RandyFleet Solves the Somali Pirate Problem
But the iPad Floats Alone
I don’t get this business with the pirates lurking in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia. Since shipping companies seem to be having a problem coming up with a workable strategy to combat these idiots, I figured it’s time for me to get involved.
Hiding behind an insultingly disingenuous lie, these pond scum pirates claim to be defending the waters from over-fishing and the dumping of waste. I guess that explains the Bentleys, Mercedes and BMWs in the driveways of the pirates’ villas. What better way to cart fish around town, or haul toxic waste than ripping around with a load of either in the trunk of a Bentley Continental GT Speed. Think how fresh fish can be when you cover the distance at 200 MPH! Why suck down fumes of toxic waste when you can make that 10 mile drive to the dump in three minutes!
The namby-pamby shipping magnates figure arming their helpless crews would create more problems than they solve. Untrained sailors might blast one another, or possibly anger pirates with greater firearms skills then themselves, triggering a hail of lead. In the eyes of the ship owners, insurance and liability rates go up, not down, when crews are armed. Instead, ships are cautioned to make themselves less desirable targets. Suggested approaches are to have fire hoses available, and keep the lights on.
Gee, how does the sailor feel that draws the short straw to go topside with a hose to meet the pirates who are armed with RPGs and AK-47 assault rifles?
“Captain, just so I have this right: I’m to take this hose, with a range of 50 yards, and soak down these filthy, salt-encrusted miscreants who know they can hold us for five million and they’ll leave. A little Sunday afternoon shower should do the trick? Is that what you’re thinking, Captain?”
And you wonder why we have mutinies?
Okay, let’s do it my way. Here are the plans for the protective shipping fleet I intend to create. We won’t avoid the Gulf of Aden; we’ll specialize in routes just outside the seven-mile boundary accepted by most countries. I want those pirates to take notice.
1) All ships in RandyFleet Shipping will have six Browning .50 caliber machine guns. These will be mounted two starboard, two port, one aft and one forward.
2) Each ship will have as members of its crew, no less than two Special Forces commandos as advisers.
3) Massive loudspeakers will be mounted starboard and port. Pre-recorded messages in all common Somali dialects will be selectable from a CD. Among the key phrases:
- “Welcome, Pirates, we have a bounty on each of you, so please come closer: my kids need braces.”
- “Our guns fire 1,200 rounds a minute. Is today your lucky day?”
- “We can hit you one-point-eight kilometers away; how are those AK-47s working for you?”
4) RandyFleet shipping also will host a consortium for all shippers to join, and we will provide staffing and maintenance of a fleet of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. These choppers will be armed with .50 Gatling guns, 70mm Hydra missiles, and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. The purpose of the Blackhawk fleet is to attack the pirate mother ships from which the smaller pirate skiffs are launched. General protocol will be to frighten attacking pirates with the ship’s machine guns and then follow them back to their mother ships. Once they arrive at the mother ships, the Hellfire and Hydra missiles will guarantee that all pirates aboard the mother ship have a chance for a leisurely swim in the temperate Gulf of Aden pool.
Okay, problem solved. You’re welcome. So, with the RandyFleet plan in place, piracy in the Gulf of Aden becomes a bad idea. I’ve been reading about another bad idea lately: the iPad.
The much ballyhooed device has come to our attention in the past few months via what we have found to be carefully calibrated leaks from Apple. Now, readers of this column may recall I published a very extensive (and positive) review of the Apple iPhone: a device that has maintained its distance from wannabe competitors. So, I’m not an Apple basher by any stretch of the imagination. I believe Apple computers have a solid OS that has (for now) avoided the attention of hackers, and its “usability” and a smart intuitive design with no peer.
But, referring back to my little comment about lack of hackers, this attribute has less to do with impenetrability of OS X than it does with the fact that businesses don’t use Apple computers, at least not as compared to the PC world. Why design a virus to attack machines that make up such an incredibly minute percentage of all the machines out there?
Those Mac versus PC ads on TV don’t speak to corporate America, do they? That’s because Apple has never really targeted the mainstream business environment with their computers. Sure, early computer animation shops, photography processing houses and similar businesses sometimes standardize on Apple, and for good reason, but what is the percentage of Fortune 500 companies that have abandoned Microsoft for a complete makeover of all employee machines with Apple?
So, it should come as no surprise that the iPad is not going to sway the business power-user anytime soon. Steve Jobs, in his product release announcement, denigrated netbook computers as cheap laptops. No argument there, Steve, but what do 99 percent of the business travelers want in a laptop?
- Microsoft Office
- Enough battery life to last for a transcontinental flight
That’s about it, Steve. And the reason a 500-buck netbook is attractive is the weight difference between three pound and 10 pounds. That poundage adds up when lugging these things through airports.
Do I need an oversized iPod Touch to view movies, read e-books, and hammer e-mail? I have a smart phone, do I really need another data plan to haul this thing around? Besides, Apple is opening the door to VOIP, so users of tools like SKYPE will be able to call internationally for pennies. Recall that the iPhone carrier, ATT, always said they weren’t doing anything to prevent iPhone users from using VOIP over their 3G network (it was always okay to use VOIP over WIFI). The reality was that Apple neutered the iPhone to prevent VOIP over the 3G networks — a fact hardly unknown to ATT.
With that restriction now removed, the iPad could be used as a VOIP phone, but it does not have a conventional phone on board. Nor does the iPad allow multitasking. If you’re doing anything else on the iPad, you’ll need to bail out of that app to make a phone call. And users who want a “real” keyboard will need to opt for the keyboard dock accessory.
So, the moment of truth is upon us. Will the iPad sell? I think that it will, but really much more to gadget hounds, and not so much for business travelers. I’m far from a Microsoft fan, folks. Upgrades between Microsoft OS versions that are a couple of numbers apart, for example from XP to Windows 7, are not a tasks for the fainthearted. Hell, I reluctantly had been holding off an upgrade from SP1 to SP2 for years on one old XP machine, and I was taught a harsh lesson on why I was right to be fearful. The upgrade process butchered many SP1 files, and then promptly failed. You know, when you obliterate such an upgrade, you are on your own, baby.
Do you think those Somali pirates would feel the same degree of despair with a Black Hawk bearing down on them? I doubt it.
As I said, I’m not an Apple basher, really I’m not. I love my iPhone. I’d love to see Apple come out with a fluid suite of Office products that could interchangeably consume and expose spreadsheets, presentations and documents. I know, if they had the heart for it, Apple could provide really, really well-planned replacements for MS Office. But Apple seems content to stay out of mainstream corporate America despite the fact that they have the brightest, most creative minds in the business. Ah, that’s a shame.
But, my offer to Apple is this; if you guys ever take on Microsoft in mainstream corporate America and have to ship hundreds of thousands of machines through the Gulf of Aden: RandyFleet has your back.
Randy Hice is Director, Strategic Consulting at STARLIMS. He may be reached at editor@ScientificComputing.com.