Tutkimusmatka HST-teknologian haudalle, osa 1 – saagan taustat

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Traumoja on erilaisia. Toiset jäävät mieleen hyvin, toiset painuvat helposti unholaan. HST-kortti, tai siis henkilön sähköinen tunnistus -hanke, tuntuu olevan tuollainen helposti unholaan painuva asia. Moni nykypäivän digikansalainen ei ole moisesta kuullutkaan.

“Hankkeen tarkoitus oli luoda Suomeen jokaiselle kansalaiselle helposti käyttöönotettava, virallisen asioinnin…” Ei. Matustelen sanoja. Miten kertoisin järkevästi yhdellä lauseella, mistä on kyse. Kyllähän verkossa voi virallisesti asioida, käyttäen pankkitunnuksia. Pankkitunnukset ovat yleensä lompakossa, piirongin laatikossa tai jossain muualla. Ja se lompakko on kassissa. Ja kassi… niin, missä nyt onkaan. Tai lompakko voi olla pöydällä, ainakin jollain niistä. Joka tapauksessa pointtihan on se, että pankkitunnukset vain eivät ole maailman kätevin tapa tunnistautua. Pankkitunnusten tunnistaumisessa on kitkaa. Paljon.

HST-järjestelmässä ilmeisesti ensin tökki usko hankkeeseen. Muistan, kun se oli hieman samanlainen juttu kuin VoIP -puhelut: asiasta juteltiin käytävillä niitä näitä, hieman ihannoiden, joskus haikeasti, ja mietittiin että tulipas keskustelusta de ja vu – niin, oltiin aiemminkin taidettu pohdiskella samoja. Koskahan se oikeasti tulee?

Teknologia edistyy usein siten, että monien jopa toisistaan riippumattomien mekanismien kohdatessa, niiden ollessa riittävän kypsiä, jokin yhteispeliä vaativa isompi kokonaisuus mahdollistuu. Syntyy niitä innovaatioita; innovaatio voi hyvinkin olla toisinaan “vain” tunnettujen palikoiden uudelleenkombinointia, ja konseptin paketoimista sellaiseksi, että Matti Meikäläinenkin asiasta innostuu. Itse asiassa parhaat innovaatiot taitavat usein ollakin sellaisia, joille hardcore-teknoväki hieman tuhahtelee.

Miksi toiset asiat jäävät sitten hyllylle? Voisiko post-mortem tutkimuksella saada ideoita parempaan järjestelmään? Onko vielä edes post-mortemin aika HST-hankkeen kohdalla?

Päätin ottaa selvää. Tutkimusmatkani aikani en odota kohtaavani tiikereitä tai alligaattoreita, mutta on pieni mahdollisuus, että törmään silti pyhiin lehmiin.

Tutkimuksen tarkoituksena on ottaa selvää muutamista asioista: a) mitä HST-hankkeelle nykyään kuuluu b) miten laajassa käytössä se on c) mitkä HST-teknologian tuomat edut (de facto, oikeasti käytössä ilmenevät) ovat verrattuna muihin kilpaileviin / korvaaviin tunnistautumismenetelmiin d) onko HST:lle tulossa jatkoa, ja kehitetäänkö sitä aktiivisesti.

Jos energiaa jää, pyrin myös hankkimaan tietoa vastaavista hankkeista maailmalta, ja kartoittamaan, miksi muualla on onnistuttu siinä, missä HST on flopannut.

Ostin Huuto.netin kautta oman HST-lukijani, koska sellaisen sai 4 eurolla. Laite on tuollainen parin tulitikkuaskin kokoinen, hieman hiirtä muistuttava koppa, joka laitetaan USB-kaapelilla koneeseen kiinni. Ensimmäinen askel tutkimusmatkallani oli otettu!

(Retro_pub_39s) Smooth hyperjump to IxDA 2013 in Helsinki

Reading Time: 2 minutes

One does not simply saunter into a cantina — with this principle in mind, me and a wing commander headed towards a hologaic representation of Lauttasaari.Helsinki.Finland.Earth; a timespace POI hosting this year’s October IxDA meeting.

#62. astrodeep200407 a g HUDF heic0611aa
#62. astrodeep200407 a g HUDF heic0611aa (Photo credit: rmforall@gmail.com)

A smooth hyperjump from Lohja (6 pc from Helsinki) to the outskirts of system G.HEL was possible even though there was quite a dense field of intergalactic hydrogen/oxygen condensate, forming some fog-like clustering in the “windshield”. An external Lumia navigator of the model 520 was being tried out by wing commander R_N; the user interface proved to be amazingly 2013sh. A disproportionately difficult means to “cancel” or “not want” was found to be lacking in the logic of applying limb pressure to the display.  However, the local navigation proved successful, partly due to a standard red ‘esp’ space buoy. The IxDA meeting was held in an amazingly accurate hologaia of original Earth, ca. 2013.  The hyperlocal premises were a typical building of that era. The host company is specialized in brewery products; we saw a number of objects evidencing this. A brand new technology called “Beer to peer” was a popular solution to enhancing the communications atmosphere. The free beer principle may have found a lucrative niche to augmented GNU/GPL demigod Richard Stallman’s often-quoted verse: you should think of “free” as in “free speech,” not as in “free beer” An instance of Free lancer

On feasibility and profitability of outsourcing, pt. I

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Outsourcing.

