Friday, March 1, 2019

Crypto is the New Beanie Baby Craze.

People often ask me about investing in cryptocurrency

The Bitcoin Beanie Baby
Should they invest in crypto? Where is the top? Where is the low?

I often relate it to the Beanie Baby craze

People got carried away with the craze, I remember  the fear  of  missing out had people buying dozens of McDonald’s Happy Meals  at a time throwing out the food and keeping the toy in the meal box aka these “ highly collectable “ beanie babies from Ty.

In the late 90's I went to a professional networking event at a hotel and in the ballroom next to ours was a Beanie Baby convention; I walked in and spoke with some people at the event many of them were there to buy, sell or trade their beanie babies.

I recall asking people what makes you believe that this object will retain its value and I heard many reasons why they hope it would; these are going to send my child to university, this is my retirement plan, and etc. But no one could tell me why they would retain their value or even what made this brand unique enough to withstand any serious competition.

By 2000 the bottom had fallen out of the beanie baby craze and you could see them piling up at grocery store check-out counters for a dollar.As I understand it some beanie babies still have value and I believe some cryptos will continue to have value after they finish crashing and burning.

Now I am not saying that some cryptos won’t still be around in the future, nor am I saying that they haven’t been good trades or that people haven’t made money from them, I am sure many of us know a few people who made cash from Beanie Babies too.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The African Swine Virus Rages Across China

                        The African Swine Virus Rages Across China

David Nealis on the farm in Erdos, China.

As we enter the 2019 Lunar New Year of the Pig, the African Swine Virus is raging across China and now spreading to other parts of Asia and Europe.

This incurable disease that typically takes years to eradicate has reached at least 24 Chinese provinces and regions since the first reported outbreak in August of 2018. It’s a common thought that the African Swine Virus was introduced to China from Russia. The US –China Trade War has China scrambling to find alternative sources of commodities to prove to the US that they do not need them to help feed their 1.3 billion population, this has some conspiracy theorist imaginations going wild.

On our yeoman farm in the Inner Mongolia City of Erdos, we feared the rapid spread of the African Swine Virus, as many of the large and small producers in the region started to contract the virus so we decided to send our hogs to market earlier than normal to avoid the chance of losing all of our stock to the virus. All that we kept were a few mature females that we use for breeding and so far they have been spared from contracting the virus.
Jane Yang on the farm in Erdos , Inner Mongolia China

What is the African Swine Virus?
The African swine fever virus (ASFV) is the causative agent of African swine fever (ASF). The virus causes a haemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in pigs, but persistently infects its natural hosts, warthogs, bushpigs, and soft ticks of the genus Ornithodoros, with no disease signs.

In attempts to reduce the spread of the virus the Chinese Central Government has banned feeding kitchen/restaurant waste to pigs which is a very popular practice in China, and restricted transportation of live pigs and products from infected areas. 

Hogs on the way to market in China.
So far the virus hasn’t mutated to be able to affect humans but it has affected the lives of many humans. Tens of thousands of Chinese farmers are expected to abandon pig farming as weak demand and higher regulation costs cut deep into their profits. It is estimated that will reduce production in China by 20 per cent this year. The weak demand for pork is also affecting global commodity producers with downward pressure on soybeans.This might not be considered a negative affect by the Chinese Central Government which has been pushing for larger factory farms were there can be more control.

David Nealis President of Ceres Ltd
China’s pork industry is US$1 trillion market, not only is China the world’s largest producer of pork and also a net importer of pork. In 2017 it is estimated that China slaughtered 700 million pigs. Yeoman farms producing fewer than 500 pigs for slaughter each year are estimated to account for about 40 per cent of China’s output annually.

During the Year of the Pig let’s hope that the Chinese and other affected regions of the world get the African Swine Virus under control and while they are at it let’s find an intelligent and fair solution to the US - China Trade War as well.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

In-N-Out lives up to the hype.

Recently I was in Southern California and could not resist the opportunity to try the famous In-N-Out Burger! 

David Nealis at In N Out Burger

Recently I was in Southern California helping a wealthy Chinese client set up operations there after a few days of lavish Chinese meals and drinking until deep into the night with the client and his new found friends I needed to escape for a true American meal and what better then to try the famous In-N-Out Burger.

