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Comment: Sad Day for San Diego... and Drivers in General (Score 4, Insightful) 464

As a resident of San Diego, I hope to goodness that I don't run into her... or to be more literal, that she doesn't physically run into me or anyone in my family.

To weasel out of an everyday traffic ticket is one thing... but to say that she's "defending the future" is an affront to the public servants and to regular drivers and citizens who are just trying to make our roads safe.

At 80mph, you travel over 117 feet *per second*. (She may have denied it, but I'm pretty sure the cop was right and that she was going 80, or at least close to it — this is San Diego, and pretty much everyone drives at around 75 - 80). Using Glass, it's very easy and conceivable to focus on the image for a second or two. You could almost clear an entire football field in that amount of time.

While there may be marginal gains of utility and efficiency by using a product like Google Glass while driving, I am very hard pressed to hear that it would actually make anyone safer... and of course, time will likely show that products like this (just like with cell phone use and texting) will actually make drivers less aware of the road, and thus, more dangerous and more prone to accidents.

At some point, we need to just label "idiotic" for what it is, and admit that some "causes" are just that.

Comment: Misleading Headline (Score 1) 200

by GoCats1999 (#45336005) Attached to: Silicon Valley Could Be Heading For a New Stock Collapse.

The article actually focuses primarily on pre-revenue and/or pre-profitability consumer-oriented startups. While these companies do make a fair share of headlines and noise in both the tech and the mainstream media, I would hardly say that it makes up a large percentage of the *actual* jobs and capitalization of either the tech sector as a whole, or even the tech sector in silicon valley.

While the author does make some good points with regards to over-valuation of these companies (and some of the crazy things that some companies may be doing to attract top-level talent), his comparisons to the late-90s dotcom bubble is weak at best. (I know from personal experience, as I entered into the workforce during the boom and got to experience first hand the woes of the bust).

The original dotcom bust had such an impact on the overall economy because a majority of the investment and valuation was on these non-profitability consumer-oriented businesses (pets.com, etoys, govworks, etc.). The current tech sector economy is *significantly* more diverse, with strong B2B startups, hardware and consumer electronics, platforms and services, etc.

However, note that the focus of the article is *only* on consumer-oriented startups. His graph on Andreessen Horowitz (ironically, founded by former Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, who was one of the poster boys of the first docom bust) I think nails is perfectly: "Andreessen Horowitz ... is saying it will no longer invest in early stage consumer-oriented startups ... Andreessen is interested more in later stage and business-to-business-oriented companies. Companies with actual prospects of real revenue, in other words."

So in the article itself, the author specifies that there is still a very strong market for B2B companies. Who are these companies? Most of us probably have never heard of them, and likely never will. Because most of them are boring, unsexy companies that help provide business improvement, revenue generation and/or process efficiency in industries that will never make it on to VentureBeat or Tech Crunch. However, they are also boring, unsexy companies that add *actual* value to businesses, which in turn provides revenue and profitability to the company, which I would argue is a significantly stronger driver to the tech economy than the B2C startups.

To say "tech sector" and "silicon valley" and to only attribute it to the flashier B2C, consumer-oriented startups is simply perpetuating the disservice that the tech media gives to the women and men who are and will continue to be the true drivers of this economy.

Comment: Re:Isn't this what the Taiwanese believe as well? (Score 3, Informative) 262

by GoCats1999 (#45281743) Attached to: Taiwan Protests Apple Maps That Show Island As Province of China

Actually, just to clarify things a little bit more, and to provide at least some defense to the DPP... while it's true that one of the planks of the DPP is complete independence and autonomy from China, to say that the DPP is "crazy, independence fanatics" is a bit disingenuous.

The majority of the DPP is actually pretty moderate, and while they philosophically would favor independence, they aren't willing to risk death, self-destruction, or losing favor in the international community in trying to do so. Similar to how the KMT tends to be pretty moderate when they look at the "100 year" view of some sort of reunification, most of the DPP is similarly moderate in having a "100 year" view of trying to establish a more definitive position of Taiwan's independent relationship to China and the rest of the world.

Are there fanatics within the DPP? Absolutely. But the same can be said of the KMT. Both parties have minority factions that are a bit more radical in their philosophy and practice. In fact, if you do a quick google search for "Taiwan political assassinations" and you will find news articles over the past 8-10 years from assassinations and assassination attempts by and against members of both parties — with one attempt as recently as last year.

And actually, analogizing Taiwanese politics to that in the US is actually pretty interesting, and one that I hadn't really thought of. Some of the more "crazies" in the DPP could very much be compared with the Tea Party faction of the GOP here in the U.S. — unable to compromise and a willingness to risk significant harm (e.g. government shut down, financial default, etc.) in the name of holding to core, fundamentalist principles.

But by and large, just like in the US where a majority of both Republicans and Democrats tend to be more centrist/moderate in the name of finding common ground (maybe not publicly, but very much so privately), I would say that the majority of the KMT and the DPP favors moderation, especially with regards to their relationship with China.

Yes, posturing can and will always be a part of politics, especially on the international stage. But the fact that not a single military artillery has been fired and not a single military causality has been suffered between the two nations in the 6+ decades of political tension should be telling enough.

