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Microsoft buys Nuance

In one of its biggest purchases ever, especially since they bought LinkedIn, Microsoft has now bought Nuance for $19.7 billion.  They are the makers of voice dictation software like Dragon Naturally Speaking.  I have written about Dragon many times over the years and given up on using it most of the time.  In recent years I had compatibility issues with the software and I just found that it was inconvenient to have to continually correct errors, even though it does get most of the dictation correct when properly trained.  This is compared to having a good typist – if I didn’t I may have persisted.  The training in itself is a mission.  One would imagine that the power of Microsoft behind it, it will take things to a new level and obviously we will see a lot more integration with Microsoft Office.  Microsoft Office is to Microsoft what the iPhone is to Apple – in other words, their main product as the continuous source of revenue over many decades and its going to be fascinating to see, in future, how voice dictation is combined with Word and Outlook for example.

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 15-Apr-21   |  Permalink   |  8 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Worrying

Worrying was something I used to be very good at.  I am still good at worrying about things, small things, the attention to detail – all of which is needed to run a business successfully.  I try not to worry so much about the big things anymore and my main reason for that is one cannot always control them and however horrendous they sometimes seem right now, in 5 to 10 years they just never look so big.  That is probably because in life, in 5 to 10 years’ time you will be faced with a bigger challenge which you may well feel is worse than the current challenge.  It may just be that time heals all wounds and one gets over things, but another part of me never wants to tempt fate and say “things can’t get worse” or have that sort of attitude.  It doesn’t help, it makes things worse and one simply has to deal with what is in front of you and get through it.  

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 06-Apr-21   |  Permalink   |  25 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Joining the top 1%

Joining the top 1% is cheaper in South Africa than most countries.  The annual report from worldwide estate agents, Knight Frank, indicates that to join the top 1% of earners in Monaco would mean you would have to be worth $7,9 million. By comparison, to be in the top 1% of the wealthiest people in South Africa you need to be worth $180,000 or at current rates about R2,7 million.  If you or your parents between their house minus their mortgage and your other assets are worth R2,7 million then you are in the top 1% of the wealthiest people in SA.  To make the top 1% in Kenya is even cheaper – it will only cost $20,000 or a little over R300,000 which tells you precisely how poor Kenya is.  To make the top 1% in Russia you would need to be worth $400,000 and to make the top 1% in the United States you need to be worth $4,4 million.  South Africa is the most expensive country in the whole of Africa for entry into the top 1%. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 29-Mar-21   |  Permalink   |  23 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Getting for vaccines

With a fourth vaccine about to be approved, in a number of countries, and that is excluding the Russian one – Sputnik - it is time for preparation for the administration of vaccines.  It is altogether one thing for a particular city or area to be given 2,000 doses of a vaccine and it is another one to distribute that in time to people.  It is likely to be a nightmare unless this is done properly with a co-ordinated approach and preferably one website where one can go to. 

Firstly, we have to remember that different people will be entitled to be vaccinated at different time – obviously preference has to be given to the elderly, the very sick and the very overweight.  They are all more at risk.  So qualifying the people is one thing, but it is another thing altogether, once you have qualified them, to allow them to book and I have been looking at how different countries have done this and not all of that co-ordinated and put together – so hopefully SA, which is a bit behind on the vaccines, compared to America where 18% of the population has already had one dose of the vaccine, and the UK, and maybe improve on that distribution of the vaccines once they start becoming available. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 23-Mar-21   |  Permalink   |  27 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
iPhone 12

It has become quite a custom of mine to review the latest iPhone every year.  This is the iPhone edition that now works with 5G and of course 5G bears a far faster technology than 4G or LTE and allows you to download movies, e-mails and access applications faster than before.  To me however, what I have noticed is that this edition of the phone, and I have the Pro Max version with the 6.7 inch screen, has more battery life than the previous versions.  That is probably the most important thing for me, because there is nothing more frustrating than running out of battery during the day.  The camera also has a few notable improvements, and it is definitely one of those phones, where if you have missed last year’s edition, you might want to upgrade – because I think it is worth it for the new version – and as a camera it takes superb pics. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 15-Mar-21   |  Permalink   |  31 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Free concerts in COVID

