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Preppers - Was it worth it?

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 BnB 16 May 2020

I know there are a few here who take pleasure or comfort from their readiness for the apocalypse. Well, now it’s here, was the effort worth it? I’m not mocking those who prepare for the worst. Ten years ago, the experience would have been much tougher, for sure. But let’s acknowledge the ways in which society has shown resilience.

My own observations suggest that our infrastructure is much more robust than most people feared. My mum’s wartime cupboard full of pulses and tinned beef remains untouched as the local convenience store delivers fresh produce to her twice weekly. Our brief difficulties in sourcing toilet paper were resolved by Amazon delivering about a year’s supply within 3 days even at the height of the shortage, and supermarkets have pasta and extra virgin olive oil back on the shelves after less than a month’s disruption. We’ve eaten fresh fruit and veg every day of the lockdown. In fact we’ve eaten better than normal thanks to the extra time on our hands.

Far from collapsing, the capitalist system has retooled itself astonishingly swiftly. We are all online shoppers now, which will be a permanent shift in behaviours and infrastructure. Delivery drivers are the new emergency service. Carmakers are building ventilators and fashion houses are making medical masks and gowns.

In the most revolutionary change, that office you used to attend has been replaced by the cloud. If the economic damage to shops, eateries and hotels is catastrophic, contemplate for a moment the incredible contribution of cloud computing in keeping 70% of developed economies up and running and many of us in work.

And talking of the cloud, look at how social lives have accelerated their shift online. Instead of being isolated in our bunker, Saturday night is spent at the Zoom Arms instead of the King’s Head. Meanwhile, is anyone hoarding cash? I’d get it spent before it becomes redundant.

A lot of my strongly left-leaning friends are calling for a revolution post-Covid. They’ve missed the fact that it’s happened already.

Post edited at 08:46
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 wintertree 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

As a household we buy in advance based on shelf life - two years for pasta, two weeks for milk, 3 months for UHT milk etc.  UHT normally gets used in cooking etc but is there if we need it.  No extra cost and once stocked up no extra shopping over normal, just some cupboard management.  Supplies in, supplies out.  Being able to disengage from all shopping from a week before lockdown until 3 weeks after saved us a lot of hassle during the initial queues/shortage period as everything adjusted and let us wait until things settled down and risks were better known, and reduced our exposure at peak risk.   Now, shopping is great, the whole country has rebuilt the “experience” to suit grumpy sods like me.  Not having to worry about shopping was very useful as it let me focus on minimising the disruption to my children (suddenly out of daycare a week before lockdown) and figuring out how to keep my new business going along with letting both Mrs Wintertree and I keep our main employments rolling along during its traditional busy period.

None of my other measures were needed which was nice.  They’re more about bad weather though and building towards a fully green energy supply for all household needs (or preping a Corbyn government.... I kid I kid?).  Also a jolly hobby interest.  Figuring out the legal/paperwork side of a micro hydro scheme is a good downtime project.

The large rainwater tanks are almost depleted - I planted a lot of fruit trees and willow sticks in the winter and extensively water them for their first spring and summer.  It’s not been discussed much but it’s been an dry March and an exceptionally dry April.   May is looking like it’ll be very dry overall.  I haven’t been to moorland for two months but it must be tinder dry.

I have been very impressed by my main employer’s shift to online meetings after years of refusing to give us access to Teams which they pay for as they didn’t want to “train” us.  Turns out we all figured it out instantly with no training.  Recent events have validated an email I sent round work a year ago titled “Zoom is a piece of shit and I won’t use it”...

Spending more time at home has convinced me to get some guns.  It’s made the extent of the rabbit problem clear.

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 Ciro 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

That's one way of looking at it. On the other hand, how many of the excess deaths we're seeing at the moment could have been prevented, had we all been locked down fully with a stock of pulses and tinned beef, instead of asking low paid delivery drivers to put themselves in the front line catching and delivering the virus around our communities?

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 Blue Straggler 16 May 2020
In reply to wintertree:

Were the first few weeks “peak exposure”? 

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In reply to Blue Straggler:

Probably.  There's really hardly any of it in the wild now.  It's in care homes and hospitals (though NHS staff are as a result bringing it back out again to some extent).

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 wintertree 16 May 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Were the first few weeks “peak exposure”? 

Bracketing lockdown by about two weeks either side - I think so, looking at case numbers.  

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In reply to BnB:

We don't keep as much in front as Wintertree but for years now since the wife got ill and her pancreas died causing her to be insulin dependent and needing a well balanced diet we have kept 2 months in front on the shopping, when we shop the new stuff goes to the back and the old stuff to the front.

I'm glad in your area you managed to get what you needed through out but that wasn't an option here, the only shop that had anything was our local corner shop and that was only because he went on a locals only lockdown.

Our stores were depleted but they are back to full again. 

I have a simple adage about life, I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it, the guys at work take the piss out of the amount of tools and parts in my van, that is until they need something. 

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 BnB 16 May 2020
In reply to Ciro:

> That's one way of looking at it. On the other hand, how many of the excess deaths we're seeing at the moment could have been prevented, had we all been locked down fully with a stock of pulses and tinned beef, instead of asking low paid delivery drivers to put themselves in the front line catching and delivering the virus around our communities?

For which there is no evidence (that delivery drivers are spreading infection). Your comment would sit better on another thread. It’s not like you don’t have a choice. My observations are about resilience, not infection, R numbers, or even Boris.

Post edited at 09:28
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In reply to BnB:

I have kept approximately a months worth of tinned goods in the house since the millennium bug panic lol. Not Stocked up on frozen goods as that kinda defeats the purpose. As a shtf event as the 'mercans call it would likely involve interuprion of utilities. I have a 100w solar panel which is used daily to charge battery packs that i use  to then charge the households potable electronic devices i.e ipads, phones, my dslr etc. I also have a max of 24 mre's which i buy periodically which are used for overnighters in the hills. not sure i am a 'prepper' as such, I certainly don't identify with weird right wing conspiracy type political views that seem to be de rigour amongst many who do. As most of this stuff can be dual purposed I definitely  feel its worth keeping around. Oh, I also have an msr water with goes on most trips. 

Post edited at 09:53
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 Lord_ash2000 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

On the opposite side we purposely refused to buy anything beyond the normal weekly shop when supplies were disrupted at supermarkets, simply so as to not be part of the problem of panic buyers. If they didn't have what we wanted we either got an alternative or went to a local shop instead. It was admittedly helped by us only recently having done a shop before panic set in but all in all disruption was minimal until stocks got sorted.

I think things would have had to be significantly worse before "prepping" was useful to actually avoid hunger and not simply to insure you have your favourite brand of cereal every morning during the apocalypse. Like you say the system works and it works well. 

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L KriszLukash 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> I know there are a few here who take pleasure or comfort from their readiness for the apocalypse. Well, now it’s here, was the effort worth it? I’m not mocking those who prepare for the worst. Ten years ago, the experience would have been much tougher, for sure. But let’s acknowledge the ways in which society has shown resilience.

> My own observations suggest that our infrastructure is much more robust than most people feared. My mum’s wartime cupboard full of pulses and tinned beef remains untouched as the local convenience store delivers fresh produce to her twice weekly. Our brief difficulties in sourcing toilet paper were resolved by Amazon delivering about a year’s supply within 3 days even at the height of the shortage, and supermarkets have pasta and extra virgin olive oil back on the shelves after less than a month’s disruption. We’ve eaten fresh fruit and veg every day of the lockdown. In fact we’ve eaten better than normal thanks to the extra time on our hands.

> Far from collapsing, the capitalist system has retooled itself astonishingly swiftly.

The only reason you are getting your olive oil, pasta and fruit, online deliveries and so on, is because of an invisible army of low-paid, barely surviving bunch of sub-citizens who keep all of that running or your benefit, whilst putting their own lives in danger.

These people are the main reason society is relatively resilient.

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 Eric9Points 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

Yes, I think the world has coped well but is that capitalism or globalism? Given that few countries have descended into chaos and those that seem to be coping worst, Brazil, Russia and the USA could arguably be described as those closest to having a laissez-faire capitalist economy.

When it is all over, I suspect there is more to come which will challenge is in different ways, it will be interesting to compare the political systems in countries and how well they coped.