Word with a lot of meanings, interpretations – and emotion. It’s the “big evil”; ripping “us” of work. It’s: “low quality”. It’s an ingenious solution to a lot of traditional investment problems; and all between.

In this article I’d like to point out that the word is used in the sense of getting part of necessary labor force from an outsourcing agency; there’s another common use for the word “outsourcing”, too: completely tearing down non-core organization units in a company and buying the resource from a specialist. Thus the first case is more about production (costs) strategy and seizing opportunities in shorter production runs in the industry, whereas the latter is about corporate strategy.

Outsourcing and unions in the news

Just recently Boeing had trouble with the labor unions of airplane mechanics and manufacturing people; there has been in the planning a roll-out of a completely new Boeing jumbo aircraft, but seems right now that this deal will slip the company’s regular workforce due to striking. Is it big? It’s actually a deal that may decide the very existence and the future of the company.

What happens when a corporation cannot get local workforce, or it has trouble with production due to strikes or other disturbances?

It might outsource. Note; “it might“. Not always.

There are reasons not to (and there are also barriers to using outsourcing, even if it would be economically sensible). Some reasons not to use outsourcing have to do with negotiation politics, law, or plain sense of what is ethical and what is not. However, outsourcing nowadays is a valid alternative to overcome bottlenecks in production.

Thus there are plenty of motivations as to why a corporation outsources: getting labor when there’s no ordinary workforce available; getting specialist skills or manufacturing structures / facilities without investing capital in them; overcoming labor union obstacles or other strictly human resource problems.

But what I’d like to analyze a bit in this theoretical scenario is: without outsourcing, what would happen? Is outsourcing really that bad; or has it become synonymous with negative issues without merit? Rephrasing: What are the lost opportunity costs of not outsourcing?

Backgrounders: 36 word primer

“In microeconomic theory, the opportunity cost of a choice is the value of the best alternative forgone, in a situation in which a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives given limited resources.”

The two key ideas behind outsourcing are…

a) a company mitigates shortages in their own skills, expertise, or time (basically: resources)

b) a company aims for lower unit costs and a greater impulse (amount of done work per time) with outsourcing

Outsourcing generally means that instead of doing a certain work “with one’s own staff”, a company contracts the work to an external workforce; a more or less familiar partner. Outsourcing may be one-time, for instance when there’s clearly an insurmountable task to be done and time is nigh.

On some fields a less cyclic and in fact a semi-permanent outsourced portion of labor has become norm.

An example: fixed labor corporation vs. outsourcing corporation

Let’s assume there are two companies competing in the same market. They’re producing plastic widgets. The products themselves don’t have variance in terms of features or quality, and thus all profit-affecting factors are internal (coming out of the costs of the production process). The demand for the widgets changes seasonally, though not in a very predictable manner.

Looking at the graphical depiction of production, Agileplast can follow the demand curve more accurately. Tradiplast has to choose a certain level of labor force, which tries to minimize two factors at the same time: overcapacity and undercapacity. But for Tradiplast, which factor is more important to get correct – overcapacity or undercapacity? This depends purely on the

Agility – the ability to increase and lower production power – thus starts to play a major role in the competition. It’s assumed that an agile company could reap better benefits (greater sales) out of the same demand fluctuation. If a company however is not agile, it cannot adjust the production power and thus loses sales – either via underperforming on peak demand or having excess workforce in times of lower demand. There are different strategies for both cases: being agile, and on the other hand being a less agile company and trying to find a suitable “middle line” of work force to manage demand fluctuations.

What are the real financial implications of outsourcing? In the very center there’s the fact that all companies probably want to seize (capture) sales from opportunities (perhaps short production runs) that would have otherwise been impossible to achieve. In classical production microeconomics, a product’s costs come from three things: labor, material and energy. Labor costs are broken down to essentially wages and social costs. If for some part of the fiscal year the labor is idle, it means that the aggregate product costs over the produced items tends to rise; since the company has to allocate – and get compensated for – costs somewhere. This also brings up the counter-argument: “Isn’t a company that resorts to outsourcing actually just lazy or incompetent in planning?”

[In Part II, let’s drill down to more modeling]

Links and further related reading

[1] “Meeting Demand” 

Jogging – 2014 vs. 2015

Reading Time: 1 minute

19.7.2015
Evening, Sunday

I squeezed myself today and went on improving the track record for jogging. This year’s been definitely a lousy, compared to 2014. I’m around in the 20% of what I ran in 2014. That’s low, dude!

