Tag Archives: Wikipedia

Our NGOs for 2016 are…

“If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.” Warren Buffett

If there is a blog post that I am looking forward to write each year is this one. Few things can give you more pleasure than helping others (1). And in doing so I try to be as public and noisy as I can,  hoping that I may serve the causes we contribute to also from the awareness point of view.

Let’s go and see the different causes we decided to support in this 2016 (2):

Why am I “noisy” or public about these donations?

I know that between 100 and 200 of you will read this blog post. I bet with any of you that at least 50% of you will be compelled to take a look at some of these organisations above, 10% of you will consider making a donation. Do you dare thinking that 1% of you won’t actually make such donation?

I learnt about Kiva from Bruno back in 2009. Started contributing to Médecins Sans Frontières in 2010 after a conversation with Juan a couple of years before. I learnt from Slavery International at a temporary exhibit at the Museum of London. I started contributing to the sustaining of the Wikipedia after a tweet from Amalia. Discovered the Fundacion Hombres Nuevos thanks to my father’s 6-month volunteering in Bolivia. Learnt of Gapminder in TED. I started donating myself happiness with Fundacion Khanimambo after Nacho and Alberto. I started using the support to cancer research as a way to honour and encourage work colleagues going through therapy. I received the #IceBucketChallenge from Alvaro and Teresa. The latest additions, Avocats sans Frontieres and Movement du Nid, are ideas from Luca… and so on. After each cause there is someone who let me discover them.

If not one of those, I am sure that you will be able to find a cause, a NGO which resonates with you. Do yourself a favour and contribute to it. It can be just 25$, the cost of diner at a restaurant. You’ll feel much better.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank

(1) See this recent article from the World Economic Forum “Why being generous is good for your health“.

(2) You may check out similar posts I wrote about our contributions to NGOs in 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.

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My charities for 2015 are…

“If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.” Warren Buffett

If there is a blog post that I am looking forward to write each year is this one. Few things can give you more pleasure than helping others. And in doing so I try to be as public and noisy as I can,  hoping that I may serve the causes I contribute to also from the awareness point of view.

I know that between 100 and 200 of you will read this blog post. I bet with any of you that at least 50% of you will be compelled to take a look at some of these organisations below, 10% of you will consider making a donation. Do you dare thinking that 1% of you won’t actually make such donation?

Let’s go and see the different causes I decided to support in this 2015 (1):

Kiva, Médecins Sans Frontières, Oxfam, Slavery International, Wikipedia, Fundacion Hombres Nuevos, Gapminder, Fundacion Khanimambo, American Association for Cancer Research Foundation and the new addition of 2015 Avocats Sans Frontières… those are the causes I decided to support this year. If not one of those, I am sure that you will be able to find one which resonates with you. Do yourself a favour and contribute to it. It can be just 25$, the cost of diner at a restaurant. You’ll feel much better.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank

(1) You may check out similar posts I wrote about contributions to NGOs in 20142013 and 2012.

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Introduction to Learning Curves

Let me introduce the learning curve effect by quoting directly from the Wikipedia:

“The rule used for representing the learning curve effect states that the more times a task has been performed, the less time will be required on each subsequent iteration. This relationship was probably first quantified in 1936 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the United States, where it was determined that every time total aircraft production doubled, the required labour time decreased by 10 to 15 percent.” […]

“Learning curve theory states that as the quantity of items produced doubles, costs decrease at a predictable rate.”

I used the concept of learning curve in a blog post in which I discussed whether and when the Boeing 787 would break even. In that post I referred to Boeing’s target of reaching a 75% learning curve on the 787 program, much more difficult to reach than the 84% that Boeing reportedly achieved in the 777 program.

Why is a curve of 75% more difficult to achieve than a 84% curve? The meaning of the figure “84%” attached to the learning curve is that each time that the number of units produced is doubled, the cost is reduced in 16%, or the 2*nth unit cost is 84% of the unit cost of the nth unit. Thus, a 75% curve would imply that the cost is reduced in 25%, which is a higher cost reduction than 16%, and, thus, more difficult to achieve.

On the other hand, NASA, in its Learning Curve Calculator, offers some guidance on learning curves for different industries and mixes of hand labor and machining work:

  1. Aerospace 85%
  2. Shipbuilding 80-85%
  3. Complex machine tools for new models 75-85%
  4. Repetitive electronics manufacturing 90-95%
  5. Repetitive machining or punch-press operations 90-95%
  6. repetitive electrical operations 75-85%
  7. Repetitive welding operations 90%
  8. Raw materials 93-96%
  9. Purchased Parts 85-88%

How is the concept of learning curve calculated? (from Wikipedia: )

 Now the equation for the unit curve is given by:

Y_x = K x^{\log_2 (b)}

where

  • K is the number of direct labour hours to produce the first unit
  • Yx is the number of direct labour hours to produce the xth unit
  • x is the unit number
  • b is the learning percentage (expressed as a decimal)

How does a learning curve look like? (from Wikipedia) Actual examples of curves in both linear and logarithmic scales would be:

Experience curve (from Wikimedia, by Apdevries).