One of the benefits of Covid, and there have not been that many, are the free concerts you get online now.  Almost every DJ produces some free concerts for YouTube, some of them lavishly shot in deserts and on mountain tops, etc.  Paul van Dyk, who produces his own songs in addition to being a DJ, used to cost quite a bit of money to see in Johannesburg, when he came for massive raves (ala Camel Pyramid of Light) is live most Sunday’s with what he calls his “Sunday Sessions” and I actually enjoy these tremendously.  I generally go onto YouTube, play a trance or techno-type DJ set on one screen and then get on with my work.  When I am working I don’t like to hear music that has lyrics because that distracts me, but if the music has no lyrics, it is very easy to work to is.  Has any of you seen any of these live sets by musicians or DJ’s you like?  

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 23-Feb-21   |  Permalink   |  33 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Nobody reading newspapers

The latest figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations – ABC – have indicated how few newspapers are being sold.  For example, Pretoria News only sells 1,900 copies a day, 40% of the readership of The Star newspaper is because it is given away for free and even then there are still only 22,000 sales a day compared to 200,000 one or two decades ago. 

It is a question as to how much longer some of these newspapers could continue – down 74% in circulation alone in 4 years, how much longer could The Star be sold profitably?  The Pretoria News is down 87% in 4 years to its 1,900 copies – how much longer does one justify publishing the Pretoria News?  Even the weekend newspapers are down dramatically – the Sunday Times is selling 44% less copies now than it was one year ago.  There is no basis for example for Cape Town to have two newspapers, both owned by the same company, the Cape Argus and the Cape Times and both of them sell less than 10,000 copies a day. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Tuesday 16-Feb-21   |  Permalink   |  42 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Google buys Fitbit

Most people know the news that Google has bought Fitbit.  It is clearly their way of taking on Apple, in particular, taking on the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch is superb in terms of being able to make phone calls to people, monitoring your heart and ECG rate, etc, but it is not as great when it comes to automatically tracking steps and your sleep patterns, not to mention the fact that you need to charge it a lot more than you would have to charge a Fitbit.  I am not sure what Google will be able to do, but I do think that we will see Fitbit come out with some dramatically different products in about a year’s time.  It will obviously take time to implement and get whatever it is they plan running, but it will be exciting to see some competition for the Apple Watch because as we always learn in life, competition inspires companies to make better products and to improve existing products, so at the end of the day we all win from competition and we don’t win when two companies largely have the market to themselves.  In that respect, I am talking about Vodacom and MTN with Cell C running a very distant third. 

 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 28-Jan-21   |  Permalink   |  40 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
A poor loser

Four years ago, at this time, Hillary Clinton had to attend the inauguration of Donald Trump. She just lost an election to him, but in the interest of democracy and in the usual sign of leadership, she turned up for what is essentially the party of the winner.  I think you know where I am going with this. 

Joe Biden and Barack Obama also attended that inauguration and so it is quite stunning, after some 150 years of this tradition, that Donald Trump, a man who loses frequently, but does not like to admit it, could not turn up for his opponent’s inauguration.  Instead, he demanded a send-off at a near air force base where thousands of people received an e-mail asking them to come and to “bring 5 friends with” – and they were so desperate that the invites were even sent to his critics and  people he had fired.  In other words, on the same day that an inauguration for the new President was being held in the same city, he was begging people to turn up at his event rather.

I think that Donald Trump ultimately, if we leave aside everything else, personifies exactly the thing he hates the most – losers.  The problem is, unlike those of us in golf, horseracing and in litigation, who have to learn to lose sometimes and do so gracefully, he is not only a loser, but he is a poor loser. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 22-Jan-21   |  Permalink   |  42 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Covid stats are wrong

I wrote a blog article early last year about the statistics we would see about Covid.  In that article I said that we will discover one day that the deaths from Covid were far higher than whatever we would be told and that the statistics in South Africa would be hopelessly out.  I said the only way we would know how many people actually died from Covid would be to compare it to the normal deaths in a year and see how many extra deaths there are. 