Post edited at 09:57
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 baron 16 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

I’ll be sure to tell my two nephews that they’re low paid, barely surviving sub citizens.

I’m sure they’ll be thrilled.

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 wintertree 16 May 2020
In reply to Lord_ash2000:

> I think things would have had to be significantly worse before "prepping" was useful to actually avoid hunger and not simply to insure you have your favourite brand of cereal every morning during the apocalypse

That “simply” paints a very untrue dichotomy.  

  1. Being prepared was useful for reducing hassle (we stopped shopping when it was all queues and empty shelves round here) and giving us more hours to use elsewhere when time was suddenly very tight for us due to the situation.  
     
  2. Another thing about having well stocked cupboards as a general policy - by not going to the shops in the weeks before and after lockdown we also reduced the disruption to others from the badly named “panic buying”.  Each person who had prepared and then stayed home both contributed to reducing R and to reducing the impact of shortages on others.  Remember - we never panic bought, just gradually over many months some years ago built up a buffer of supplies.

Other than storage space and a bit of tied up capital I can’t see any down sides to maintaining a supplies buffer.

I say “badly named” panic buying, as it was also about reconfiguring they supply chain for people eating home a lot more (big rise in demand - doubling for many households) and many moving to weekly shops and stocking up in anticipation of 7- or 14- say isolation as per advice/law.

Post edited at 10:07
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 Ciro 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> For which there is no evidence (that delivery drivers are spreading infection).

Hence why I asked the question, rather than quoting a number. I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that the more people are moving round the community during lockdown, the higher the chances of community transmission. Do you? It does seem pretty intuitive that the harder the lockdown, the faster the first wave of infection will be suppressed. That intuition also seems to be bourne out by the experiences around the globe? 

>Your comment would sit better on another thread. It’s not like you don’t have a choice. My observations are about resilience, not infection, R numbers, or even Boris.

What an odd comment. I do have a choice, and I chose to write here. You made the point that we've shown resilience, and that the capitalist system has done really well to retool. As part of that you noted that "Delivery drivers are the new emergency service.". I'm just querying whether that's necessarily such a good thing. Delivery drivers are generally not tooled up with the training and PPE to be operating as an emergency service during a pandemic. They also won't be financially rewarded/compensated for illness and inquiry by society for putting themselves on the front line. The brunt of this pandemic is being felt by certain sections of society, while those of us with the means to shield ourselves and the disposable cash to continue shopping have something of a holiday at home.

I suspect that had we been a bit more "prepper" as a nation, less people would be dying.

​​

Post edited at 10:14
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 BnB 16 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

> The only reason you are getting your olive oil, pasta and fruit, online deliveries and so on, is because of an invisible army of low-paid, barely surviving bunch of sub-citizens who keep all of that running or your benefit, whilst putting their own lives in danger.

> These people are the main reason society is relatively resilient.

You make a good point. But even this is temporary. Most of those jobs will be automated away. Indeed many have already. At least in the sense that automated warehouses are meeting increased and perpetual demand without creating employment.

To be clear, I’m not celebrating this impact on jobs nor the disproportionate impact of the virus on the lower paid.

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 Eric9Points 16 May 2020
In reply to Ciro:

> Hence why I asked the question, rather than quoting a number. 

You asked a question then answered it yourself with an unsupported assertion upon which you then went to build an argument that it would have been better if we'd all stayed in hard lockdown living off emergency rations.

Perhaps. Perhaps we should have followed Wigan's example of effectively putting everyone under house arrest and only allowing out one person from a group of dwellings once a week to buy necessities.

Then again that sort of action also has consequences, more so for the financially precarious delivery driver than for middle class knowledge workers like me. 

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 Pefa 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> Far from collapsing, the capitalist system has retooled itself astonishingly swiftly. We are all online shoppers now, which will be a permanent shift in behaviours and infrastructure. Delivery drivers are the new emergency service. Carmakers are building ventilators and fashion houses are making medical masks and gowns.

I'm not aware of anyone at all suggesting that capitalism had or was going to collapse, not on ukc or anywhere else so why suggest it was? And in times of national emergencies like world wars it has always been the case that certain industries move to manufacture a desperately needed product rather than the one they previously made that no one is buying so nothing new there. 

> In the most revolutionary change, that office you used to attend has been replaced by the cloud.

I could have sworn I was in 3 seperate large offices full of people in the place I work this week and last. But you say I must have had my head in the clouds,nah they were real.

Edit : We and the people I know didn't prepare at all, it was purely fortunate that I had 2 old FFP2 and 1 ffp3 mask and two pairs of protective goggles lying in a cupboard. And my partner who is a key worker throughout this lock down (transporting truck full of pallets of medical supplies in a double decker artic lorry long distances) was lucky enough to pick up a big pack of loo rolls on his travels when there was none on the shelves or at home. 

Post edited at 10:54
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 Blue Straggler 16 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

“Sub-citizens”? Is this a term that you commonly use?! 

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L KriszLukash 16 May 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

“Second class” ? Not sure what the accepted term is nowadays. You get the gist.

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 DancingOnRock 16 May 2020
In reply to wintertree:

I’m curious, can you clarify. You have 2 years supply of pasta? How often do you replenish it? Where do you store it? That’s approaching 100kgs of various types of pasta in our house. 

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L KriszLukash 16 May 2020
In reply to baron:

> I’ll be sure to tell my two nephews that they’re low paid, barely surviving sub citizens.

> I’m sure they’ll be thrilled

I’m sure they must be delighted to be the proud underclass of neo-victorian Britain. The whole country will even give them an hypocritical clap every Thursday, after having placed their Deliveroo order of course. Fear not though, they’ll go back to being forgotten and undervalued very quickly.

Post edited at 11:35
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 wintertree 16 May 2020
In reply to DancingOnRock:

> I’m curious, can you clarify. 

Hopefully.

> You have 2 years supply of pasta?

We have a buffer containing enough pasta for our normal consumption over 2 years.  If we actually had to run it down due to inability to buy other fresh foods it wouldn’t last nearly as long.

> How often do you replenish it? Where do you store it?   That’s approaching 100kgs of various types of pasta in our house. 

It’s about 40 kg for us.  I have big plastic storage boxes labelled by the last year in which food is entirely within its use by date - 2020, 2021, 2022.  When an open pasta packet is emptied, it’s replaced with one from the 2020 box, and I buy one packet on the next weekly shop and it goes into the 2022 or 2023 box.  Organised by year this means no paperwork or stock keeping is required and towards the end of 2020 we look to use up or food bank anything left in that box, and replenish a future box accordingly.  Buying matches consumption exactly as if there was no buffer.  We ramped the boxes up over a prolonged period.  The boxes live stacked under the stairs.  

Technically I’m not crazy, I’m an investor, because in recent years RPI has outstripped my net salary and the storage space is free (in a sensible accounting model where I can’t sublet space under my stairs) so I’m effectively making money whilst having peace of mind that we can ride out a couple of months if we have too.  In small ways it benefits us with small children and both in work, eg bad snow, illness, daycare embargo (chicken pox), unexpected work overload - shopping can be instantly dropped for a week or two generating some extra time.   The same practice by my dad stood us in good steed after the great storm of ‘89 when roads were impassible to the nearest town for a couple of days and power was out to us for a week.  I’m a great fan of having slack in the household systems.
 
The only exceptions are chocolate and wine; somehow the methodical system breaks down and they deplete.

Post edited at 11:50
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 Dr.S at work 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

I did some fairly minimal brexit prep - a weeks worth of nice camping meals for the family - which rolled over to pandemic stockpile. Not had to use any - my real worry now is when I get to eat them for camping -  seems a while before my sleeper train fuelled trips to Scotland will be back on

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 Rob Parsons 16 May 2020
In reply to Eric9Points:

> Perhaps. Perhaps we should have followed Wigan's example of effectively putting everyone under house arrest and only allowing out one person from a group of dwellings once a week to buy necessities.

Ah yes - but Wigan has the advantage that most houses have gardens in which there are pie trees. That helps.

Hold on a second - are you sure that you meant Wigan?

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In reply to KriszLukash:

>  Fear not though, they’ll go back to being forgotten and undervalued very quickly.