In previous year I did around 200km and started way earlier, in April. Part of my inactivity might be due to working but I’d definitely need to get a rhythm going on. Plotting the jogging data was one eye-opener.

I love visualization. Actually that’s part of my daily work as a programmer currently.

Metric showing cumulative jogging amount as kilometeres, in 2014 and 2015 (Jukka Paulin)
Jogging, in 2014 (blue) and 2015 (red).
Note: 2015 not yet completed.

It’s powerful. Doesn’t take much pondering looking at the blue vs. red (2015) plots of accumulated kilometers to see both:

a) I’m late to pick up

b) it’s not going to probably hit 200km this year.

But that certainly doesn’t stop me running!

Insights from WordPress, indeed!

Reading Time: 1 minute

I only needed to get that picture:

The solo posting on my site since.. forever.
The solo posting on my site since.. forever.

It was more than the feature in hosted WordPress can ever say. Insights – the one dark blue dot is my posting, the only posting in around 12 months. No wonder I’ve been kind of thinking “does anyone read this blog?”

Since it’s not New Year’s eve and I don’t much believe in these promises given at the turn of the year, I’ll just redact my thoughts, and… keep writing!

Write me back. You can always drop a comment here. I’m glad if you do!

What’s scaling in everyday life?

Reading Time: 1 minute

18:37 16.7.2015 Thursday

Thinking a lot about scalability of processes in one’s practical life;
how and how-not some things follow the main lead factor. A one thought
that was quite powerful; even though one would be kind of “flying smoothly”, in
a way, with ideatic power but no coercive skills, then the environment is “still the same”. Example. I come home, I am tired – I was energetic while doing quite challenging things, but upon arriving at an empty house, very simple things – like…
a) picking paper post from the floor
b) opening a door with that key that is at the bottom of your jeans’ pockets
whilst carrying three separate “backpacks” or pouches..
c) etc
might seem like a big trite.

Then again, what I have been really satisfied at is the sheer change in the way I tend nowadays to leave work: without a laptop, with just minimal amount of things I truly need: home keys, car keys, wallet,
phone, and the charger; and usually small earplug headphones.

I’m always chasing what is the minimum number of items one can “safely” leave home. That is relative, of course – since around 2000 when I started thinking about this things haven’t linearly been reduced. On the contrary there’d been times when I think technology shows an expansion, and this expansion isn’t positive. Sometimes things get split when they should be more elegant.

I’m still calling for that wonder’o’magic – that thing(?) that covers for it all. 🙂

How’s your bus trip? A dictated article from fresh air Finland

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Wed 15.7.2015
The morning was quite simple and let’s say outright stoic? I didn’t even have my morning coffee – just grabbed some soda took a shower and off to work waiting for the bus; it’s now 07:43am.

Reading a little bit about the market economy of China from Wikipedia and couple of other articles probably business news and technology news.

Also took a bite chunk off a FastCompany web site’s article which was about the FastCompany: Better buses through psychology. The main point of the article which I am currently evidencing is that people would like to have information about the real-time goings of buses.

Without clear knowledge of regular routes and schedules, there are a couple features that are degrading the overall quality of the public transport system.

First is that people may avoid using it if it’s too much hassle. The second one is that the buses get unnecessarily stop because people have to ask for the directions. The drivers reply with almost a monotonous record, stating that there will be another bus coming soon which will be going directly what you want. One unnecessary stop – so what’s the big deal right? Think about if you were the driver and this happened about 30, 40 or maybe 50 times a day. I think it would kind of start eeking out.

I’m still charting out the situation in Finland in 2015 regarding the information systems about mass transit. There were some really early movers in this sector – A fact that I happen to know quite intimately since my flatmate during studies in Helsinki University of technology (now Aalto university) was one of the three authors of the software (Reittiopas).

From a quick look at Apple apps For the iPhone I found a couple of relevant apps in this segment which cost about 2 to 4 euros. It’s quite an unfortunate situation that the companies that have this information do not produce the apps; because mass transit is one heavily networked area where information and the ubiquitous knowledge of timetable and real-time positioning would generally improve a lot the whole usability and also pervasiveness of mass transit.


Come to think — and since I seem to have at least half an hour time waiting in the, well certainly OK, a bit chilly 15 C degree finish summer — this phenomenon certainly calls for some investigation. I will personally take this to be my mission since I think that it’s at least worth a shot; One thing that will eventually start ruling out the possibility of mass transit being a lucrative business is the — perhaps for the time being distant — coming of robotized cars. At least robotization will be a game changer – a disruptive possibility, which can be utilized by the mass transit companies or then it can be completely forgone and the mass transit companies simply vanish.

What are your thoughts on the future of mass transit? What kind of information systems do you have available in your home region?

Let me know — I’m interested!