece, well written in a quality publication, and it’s one that needs addressing, although in my opinion, there’s probably been a little bit of overkill recently.

Huawei Mobile Phone\

[Huawei Mobile Phone]

I’ve been researching this myself. But I’ve been researching some other things, other companies, their owners, and shell games – all Chinese. And I’ve got a LOT of questions, and one thing I’m curious about is why the founder of Huawei, a Communist party member and former PLA soldier, is getting so much notoriety, and everyone knows how fabulously wealthy the company has become, yet no one is talking about another Chinese entrepreneur who started a company of his own, also under mysterious and unusual circumstances, and who has been so very successful, that he is worth about 20 times what Huawei’s Ren Zhengfei is worth and according to this year’s Forbes, is the 22nd richest man in the world (https://bit.ly/2HYsbhq), compared to Ren, whom Forbes lists at #1,425 (https://bit.ly/2G1jnFb)!

Do you know of whom I refer? Does the name “Jack Ma” ring a bell? Does the company, “Alibaba” (or Alibaba Group) ring a bell? (https://www.alibaba.com) Let’s just say that his background is of a person who was largely a massive failure, who found out about the Internet and somehow found 20 grand to start a web design company out of his house with his wife. (I intend to write more about this some other time, so I’m leaving a great deal out…) Around 1999, with his wife and a group of friends, Alibaba had been formed as a B to B technology marketplace start-up. (https://bit.ly/2fcoC5c)

Then Ma disappears. Nothing on him. I’m sure it’s possible to find stuff, but just take a cursory glance and see if you can find him in, say 2006 or 2010. Yet, in 2015 he surfaces and takes the company public at the NYSE in the biggest IPO in the history of the world! Now how did he get from poor, miserable failure (rejected on 30 out of 30 job applications after barely making it through a minor teacher’s institute with a BA in English, just as one example), start two companies in three years, start making bank and then disappear from view for 15 years, only to emerge in the public’s eye to become, by today, owner of a relatively unknown (in much of the West) Chinese company that is literally worth twice as much as the notorious, world famous Huawei, and whose own net worth as of this year is over $40 BILLION compared to Ren’s $2.2 billion, as of two days ago? Doesn’t that strike anyone besides me as just a little … odd? And while Huawei is everywhere in the world, so is Alibaba. Indeed, I have very senior level contacts at both companies (C-level), both in China and in the US. I’ve interacted with some people at different times. And the Foreign Policy writers, if I recall correctly, noted that Huawei is everywhere now – specifically in 170 countries. Guess how many countries Alibaba operates in? Going on 200. Yep, bigger, richer, more successful, founder possibly more mysterious than Huawei’s, and while the company hasn’t become notorious for making devices like mobile phones, they sell the hell out of them! I know, I bought one. Recently. A high-end Kyocera, unlocked international, for half the retail cost elsewhere. But I didn’t keep it. There were multiple reasons why. I looked at it, tested it carefully, and returned it. The company actually has a program where they award certificates, of a sort, to third party resellers whom they deem sufficiently good enough to represent them. And while the company is not a manufacturer, like Huawei is, it has access to and sells more (I believe) items, generally technology items such as … mobile phones…, than most companies in the world. And while people are up in arms about Huawei’s alleged ties to China’s communist party, certainly in the company’s beginnings, many analysts believe that NO “private” company, especially such huge, successful international behemoths – that are everywhere throughout the western world, for instance – could possibly operate without both the permission AND most likely the backing of the CCP, or at least elements of the CCP. Think about that. And think about the fact that Alibaba sells a virtually unlimited number of Huawei and ZTE products, as well as many other international products (including from other Chinese companies), in more places than Huawei! And how hard is it to modify a mobile phone? If MSS, or one of the newer agencies that have been created over the past few years, were to somehow be involved in some way – and I’m NOT saying they are at all!!! – it wouldn’t be too difficult to replicate or even improve on some of the possibilities that some people are accusing Huawei of. Think about that too. And just in case you’re wondering if the company is just a giant marketplace, understand this – like many other companies, they’re ambitious. And they’ve developed a cloud program so massive, it can be rivaled only by the likes of AWS, Google, IBM and it seems Oracle is also moving up the ranks. Literally, Alibaba has come out of nowhere to become one of the roughly 5-6 biggest cloud providers in the entire world! And yes, I have connections with people at Alibaba Cloud (https://us.alibabacloud.com).

Server Farm - Alibaba Rev

What does one make of this? I guess my primary point is to not discount this company simply because it does not manufacture high tech wireless devices. It’s a technology company, first and foremost, and it’s gone from reseller to a very big player, essentially under most people’s noses. Which begs another question: how big do and will they get? I anticipate acquisitions, partnerships, new divisions in other areas. I would think AI would be very attractive to them at the moment, especially in light of Xi’s announced ONE TRILLION-dollar goal to have the biggest and best quality (by far) AI industry in the world by 2025. And with the R&D available in China, and that kind of financial backing, and – forgive me if it seems like I don’t know what in the world I’m talking about, because I know enough to be dangerous, but I’m not a scientist – with the likely advent of advanced quantum computing, it’s virtually impossible to imagine the possibilities of that bizarre universe as a base for AI. And what could come from that. Need I continue?

But that’s not all. I’ve been delving into other, smaller and lesser known, but increasingly popular, Chinese wireless manufacturers and companies, and have turned up quite a bit of interesting information in the process. I’m not ready to name names, but one company that interested me turned out to be owned by another company – in the same district in the same city – that turned out to be owned by yet another company – same district, same city – all of whom had unlisted, but official representatives who shared the same email domain – that of one of these companies. And their items and inventory are similar, but grow more diverse, and you start hitting walls, have to find ways around them, and continue on, while more and more companies pop up. And they go out of their way to hide their connections with the others, and the next one and next one. Standard shell game. Makes one wonder who the ultimate owner is… Possibly Huawei? Or ZTE? Or MSS itself? Who knows? All I know is there’s a lot more going on in China than many realize, particularly with certain types of technology being sold and provided in the West. And that begs an interesting question – could Huawei simply be a distraction – a large one – thus allowing an untold number of much smaller, relatively unknown companies (or in Alibaba’s case, certainly not smaller, but definitely not a household name) to produce and distribute goods that actually might do what Huawei’s products are often accused of? Let’s not forget, there are a lot of devious people in the world, including in some governments (I think the US learned that in 2016, although preparations for that began many, many years earlier). Face it, many Westerners, and especially Americans, are – or have been for decades – simply naïve because we haven’t bothered to study other peoples and cultures and so on much more the way so many other countries have studied the US. Kissinger himself said that was probably his biggest mistake, circa the ‘70s. Not educating himself properly, not getting to know other peoples, other cultures, others’ goals and ambitions, even among one’s perceived allies. I would like to hope many Americans have come a long way since then, but I fear that most US geopolitical policy efforts since the Cold War have finally brought many to realize we have not, that we sat on our haunches, focused on the wrong agendas while ignoring important issues, and now there could be some major prices to be paid, if not already, then almost certainly in the near future.

I’ll wrap things up now, although I have much more to say. As mentioned, I hope to continue researching and digging and be able later to publish a more detailed piece with more specific information and harder analysis. Besides, I’ve been banging this out for too long now, and I have to move on to other projects. And while everyone is focusing on Huawei, I’d encourage people to take a hard look at some other entities, such as was mentioned here, as well as numerous other examples, and then do some reflecting. Feedback is welcome.

 

Scott C. Holstad

Founder, COO, CTO, Chief Strategy Officer, VP Cybersecurity @ WireMe Designs, LLC – Retired!

WireMe Designs, LLC

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