My computer needs an as-you-were command

March 12, 2009

The $250,000 Turing Award, presented in recognition of work which makes computer programmes more reliable, secure and easier to use,  has been won by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor.

Only the second woman to win the prize, Barbara Liskov was honoured Tuesday for pioneering new designs in computer languages that gird everyday digital applications.

“Her exceptional achievements have leapt from the halls of academia to transform daily life around the world,” MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif said. “Every time you exchange e-mail with a friend, check your bank statement online or run a Google search, you are riding the momentum of her research.”

 

 

I do at least some of that most days without understanding how I do it, and usually without the  appreciation due for being able to do it.

It’s not that long ago that we had to go to banks to do any transactions, faxes were regarded as technological marvels which would replace snail mail and there was nothing that even approached the ease of a Google search.

So thank you Prof Liskov for making that easier and if you’re looking for another challenge perhaps you could turn your mind to a function which would save a file when someone clicks no after being asked if she wants to save it.

I  did that with a 1000 word essay last week. Fortuantely I’d printed it so it wasn’t as inconvenient as it might have been, but the equivalent of the military as-you-were command for computers would help protect users like me from our own stupidity.


OCR down to 3%

March 12, 2009

The Reserve Bank has reduced the Official Cash  rate by 50 basis points to 3%.

The OCR has gone down 525 baisis points in six months but Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard has signalled he’s not expecting big cuts from now:

“As economic activity troughs, we expect the rapid easing of monetary policy to slow. Any future cuts will be much smaller than observed recently. We do not expect to see in New Zealand the near-zero policy rates of some countries. New Zealand needs to retain competitiveness in the international capital markets. We will assess the need for further cuts in the OCR against emerging developments in the global and domestic economies and the responses to policy changes already in place.”


9 day fortnight gains cautious support

March 12, 2009

The Councils of Trade Unions is cautiously supportive of the government’s  proposal for nine day fortnights to help employers:

The Council of Trade Unions – which helped formulate the scheme – said it provided a strong basis for unions and businesses to negotiate deals which could prevent job losses.

National secretary Helen Kelly said the Government subsidy was “essential’ to make it acceptable to workers, but she also expected employers to contribute to the costs.

The lead of the Labour Party Phil Goff is also able to see something positive:

Labour leader Phil Goff said the scheme was “helpful” but the Government needed to move quickly on help for smaller businesses.

 Labour’s president  takes a more blinkered view:

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union said the pay out was “underwhelming”.

“Unless employers are willing to meet this subsidy with a substantial top-up of their own it’s unlikely to be accepted by workers,” national secretary Andrew Little said.

“As far as the EPMU is concerned, this will be a bottom line.”

 But then as Keeping Stock and Kiwiblog both point out he’s wearing two hats and in this case his the brim of the political hat is obviously stopping him seeing anything which he might appreciate if he was only wearing the union hat.

Further to this, Roarprawn points out that unions have assets and maybe now’s the time for them to use them to help their members.

PS – I was wrong yesterday about the scheme applying only to workers in unions. It applies to businesses with 100 or more staff which will be unionised and there is a subtle but important difference between that and giving assistance only to union members.


Superfund contributions cut

March 12, 2009

The government has confirmed it will cut contributions to the superannuation fund.

They are doing the right thing. It makes absolutely no sense to borrow money to invest at a loss, especially when the dollar is low which makes overseas investments more expensive and risks reducing the return if/when the dollar rises.

John Key has emphasised this doesn’t signal a cut in pensions.

“I have made it quite clear that if superannuation was to be cut, and I make the same claim here in the house today, I will resign as Prime Minister and resign as an MP,” Mr Key said in Parliament.

No doubt the opposition will try to make political capital out of this but I’d have thought borrowing money to invest at a loss be more of a threat not just to pensions but everything else the government funds.


Ready for retirement

March 12, 2009

Retirement Commissioner Dianne Crossan has been seeking a new name  for the Commission for seven years.

Its website Sorted is useful and reasonably well known but I didn’t know much else about the organisation so I understand why  she wants a name which better reflects the Commission’s work.

A quick  check of its website revealed is not just about retirement.

Its vision is that New Zealanders are financially sorted and its goals are:

  • New Zealanders are well educated in financial matters and can make informed financial decisions throughout their lives.  
  • The government’s retirement income policies are effective and stable.
  • The financial services sector is trusted. 
  • All retirement villages meet societal expectations and current quality standards.

Financial literacy is a worthy goal but couldn’t that be addressed through the education system?

Effective and stable income government retirement income policies is also a good thing but do we need a Commission to achieve that?

We’d all like to trust the financial services sector and have reitrement villages which meet expectations and quality standards but again do we need a Commission to do that?

If it’s been looking for a new name for seven years without success you have to ask is the problem that its name doesn’t reflect what it does or that we don’t really need a Commission to do it? 

The government is asking all state agencies to make savings where they can perhaps the Retirement Commission could best do that by leaving its responsibilities to other agencies and retiring itself.


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