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Uli Hofer
Red Deer, AB...


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Posted By Uli Hofer
I just finished reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book The Black Swan (The Impact of the Highly Improbable). Published in 2007 he talks about the risks banks and financial institutions are taking and predicts a major collapse of the system. In this book, I found many of my intuitive views about economics confirmed.
From Aristotle to the Renaissance, astronomy was based on the geocentric view of the universe. Countless astronomers and mathematicians were busy adjusting their formulas to new observations. Artists spent years building and rebuilding Armillary Spheres representing these formulas; but no matter how hard they tried, they were never able to exactly reproduce the observations in the sky. The problem was not their skills but the fact that the earth was in the centre of their models. Once it was recognized that the universe is heliocentric the discrepancies between the models and the observations could be explained and the armillary spheres became beautiful examples of sophisticated craftsmanship.
Why do I bring armillary spheres up? Because I believe that today’s science of economics, based on diligent attempts to put observations into mathematic formulas, has its basic assumptions wrong. For example, is the theorem that recessions are cyclic just based on observation or is there a deeper reason? To what degree is this theorem self-fulfilling prophecy? I also wonder about the influence of the tight relationship between the economics academia and the executive levels of the economy. Is this another case of “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”? Is GDP accurate enough to describe the economic wellbeing of a nation?
I am convinced that we have to change the basic assumptions of economics to get a handle on the ever increasing problems of society (e.g. environment, income disparity, etc.). Unfortunately, there was no equivalent of an Armillary Sphere ever built, so future generations have nothing to marvel at.

Posted By Uli Hofer
Were you looking for new software to improve the functioning of your company or tie stand alone systems together? Do you have trouble justifying the expense, especially with the uncertainties of the time we are in? Here is a cost effective alternative you might want to consider:
A custom designed ‘Interface’ that can solve some of your current problems for a fraction of the price of new software.
To give you some ideas, here are a number of examples that could apply to your company:
-          You use an older, text based system that is rather cumbersome to operate because each bit of information has to be accessed with a new query. A new interface can extract existing data from your system and present it in a more universal way that allows better and faster decisions.
-          You have a stand-alone accounting system that ‘accounts’ just fine but it requires lots of effort to extract data and process them with Excel into the form you want. A new interface can automate these activities, saving you lots of time while reducing the chance of errors considerably.
-          Lots of your process critical data are stored in countless individual spreadsheets all over your company, creating problems with accessibility and using up to date information. A custom designed application can solve many of these problems too.
If you want to know more or explore some specific ideas of yours, please feel free to contact Owl Database Applications.

Posted By Uli Hofer
Tough times need new solutions, solutions ‘outside the box’. How often do we try to solve basic problems of our company with tweaks and band-aids, adding or removing layers of our organization without even looking at the deeper cause of our problems?
To start thinking ‘outside the box’ you have to start looking at the box from outside and ask yourself if ‘it’ makes sense. My high school math teacher drilled us to ask this same question every time we were done solving a math problem. As illustration he used the following little story I would like to share:
In the early 1900’s an engineer starts his first job after graduation at a shipyard. He is given the task of calculating the center of gravity of a new ship. So he takes a set of drawings and his slide ruler and goes to work. After about three weeks he has the result and brings it to his boss. The boss looks at it for just a few second and says “wrong, do it again”. Since in the early 1900’s you didn’t question your boss, our young engineer goes back, thoroughly checks his calculations, corrects a few mistakes and after another 3 weeks comes up with a slightly different result. When showing the new result to his boss, he gets the same comment “wrong, do it again”. Now, truly angry, our young engineer blurts out “I worked a total of six weeks on these calculations and you looked at the results for not more than 10 seconds, how can you tell the result is wrong?” “Well” says the boss, “the center of gravity can not be outside the ship”.