The line was long which was a good sign
 This wasn’t my first time to Southern California but after a decade of living in China if I can find the opportunity for a good burger I am not going to pass it up.
To the best of my ability I tried to keep the Hollywood hype out of my mind as I pulled up to the place.

As I walked in I noticed the long line and thought to myself that is always a good sign. The line moved quickly and a couple minutes later my order came up.
It was a great burger and the price was fair, the fries weren’t my favorite but not bad either and the burger made up for it. The burger completely hit the spot!
The burger hit the spot! 
I will surely seek out In-N-Out in the future, even at the cost of missing another gourmet Chinese meal.

It wasn’t easy explaining to the client that I pasted up a gourmet Chinese meal for  some fast food, he gave me the most confused look when I was telling him about it , in the end I had to be very Chinese and say “ oh my friend wanted to go there” luckily he didn’t ask which friend ha ha.

                                                                                                                                                                  I will surely seek out In-N-Out in the future, even at the cost of missing another gourmet Chinese meal.

Monday, January 21, 2019

This Old PC Gets a New Life as a NAS

This Old PC

We had an aging PC in our office that ran a version of MS that Microsoft was going to stop supporting so instead of getting rid of it I decided to find a new function for it.

I examined our IT needs and decided that I needed to improve our internal data storage by adding a NAS to the network (NAS – Network Attached Storage).
I made the NAS by:

1) Replaced the hard drive with a new larger drive.
2) The RAM was already sufficient, but it never hurts to add RAM if possible.
3) Installed a copy of Linux on the PC as the Operating System.
4) Updated the BIOs on the PC hardware.
5) Downloaded a copy of Free NAS onto the PC then configured it.

The end product is a NAS with decent processing power that fulfilled the needs of our office. Obviously this won’t work on an Enterprise level, but for our boutique office in Shanghai, China this was a great low cost solution and admittedly a fun project for me.

Years ago I wrote another blog post about utilizing an old PC in your small business.
I labeled it “This Old PC part one”, I was living in Shanghai at the time and unfortunately soon after that the Chinese blocked all non-Chinese blogs, the Great Fire Wall of China severely stopped my blogging.

I am spending a little time back in the USA after a decade in China and I am cleaning up an old laptop and I came across some old blogs and I have decided to go ahead and post some of them, though they might be a bit dated I hope they are some value to you.

David Nealis President of Ceres Ltd
In the past if a PC wasn’t up to task for its current role I would clean them up and try to repurpose them while using the old operating system. But in the current age that we live in with additional cybersecurity concerns that is no longer a feasible thing to do, even if this PC isn’t directly connecting to the internet it still is a security risk as hackers scan your network looking for the weakest link. When Miscosoft stops supporting an operating system  it becomes more of a liability on your network because security updates for it  end as well as for third party venders. This makes it a massive security liability on your network.

Previously I wrote about utilizing older PCs for print servers and DNS Servers, but we no longer have any PCs in the office so as I look to the future of my legacy IT equipment my imagination is at work thinking about what can I repurpose those laptops , tablets and smart phones to do.

This brings back memories of a fail project using an old palm pilot to be the brain of a very very simple robot. This makes me hope that I sent that to the e-waste collection place and it’s not rusting away in my basement or garage.

Here are the links to previous tech blogs of mine:

Friday, December 7, 2018

Tungsten also known as Wolfram is the strongest naturally occurring metal on Earth

Tungsten also known as Wolfram is the strongest naturally occurring metal on Earth.

Discovered In 1781 by a chemist named Carl Wihelm Scheele, tungsten has the highest melting point which is 3422° C (6192° F) and lowest vapor pressure. It also has the highest tensile strength (the maximum stress it can withstand before deformation or breakage) at temperatures above 1650° C (3000° F). It is extremely resistant to corrosion and can be attacked only slightly by most mineral acids. When exposed to air, a protective oxide is formed on the surface of the metal; tungsten can be oxidized more fully at high temperatures. When alloyed in small quantities with steel, tungsten greatly increases the hardness of steel.

The applications of tungsten are wide, being used mainly in the use of high-temperature applications because of high melting point such as light bulbs, heating elements, aerospace, radiation shielding, and rocket engine nozzles. Because of its strength it is also used in cutting tools for machining steel.