Comment: Re:Because they had the money to become entreprene (Score 2) 61

by GoCats1999 (#44135543) Attached to: Why the MIT Blackjack Team Became Entrepreneurs

Spot on. I knew several members of the second "reptiles" team, and was even recruited to join them (they typically sought out people who are strong in engineering or math, who also have a boisterous personality, which, I'm told, I have =)

The managers had salaries that ranged in the $150k ~ $200k range (including bonuses)... where as the players (spotters and the BPs) were typically brought on as 1099-MISC independent contractors, almost all of whom had regular day jobs (think: engineers or technical managers at Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.) As a spotter or BP, you had to commit to 3 weekend trips every 2 months (with preferences to the long holiday / 3-day weekends), and during the trips you had to have 3 12-hour shifts, with short breaks in between for eating, sleeping, etc. Pay for the independent contractors were a guaranteed $75/hour for hours worked during the weekend, plus a small percentage (I believe it was something like 1.5%) of the total earnings from a weekend's trip (if any), split evenly among the team members that attended that trip. (Travel, food, accommodations, transportation, etc. were all covered). The players were not penalized if the trip ended up having losses.

For the managers, it was a regular job. Averaged out to about 40-50 hours per week, and they were making a decent salary at $150k ~ $200k. But considering that they were all 8-12 years out of college, graduated from MIT or another elite university with an engineering or math background, and living in the SF Bay Area (no, they were not in Las Vegas as "21" or "Bringing Down the House" would have you believe), most of their cohorts were likely making similar salaries at regular, more "mainstream" companies in Silicon Valley.

For the BPs and spotters (e.g. the 1099-MISC contractors), it definitely was decent side income. From talking with my friends on the team, it was pretty mentally grueling ("the Monday or Tuesday after I get back to work I'm a total zombie")... but the side income (usually about $3000 ~ $3500 before taxes per weekend trip) was definitely nice to have, especially for engineers who are maybe making $120k or so with their "day job", the 40~50% or so bump in salary was definitely enjoyable.

But as you can see with these numbers, they were definitely not breaking the bank with any of the money they were making here... definitely not enough to self-fund any future entrepreneurial activity.

And case in point: as the team has now ramped down, a majority of these people ended up going to get MBAs at the various top-10 business schools across the country (Sloan, Wharton, Haas, HBS, Stanford GSB, and of course Kellogg), kinda like everyone else who pursued a more "mainstream" career track.

Comment: Consider Taiwan (Score 4, Informative) 523

by GoCats1999 (#43211031) Attached to: How a Programmer Gets By On $16K/Yr: He Moves to Malaysia

After living in Silicon Valley for almost 10 years, we moved to Taiwan for 4 months (just got back), while I continued working as an independent contractor for US-based companies doing custom web and iOS software development.

In a word, it was *awesome*.

You could definitely make a very decent living in Taiwan, especially outside of Taipei (Taipei could still work pretty well, but rent prices are significantly higher than the rest of the country.)

Living expenses are incredibly cheap, especially for a first-world country. Bonus, If you can qualify for an ARC (Alien Resident Card), then their nationalized health care is really cheap.

We had a beautiful (albeit on the small side) 2 BR/1 BA apartment in the heart of Kaohsiung (Taiwan's second largest city) for $400/month. Utilities at around $75/month. Wife and I both had unlimited 3G on our iPhones for $30 per month each — oh, and that *includes* UNLIMITED tethering (something you'll never get with AT&T or Verizon).

Food in Taiwan is incredible... both in taste, as well in cost. We never cooked, always eating out every breakfast, lunch and dinner to the tune of about $15 per day total.

Taxis can take you pretty much anywhere for about $2-$4 per trip... or you can take the subway for about $1 per ride.

All told, we were spending about $1500 per month.

However, despite its benefits, there are definitely some downsides. Taiwan (like most of East Asia) has notoriously poor air quality. Lack of emission control standards on vehicles make it very difficult to walk (let alone jog or work out) outside without feeling a bit nauseous. When walking around outside, you will see people wearing masks *everywhere*.

Also, unlike other countries in East Asia with a stronger western influence, it is very difficult to get around Taiwan without being able to speak Chinese. While there are some people who do speak very basic conversational English, it's a bit more on the rare side, so trying to get around or order at restaurants can be challenging. It tends to be a bit easier in Taipei, but then, you'll end up paying more in living expenses.

But if you are able to get through some of those challenges, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. We are already trying to figure out how and when we can get out there again!

Comment: Re:They Do It for the Lawsuit Settlements (Score 2) 744

by GoCats1999 (#35252102) Attached to: Anonymous Goes After GodHatesFags.com
While you're right about Phelps and his good-for-nothing self-promoting lawsuit-wielding practices, please remember that he and his so-called church are a cult, and what they preach should not be confused for true Evangelical Christianity.

Liberty University (and other Bible-based universities) graduates thousands of devout Christians every year whose faith and practice of faith resemble absolutely nothing of Phelps' and his family's. There isn't a single passage in the Christian Bible that gives believers the right to hate, judge or condemn. Period. And in fact, Jesus's Great Commandment for his followers was the exact opposite -- followers are to love God and to love each other, no matter what... quite the opposite of Westboro "preaches".

Now, are there crazies that graduate from these places who practice otherwise? Of course there are. But that's the case with almost every college in the country. But to attribute the craziness of a minority of alums to the university as a whole would be misguided... otherwise, one could say that Virgina Tech is a madras because Nidal Malik Hasan graduated from there.

Comment: Re:Let me get this straight... (Score 1) 242

by GoCats1999 (#15408096) Attached to: Dell Installs Google Software at Factory
But remember, Microsoft *DID* pay for IE7. They forked over $$$ millions (if not billions) in software development and R&D to get IE7 up and running and out the door. Microsoft is definitely not doing it for free. Now, of course, one could argue if it was even worth it for Microsoft to put fork over so much cash to pay for the development if IE7. But that argument aside, you'd very hard pressed to say that Microsoft is making MSN the default engine for IE7 for "free". I agree with grandparent -- ever since Google went public, they've become more and more hypocritical with their PR/rhetoric vs. their actual business practices.

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