Probably the day the real recession kicks in, furlough ends and redundancies start. All these zero hour contract workers will be hit first. 

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 Ciro 16 May 2020
In reply to Eric9Points:

> You asked a question then answered it yourself with an unsupported assertion upon which you then went to build an argument that it would have been better if we'd all stayed in hard lockdown living off emergency rations.

I never said that we would, I was just, as you say, building the case for it as a counterpoint to the OP. It's a complex 

> Perhaps. Perhaps we should have followed Wigan's example of effectively putting everyone under house arrest and only allowing out one person from a group of dwellings once a week to buy necessities.

> Then again that sort of action also has consequences, more so for the financially precarious delivery driver than for middle class knowledge workers like me. 

Absolutely, I'm well aware that living in a nice semi-detached house with a garden, and the knowledge that I can probably find another contract working from home if my current end client continues to drag their heels, puts me in a very privileged position for lockdown.

However, I'd argue that disparity is largely down to the capitalist system being lauded in the OP as having worked so well, and once again it is the same sections of society that struggle the most in lockdown which are baring most of the risks of the retooling, and will bear most of the risks of our re-opening economy.

 I'd say it has worked well for some of us, but we could do with a system that worked better for all of us. I'm not particularly happy with the fact that I'll be able to live comfortably, working from home, picking up whatever I need from sources like Amazon, whilst those who have little other choice will be slaving away in order fulfillment warehouses, for very little financial reward. 

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L KriszLukash 16 May 2020
In reply to summo:

> Probably the day the real recession kicks in, furlough ends and redundancies start. All these zero hour contract workers will be hit first. 

I would say the opposite, these jobs will multiply, while the rest is hollowed out.

Post edited at 12:24
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 hairyRob 16 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

Speaking as a "sub citizen" working in food distribution may i politely suggest you stick a large block of cheese up your arse. There is plently in the warehouse i'll choose a nice pointy wedge of cheddar for you. My increased covid risk is minimal, going to ASDA each week has been my biggest risk recently. Also i'm surviving just fine - not all of us are zero hours minimum wage you know. You offensive moron.

My only gripe is seeing the "Thank you NHS" signs everywhere. A little societal regognition wouldn't go amiss. I have yet to hear of people raising money for warehouse workers charities when starving to death is a rather larger risk to peoples health than covid.

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 Timmd 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> A lot of my strongly left-leaning friends are calling for a revolution post-Covid. They’ve missed the fact that it’s happened already.

They might have in mind things like the insecurity of being poorer, and the realisation that a lot of what people buy and produce, while helpful for the economy isn't actually 'needed' (which isn't good for the environment)? Don't forget that working from home and using the cloud is a luxury/ability which only tends to go along with the jobs which pay more than the minimum wage.

That's what I'm picking up from my own strongly left leaning friends. 

Post edited at 13:17
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 Darron 16 May 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Were the first few weeks “peak exposure”? 

Well they most certainly were not ‘peaks exposure’ Not on here anyhow 😁.

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 Stichtplate 16 May 2020
In reply to hairyRob:

> Speaking as a "sub citizen" working in food distribution may i politely suggest you stick a large block of cheese up your arse. There is plently in the warehouse i'll choose a nice pointy wedge of cheddar for you. My increased covid risk is minimal, going to ASDA each week has been my biggest risk recently. Also i'm surviving just fine - not all of us are zero hours minimum wage you know. You offensive moron.

> My only gripe is seeing the "Thank you NHS" signs everywhere. A little societal regognition wouldn't go amiss. I have yet to hear of people raising money for warehouse workers charities when starving to death is a rather larger risk to peoples health than covid.

Cheers for all you and your colleagues do HairyRob. You're certainly key workers, always have been and personally speaking, you're one of the people I've been clapping for every Thursday night.

As far as the 'Thank You NHS' signs go, what's the problem? Impossible to put up signs including every job that's currently keeping us safe, fed and sheltered and as you say yourself, your increased risk is minimal. For lots of people (and yes, not just the NHS) the increase in risk is huge. A bit of signage thanking a few of those people surely isn't putting your nose too much out of joint?

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 DerwentDiluted 16 May 2020
In reply to Darron:

> Well they most certainly were not ‘peaks exposure’ Not on here anyhow 😁.

Have we reached UKC maximum pique exposure yet?  or is that reserved for when the National Park is officially renamed as 'The Peaks'?

Post edited at 13:29
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 Eric9Points 16 May 2020
In reply to Rob Parsons:

> Ah yes - but Wigan has the advantage that most houses have gardens in which there are pie trees. That helps.

> Hold on a second - are you sure that you meant Wigan?

Phuqing spellcheck.

WUHAN

Sorry.

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 BnB 16 May 2020
In reply to wintertree:

> Hopefully.

> We have a buffer containing enough pasta for our normal consumption over 2 years.  If we actually had to run it down due to inability to buy other fresh foods it wouldn’t last nearly as long.

> It’s about 40 kg for us.  I have big plastic storage boxes labelled by the last year in which food is entirely within its use by date - 2020, 2021, 2022.  When an open pasta packet is emptied, it’s replaced with one from the 2020 box, and I buy one packet on the next weekly shop and it goes into the 2022 or 2023 box.  Organised by year this means no paperwork or stock keeping is required and towards the end of 2020 we look to use up or food bank anything left in that box, and replenish a future box accordingly.  Buying matches consumption exactly as if there was no buffer.  We ramped the boxes up over a prolonged period.  The boxes live stacked under the stairs.  

> Technically I’m not crazy, I’m an investor, because in recent years RPI has outstripped my net salary and the storage space is free (in a sensible accounting model where I can’t sublet space under my stairs) so I’m effectively making money whilst having peace of mind that we can ride out a couple of months if we have too.  In small ways it benefits us with small children and both in work, eg bad snow, illness, daycare embargo (chicken pox), unexpected work overload - shopping can be instantly dropped for a week or two generating some extra time.   The same practice by my dad stood us in good steed after the great storm of ‘89 when roads were impassible to the nearest town for a couple of days and power was out to us for a week.  I’m a great fan of having slack in the household systems.

There may be (extremely) marginal value in using this year’s income to buy next year's food, but you’re stealing time from your business by focusing disproportionately on household systems when the same attention to detail and forward thinking could realise much bigger gains commercially. Indeed, the logical extension of my line of thought is to suggest you stop shopping and hoarding altogether, and run down those supplies to buy time and mental space for that first class brain of yours to establish your business on a proper commercial footing. Then you can call yourself an investor. 

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 BnB 16 May 2020
In reply to Timmd:

> They might have in mind things like the insecurity of being poorer, and the realisation that a lot of what people buy and produce, while helpful for the economy isn't actually 'needed' (which isn't good for the environment)? Don't forget that working from home and using the cloud is a luxury/ability which only tends to go along with the jobs which pay more than the minimum wage.

> That's what I'm picking up from my own strongly left leaning friends. 

Or they might be a bunch of artists, pop singers, actors and film directors who are detached from the grubby necessity of creating wealth and jobs, while endlessly recycling politically inspired falsehoods on Facebook. Believe me, lefty UKC looks like the US Democratic Party in comparison.

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In reply to hairyRob:

> Speaking as a "sub citizen" working in food distribution

I think many seem to have misunderstood Krisz' intent with that comment. I read it as an indictment of the way in which many low-paid workers are treated, not as an insult to those workers.

"These people are the main reason society is relatively resilient."

Seems to me to be giving credit to those people; the very recognition you said you would like to see...

Post edited at 14:12
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 BnB 16 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

> I would say the opposite, these jobs will multiply, while the rest is hollowed out.

Correct. The customer facing service sector (pubs and restaurants, some retail) will be gutted. Millions are unemployed. They just don’t know it yet or only suspect as much.

Will the new economy create enough jobs to take up the slack? Far more for knowledge workers than for gig workers, I’m afraid.

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 Timmd 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> Or they might be a bunch of artists, pop singers, actors and film directors who are detached from the grubby necessity of creating wealth and jobs, while endlessly recycling politically inspired falsehoods on Facebook. Believe me, lefty UKC looks like the US Democratic Party in comparison.

Are you talking about the people whom you know, or the ones I do? Be careful about making any assumptions if it's the latter.