 I first became interested in tungsten for its military uses, what young solider didn’t fantasize about firing an armor piecing round down range at the enemy?
The strategic value of tungsten became obvious in the early 1900's. 
During WWI Tungsten had been recognized as an important element to making armaments and the Germans used tungsten during World War II to produce shells for an anti-tank gun using the Gerlich squeeze bore principle to achieve a very high muzzle velocity which enhanced armor penetration for a comparatively small caliber weapon and for light weight field artillery. This development made the Germans more mobile and able to neutralize the Allies heavily armored tanks more effectively. The weapons were highly effective but a shortage of tungsten used in the shell core limited that effectiveness.

Modernly tungsten is used in more military applications; militarizes around the world use it to produce a variety of armaments including armor piercing bullets and fragmentation weapons like grenades and rockets that have a devastating effect on the target because of their penetration power.
Tungsten got more popular with the US military when it started to move away from using depleted uranium for ammunition and towards tungsten after the Gulf War. In Kuwait they found that depleted uranium rounds had left a toxic dust behind causing an environment issue.
Another popular military application of this metal is in military vehicles, helicopters, aircraft and armored vehicles. They use tungsten in helicopters to even out the weight of the rotors, skids or the nose. Tungsten has an atomic mass of 183 grams per mole making it very heavy making it ideal for load bearing.

Today my interest in Tungsten are how it is used to the exploration of energy, it is often used for hard steel drill bits for oil and gas exploration helping explorers to go deeper and into harder substances. 

Tungsten is sometimes used in jewelry which I find to be humorous since it is semi-toxic and has left from interesting marks on people’s fingers.

Supply of tungsten is tight with less than a dozen mines supplying most of the world’s supply, most of them are under control of restrictive regimes or even worse from areas controlled by warlords.  China produces the vast majority of the world’s supply of tungsten and is still a net importer. Other producers of tungsten are listen in the order of the size of the element that they produce Russia, Canada,  Bolivia, Vietnam, Portugal,  Austria, Rwanda, Spain, Brazil, Australia, Peru, Burundi, Myanmar, Korea, Thailand, Mongolia, and Uganda.

Over the years some smart money has made some moves into tungsten but the cycle to production is at least three to five years, but there is always a fear that the larger suppliers will flood the market with supply putting new miners out of business unless there is some type of state sponsorship.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

There is no drought at the CME

Despite a devastating drought in Australia, a severe drought in Eastern Europe and crop issues in Argentina the average daily volume of CME agricultural futures and options are on the rise.
David Nealis President of Ceres Ltd

Add in the trade war with China which has stunted soybean sales to China many outside observers would believe that anything related to agricultural would be less then exciting but the futures market is acting as it should helping firms to manage their risk making 2018 an exciting year for agricultural futures and options.

So the question many of us are thinking about is will growers plant as many soybeans and corn in 2019 as they did in the previous season?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

On behalf of Ceres Ltd I would like to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

We at Ceres have a very exciting 2018 ahead of us!

In the near future Ceres will have major announcements:

In 2018 we will have New Services to offer to Our Clients

We will be adding New Business Partners

We will be introducing you to New Members of the Ceres Team

We are very excited about the many New Technology Upgrades that we will be rolling out in 2018; including but not limited to a New Trading Platform that we will be supporting for our customers and some exciting back office technology roll outs and much much more.

Ceres will be expanding into new exciting markets in 2018

We would like to thank our Clients and Business Partners for helping us to make 2017 a successful year, we are looking forward to an amazing 2018 with you.

We at Ceres are looking forward to Prosperous 2018.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Kazakh Tenge

Today September 1st 2016 the Kazakh Tenge traded at 340.15 to $1 dollar, it hasn’t been pretty for the Tenge, last week it was relatively flat against the US Dollar only going down 0.32% but last month it was down 3.92% against the US Dollar.  We have seen some come back from its all-time high of 386.44 to 1 dollar which was in January of 2016 but it is still a long way to go to get back to its record low of 84.40 in January of 1999. With continued low energy prices on the horizon and increasing unrest in former CIS nations as well as its neighbors we believe the Tenge will continue to be weak, but exciting to watch.