April 26, 2007

Ford’s First Quarter Results

Filed under: Business Moves — Tom @ 8:41 pm

It’s an overall improvement from a year ago, but its position in the US market is deteriorating, and badly:

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — At $282 million, Ford Motor Co.’s first-quarter loss was much improved over the $1.4 billion in red ink it posted during the same quarter last year. Company officials touted the results as a sign that its restructuring plans were taking hold, but Ford still is struggling to make money on its core business — selling cars and trucks in North America.

….. Ford’s new vehicle sales in the United States fell more than 13 percent for the quarter and its market share dropped from 17.2 percent in the first quarter of 2006 to 15.1 percent.

….. Despite the overall improvement, Ford said its core business in North America lost $614 million on automotive operations before taxes for the quarter, wider than the $442 million it lost in the first quarter of last year. North American automotive revenue dropped from $19.8 billion in the first quarter of last year to $18.2 billion.

That’s an 8.1% revenue drop in North America; the US component of that drop is probably higher.

By contrast, larger rival General Motors suffered a North American market share drop of 1.1% (from 23.6% to 22.5%). Ford’s North American share drop of 2.1% above (from 17.2% to 15.1%) has been much more severe, off of a much smaller base.

You would think that at time like this, Ford would be at least as aggressive as GM is claiming to be (GM’s Chairman and CEO said yesterday that it will “fight hard for every sale”), and doing something about the fact that about 10% of its potential buyers are refusing to buy Ford products because of the company’s steadfast refusal to stay neutral in the culture wars. You would be wrong. Ford is in essence giving the back of its hand to parties who have a huge stake in the company’s recovery — shareholders, employees, suppliers, and communities. For a company claiming to be proud of being a leader in “corporate social responsibility,” that’s pretty irresponsible.

Positivity: Operator praised after flat fire rescue

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:05 pm

From the UK:

23 April 2007 | 06:55

A HEROIC telephone operator has spoken of her delight after she helped in the dramatic rescue of six people who were locked in a burning Essex flat.

Senior officers from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service last night praised the actions of fire control operator Gill Southgate, whose quick thinking kept the group calm and safe while they waited for fire crews as the second floor flat, in Wood Road, Heybridge, burned.

Three children, aged two, eight and 10, as well as a woman and two men, aged 23 and 24, were rescued from the flat by firefighters at about 4.20 yesterday morning after a fire started while they slept.

Mrs Southgate, 53, said that although she didn’t see herself as a hero, it was good to know that by staying calm and following her training she had helped save lives.

She said: “I don’t feel like a star – I’m just pleased that it had a good outcome. I think it was the fact that I kept the family on the line giving them advice.

“They were locked in the flat so it wasn’t just a case of ‘get out and that’s the end of the call’.

“I told them what to do and to open a window, not wide open, but enough to get fresh air in, and to turn a light on so the crews can see what room they were in.”

She said it was the first time in more than a year in the job that she had had such a call, but that the training had just “taken over”.

Mrs Southgate advised the group to move from where they were in a room without a door to one of the bedrooms, put a mattress or damp towels down across the closed door and open a window.

She kept the woman busy by telling her to put socks and clothes on the children who were in their pyjamas.

She added: “This is what we have got to do. Someone did say to me last night that if I never take another call like this in my career, I will have done my job well. It’s quite a satisfying feeling.”

Investigating officer, Danny Bruin, said the incident had been triggered after the woman and children went to bed at around 2am, leaving her male visitors to sleep on the couch.

The investigation revealed that one of the men had been smoking and had either fallen asleep or not extinguished “smoking materials” fully.

Ambulance paramedics attended the scene and, after checking out all of the people involved, decided no-one needed hospital treatment.

Station Officer Bruin said there were “a number of lessons” to be learned from the incident.

He said: “I have no doubt that had it not been for the professionalism of the control operator in providing brilliant safety and protection advice and instruction to this woman, we would be looking at a job here this morning that involved fatalities.”

“The woman was fire-aware because she had considered smoke detection in the house.