Post edited at 14:09
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 baron 16 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

> I’m sure they must be delighted to be the proud underclass of neo-victorian Britain. The whole country will even give them an hypocritical clap every Thursday, after having placed their Deliveroo order of course. Fear not though, they’ll go back to being forgotten and undervalued very quickly.

When you say they, do you mean the one who drives around in a Ford Focus ST or the one who spends a couple of months each year in Florida?

Admittedly both of my nephews are single but if that’s your idea of being part of the underclass then bring it on!

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 Blanche DuBois 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> Or they might be a bunch of artists, pop singers, actors and film directors who are detached from the grubby necessity of creating wealth and jobs,

Jeez, only you on here can wave your Willy around bragging about the quality of your lefty pals.  Still, makes a change from how awesome your latest motorised tin box is.

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 BnB 16 May 2020
In reply to Timmd:

> Are you talking about the people whom you know, or the ones I do? Be careful about making any assumptions if it's the latter.

Steady on, Timmd. I have not falsely characterised you. These are my good friends, whose politics I don’t share.

Post edited at 14:18
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 Timmd 16 May 2020
In reply to Blanche DuBois:

I'm interested in the theory that being aware of the grubby reality of creating wealth is somehow at odds with being left wing. I'll have to tell the millionaire I know who created a multinational company that he hasn't always disliked the Conservatives. .

Has given quite a lot to charity to spread his earnings...

Post edited at 14:19
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 Timmd 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> Relax Timmd, there is nothing in your online presence that shouts “hangs out with performers and film directors”, so you can rest easy that I have not falsely characterised you.

No, it was the flawed nature of assumptions in general I was getting at. I am relaxed , but thanks.

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 BnB 16 May 2020
In reply to Blanche DuBois:

> Jeez, only you on here can wave your Willy around bragging about the quality of your lefty pals.  Still, makes a change from how awesome your latest motorised tin box is.

At least I spend the majority of my time on here providing thoughtful and detailed input. Often in polite contradiction of the wisdom of the crowd. I don’t ask to be liked. By contrast, you appear to offer little more than spite and unpleasantness across your comments. I’ll sleep easy. Have a good day.

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 owlart 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

Where do these 'preppers' find room to store two years worth of supplies? My tiny kitchen barely has enough storage space for one, maybe two weeks worth of supplies at a push. I suppose I could throw my sofa out and sit on boxes of pasta, or sleep on the cartons of UHT milk!

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In reply to KriszLukash:

> I would say the opposite, these jobs will multiply, while the rest is hollowed out.

Initially yeah. But then when a few million don't ever go back to work, they'll stop shopping online and have plenty time to walk to their nearest supermarket. 

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 DancingOnRock 16 May 2020
In reply to owlart:

I suspect they live in large properties miles away from anywhere. In which case it makes sense if you’re cut off from civilisation for a week or so every year. 2 years sounds a bit extreme. We had about 3 weeks worth of food in the house. I’ve still got 2kg of porridge and some tins of soup and fruit. 

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 CurlyStevo 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

It’s funny that people think the risk has passed, the U.K. had had more disease than most countries and we are what 10-20 percent of the way through the infection most likely.

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 Blue Straggler 16 May 2020
In reply to owlart:

I am not a “prepper” and have generally stocked relatively little food at home as although my kitchen is a decent size for one person, I am lazy at DIY and never sorted out cupboards etc and, living alone, I got myself only a very small “under the counter” fridge. However - and again not really as a “prepper”, post-lockdown one of my activities has been to really sort out the clutter in my house and it’s been amazing how much “dead space” you can unearth and utilise. I now have good food storage in the kitchen plus an auxiliary supply three floors up in my loft conversion bedroom, i. hitherto unused space under the eaves, behind my piano. 

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 DancingOnRock 16 May 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

>three floors up in my loft conversion bedroom

Point missed entirely. 

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 DancingOnRock 16 May 2020
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Probably 5-10% at most. 

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 CurlyStevo 16 May 2020
In reply to DancingOnRock:

I think probably over 7 percent of Uk have had this now but its not really detracting from my point if less have.

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L KriszLukash 16 May 2020
In reply to summo:

> Initially yeah. But then when a few million don't ever go back to work, they'll stop shopping online and have plenty time to walk to their nearest supermarket. 

Many will go back to work. Just paid a lot less.

Post edited at 17:04
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 Timmd 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> Steady on, Timmd. I have not falsely characterised you. These are my good friends, whose politics I don’t share.

Argh, it's a crossing of wires, I didn't think you had done. I can't quite remember what I had in mind, but it definitely wasn't about feeling wrongly characterised. It was probably something along the lines of lefties working in more 'grounded' professions than the arty ones, and feeling like some kind of change or revolution is needed.

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In reply to Eric9Points:

> Phuqing spellcheck.

> WUHAN

> Sorry.

Nah, apology not accepted. You said Wigan AND Pie trees.  Everyone knows Wigan is full of pie trees and Wuhan doesn't have any😀

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In reply to BnB:

> You make a good point. But even this is temporary. Most of those jobs will be automated away. Indeed many have already. At least in the sense that automated warehouses are meeting increased and perpetual demand without creating employment.

Most definitely how things are going to go. Last year we supplied the air compressors and did the pipework for the new Farnels warehouse / distribution center in Leeds. It will deal with picking, packing and dispatching thousands of items a day with very little human intervention. 

I see supermarkets as glorified drive through vending machines. A lot of my friends have now discovered just how easy click and collect is in the last few weeks, picked by people. It's only a matter of time before it's picked by robot. 

Same with fast food, we used to talk to a person and give them money, now we are conditioned to order and pay on a glorified Ipad but a person still cooks the food and another hands us it. Next step is either collecting food from a slot or robot arms cook it. 

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 Blue Straggler 16 May 2020
In reply to DancingOnRock:

> >three floors up in my loft conversion bedroom

> Point missed entirely. 

Exactly what do you mean by this? 

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 BnB 16 May 2020
In reply to Timmd:

> Argh, it's a crossing of wires, I didn't think you had done. I can't quite remember what I had in mind, but it definitely wasn't about feeling wrongly characterised. It was probably something along the lines of lefties working in more 'grounded' professions than the arty ones, and feeling like some kind of change or revolution is needed.

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In reply to KriszLukash:

> Many will go back to work. Just paid a lot less.

Wishful thinking. There was a recession coming before covid. Germany for example shrank (just) in the last quarter of 2019. Add in covid, plus the new debt, there is a lot of suffering to come. 

Post edited at 18:39
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L KriszLukash 16 May 2020
In reply to summo:

> Wishful thinking. There was a recession coming before COVID. Germany, for example, shrank (just) in the last quarter of 2019. Add in COVID, plus the new debt, there is a lot of suffering to come. 

I agree with the short-term.

However, I doubt that poorly paid service jobs will disappear in the long run. I think they will still be needed, won't be automated as fast as everybody thinks, and will be what's left.

We've got a dismantling of globalisation, a fragmentation of the global tech supply chain, massive state intervention, protectionism and isolationism growing almost everywhere. Not good at all for the middle class who relied on an open world. Not much difference for the underclass.

Post edited at 19:09
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 DancingOnRock 16 May 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

You have a 3 storey house but are claiming to not have much room to store things. 
 

I’m not having a dig, but that’s not how a significant minority of people live. They certainly wouldn’t see that as ‘not much space’. 

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 BnB 16 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

> I agree with the short-term.

> However, I doubt that poorly paid service jobs will disappear in the long run. I think they will still be needed, won't be automated as fast as everybody thinks, and will be what's left.

> We've got a dismantling of globalisation, a fragmentation of the global tech supply chain, massive state intervention, protectionism and isolationism growing almost everywhere. Not good at all for the middle class who relied on an open world. Not much difference for the underclass.

You’ve accurately identified some of the recent trends but I fear that those you call the underclass, by definition, serve at the pleasure of the “middle“ class. If the latter is squeezed then it will hurt those who serve them. Think of megatrends like automation, the headlong rush into electronic payments which squeeze the black economy, shifts in commuting (WFH) which will hit jobs and wages in transport and food service, information imbalances which create disparities in health outcomes.

