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Comment Margin and history (Score 1) 364

One thing all stock market crashes have in common is debt. Stock declines force margin calls, which forces selling, leading to more declines, a vicious cycle.

Margin trading for individual investors is a recent development. Previously, individual investors were not allowed to open margin accounts. As this old article explains, China brokerages became nervous of the margin debt at the peak. As soon as brokerages tightened margin requirements, the selloff began. This article from December 2014 goes into a little more detail on the recent history of margin in the China markets.

There is also Shadow debt in the market, off-balance-sheet debt invested in the market, sometimes at a leverage of 3 to 1. Normal margin accounts are much more restrictive, about 9%. This shadow debt has been around for a few years now, but the latest boom is much more recent.

It should be noted that the China market has had huge booms and busts in the past, without the more recent leverage.

Comment What about programming in general? (Score 1) 250

I sometimes wonder if programming in general is in decline. Of course, there are hot spot areas, such as phone apps at the moment. Based on my own anecdotal observations, there seems to be more demand for System Architects than Programmers. It's a "Software as a service" world now, and companies want people who can choose the correct puzzle pieces to put together into a practical system. With the advent of "cloud" services, where services are not just shared within an organization, but across the entire world, I can see how actual customized coding may become less necessary for individual companies. Companies want systems that can be built quickly, without all of the bugs and issues that can come from completely customized systems. They still want some customization, but perhaps not to the extent of a system being built from the ground-up.

Comment Overwork also makes it hard on management (Score 4, Insightful) 710

Aside from the lack of sleep and general burnout, working overtime also tends to skew expectations with management. Upper management is not going to be aware of exactly the amount of effort required complete a project. They are only going to see the results, the number of employees, and the amount of resources it took to achieve those results. So, if everybody gives it 110%, with lots of overtime and everything, that has the effect of raising the expectations of management. This leads management to believe employees can accomplish this great feat as a matter of course, when in fact, that type of effort can't be repeated. It all ends up with management making unrealistic demands while believing it is entirely reasonable.

Comment Programming is a form of writing (Score 2) 161

I've always felt that writing good code is very similar to writing a good essay or research paper. The process is about the same. The thinking is about the same. The ideal steps followed to produce a decent paper are similar to the steps followed to produce decent code.

I've always thought that a good essay writer can make a good programmer. In particular, good essay writers can make good programmer/analysts or project managers. In both worlds, you struggle with scope, organization, and fact finding. Answering the question "What is this paper/program really and truly about?" is the primary task.

Comment Re:Fraud is fraud (Score 1) 312

This guy was apparently obsessed with video poker. He played constantly and knew the game inside and out. Apparently he stumbled across a bug, and was able to repeat the necessary steps to reproduce it.

I think this is more like an obsessive video game player, who plays the game enough to learn every trick and secret. For example, say there is a particular game boss you wish to defeat. Play enough, and you learn the boss encounter by heart. You will know what the boss will do and when. You will learn where to stand, what abilities to use, how to cheese it, everything. Eventually, you will be able to beat in your sleep. Is that hacking?

To me, hacking would be modifying the software or machine or obtaining the source code to find exploits.

This is stealing, like taking advantage from a malfunctioning ATM machine to obtain lots of cash is stealing. If you take money from a malfunctioning ATM, is that hacking? It is not.

Comment I might be old fashioned (Score 1) 524

Working from home can be just 2 steps away from a day off. It is useful every once in a while, so employees can wait for the repair man or handle the kids. However, from my experiences, when you work from home, your coworkers treat it as if you were out sick. When you work from home, you miss a lot of scuttlebutt, impromptu meetings, and hallway chats that electronic communications just don't make up for.

Comment Military fat trimming is overdue (Score 2) 484

I think that some trimming of the fat is long overdue for the military. It will force them to think about what is really necessary, what is "nice to have", and what is obsolete. It might even force the politicians to think a little more carefully about how the military is used and what its role is supposed to be. (Fat chance?)

Comment Re:Lead Paint Theory is Flawed (Score 2) 223

I can imagine kids eating paint chips. However, from what I've heard, it's not so much the paint chips as it is the dust from deteriorating paint. Have you ever run your finger along a dirty windowsill? A lot of that is not just regular dust and dirt, it also contains paint dust.

Comment Re:Cuts (Score 1) 473

After reading this thread I could not help but remember how my last package was delivered. The package was shipped using Fed Ex, but it arrived via USPS. Fed Ex flew it across the country, then dropped it into the mail for the last hundred miles. That tells me it's more economical for them to use the USPS instead of their own trucks for the last leg of the journey.

Comment People start to make stuff up (Score 3, Interesting) 630

I've noticed that when companies start to go overboard with the amount of time and/or project tracking detail people need to record, employees resort to just making stuff up. I'm not saying they out-right lie, but because it's impossible to have a system detailed enough to record every little thing that may happen in a work day, people will often just pick a generic bucket to dump time into for things they don't remember or don't know how to categorize.

This defeats the purpose of installing these types of systems. Instead of simply not knowing exactly what employees are spending their time on, they now have an inaccurate or down-right false picture of what employees are doing. This can lead the management to make the wrong decisions on things such as when to hire or how to allocate resources, especially when they believe the data over their lower level managers.

Comment Re:Over dramatic much? (Score 1) 443

One thing I've always wondered: If the market for the most part trades based on other trades, then it is basically trading with itself. It is a closed system, occasionally infused with data from the real world. What meaning then does the stock price have?

As I understand it, supposedly the market arrives at a price based on its perception of the value of the underlying company, with its future prospects and the time value of money factored in. Unless these algorithms are taking this data into account, I'm not sure this idea is true now. After all, these algorithms are the ones setting the price. If they are not looking at the underlying company while setting the price, then the price they set has nothing to do with the underlying company or its prospects. Of course, there are still trades made that take the fundamentals into account, but as more volume becomes algorithmic volume, then the relationship between the stock price and the underlying value of the company becomes more tenuous.

Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother. - Kahlil Gibran