The concept of learning curve is indeed used in aerospace, however, coming back to the 787 program, Boeing does not disclose outright what is the actual learning curve it is achieving in its program. Nevertheless, in its investor relations conferences it provides information here and there of cost savings achieved, etc. This can be interpreted as derived from learning curve effects, and would permit to build a model, even if based on scarce information.

See some of the hints that Boeing provides:

“We continue to see progress in key operational performance indicators and unit costs, as we further implement production efficiencies and stabilize the overall production system on the 787 program. Unit cost has improved approximately 20% over the past year on the 787-8 […]”, Greg Smith, Boeing EVP – CFO at Q4 2013 Earnings Conference.

“[…] as we continue to make improvements 787 unit cost […]”Greg Smith, Boeing EVP – CFO at Q4 2013 Earnings Conference.

“when you look at flow-time, you look at unit cost at Charleston whether it’s final, mid, or (aft) it made great progress there. And the team has been very focused on continuing that progress going forward. We have experienced a higher number of jobs behind schedule in the mid-body section, and that’s really due to, if you think about it, you are introducing the Dash-9 at the same time going to 10 a month. […], we’ve applied additional resources. We know how to do this and we’ll get those jobs back to what we view as a more acceptable level. So we got mitigation plans.” Greg Smith, Boeing EVP – CFO at Q4 2013 Earnings Conference.

“This morning we announced plans to increase 787 production beyond the 10 per month we’re on track to achieve this year to 12 per month in 2016 and then 14 per month, before the end of the decade. […], capture productivity and learning improved profitability […]” Jim McNerney, Boeing Chairman, President and CEO at Q3 2013 Earnings Conference.

“We’ve added another line or sorry, a position within the line, where we’re doing the wing, body joint earlier in the process and this is through experience after 134 airplanes, the teams are really coming up with better ideas or improvements on how to increase flow and that’s going to require some upfront investment. But obviously in the units to come after we’ll see that improvement again in flow and productivity.” Greg Smith, Boeing EVP – CFO at Q3 2013 Earnings Conference.

“[…] the flow time reductions, we’ve had in our factories, the hours per unit, the productivity per whatever are increasing significantly on all of our programs.” Jim McNerney, Boeing Chairman, President and CEO at Q3 2013 Earnings Conference.

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My charities for 2014 are…

“If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.” Warren Buffett

I take for granted that most people are to some extent concerned by others and many contribute in different ways to alleviate others’ burdens. Some find it that these contributions should rather be kept private. In this regard, I take the opposite approach.

I try to be as public as I can, hoping that I may serve the causes I contribute to also from the awareness point of view. Take this blog post as an example. I expect that it will be read by over 100 people. If just a reader feels compelled by the message and decides to look for a cause to contribute to, the time spent by me writing this post will have been worth it.

Let’s go and see the different causes I decided to support in this 2014 (1):

AACR, the last organization I decided to support.

Kiva, Vittana, Oxfam, MSF, Slavery International, Wikipedia, Fundacion Hombres Nuevos, Gapminder, American Association for Cancer Research Foundation… those are the causes I decided to support this year. If not one of those, I am sure that you will be able to find one which resonates with you. Do yourself a favour and contribute to it. It can be just 25$, the cost of diner at a restaurant. You’ll feel much better. 

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank

(1) You may check out similar posts I wrote about contributions to NGOs in 2013 and 2012.

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My charities for 2013 are…

January is the month of the year in which I take some time during a weekend to select which charities and non-profits I will donate some money (1). Let me introduce you to the 9 NGOs I have selected this year:

Kiva: this is a micro lending portal. This is the first non-profit to which I made a contribution. This is not truly a charity, as here you give loans to small entrepreneurs in developing countries. I have talked about in the blog sometimes. This year, for the 4th year in a row, I have added some more funds.

Vittana: another micro lending portal. This one is specialized on credits for education purposes, very similar to Kiva in its conception. This year, for the 3rd year in a row, I have added more funds, to help some students study nursing and engineering.

Médecins sans Frontières: I started donating cash to MSF in 2010 while still living in Spain, in 2011 I became member of the French branch. This year I learnt what you can afford with just 100€:

Oxfam: another well-known NGO. Oxfam mission is “to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice”, this is the 3rd year I help them :-).

Anti-Slavery: Can you stand slavery today? In the XXI century? I cannot. This is why since 3 years ago I am contributing to this NGO which works to eliminate all forms of slavery around the world. 

