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The Northern Spy: the rocky road ahead

By Rick Sutcliffe

The stock market 

has begun to speak about overpriced valuations, and its coming year looks growly. Much of the recent inflation in prices can be ascribed to the American tax cuts for corporations and the rich, who used their spare income to bid up equities, an option not available to most people, whose incomes have been static in the face of slow and steady inflation. 

The effect of this government cash injection into the American market has now run its course (sans this action in Canada, the equity run-up was far tamer, a slight echo of what was happening to the south). In addition, high tech stocks are retreating from their stratospheric heights, and sanity is returning to valuations.

P/E ratios of 20+ had continuous high growth expectations priced in that were historically unrealistic, even for what has been the relatively hot tech industry. These should fall to a more realistic sub-15 mark, and with a slowing economy factored in, we are probably looking at a minimum further 30% decline from current values in the major indices. It could reach 50-60% from the original highs for the DOW and 40%+ for the TSE.

Cash-rich but innovation-poor companies like Apple has become can weather the storm easily, though with much reduced confidence in their future earnings potential, and therefore a much lower stock price. Cupertino’s mind share has suffered serious erosion, and market share will inevitably follow. Samsung is more exposed at the moment, especially as Apple scales back orders in the face of declining new demand and market saturation for the old. Given its critical importance to the national economy, the South Korean government should be worried.

Speaking of Samsung, the Spy recently (two days ago) purchased a new Samsung QLED TV from the London Drugs electronic department. This is the QN55Q8F model–last year’s old news by now of course, but a middle range unit of the somewhat better sort. Picture quality seems vastly improved over his old set (also a Samsung, and one that still worked except the optical sound was broken and it lacked return on the HDMI, so had its limitations) but learning how to use the remote seems a challenge. 

The remote itself partially follows Apple’s design philosophy–few buttons that still do the work of many, if you know which ones to press. Unfortunately, the manual is even more minimalist–until you discover how to access the e-manual on screen. First thing, though–upgrade the machine’s firmware. The Spy’s was nearly a hundred iterations outdated. More on this adventure in a later column.

The Spy does find it a little odd that Samsung, major supplier of OED panels to other manufacturers, uses their QLED technology in their own TVs. Perhaps they can make more money selling OLED to others than by selling it to it themselves. Perhaps they think their QLED tech is better. Some review sites say the opposite, but the Spy has an insufficiently discerning eye to tell any difference between comparatively sized and featured OLED and QLED displays. 

Incidental kudos to London Drugs for price matching an online retailer, and a small brickbat to those who restrict matching to “authorized” dealers’ prices, which are fixed to a uniform number by the manufacturers at a point well below the inflated and supposed MSRP, yet higher than necessary to turn a decent profit.

That old Mac Pro upgrade that the Spy has mumbled over here for the last two months has finally been completed. The Sapphire Nitro Radeon RX 580 card he purchased is installed, correctly cabled, (yes, the cables and adapters were eventually delivered) and seems to be working. The Mojave install went fairly well, but others who try this must ensure things are done in the correct order:

  1. Download and run the full High Sierra installer to ensure everything is up to date to that point. In particular, the firmware may need to be updated, and doing so is essential to the operation of a Radeon 580 card.

(2) Turn everything off, remove the old video card, and install the new, with power cables. Boot into High Sierra and run with this for a day or two to ensure all is well.

(3) Run the Mojave update. Another firmware update will probably be required. Say yes, then continue the software update when this is finished.

(4) Test your apps. Nearly all that operated correctly under High sierra should still work, but take note of all 32-bit apps, which in many cases will inform you that they will soon need updating. Mojave is the last OS that will support these, and all will need to be updated or replaced before a next OS upgrade.

Next, he will upgrade his MacBook Pro.

Speaking of upgrades, the Spy must, before the break is finished and school reboots, upgrade the LAMP server on which he operates WebNameHost. EasyApache 3 is headed for the bitbucket and version 4 is now required or no further CPanel upgrades can be done. The Spy has procrastinated almost to the last minute because he also has Cloud Linux installed, and that complicates things. A script tailored for the purpose is available, so why does he expect everything to go horribly, terribly wrong?

Perhaps because it so often happens. Case in point: iOS 12.1 and 12.1.2. Some users have had failures in doing the upgrades at all, but more to the point is that the rushed 12.1.2 product is causing connectivity issues for many, if not most people, the Spy included. After waking his phone from sleep, he almost always has to turn WI-Fi off, wait a few seconds, then turn it back on again before he can access a wireless net. 

Other times, that connection is dropped in the middle of a data transfer and has to get the same treatment. If he is very close to the actual hot spot, the phone may fail to connect, claiming the wrong password was used, yet if he moves farther away so the signal is a little weaker, it does connect. Other issues include not charging if the cable  is plugged in while the phone is sleeping, and degraded battery performance, which also seem common to others. Ahem. Some serious work needed here.

So, in the New Year, stay out of stocks, especially tech ones, spend more time with family and friends, less staring at a screen, more time with students, less in admin meetings, more time in prayer, less in fuss and bother. See ya next month.

–The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a. k. a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics, Dean of Science, and Chair of the University Senate at Canada’s Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member of or consultant with the boards of several organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. 

He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and ten alternate history SF novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His articles, columns, and papers have appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and journals (dead-tree and online), and he’s a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of B.C. since 1972. 

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Arjay Enterprises: 

The Northern Spy Home Page: http: //www. TheNorthernSpy. com

opundo : http: //opundo. com

Sheaves Christian Resources : http: //sheaves. org

WebNameHost : http: //www. WebNameHost. net

WebNameSource : http: //www. WebNameSource. net

nameman : http: //nameman. net

General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Books: 

Author Site: http: //www. arjay. ca

Publisher’s Site: http: //www. writers-exchange. com/Richard-Sutcliffe. html

The Fourth Civilization–Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed. ): http: //www. arjay. bc. ca/EthTech/Text/index. html

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