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Comment: Re:What stops people from bypassing Amazon? (Score 1) 77

Not much different than what is currently offered through Home Depot (except made your credit card number won't be hacked).

Ratings. Uber has totally overthrown the cab industry because of ratings. Drivers are generally good because they have to maintain 4.7 out of 5 on a customer rating to stay in good standing with uber. Now think how many bad contractors there are.

A reliable third-party rating system gives you at least a minimum amount of accountability.

Comment: Theft of snail-mail. (Score 1) 261

by Etherwalk (#49373699) Attached to: Sign Up At irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You

There is a wide range of mailbox types in the US. A mailbox without a lock is common on houses, although apartment buildings tend to have locks on individual mailboxes, generally within a secure vestibule or foyer.

Some buildings have mail slots in or beside the front door that go into a secure area.

Whether the postal service leaves packages depends on how good they consider the area to be. If they worry someone is likely to take the package, some post offices won't leave one unless someone is home.

But you also have theft from conventional municipal mailboxes for sending mail. Criminals hack the mechanics and steal checks, for example, and then alter them to be in their name. A neighbor had one re-written to "Angel Batista," a character from the television show Dexter.

Comment: Re:Maybe it's time these companies learn... (Score 1) 120

by Etherwalk (#49366019) Attached to: SeaWorld and Others Discover That a Hashtag Can Become a Bashtag

to control their own image, so they don't need to control the campaign. If patrons are happy, they'll do the advertising for them.

This. "Word-of-mouth" is the best single way to advertise your product. Depending on your consumer base and any politics around your brand, a twitter campaign should be fine. You can't control it, but if you're a good company and you aren't dealing with a lot of jerks, it will also be a positive one.

Woodstock stove company, for example, is a very reputable company that makes soapstone and cast iron stoves. They would probably do well on twitter, even though they might get some flame wars from people who are really into other brands of stoves.

Comment: Re:It happens... (Score 1) 198

by Etherwalk (#49361707) Attached to: Prison Inmate Emails His Own Release Instructions To the Prison

I had to go through jury selection a few months back for a capital case, going through three or four rounds of appearances and interviews. Part of what struck me about the experience is how incredibly poor the paperwork was. They gave us number cards when there were 250+ people to go through in my group, they were all handwritten even though the numbers corresponded with the computer-generated numbers we were assigned when the original mailing for service was sent. Forms and questionnaires looked like they were generated in Clarisworks by first-time users in elementary school. Nothing had letterhead, nothing had any sort of official feel.

  Your story about no letterhead and using fax machines is totally believable to me, and I'm amazed that it isn't abused more often.

Courts have no money for electronic upgrades, and when they have the money they have to fight a bureaucracy to get them. Seattle is still using DOS-based systems.

Comment: Tent Cities (Score 1) 70

by Etherwalk (#49361527) Attached to: Ikea Refugee Shelter Entering Production

It would probably be sellable at an Ikea as well, to decrease costs through commercial sales

I could see this as camping gear, DIY flatpack cabin, DIY garden guesthouse, flatpack survivalist supplies

I wonder how it holds up under snow and monsoon, since places needing such shelters can have snowy winters (Japan Fukushima) or hurricanes (Haiti) and monsoons (Burma)

There might actually be a real demand. A lot of places in the US have homeless "tent cities" where local homeless populations live, and there is definitely an effort to work to improve their lot.

Comment: Re:There is one effect TFA omits ... (Score 4, Insightful) 346

Yes, a lawyer is more likely to sue you if you do something wrong. It doesn't make it wrong to hire a lawyer.

It doesn't make it wrong, but it does make it dumb.

An engineer is more likely to hold your private key hostage. It doesn't make it wrong to hire an engineer.

Comment: Re:The only reason... (Score 1) 346

The next time you are sexually harassed by a woman, feel free to point it out. If they don't follow the same procedure, sue them into oblivion.

People claiming they're harassed have a lot of power even though most people bringing harassment lawsuits are bogus, because we as a society have decided it's important enough to prevent real harassment that we're willing to pay the price of having lots of spurious lawsuits.

Comment: Re:There is one effect TFA omits ... (Score 4, Insightful) 346

It is interesting that news stories never mention that Ellen Pao is a lawyer. I don't know what Kleiner Perkins was thinking when they hired her, and made her a junior partner. If you hire a carpenter, that carpenter is going to try to solve every problem with a hammer. If you hire a lawyer, that lawyer is going to try to solve every problem with a lawsuit. That's what they do.