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 DancingOnRock 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

Instead of cleaning offices, people will need their homes cleaned and their lawns cut, their laptops and PCs fixed. If you’re at home all the time things will start to wear out at a faster rate. Supermarkets will sell more food if people are not getting sandwiches every day. 
 

There will just be a shift. 

Post edited at 20:03
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 Blue Straggler 16 May 2020
In reply to DancingOnRock:

> You have a 3 storey house but are claiming to not have much room to store things. 

It depends entirely upon how one defines a “storey”. If you count properly based upon the post in question, you will work out that my house is distributed across four levels. This does not mean that it is palatial. Two of those levels contain just one room (lounge entry direct from street - I have ZERO outside space, no driveway, not even a tiny “front yard”, my front door literally opens onto the pavement. No hallway. Downstairs to a sort of semi-basement kitchen that opens direct onto a canal towpath. Is that a storey? Upstairs, a minuscule “landing”, two small-average bedrooms (one of which now has to become my main work office) and a tiny bathroom. Up again to a converted attic. Is that a storey? Now I have no attic. And this is not a room you can walk around in or even put up many shelves as the sloping roof eaves come from a central apex right down to floor level and i have a whacking great chimney coming through the middle of the floor plus of course a hole for the stairs. People pass right by my lounge windows either on the street or going down steps to the canal. Staircases are narrow and pokey. Maybe just maybe sometimes I’ve thought “oh to have a simple studio flat in a complex with communal storage for a bike so my bike isn’t an eyesore in the lounge”

My point to owlart is that maybe it is time to get creative and imaginative with storage solutions. Think “canal boat life”, this really does open up a lot of “dead space”

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 wintertree 16 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

I take your point, but the household systems were all set up when I had no children and no new enterprise, so rather a lot more leisure time.  Once set up they're very low maintenance so there's little time to gain from dropping them.  I'm going to have to take a far more drastic and irreversible plunge to free up more time and - far more critically - headspace.  A definite catch-22 to starting a new venture - until you really commit it won't take off enough to give you the security to commit without risk.   The solution was covered by one of my all time favourite movies...   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXIjE_gDw94&

>  is to suggest you stop shopping and hoarding altogether, and run down those supplies to buy time and mental space 

The problem is the mental space would be disturbed by the rest of the household complaining bitterly.  The first three weeks would be fine, burning up the small cache of perishables.  After that, two years supply of long shelf life goods translates in to two months of corned beef curry, corned beef pasta and corned beef surprise.   Where the surprise is probably a divorce lawyer...  A perfectly good hoard for zombie day but not really inspired...

Post edited at 20:42
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 Blue Straggler 16 May 2020
In reply to DancingOnRock:

> You have a 3 storey house but are claiming to not have much room to store things.

PS nowhere in my post did I claim that! I said I was crap/lazy with DIY and have not sorted out cupboards etc, and have a small fridge. 

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 Eric9Points 16 May 2020
In reply to Ciro:

> However, I'd argue that disparity is largely down to the capitalist system being lauded in the OP as having worked so well, and once again it is the same sections of society that struggle the most in lockdown which are baring most of the risks of the retooling, and will bear most of the risks of our re-opening economy.

I'd have said it's Globalism that has been a success rather than capitalism but maybe you could point to a non capitalist country which has significantly affected by CV19 where the poor have fared better?

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 daftdazza 16 May 2020

Living in a small flat, with small fridge, no freezer and limited kitching storage space, myself and my girlfriend managed fine. Only change was going from shopping nearly everyday to once or twice a week.  Was interesting at the start that even when all the meat was sold out , you could still get plenty of Tofu and good quality vegetarian food, so we as ate good or better than usual.  Supermarkets in the city where fine as all the universities are closed, never any waiting outside and rarely more than a handful of people inside,  and could still buy all sorts of mad stuff in lidl.  And even at the peak of the crisis I still managed to get wine imported from Spain and Austria delivered in under a week, so kept us going through the first weeks of shock.  Never seemed much risk in going to the shops are they were never busy.

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In reply to summo:

> Wishful thinking. There was a recession coming before covid. Germany for example shrank (just) in the last quarter of 2019. Add in covid, plus the new debt, there is a lot of suffering to come. 

Ironically a recession may save a lot of low paid jobs, if wages drop and companies can't afford or borrow to invest in automation a lot of jobs will be safe for a while longer. 

The technology already exists though and as soon as its cheaper to automate than use people it will happen, I give it maybe a decade before going to and walking round the supermarket is no longer the norm and if we don't get a handle on Covid 19 it could be much sooner than that.

We were reticent about online shopping until we tried it and have been doing it for close to 20 years now, a lot of our friends who held out saying it wasn't for them have started with delivery or click and collect in the last 2 months and won't go back. 

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 BnB 17 May 2020
In reply to Dax H:

> Ironically a recession may save a lot of low paid jobs, if wages drop and companies can't afford or borrow to invest in automation a lot of jobs will be safe for a while longer. 

History shows that recessions increase automation. This will be no different. Automation isn't just robot warehouses and autonomous cars. It’s remote monitoring of critical infrastructure; it’s automated call handling by chatbot; it’s repetitive process (form filling) automation.

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 didntcomelast 17 May 2020
In reply to Ciro:

Interesting comments. I am a food delivery driver, delivering shopping to some of the most vulnerable during this pandemic. I may not speak for all delivery drivers but I suspect many take their role in this current climate very seriously.

A lot of drivers are older males, I suspect that they suffer from health conditions linked to their age. I personally have high blood pressure and high cholesterol both managed by medication, one of which, an ACE inhibitor, apparently makes me more susceptible to a serious infection should I catch Covid.  

To have a delivery of groceries brought to your home placed outside in the open air for you to take into your home by a driver consciously stepping back 2m, giving advice on cleaning the packaging and also checking on the welfare of the customer is surely far better than a vulnerable person slowly moving around a supermarket.

i suspect that once the country gets back to a new normality home shopping will be far more preferable to many compared to the supermarket visit. I hope though that more people turn to smaller independent food producers in towns and villages to help rebuild communities. 

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 veteye 17 May 2020
In reply to Dax H:

I've never had home delivery, mainly as I spend most of my time at work, and I'm not sure if they deliver late enough for me (I work long hours). I could have the delivery made to work, but that would rule out any frozen food, unless they delivered just before I finished work.

In addition, I mainly cook all my food from scratch, including a lot of vegetables (I could be vegetarian, and often am for periods of time, but I like certain meats). So I'm not sure if I want to be given what I get as far as fruit and veg is concerned. I would rather choose myself. We all see that the poorer vegetables are the last to be sold, when the stocks are depleted in the supermarkets. None of us just grab whatever is the closest, when buying green grocery. Alternatively, am I worrying about nothing with the veg etc?

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 HansStuttgart 17 May 2020
In reply to veteye:

> In addition, I mainly cook all my food from scratch, including a lot of vegetables (I could be vegetarian, and often am for periods of time, but I like certain meats). So I'm not sure if I want to be given what I get as far as fruit and veg is concerned. I would rather choose myself. We all see that the poorer vegetables are the last to be sold, when the stocks are depleted in the supermarkets. None of us just grab whatever is the closest, when buying green grocery. Alternatively, am I worrying about nothing with the veg etc?

Yesterday, I biked past a vegetable farm. They offer a weekly crate of vegetables delivered to your home. I'd expect it makes business sense for them to put the high quality food in the crates for the direct customers and to sell the lower quality products on towards supermarkets. It must be good business, they had 10 sprinters standing outside

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L KriszLukash 17 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> History shows that recessions increase automation.

It depends on the nature of the depression.
With supply shocks + protectionism + state intervention, we could well see 70s style stagflation, low business investment, unproductive industries artificially kept afloat by state intervention and sheltering from competition.

My company cut all technology investment budgets in half this year, and all the big transformation projects have been paused or abandoned.

Post edited at 09:46
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 didntcomelast 17 May 2020
In reply to veteye:

Outside of these busy times, online home shopping delivery is spread across the day from early morning to late in the evening. Our store delivers from 8am to 10pm, I think others may be even wider delivery times. That’s 7 days a week, so you should be able to find a delivery slot within those hours. 