“She removed an electric smoke detector fitted in the flat and replaced it with another but, unfortunately, because of where it was positioned, it became an annoyance and had been removed and put in a drawer.”

He said that when fire broke out the woman was unable to find the key to the back door, which would have led the group to safety, and the flat was fitted with double glazing but the windows were locked.

He added: “I can’t stress enough the need to have correct smoke detection equipment, sited properly and in good working order.

Ho Hum Hiring News (042607)

From the Associated Press in USA Today on Wednesday:

California continues to employ far more technology workers, pay higher wages and attract more venture capital than any other state. But the overall U.S. tech sector is also growing at a surprisingly brisk clip — for now.

That’s the conclusion of a highly anticipated annual report by AeA, formerly the American Electronics Association, the country’s largest technology trade association. Researchers relied on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, mostly from 2006.

According to the 2007 “Cyberstates” report, to be published Tuesday, the U.S. tech industry employed 5.8 million people last year — up 2.6% from 2005. Despite fears of jobs going overseas, the industry gained nearly 147,000 positions in 2006, compared with 87,400 jobs added in 2005.

The strongest subcategory of technology in the 10th annual AeA report was software, which employed more than 1.5 million people and created 88,500 new jobs last year.

The average technology worker nationwide earns $75,500. That’s short of the $78,691 average income in 2000, the peak of the dot-com boom. But it’s 86% more than the average private sector wage of $40,500.

….. The unemployment rate for computer scientists last year was 2.5%, and for electrical engineers it was 1.9%. The low rates signal a dramatic worker shortage that will prompt more U.S. companies to open offices abroad.

“This is called full employment, folks,” Archey said. “Our own kids are not going into math and science, and we can’t hire foreigners like we did for the 50 years before 2001.

Why does the Formerly Mainstream Media always seem to be ‘surprised’ at any good economic news?

The bad news is that the US educational system is failing the high-tech sector bigtime, and is clearly causing problems:

A recent federal study found 40% of high school seniors failed to perform at the basic level on a national math test. On a national science test, half of 12th-graders didn’t show basic skills.

“Our big tech companies would like a lot of their employees to be here, but policies and the education system say to them, ‘Don’t do it,”‘ said Archey, whose members include tech blue chips such as Intel and IBM, and hundreds of start-ups and midsized businesses from Boston to Silicon Valley.

I think I’m correct when I say that many of the same people who complain about outsourcing don’t seem particularly troubled by the US’s educational mediocrity.

Item Title of the Day

Filed under: Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:09 am

James Taranto at Best of the Web yesterday, on Barack Hussein “Obambi” Obama (that’s BHOO around here):

In Your Heart, You Know He’s Trite

Moore’s Law Apparently Can Also Work Through ‘the Tubes’

Filed under: Marvels — Tom @ 6:04 am

I want this:

Researchers break Internet speed records
By Anick Jesdanun, Associated Press

NEW YORK — A group of researchers led by the University of Tokyo has broken Internet speed records — twice in two days.

Operators of the high-speed Internet2 network announced Tuesday that the researchers on Dec. 30 sent data at 7.67 gigabits per second, using standard communications protocols. The next day, using modified protocols, the team broke the record again by sending data over the same 20,000-mile path at 9.08 Gbps.

That likely represents the current network’s final record because rules require a 10% improvement for recognition, a percentage that would bring the next record right at the Internet2′s current theoretical limit of 10 Gbps.

However, the Internet2 consortium is planning to build a new network with a capacity of 100 Gbps. With the 10-fold increase, a high-quality version of the movie The Matrix could be sent in a few seconds rather than half a minute over the current Internet2 and two days over a typical home broadband line.

Researchers used the newer Internet addressing system, called IPv6, to break the records in December. Data started in Tokyo and went to Chicago, Amsterdam and Seattle before returning to Tokyo. The previous high of 6.96 Gbps was set in November 2005.

As a non-techie, I wonder what keeps the speed through “the tubes” we use so much slower?