That blog of mine has now been confirmed.  The government has reported that just during a December period the excess deaths, not attributed to Covid, but higher than normal, were 130% higher than the normal deaths during that period.

That means, with there currently being allegedly 35,000 deaths from Covid in SA that figure is hopelessly wrong.  Is it double that number, is it treble that number – we will not know until all those excess deaths last year and still to come this year are calculated by experts in future. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 18-Jan-21   |  Permalink   |  42 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
The future of WhatsApp

We all use WhatsApp at no cost.  Of course, it never came free to Facebook – they bought it for $19 billion in 2014. 

A recent purchase by Facebook for $1 billion gives a clue as to what the future is for WhatsApp – they bought a company by the name of Kustomer Inc.  Apparently, the plan is to make money out of the 2 billion monthly users of WhatsApp of whom 400 million alone are in India, by selling goods and services inside WhatsApp or potentially allowing companies to use WhatsApp to handle customer services.  It is something my firm will have to watch closely, because WhatsApp is hugely popular and in SA, even though in countries like the USA, where Facebook is based, the vast majority of people are not familiar with WhatsApp.   WhatsApp is much bigger in countries like SA, India and Europe, but has a very small role in Facebook’s own country – probably because unlimited texts, etc have always been the order of the day in the United States and WhatsApp initially grew in countries where the mobile companies were charging a lot more for sending SMS messages as well as MMS messages.  There may also be plans to use WhatsApp for payments, but in many respects that would be driven by the Indian market the most because that is the country where WhatsApp is the most popular. 

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Monday 14-Dec-20   |  Permalink   |  35 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It
Airbnb lists on the Stock Exchange

Airbnb listed on the Stock Exchange yesterday in a massive IPO, where they initially listed at $68 and ended the day at $144.71.  It is a technology driven company that I believe is going to succeed, so I will certainly be investing in it, although not necessarily immediately – I am hoping the price will settle down a bit lower than that!  I think a lot of people think that Airbnb is a company where people rent out a spare room in their house, but a lot of people have taken it much further than that and have multiple units now and run it as a full-time business.  I even know one particular person who rents properties from landlords and then leases them out on Airbnb with the landlord’s permission.  So, he pays a certain amount a month and then marks it up and has a manager who runs around and make sure that everything is clean and good.  So many of these businesses are all based on the same premise in many ways just cutting out the middleman, although you could argue in this case that the middle man are hotels.  Have any of you used Airbnb and if so, have your experiences been positive or not?  Here is a fun fact – Airbnb has 4 million hosts!

Posted by Michael de Broglio on Friday 11-Dec-20   |  Permalink   |  28 Comments Comments Share on Facebook   Tweet It

Johannesburg based attorney specializing in personal injury matters including Road Accident Fund claims and medical negligence matters. My interests include golf, reading and the internet and the way it is constantly developing. I have a passion for life and a desire for less stress!
Have you been injured in a motor accident?
Recent Settlements
Lumbar spine compression fractures R2 500 000.00
Severe hip fracture requiring total hip replacements R3 305 000.00
Head injury with disfiguring facial scaring of a young female R4 000 000.00
Whiplash and compression fracture of the spine R4 000 000.00
Broken Femora R1 914 416.00
Broken Femur and Patella R770 881.15
Loss of Support for two minor children R2 649 968.00
Fracture of the right Humerus, fracture of the pubi rami, abdominal injuries, head injury R4 613 352.95
Fracture of the right femur, Fracture of the right tibia-fibula R1 200 000.00
Broken Jaw, Right Shoulder Injury, Mild head injury R1 100 000.00
Degloving injuries to the hips, legs and ankle R877 773.00
Head injury R 2 734 295.12
Fractured pelvis R1 355 881.53
Damaged tendons in left arm R679 688.03
Fractured left hand R692 164.48
Amputated right lower leg with loss of income R3 921 000.00
Fractured left foot R600 000.00
Head injury and multiple facial fractures R5 000 000.00
Head injury, compound fracture right femur, right tib and fib fracture, and injury to the spleen R4 529 672.06
Head injury, multiple facial fractures, collapsed lung and a fracture to the right frontal bone R2 890 592.77
Loss of support R5 144 000.00

 


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