Sunday, October 07, 2018

Not championing Russian homegrown electronics, semiconductor, and software industries is a weak point of President Vladimir Putin

President Vladimir Putin of Russia is astonishingly good in so many areas. But one weak area that's very important yet not discussed is that you haven't heard much from him - if at all - about the need for Russia to have strong domestic industrial base in electronics, software, Internet services, communication networks, semiconductors, and the like. It's possible that Vladimir Putin doesn't properly understand "stuff" such as Internet, computers, microprocessors, operating systems, routers, etc., and hence doesn't appreciate their power [compared to visible power of missiles, aircraft and ships]. What I term "strategic technological sovereignty" in these areas is crucial already, and is going to become only exponentially more important, as more and more devices/products become connected, and the civilization needs to be shielded from spying and thought manipulation by Western corporations/nations. Even if this independence comes at the expense of technological parity [meaning thereby that homegrown Russian technology stays a bit behind the latest Western technology], that's a more acceptable scenario than depending on West.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

For strategic technological sovereignty as well as national security, Russia needs at least a few domestically-designed microprocessors

Russia has been historically weak in semiconductors generally and microprocessors in particular [though the situation in software is somewhat better]. Near-total dependence on America's Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, NVIDIA, etc., is not good at all for the nation. In the long term, Russia needs at least one decent-sized functional foundry inside its borders which both churns out domestically-designed chips at a medium pace, and also manufactures chips with classified / secret capabilities [you can't ask Samsung or TSMC to build these]. In the short term though, Russia urgently needs a fabless chip designer that designs chips based on both x86 and ARM architectures [possibly one SPARC and one MIPS chip too].

The reasons for this are both development of domestic semiconductor industry and also national security. I also mention, what I call "strategic technological sovereignty" as another important reason. As is stopping and possibly reversing brain drain of Russian talent to the West. For government needs as well as mission-critical tasks, only Russia's self-designed processors should be used, and not Intel's or AMD's.

China's Huawei's HiSilicon is such an excellent example of what Russia needs. It designs chips based on standard ARM architectures, and doesn't alter these designs [unlike Qualcomm and Samsung]. This keeps things easy and simple and manageable. China doesn't have to depend on Qualcomm for SoCs for mobile phones. Russia too needs a domestic chip designer. Sufficient domestic demand can be artificially created for this company by making sure that all government computers, smartphones, location devices, laptops, tablets, servers, etc., use chips designed by this company. Like a mutual funds tracks an index, different Russian chips should be pegged to specific Western chips [as if these Western chips were targets to be achieved or beaten], and attempt should be made to at least equal the Western chips in terms of price, durability/quality/reliability and specifications. Over time, the Russian public can be encouraged / nudged to prefer domestic chips rather than US-designed ones, particularly when Russian designs become broadly equivalent or superior to their Western brethren.

Update [9-Oct-18]: I just read this very long and fascinating article on Bloomberg, and realized how well-timed my blog post was. This article strongly reinforces the idea that Russia needs its own chips, its own code, and its own men working on its own machines. No one else can be trusted.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

When China acquires Taiwan, it will get access to many high-end technologies that it has been trying for a long time to gain [COMPACTIDEA]

By acquiring Taiwan, China will instantly get ownership of such gems as TSMC, MediaTek, Foxconn, as well as several dozen well-known and established computer hardware companies with large product lines and significant sales. The Made in China 2025 plan will get a significant boost from inclusion of Taiwanese companies, their research, their existing and prospective technologies, sales networks, and their partnerships, coming under the ownership and control of Beijing. Ownership of Taiwan is critical to China's 2025 plans specifically, and China's technological self-dependence more generally.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

In its relationship with America, India is behaving like that poor man who feels rich, elevated and important when dealing with a high-society person

I feel quite sad when I see multiple news stories these days showing how India is slowly drifting towards America, leaving our trusted friends - Russia and Iran - behind. Among other harmful steps of the Modi government, this one stands among the top worst. India doesn't realize that for USA specifically and Westerners generally, India is merely another pawn on the chessboard through which it wants to maintain and extend its global hegemony. It's very sad that India is foolishly "excited" to be working with, and to be seen working with the Americans. As if this somehow "elevates" India to the level of a more superior country than India is.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Can there be a version of the Airbus A320 aircraft called the R320 - powered by engines from Russia's Aviadvigatel?