As for veg. We instruct our pickers to select fruit and veg they would buy themselves so they tend not to pick the damaged goods, we have a reasonably strict quality control policy anyway and home shopping tends to be picked in the early hours before the general shoppers get their hands on and squeeze and drop the goods. 

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 BnB 17 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

> It depends on the nature of the depression.

> With supply shocks + protectionism + state intervention, we could well see 70s style stagflation, low business investment, unproductive industries artificially kept afloat by state intervention and sheltering from competition.

All of which is a market rife for revolutionary technologies that save costs and increase efficiencies.

> My company cut all technology investment budgets in half this year, and all the big transformation projects have been paused or abandoned.

What would you expect when the company’s revenues have suddenly reduced by a quarter or a half, or whatever it is? But this is a temporary halt and, though revenues may not be back to 100% on resumption, your employer will have no choice than to resume a digital transformation or it will die a slow (or even rapid) death. What business is the company in? I’m an investor in this field so I can get a bit evangelical, but I’ve seen the future, as the saying goes.

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 Blue Straggler 17 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> What would you expect when the company’s revenues have suddenly reduced by a quarter or a half, or whatever it is?

You seem to be implying that Krisz had expressed surprise. I didn’t infer that from the post at all.

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 BnB 17 May 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> You seem to be implying that Krisz had expressed surprise. I didn’t infer that from the post at all.

I wasn’t implying that at all. I was questioning how a short term crisis action could be interpreted as long term strategy. Plainly, it isn’t.

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 Blue Straggler 17 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

Ok sorry, I misinterpreted. Hence my use of the term “seem to”

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L KriszLukash 17 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> All of which is a market rife for revolutionary technologies that save costs and increase efficiencies.

But you won't get those revolutionary technologies if nobody is investing in them, if the supply chains are not there to deliver them, and if the skills are not there. 

> What would you expect when the company’s revenues have suddenly reduced by a quarter or a half, or whatever it is? But this is a temporary halt and, though revenues may not be back to 100% on resumption, your employer will have no choice than to resume a digital transformation or it will die a slow (or even rapid) death. What business is the company in? I’m an investor in this field so I can get a bit evangelical, but I’ve seen the future, as the saying goes.

It's a reasonably large insurance company. Revenues are not down; the firm is profitable, but cost-cutting. The decisions pre-date COVID.

Publicly higher management waffles all he time about the enormous potential of technology to transform the business, but on the ground, budgets are cut, and projects are scrapped.


Take, for example, the big transition to the public cloud that was started two years ago and was supposed to save us loads and loads of money.
It still hasn't made any real progress. Management eventually found out that the skills needed to implement are not there or are too expensive. They've tried all the costly contractors from various reputable IT consulting firms, most of them turned out to be duds and produced very little in the way of results.

In theory, yes, investment in digital transformation has great potential, but it all depends on the willingness of firms to invest very heavily, and their ability to execute. 

I suspect that the GAFA will do more or less fine, but the rest will stay firmly stuck in the past.
Our digital lives in the home are going to get better, but everything else will stagnate for a while.

Like I said, it's looking a bit like the 70s.

Post edited at 12:21
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 krikoman 17 May 2020
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Probably.  There's really hardly any of it in the wild now.  It's in care homes and hospitals (though NHS staff are as a result bringing it back out again to some extent).


Are you sure about this?

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 BnB 17 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

> But you won't get those revolutionary technologies if nobody is investing in them, if the supply chains are not there to deliver them, and if the skills are not there. 

> It's a reasonably large insurance company. Revenues are not down; the firm is profitable, but cost-cutting. The decisions pre-date COVID.

> Publicly higher management waffles all he time about the enormous potential of technology to transform the business, but on the ground, budgets are cut, and projects are scrapped.

> Take, for example, the big transition to the public cloud that was started two years ago and was supposed to save us loads and loads of money.

> It still hasn't made any real progress. Management eventually found out that the skills needed to implement are not there or are too expensive. They've tried all the costly contractors from various reputable IT consulting firms, most of them turned out to be duds and produced very little in the way of results.

> In theory, yes, investment in digital transformation has great potential, but it all depends on the willingness of firms to invest very heavily, and their ability to execute. 

> I suspect that the GAFA will do more or less fine, but the rest will stay firmly stuck in the past.

The technologies already exist. In insurance, take for example Guidewire, a suite of cloud-based applications covering (non-life) insurance, risk, analytics etc. Or Pegasystems which handles the customer relationship using automated assistants and has an insurance module for case management. Or ServiceNow which automates all the underlying business processes across any industry. I'd much rather have a stake in these firms than wage-scrimping Amazon. In fact I do (in two of the three).

It's a pity your management is experiencing problems. What was the package being implemented? Or did they fall prey to the ego trap of trying to build their own applications? Unfortunately the shortage of talent is a real issue. If we'd have been talking three years ago I could have put together a proven team to address your employer's problems.

I do know a few insurance firms and they are a mixed bag. Maybe yours just isn't very well run. Take a look at Ping An, a remarkable business. Here's a brief summary and an interview conducted by one of those expensive consultants:

https://twimbit.com/digital-transformation/ping-an/

https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/china/building-a-tech-enabled-ecosystem-an-interview-with-ping-ans-jessica-tan#

> Our digital lives in the home are going to get better, but everything else will stagnate for a while.

> Like I said, it's looking a bit like the 70s.

I'm beginning to form the impression that you and I are somewhat apart on the optimism scale.

Post edited at 13:18
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 BnB 17 May 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

No probs

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L KriszLukash 17 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

ith the environ> The technologies already exist. In insurance, take for example Guidewire, a suite of cloud-based applications covering (non-life) insurance, risk, analytics etc. Or Pegasystems which handles the customer relationship using automated assistants and has an insurance module for case management. Or ServiceNow which automates all the underlying business processes across any industry. I'd much rather have a stake in these firms than wage-scrimping Amazon. In fact I do (in two of the three).

We have Pega already, as well as ServiceNow. And workday, and all the other big names.

We had all of that for a few years already. The gains in that type of business software are already realised for most firms.

Successful companies will not run their business using software; the business itself will become software. Only companies with access to a large tech supply chain and pipeline of skills will be able to do that. Such as Ping An. Myopic management in my company may be at fault, but I think it has much more to do with the environment we are in.
There might be an endless supply of talented engineers and a giant tech ecosystem in Shenzhen, but not where I live!

Post edited at 13:29
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L KriszLukash 17 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> I'm beginning to form the impression that you and I are somewhat apart on the optimism scale.

No I just think that this is maybe for the next decade, the current one doesn't look too good for reasons quoted above.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/audio/2020-05-03/nouriel-roubini-sees-a-bad-recovery-and-a-depression-podcast

Post edited at 13:31
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In reply to BnB:

Covid isn't really the worse case scenario. The essential infrastructure can still mostly work at the moment. Meteorites, EMP, water poisoning or nuclear fallout would affect food supplies way more. After a week of people being unable to shop it would be total anarchy and empty shelves. Even if you had 3 months food supply (which is masses of food) I doubt in the aforementioned scenarios things would recover very quickly, so you would still starve, just a bit later than everyone else. 

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 BnB 17 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

Nouriel is somewhat of a joke figure in the investment world for his perma-bearish stance. Of course a stopped clock is right twice a day so he could be correct.

None of which invalidates my view that businesses will continue to automate, whether to save costs or gain an edge.

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L KriszLukash 17 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> Nouriel is somewhat of a joke figure in the investment world for his perma-bearish stance. Of course a stopped clock is right twice a day so he could be correct.

Maybe, but what is it you find unrealistic in the scenario he puts forward ?

> None of which invalidates my view that businesses will continue to automate, whether to save costs or gain an edge

You don’t really need to gain an edge when you have protectionism, state support, and don’t have competition.

We are not going to automate if there is no willingness to invest. We are not going to automate if we don’t have the skills and tech supply chain to do so.

I’m telling you what I’m seeing “on the ground”.  And what I see is a lot of money has been thrown at technology hype with little to show for it. And now these investments are being wound down.

You said you were a tech investor, be careful to not buy your own sales pitch ;-)

Post edited at 14:45
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 BnB 17 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

35 years in Tech I’ve witnessed relentless growth only accelerated by downturns and recessions. There was quite a large one recently, the Great Recession they called it. Look at how Tech exploded in impact since 2008/9. Why would this downturn be any different?

