Never choose to pay in 'your' currency

Why do we get asked whether we want to be charged in dollar/dirham/euro or our own currency so often? Well, it is not really a convenience – it is basically a way to charge a hefty fee in exchange for giving a price total that is in your currency but might not be what you actually pay! Why not? Well, the ZAR amount (for example) might anyway be converted into dollars and back to rand again when it goes off on your account. The hefty fee comes in with the exchange rage. In this morning's transaction, Amazon quoted R13,91 per dollar but the headline rate at the time was R13,39 which is quite a big difference. In the end, the amount actually charged to my card (in ZAR) was almost R250 less than the ZAR amount quoted by Amazon. Caveat Emptor.


UX confusion at Emirates

User interface confusion remains a feature of everyday IT usage... and so does the perennial problem of the escaped character (\'). This time on the Emirates website, I think. When the computers start learning how to fix this kind of problem themselves, I shall start getting worried. ;-) :-)


The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) – sailing the doldrums

On the weekend, I drove into a shopping centre parking garage early on morning and observed a blue-collar worker going around and fiddling with all the card readers at the exists. I asked what he was doing and he explained that he goes around and (hard) reboots all the machine every morning, "then they work better". So much for robotisation...

The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions by Rodney Brooks is required reading in this area and it is always good to remember Amara's Law: "We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run."


Werk Google Translate regtig deur Engels?

Ek verstaan dat Google Translate van 'n taal A na taal B vertaal deur

  • eers van A na Engels te vertaal en dan 
  • van Engels na taal B. 

Derhalwe, deels, die dikwels vreemde uitkomste.

Verlede week het ek egter gekyk na die relatief soortgelyke woorde vir vuurhoutjie in Afrikaans, in Duits (Streichholz) en in Hongaars (gyufa). Laasgenoemde is amper 'n direkte vertaling van die Afrikaans. Ek het onraad begin merk toe ek verder die Sjinees wou nagaan en het opgelet dat Google Translate as volg vertaal.


Dit wil sê, uit Afrikaans en Duits kry ons "wedstryd" in Sjinees (via die Engelse "match" natuurlik) maar uit Hongaars wel die regte woord en/of skriftekens. Waarom dít is, kan ek nie verklaar nie.


Crypto market caps – it's allmost all Bitcoin, Ethereum and a splash of Ripple

The relationship between Tether (USDT), which is nominally linked to the US dollar, and Bitcoin trading has been in the news a lot in the past few days. This prompted me to find out more about Tether and the first stop was coinmarketcap.com where Tether is currently listed as the 10th largest cryptocoin by value of coins in issue. It is still very small however, at just over 1% of the total market. In fact, the dominance of Bitcoin is trememdous. I have computed an active total market cap share, ignoring coins for which at least one of the following is missing: one hour return, one day return, one week return. Bitcoin is near 43% and over half of the share attributed to the top ten coins. Only Ethereum is of nearly comparable size, followed at a distance by the Ripple XRP.

It seems rather unlikely that a substantial proportion of the hundreds of assets below 1% will every go somewhere and I think it would be safe to consider them to be noise... Now, the market cap of a cryptocoin is a fairly nebulous concept for

  1. it could be quite thinly traded compared to the volume in issue (just like ordinary financial assets) and also
  2. the volume actually in issue could be unknown because unlike shares in a company, it is possibly to actually lose cryptocurrency and it has been argued that one third if the Bitcoin in existence is in fact no longer there.

However, for these reasons it is likely that the market cap of the larger cryptocoins which are more liquid, reflect more value than those of the minnows with less than 1% of the total. Perhaps MaidSafeCoin, number 69 and market cap near $150m, is going somewhere but I might be prepared to short it.