Yes, what a shame it is that they hired someone who knew enough to assert her rights if she faced gender discrimination. Much better to hire someone from inside the tech industry who had acclimated to the gender discrimination properly already.

End Sarcasm.

Yes, a lawyer is more likely to sue you if you do something wrong. It doesn't make it wrong to hire a lawyer.

Comment: Re:Looking inside shopvac (Score 1) 262

by Etherwalk (#49351601) Attached to: RadioShack Puts Customer Data Up For Sale In Bankruptcy Auction

Someone's panties are all in a bunch, wouldn'tchaknow. Seriously, nobody's accusing you of anything; but, if it acts as a deterrent, or they happen to catch a thief, it keeps prices lower for you (or profits higher for the shareholders, which could also include you), and if the anti-cheating software happens to catch a cheat, that added proof that you actually did the work makes your degree that much more valuable.

So, where's the problem?

Leaving aside your sexist language, the problem is in the insult. The action assumes you are a thief and launches an investigation without any evidence, just because you bought a shopvac. It is a guilty until proven innocent approach.

Imagine that as you check out, the cashier says "I am going to look inside your shopvac in case you are a thief."

Saying it's because other people are thieves justifies looking in mine is saying that I might be guilty because other people are.

Comment: Re:Looking inside shopvac (Score 1) 262

by Etherwalk (#49350785) Attached to: RadioShack Puts Customer Data Up For Sale In Bankruptcy Auction

Having worked at Home Depot in my lesser years, no, the cashier was doing their job and making sure they scanned all of your items. About 20% of the theft in my store was sliding small items under the garden center gate, 10% was walkouts, and 70% was people shoving shit in shop vacs, so yeah, not blaming anyone for checking those.

When their job is to accuse me of stealing, it's an insult to every customer who buys a shopvac. That is the fundamental objection people have to requiring people to sign your receipt when you leave, for example, or to running college essays through anti-cheating software.

Comment: They're the boss. (Score 2) 131

by Etherwalk (#49350707) Attached to: GAO Denied Access To Webb Telescope Workers By Northrop Grumman

I can understand the reluctance to speak to Congress, or their henchmen.

I don't think you understand how federal programs work.

In order to bid on a government project, you have to comply with *a lot* of rules. If you don't want to, you don't have to big on the project. They're just such an awfully big buyer that a lot of people are willing to comply with the rules.

It's like any other moment in life when you're dealing with an annoying and overly demanding client. If you're very lucky you don't have to--but they do put the food on your table.

Comment: Cross Bronx (Score 1) 226

by Etherwalk (#49349415) Attached to: Russian Official Proposes Road That Could Connect London To NYC

The US would of course have to block the road where it hits NYC to prevent trade with them... leading to a 13-thousand mile traffic jam ?

I see you are not familiar with the Cross Bronx "Expressway". The US would simply need to make the highway end on the Cross Bronx. Formal trade barriers are unnecessary.

Comment: Looking inside shopvac (Score 1) 262

by Etherwalk (#49342149) Attached to: RadioShack Puts Customer Data Up For Sale In Bankruptcy Auction

Ever since the checker at Fry's caught that one of my items (the smallest yet most expensive item on my ticket) was not in my bag, I'm more than happy to let them check. It's not always a loss-prevention, treat you like a criminal, measure. In fact, having talked to the checkers quite a bit when the store is slow, I've learned that they catch people leaving without what they paid for much more often than the other way round. At least at Fry's, it truly is a customer service initiative. And yes, cashiers do face consequences for not making sure the customer leaves their register with all of their purchases.

Yeah, the cashier at home depot who looked inside my shopvac wanted to make sure it had all the parts, I'm sure.

Comment: The Wankel Engine of the Semiconductor Industry (Score 4, Interesting) 56

by Etherwalk (#49333793) Attached to: Stanford Breakthrough Could Make Better Chips Cheaper

One of the very first papers I read for a VLSI design course had one of the weirdest final sentences I have ever heard, from a geeky see-my-smarts cross between physics and car geeks. As I recall, it was something like this:

"And then, of course, there is the problem of gallium arsenide, which is the Wankel Engine of the semiconductor industry."

To which the class (a bunch of undergrads wading into the delightful bliss and head-scratching geekery of academic journals for the first time) collectively and perplexedly said "WTF?"

Old programmers never die, they just branch to a new address.