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L KriszLukash 17 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> 35 years in Tech I’ve witnessed relentless growth only accelerated by downturns and recessions. There was quite a large one recently, the Great Recession they called it. Look at how Tech exploded in impact since 2008/9. Why would this downturn be any different?

In the past ten years we have been relying on  a growing global tech supply chain, China churning out billions of smartphones and other tech supplies that get better everyday, intense international competition, mobility of skills, exchange of knowledge.

It’s the fundamentals that are under threat this time, it’s not just some debt problem we can fix with QE and low rates.

In practice, if I can’t get the tech at an affordable price, if it’s not available in my country because of technology export restrictions and protectionism, if don’t get access to the skills needed and data flows are disrupted, if nobody wants to spend except the state, we’re not going anywhere, or we are getting there a lot slower.
 

Post edited at 15:39
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 BnB 17 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

I’m not talking about semiconductors. Instead, software, the cloud, digital payments, AI, all are in essence portable across any border or barrier. Of course nations will be protective of IP. They always have been and will be all the more so in the future. But even if nations will compete for technological supremacy instead of sharing its bounty, progress will march on.

Let’s go back a step and remind ourselves that I argued that automation will take encouragement from the downturn, be it a recession or a depression. I didn’t argue that times would be easy. But you have not convinced me that companies will not want to cut costs and increase efficiency. It’s the aim of most businesses most of the time!

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L KriszLukash 17 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> I’m not talking about semiconductors. Instead, software, the cloud, digital payments, AI, all are in essence portable across any border or barrier.

What do you the think the cloud, software, digital payment AI and so on run on ? They run on ever cheaper computing power, this abundance of computing power, storage and bandwidth is what makes all this even possible.

> Of course nations will be protective of IP. They always have been and will be all the more so in the future. But even if nations will compete for technological supremacy instead of sharing its bounty, progress will march on

Progress may march on for the big powers that can be self-sufficient, just a lot slower. This process is well ongoing.


> Let’s go back a step and remind ourselves that I argued that automation will take encouragement from the downturn, be it a recession or a depression. I didn’t argue that times would be easy. But you have not convinced me that companies will not want to cut costs and increase efficiency. It’s the aim of most businesses most of the time

Most of the time. But they may not have the ability to do so.

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 BnB 18 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

The range of possible outcomes is too wide to assert any certainty. For example, if a successful treatment were rapidly to emerge, or the virus to promptly mutate to a less virulent form, we would barely even endure a recession, as all activity could quickly be restored before fiscal support had been withdrawn. Unlikely though that is, it remains a possibility, gruesomely balanced by the frightening prospect of the virus persisting in deadly and prolific form for many years, permanently reducing the velocity of money and its scale.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the middle, the Federal Reserve, a rather conservative forecaster, and the world’s most important institution economically, sees a complete reversal of the economic contraction by the end of 2021, provided always that a vaccine is developed. That environment is one in which companies that do invest will quickly hoover up market share at the expense of zombies focused on debt management.

There are multiple headlines in the financial press about companies up to their necks in debt as they enter the crisis. But these are concentrated in old economy industries like oil and gas, especially US shale. Look at the balance sheets of tech businesses however, and, typically, they have no long term debt at all. Investment will continue and even those indebted oil producers will be obliged to make environmentally mandated improvements by the adoption of software process automation.

Post edited at 07:46
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L KriszLukash 18 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

You are talking about the economic impact of lockdowns around the world, creating a demand shock, and no doubt this will subside, but the problems are much deeper.

The problem is the disintegration of global value chains and protectionism. 
Covid19 is just a super-catalyst of a process that started before and isn’t going away. We have all seen Brexit, Trump, etc etc.

That creates all sorts of supply shocks, and that’s very difficult to fix.

Technological transformation is made much more difficult if I can’t get IT professionals in the country, if data flows across borders are interrupted or constrained, if technology isn’t shared, if the base cost of compute and storage increases.

Post edited at 08:24
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 BnB 18 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

> You are talking about the economic impact of lockdowns around the world, creating a demand shock, and no doubt this will subside, but the problems are much deeper.

> The problem is the disintegration of global value chains and protectionism. 

> Covid19 is just a super-catalyst of a process that started before and isn’t going away. We have all seen Brexit, Trump, etc

> That creates all sorts of supply shocks, and that’s very difficult to fix.

Of course. These factors will affect many companies, as we are seeing today in the pharmaceutical ingredients supply chain. But they are not sufficient to derail an industrial revolution. Automation is as relevant to healthcare and banking as it is to factories and distributors.

Meanwhile supply chains reconfigure very quickly. India is quickly filling the gap left by China in pharmaceutical ingredients while Vietnam is usurping its dominance in garment manufacture.

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L KriszLukash 18 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> Of course. These factors will affect many companies, as we are seeing today in the pharmaceutical ingredients supply chain. But they are not sufficient to derail an industrial revolution. Automation is as relevant to healthcare and banking as it is to factories and distributors.

I think they are more than sufficient to cause a big slowdown, if not a reversal, in the next decade.

Over a 100 years of course nothing will stop it bar any civilisational collapse, but that’s not the point.

> Meanwhile supply chains reconfigure very quickly. India is quickly filling the gap left by China in pharmaceutical ingredients while Vietnam is usurping its dominance in garment manufacture.

Only very partially. This takes time and money and isn’t efficient. Hence supply shocks, hence inflationary pressures.

Post edited at 08:47
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 BnB 18 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

> I think they are more than sufficient to cause a big slowdown, if not a reversal.

> Only very partially. This takes time and money and isn’t efficient. Hence supply shocks, hence inflationary pressures.

Not all supply chains are being nationalised. Labour is cheaper in India and Vietnam. Deflationary.

We could go on but the discussion, as these things tend to do, has over-reached its original scope, which was to explore automation. You have only to look at the share prices of large players in the field, the industrial manifestations of which have been languishing pre-Covid, to see that the market expects a boost to growth. Personally, I submit to its “wisdom”.

I enjoyed the conversation, thanks.

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L KriszLukash 18 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

No problem thank you.

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 mondite 18 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> Meanwhile supply chains reconfigure very quickly. India is quickly filling the gap left by China in pharmaceutical ingredients while Vietnam is usurping its dominance in garment manufacture.

India has been a large player in pharma for years. You dont build those plants quickly.

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L KriszLukash 18 May 2020
In reply to mondite:

The proof will be in the pudding. In ten years time is productivity growth going to be up or down ?

Britain’s productivity growth over the last decade is the worst since the start of the Industrial Revolution, and I am somewhat doubtful that it will improve in the decade ahead, despite all the hype about automation.

Post edited at 09:36
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In reply to BnB:

The more important question, have you managed to avoid Ralph and the rest of the crusties of the apocalypse?

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 BnB 18 May 2020
In reply to The New NickB:

> The more important question, have you managed to avoid Ralph and the rest of the crusties of the apocalypse?

Major ructions in the town over this. Ralph's hugs are even less welcome than usual!

Mind you, his "mob" consisted of him and only four others.

Post edited at 10:12
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 BnB 18 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

> The proof will be in the pudding. In ten years time is productivity growth going to be up or down ?

> Britain’s productivity growth over the last decade is the worst since the start of the Industrial Revolution, and I am somewhat doubtful that it will improve in the decade ahead, despite all the hype about automation.

Information economy work and high tech engineering is fantastically more productive, which is where automation has made its mark. The UK's productivity lag is due to a number of factors, including a poorly optimised workforce, but the recent proliferation of low paid and insecure work in low-yielding service industries, dragging down the numbers, is a big part of it.

https://on.ft.com/3bJkgih

Ironically, forecasts show our in-work productivity blossoming with the imminent closure of said industries and the associated mass unemployment of the lower paid. Not something to celebrate.

Post edited at 11:53
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L KriszLukash 18 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

> Information economy work and high tech engineering is fantastically more productive, which is where automation has made its mark. The UK's productivity lag is due to a number of factors, including a poorly optimised workforce, but the recent proliferation of low paid and insecure work in low-yielding service industries, dragging down the numbers, is a big part of it.

Well, here you go, despite all the promise of automation there is no guarantee that economies take advantage of it, as we have seen for the past ten years.