I've always advocated that Russia, Iran, China, etc., shouldn't purchase Western [especially American] passenger planes [as far as possible], so as to not send billions of dollars of their money to the West. But this isn't always possible - at least not until Russia's own Irkut MC-21 and CRAIC CR929 airliners are ready for prime time. Till then, Russian airlines like Aeroflot, S7, and Rossiya are forced to buy Western equipment. Fine. But two steps should be taken to reduce the negative impact of this forced purchase of Western airplanes:
  1. Buy/prefer Europe's Airbus over America's Boeing. Better to buy A320s rather than Boeing's 737s. Why send billions to the most evil nation in mankind's history?
    1. Where possible, buy/prefer Bombardier or Embraer instead of A/B.
  2. Try to "Russify" the A320 by partnering with Airbus to produce a version of the A320 with Russian powerplants from Aviadvigatel [PS-90A2 and later PD-14]. To clearly distinguish it from the regular A320, call this one R320.
Why would Airbus agree to such a variant? The answer is orders and money. If Airbus can be convinced that by providing the R320, it can effectively shut out its main competitor Boeing from the Russian civil aviation market, there'll be ample financial and strategic incentive to make such a move. The A320 brand would remain untouched because the name R320 is sufficiently different. Further, if the Russian government or a Russian lessor asks Airbus for a few hundred R320s, Airbus probably won't be able to refuse such a large order for which relatively little customization might be needed [such a large single order will effectively be a pooling of smaller orders from various Russian airlines, collected into a single order placed by a single dominant entity, in order to increase the bargaining power of the buyer].

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Given enough time, all videos on YouTube can get large-looking number of views, thus signaling quality to a user without actually having quality

Since YouTube shows aggregate number of views for every video, the total number of views can go in only one direction - upwards. After "enough" time [without defining the term], even mediocre videos can collect thousands or tens of thousands of aggregate views [the headline number that is shown in search results], thus falsely implying to a user [in many cases] that the video is of good "quality" [where quality refers to the video's pixel resolution in only a small part]. The screenshot below is from such a video - an overall useless video that makes you click it because it has several thousand views and you feel that it should be at least decent.

A possible solution to this problem is to be able to specify to YouTube that "Show me number of views for each video from the last two years only.", or something along these lines. Or you could ask YouTube to also show the "per day views" ratio for each video, so that normalization is possible [one video might be 10 years old, while the other could be only 10 months old].

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Under India's GST tax system, filing multiple returns monthly is too time-consuming - it's an unnecessary burden [COMPACTIDEA]

It would've been better if the government had kept tax returns to quarterly intervals - as before - rather than monthly. No real useful purpose is served by making returns monthly [will the government tomorrow ask us to file returns weekly?]. Workload has increased considerably. It's almost like the government disallowing a cheque of INR 10 lakh, and asking us to instead issue 10 separate cheques of 1 lakh each. What could've been filed once every quarter has to be filed three times each quarter. What's the point?

Instead of focusing on production, procurement, quality, sales, marketing, new product development, and infrastructure, businessmen are having to waste their precious time and energy on bureaucratic hassles introduced by the Indian government [the latest being E-Way Bill]. These ministers and politicians sitting in legislative buildings have zero idea of how a business or a factory is run, and yet they get to decide how everyone in India does business. Couldn't be sadder.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Chinese smartphone makers are co-branding their flagship devices with design houses such as Porsche Design or Lamborghini to compensate for low reputation of their own brands

Of course, BlackBerry did this much before [and BlackBerry already was and remains a high-reputation brand].