Fundación Hombres Nuevos. My father retired in autumn 2011. In January 2012 he was packing to spend 5 months in Bolivia working in the field teaching some underprivileged children maths, language… or just helping them do their homework. I think that only my sister had such a good opportunity in the past 2 decades!

My father discovered this foundation in a TV documentary about 2 years ago:

That sparkled again a vocational aspiration he had since completing his studies and he went on to fulfil it. I’ll try to get him to write about it… stay tuned.

Brief comment about the foundation: It was founded by Nicolás Castellanos who received the prize “Premio Príncipe de Asturias a la Concordia” in 1998 along with Vicente Ferrer or Muhammad Yunus (who later received the Nobel Peace Prize and is credited with the invention of micro credits).

Wikipedia: When was the last time you checked the Wikipedia? How often do you check it? Wikipedia’s self-description:

“Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project based on an openly editable model. The name “Wikipedia” is a portmanteau of the words wiki (a technology for creating collaborative websites, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning “quick”) and encyclopedia.”

For the second year running I contributed to #keepitfree.

Gapminder: you might have seen some talk from Hans Rosling, its founder. Gapminder is “a non-profit venture – a modern “museum” on the Internet – promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals”, or better “Fighting the most devastating myths by building a fact-based world view that everyone understands”.

Have you got 13 minutes? Why don’t you check this video about “Religion and babies” and let his performance convince you?

Finally, let me introduce you to the new addition to my list of NGOs:

Fundación Khanimambo. I was introduced to it by two friends, Nacho and Alberto. I loved the message of the NGO: “¿Necesitas sonreír? Déjate ayudar (Do you need to smile? Let us help you). It’s wonderful, the children from Praia Xai Xai, Mozambique, want to donate happiness to people worried and stressed in the rich countries. To do that, they need some money to enlarge their school, buy more pencils, papers, etc… Let them convince you (less than 2 minutes):

Final reflection:

I understand that in these times of economic stress many will not have the opportunity to spare some funds needed by their own families to help others in need. For those of us who have a job, I truly recommend you to take some moments and go through some websites of different NGOs, charities, non-profits, scientific endeavours… I am sure you will find an initiative that will resonate with you. Go and direct some funds to it. You might feel a bit wary the first time. It’s OK. Spend 25$, 50€… (it’s only the cost of a dinner with your partner). You will not only help someone in need, you will feel much better after having done it.

If not for them, do it for you :-).

 ***

(1) I already published two similar posts in 2011 and 2012. In previous year I had set first 0.7% and then 0.9% of my net income as the minimum bar; this year I increased the contribution to 1.1%.

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Holocaust Memorial (Berlin) and unintended consequences

The Holocaust Memorial or Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was inaugurated in Berlin about 7 years ago close to the Brandenburg Gate.

If you see the following picture from Wikimedia, you get a glimpse of what could be a huge cemetery of concrete slabs.

Holocaust Memorial (by de:Benutzer:Schreibkraft).

The memorial is described in the Wikipedia with the following words:

“It consists of a 19,000 square metres (4.7 acres) site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or “stelae“, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. […] According to Eisenman’s project text, the stelae are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason.

However, the memorial is not to be contemplated from the air as seen above, but from the ground and people can walk through it.

If you visit the site you’ll experience or watch some unintended consequences:  people tend to sit on the stones, run between them, jump from one to another, play “hide and seek”… the least people do is to experience with light and shadows, distances, slopes…

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Then there is a poor security guard calling on people (sometimes bunches of playful students) to “behave”, not to run, jump, etc.

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Berlin Tempelhof Airport

Berlin Tempelhof Airport was one of the spots that we wanted to visit in Berlin. The airport was built in the 1920’s and had been an iconic airport for decades, e.g., by the famous Berlin Airlift which with the allied forces supplied West Berlin once surface traffic was blocked by the Soviet Union in 1948.

Other historic events happening in the airport (quoted from Wikipedia):

In 1909, Frenchman Armand Zipfel made the first flight demonstration in Tempelhof, followed by Orville Wright later that same year. Tempelhof was first officially designated as an airport on 8 October 1923. Deutsche Luft Hansa was founded in Tempelhof on 6 January 1926.

[…] described by British architect Sir Norman Foster as “the mother of all airports”.

The airport closed operations in 2008.

The coincidence was that the Berlin marathon fair was organized at Tempelhof thus we didn’t need to schedule the visit since we would go there to pick the running bibs.

See below some pictures from the airport.

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I had some fun with my brother remembering that the airport is also featured in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (when they get into a zeppelin). I tried to find in Youtube some scenes in which the airport could be recognised, but the only scene that I find related to it is when Indiana and his father are already aboard the zeppelin:

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