Businesses need the appetite to invest in technology, as well as the ability to execute. Both are in short supply at the moment.

I’m sure that software companies with a good automation product will continue to do reasonably well, of course, but will we see big productivity increase in the next ten years ? Even with the temporary effect of higher unemployment, I doubt it seriously.

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 wintertree 18 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

>  but will we see big productivity increase in the next ten years ?

I should think so.  

The pandemic has forced a lot of people to take a ruthless look at business practice to preserve operations under very difficult circumstances.  Lessons learnt there will persist beyond covid - just think of the millions of hours per month clawed back from air travel.  

Keeping business open over the next 6-18 months with fewer boots in the building is a big driver for automation - and not just in “tech”.  Automation in all sorts of business processes can bring a lot more scalability and more consistent outputs - all of which can go on to help employ more distance working sales and marketing people...   There’s a wealth of manufacturing capability in the UK that has kept going throughout the lockdown to date, and that can help people build out more physical process automation.  It’s going to be a hirer’s market for talent as well.   I’ve found almost nothing I can’t have manufactured in the local area or at least the UK.  

I also think lockdown will have given a lot of people to re-assess what they do with their work time and see a bunch of “if only I had the time” ideas get that time.

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 BnB 18 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

> Well, here you go, despite all the promise of automation there is no guarantee that economies take advantage of it, as we have seen for the past ten years.

> Businesses need the appetite to invest in technology, as well as the ability to execute. Both are in short supply at the moment.

> I’m sure that software companies with a good automation product will continue to do reasonably well, of course, but will we see big productivity increase in the next ten years ? Even with the temporary effect of higher unemployment, I doubt it seriously.

The UK isn't the world. Productivity growth is much higher elsewhere. Look at the sector mix of the FTSE 100 (oil and banks, two industries in structural decline) vs S&P500 (tech and health) or Chinese stock markets (tech, digital consumer). Just because we're going to hell in a handcart doesn't mean others are as well. I don't have a UK-centric viewpoint (or investment allocation). Sorry if I didn't make that clear.

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L KriszLukash 18 May 2020
In reply to wintertree:

> The pandemic has forced a lot of people to take a ruthless look at business practice to preserve operations under very difficult circumstances.  Lessons learnt there will persist beyond covid - just think of the millions of hours per month clawed back from air travel.  

In my opinion, the opposite, Covid is forcing a lot of people to realise that resilience and auto-sufficiency might be worth sacrificing some productivity for.

> There’s a wealth of manufacturing capability in the UK that has kept going throughout the lockdown to date, and that can help people build out more physical process automation.  It’s going to be a hirer’s market for talent as well.   I’ve found almost nothing I can’t have manufactured in the local area or at least the UK.  

 

Which do you think would have the best productivity, a company on the export market, leveraging economies of scale, constantly fighting ruthless international competition, sourcing parts, materials and services at the lowest cost from all around the world, or a small U.K. based factory producing mostly for the U.K. market where it has a near monopoly ?

It is perfectly legitimate that people want more stuff made locally and not rely on the rest of the world. But there is a cost in terms of productivity. 

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 neilh 18 May 2020
In reply to BnB:

As you say it has already happened.

The switch to using teams/zoom has been pretty breathtaking. For years I have been trying to get my overseas customers to accept training on machines by video conferencing instead of via a visit from the UK..

Overnight....all changed.You just get the comment---well we are all having ot get use to this new technology. Unbelieveable, its not new, its been there for years.It is just now being forced on you.

I just hope we can carry through on cycling in the major citys.

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 Blue Straggler 18 May 2020
In reply to neilh:

> The switch to using teams/zoom has been pretty breathtaking. For years I have been trying to get my overseas customers to accept training on machines by video conferencing instead of via a visit from the UK..

It depends on the machines. Trying to train on my machines remotely is currently a bit like teaching someone to fly an aeroplane, over the radio. 

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 wintertree 18 May 2020
In reply to KriszLukash:

> In my opinion, the opposite, Covid is forcing a lot of people to realise that resilience and auto-sufficiency might be worth sacrificing some productivity for.

I don’t think these are contradictory things.

I wasn’t talking about exporters, I was suggesting that there’s a lot of local capability to help businesses (of any sort) to increase process automation beyond just “digital” stuff. 

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L KriszLukash 18 May 2020
In reply to wintertree:

> > In my opinion, the opposite, Covid is forcing a lot of people to realise that resilience and auto-sufficiency might be worth sacrificing some productivity for.

> I don’t think these are contradictory things.

> I wasn’t talking about exporters, I was suggesting that there’s a lot of local capability to help businesses (of any sort) to increase process automation beyond just “digital” stuff. 

Ok, understood.

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 neilh 18 May 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Depends. But with a high definition web cam on a tripod and conferencing telephone and a matching machine it can be done.Saves a huge amount of travel time and cost. Especially when overseas travel effectively is a no go, you have little alternative and nor does the customer.

Pilots can be taught in simulators and the instructor can be remote.

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 Blue Straggler 18 May 2020
In reply to neilh:

I actually agree that when it truly becomes necessary people including me will be forced to get it right. 

But there are a lots of tactile nuances etc to my systems. Any quirks or glitches that occur, are easier to identify if I am on site.

To be specific, I train in the operation of high resolution microfocus and nanofocus CT inspection for industrial and academic applications. Easy to think “just load the sample in the machine and train all the software aspects”. But if the rotation stage controlled by an air-bearing motor is vibrating because someone followed the printed instructions to set the air pressure to “at least 6 bar” and set it to 6.2 bar for “good measure”, but remotely I can’t hear the screeching or see the vibration, and they get a bad blurred result, we waste time diagnosing it. On site, I would see it straight away and reduce the pressure to 5.7 bar which I know works. 

Probably about 20 other “troubleshooting” types of quirk that are easier to teach when on site. Lag and lack of sharpness on screen sharing is also an issue. As is cyber security. 

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 neilh 18 May 2020
In reply to Blue Straggler:

I have the same sort of trouble shooting  issues which are  easier to fix in front of the machine... but circumstances dictate the change, otherwise... no overseas sales.

And its like anything are we doing it because that is always the way we have done it plus people do not want their job threatened etc etc.

Its also about getting use to being in front of a camera and being comfortable in  if you like a tv environment.That is hard for most technical people as it is outside their comfort zone.

Well worth speanding time practising.

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In reply to Blue Straggler:

> but if the rotation stage controlled by an air-bearing motor is vibrating because someone followed the printed instructions to set the air pressure to “at least 6 bar” and set it to 6.2 bar for “good measure”, but remotely I can’t hear the screeching or see the vibration, and they get a bad blurred result, we waste time diagnosing it. On site, I would see it straight away and reduce the pressure to 5.7 bar which I know works.

Somethings you just have to get hands on with, it's the sound, smell, feel, vibration, temperature that you can't convey over a Web cam. I just sold 3 90kw turbo blowers with air foil bearings, come hell or high water I will be commissioning them in person. 

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 neilh 19 May 2020
In reply to Dax H:

 My machines are mechanical and have similar characteristics. Remote diagnostics for example are a waste of time. But when you have to think how on earth am I going to do training or show how to service or repair a machine in say the USA from the UK  at the moment it is surprising how quickly the commercial imperative drives this sort of change.And I do not see it going back to the old way.

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In reply to BnB:

guys whilst i genuinely enjoy the debates on this forum, y'all off topic. this thread is about tinhats and when SHTF.

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 BnB 16:38 Wed
In reply to andrew breckill:

> guys whilst i genuinely enjoy the debates on this forum, y'all off topic. this thread is about tinhats and when SHTF.

As the originator of the thread I disagree. I’ve stayed in the debate throughout and it remains true to my original musings about automation and remote technologies having found a way to circumnavigate much of the SHTF!

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In reply to BnB:

I stand corrected, I had skimmed over the remote work element of the original post. Interesting to see how we get back to work and how we adapt to the new world we are facing. I like working from home and my industry can certainly work like that, the main obstacle to it continuing to be an option is the literal paranoia of IP leaking onto youtube. Post production houses have almost MI5 level of vetting on some projects. All in case an unflattering shot of an A lister gets out, or plot element is revealed. 

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