OPPO wants to sell high-priced and high-specifications phones [because that's where the margins are], but a rich man doesn't want to carry a device branded OPPO. Unless this OPPO also has the Lamborghini branding, to compensate for the "cheap" OPPO branding. Ditto with Huawei trying to sell high-priced flagship devices to the wealthy guys using Porsche Design branding.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Trade between US and Europe based on the theory of comparative advantage could be the reason why America is applying tariffs on imports from China

  • America desperately wants to "contain" China, just like it wanted to contain the Soviet Union, and just like it keeps trying to contain Russia, Iran and others.
  • Containing China isn't easy at all, primarily due to China's vast size and fast growth.
  • America knows that it needs Europe's help to contain China.
  • What if US and Europe joined forces in this pursuit, freely trading with each other [add America's vassal states, or so-called "allies" to the mix - Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK, Japan, South Korea, and others], but excluding their adversaries/rivals [China, Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Russia, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela] from this free trade, thus creating huge mutual benefits for the gang as predicted by the comparative advantage theory [naturally at the cost of China and others]. America tells Europe - let us both drop all sorts of tariffs on each other's products and buy from and sell to each other and only each other [especially the buy from part, naturally]. Let us both impose tariffs on imports from China, so that China's exports are severely curtailed [by the way, these so-called tariffs are nothing but a form of sanctions cloaked under a different term that doesn't sound like "sanctions"]. What's more, not only are China's exports going to get hurt, foreign companies manufacturing goods in China both for the local market as well as for global export might want to shift elsewhere, thus hurting China even more.
  • Comparative advantage states that even if an absolute advantage exists for a particular country, the overall benefit and prosperity for everyone increases if this superior country focuses on producing only certain goods and lets the other(s) produce the other goods [and free trade takes place]. So, to stop China's exports/trade - which produces wealth and prosperity for China - it appears that America and Europe are banding together.
  • It's possible that imposing tariffs on both European and Chinese goods was just a calculated stunt by America. Maybe this was discussed with the Europeans. The Americans wanted to make it look like Donald "Madman" Trump is imposing tariffs on every country, but in reality, they were always going to remove tariffs on Europe, thus leaving the tariffs on only China, without giving the appearance ["optics"] that the tariffs were always only for China.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

If only there wasn't pervasive corruption in defence procurement, the Indian Air Force would be so much more powerful

  • Not wrong to say that when it comes to procurement of military equipment, bribery, corruption and squandering of rare cash on needless "capabilities" are things that are present throughout the world - like an epidemic - irrespective of whether a country is developed or developing [don't fool yourself into thinking that defence spending in an advanced nation like America doesn't involve corruption - there's probably much more corruption in America than in India].
  • After centuries of loot by the British [and other Europeans], India is a poor nation and ideally we cannot afford to waste any money. However, as written above, overpriced procurement of fighter aircraft, missiles, tanks, etc., is a widespread phenomenon throughout the globe, and obviously India too has wasted and is wasting its precious money on equipment that isn't the best bang for the buck.
    • Examples include Dassault Rafale, Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules, Boeing P-8I Neptune/Poseidon, etc.
  • India's focus should be on buying high-value aircraft, rather than getting attracted to the most powerful ones [which are usually very expensive and not suited for constrained Indian budgets].
  • India's second focus should be on buying Indian-designed and/or Indian-made planes, so that our own aircraft-manufacturing industrial capabilities get evolved [even if this means pains for some years or decades].
  • Thirdly, from a geopolitical standpoint, India should also focus on buying fighter jets and other equipment from our decades-old trusted friends Russia and Japan, as well as our other emerging partners from developed and developing countries [Brazil, South Africa], rather than relying on nefarious, opportunistic and unreliable countries such as the US and UK.
  • Fourthly, where possible, acquire modern, clean-sheet designs with latest technologies [such as Kawasaki C-2 and Kawasaki P-1].
  • Following aircraft seem suitable based on the above focus areas:
    • Yakovlev Yak-130, AHRLAC Holdings Ahrlac, Dornier Do 228, Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano, Textron AirLand Scorpion [American but high value], HAL Tejas, Embraer KC-390, Saab JAS 39 Gripen, Saab Swordfish, Mikoyan MiG-35, Sukhoi Su-35, Kawasaki C-2, Kawasaki P-1 [link], Beriev Be-200, Beriev A-100, etc.
    • Continue buying existing high-value yet capable planes such as Ilyushin Il-76, Ilyushin Il-78, Sukhoi Su-30MKI, etc.
  • This is obviously an ideal scenario. Neither the sellers nor the buyers [Indian ministers] will let "value buying" happen. When everyone wants corruption, it's obviously going to happen.