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Comment: re: Apple (Score 1) 388

by King_TJ (#47569297) Attached to: A 24-Year-Old Scammed Apple 42 Times In 16 Different States

Well, it's not *quite* like that....

What Apple does on the computer side of things is generally stocks 2 to 3 configurations for each product in the lineup. So you can choose from a "base model" or an all around upgraded form of that, or in some cases you get a "low", "mid spec" and "high spec" config. to pick from.

All of the other combinations would be custom orders that aren't stocked.

Right now, they actually have 5 product lines: Macbook Air or Macbook Pro for laptops, the Mac Mini, the iMac and the Mac Pro workstation.

That's why I said I was a little surprised the maxxed out configuration was in the store, ready to sell. It's not something you can select on the website without manually picking the highest end pre-configured model and then manually choosing several options to upgrade various components further.....

Comment: re: credit scores (system broken) (Score 1) 488

by King_TJ (#47563217) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

I don't know if I'd call the whole credit scoring system a scam, but it's certainly flawed - especially for people just starting out. Basically, they're saying that if they have no history on you and how you handle loaned money, they have no way to assign you a meaningful score. You're a ghost in the system. So anyone considering offering you credit checks the score, finds you basically have no score yet, and is afraid to be the first to take a chance on you.

I remember having this problem when I tried to get my first car loan. Basically, I couldn't do it without getting my dad to co-sign on the loan, even though I'd purchased 2 cars before that with straight cash.

I think once you're off and running with things like credit cards or a loan, though, the scoring system is generally pretty effective. A lot of people complain about all the oddities of what boosts your score or hurts it. But the flip side of that is, if they used a static formula, people would easily figure it out and it would making gaming the system much easier. That's why I suspect they regularly change things up in certain ways, deciding that a certain financial move will penalize you more for a while, and then less than something else for a while, etc.

Comment: Re:$7142.85 (Score 1) 388

by King_TJ (#47561561) Attached to: A 24-Year-Old Scammed Apple 42 Times In 16 Different States

You'd be surprised what Apple stores have in stock.

We use their products where I work and I occasionally have to run in to the local store to do a "grab and go" purchase on the corporate credit card when a new person is hired and needs to be issued a machine. I needed the highest spec custom configuration of their retina 15" Pro for a new graphics designer/video editor guy they hired, and it turned out the local store kept that config. in stock -- despite it not being shown anyplace on the shelves as an option.

In general, they apparently stock the "fully maxxed out" configuration of all of their machines in their high volume stores, but don't really advertise it. It's just there for the cases where people come in and request it, which seems to happen just often enough to justify stocking 1 or 2, vs. making people do a special order and wait an extra 1-2 days to receive it.

Comment: re: expired cards (Score 1) 388

by King_TJ (#47561527) Attached to: A 24-Year-Old Scammed Apple 42 Times In 16 Different States

I'm wondering though if presenting one's own expired/cancelled cards for transactions wouldn't set up some kind of data trail leading back to you, with scams like this one? We don't really know how the guy was finally caught -- but I'd have to think repeatedly presenting a known cancelled card for a transaction and causing it to be rejected would set up red flags someplace?

I thought in many cases, the merchant would just receive a "capture card" notification when this was tried?

Comment: Not to sound rude, but .... (Score 1) 33

by King_TJ (#47552791) Attached to: A Credit Card-Sized, Arduino-Based Game Device (Video)

What's really such a big deal about this?

I mean, sure -- it's cool that he shrunk a hand-held game system concept down into something this tiny. But practically speaking, I can't see much marketability for something that just allows replaying the same old, relatively simplistic arcade games of the 80's (and "standards" like chess)?

Strikes me as more of a novelty, especially for Arduino fans. But again, just how many pieces of electronics do we need to run this stuff? Sure, you can suggest that other programmers take on the challenge of making the "coolest game able to run" on it -- but WHY should they bother? They'd have better luck even if they were targeting old PalmPilot devices rescued from some electronics recycling dump.

Comment: Hipsterism? You just defined the whole .... (Score 1) 287

by King_TJ (#47539853) Attached to: Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should

... environmental movement in a nutshell!

Seriously, I think most sane human beings DO care about trying not to trash up the only planet we've got. But that thinking doesn't require big special interest groups pushing agendas! It doesn't even require our schools to waste valuable classroom time teaching recycling and shoving feel good eco/Green stuff down our kid's throats!

If companies see a true FINANCIAL benefit to using clean energy, they'll willingly and even happily switch to it. I'm pretty sure Amazon's upper management isn't sitting in a boardroom, saying "Yeah... we could install solar panels for our server rooms and save many thousands per year on power per building, but we'd rather spend more for our power, as long as it's helping pollute the planet! Muahahah!"

Groups like Greenpeace are just struggling to justify their own existence in a world that gets along just fine without them. They try to vilify any business with deep enough pockets who does something "less Green" than the absolute "most Green, at ANY cost" solution they can come up with as an alternative.

Personally? I'm *really* tired of our government handing out incentives to switch to Green energy or mandating recycling. These are all things which should be self-sustaining and desirable to do on their own accord! (For example, our local recycling program provides you a large blue roll-away can free of charge, as well as a second plastic basket if you request it. They come by every other week to pick up your recyclables with a single-stream recycling system in place, making it pretty easy to do it. The county makes quite a bit of extra money reselling the recycled materials, so it's a win for them financially-speaking. Residents have very little to lose by participating because there are limits to how much trash the garbage truck will pick up each week without charging you extra. It's a free way to get rid of a lot more of your junk without even having to use your own additional can or plastic trash bags!)

Switching to solar (or wind) energy is still an "iffy" proposition. If you live in the right geographical area, it probably makes long-term financial sense to do it. BUT, the current state of the technology makes it relatively unaffordable to actually STORE your own energy you generate. That means you're still typically tied to the public utility company for power, and wind up having to do the round-about thing of selling electricity back to them (which they may or may not even really WANT from you in the first place), and still using their generated electricity whenever it's dark out or your needs exceed your ability to generate on your own. I'd bet that a good 50% or so of the residential solar installations wouldn't even happen right now if it weren't for government interference artificially sweetening the deal to force adoption. (You literally stand to get $6,000 or more back in tax rebates over the first 5 years or so you own the panels. Again, nice if you're on the receiving end, but means you might have just invested in something that makes no good financial sense on its own.)

Comment: Re:FRACKING (Score 1) 374

by King_TJ (#47527337) Attached to: Western US States Using Up Ground Water At an Alarming Rate

Umm..... not so much. While you're on the rant though, any other things you want to blame on fracking?

The energy obtained by it is pretty much the only thing keeping the U.S. currency viable, for starters. That's a *bit* more of an issue than getting "fuel to cook food we aren't growing".

I'm not really sure why the fracking process requires clean, fresh water either? Seems to me any water would do -- including salt water from our oceans. If they use fresh water, it's probably because it's cheaper and easier than obtaining the alternative -- which in turn, indicates there must not be THAT much of a water shortage in those places. Otherwise, the scarcity would dictate a higher price.

Comment: First world problem ..... (Score 1) 353

by King_TJ (#47510555) Attached to: Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

I agree that most people won't notice or care.

I only have so much time to watch movies in the first place. An extra day to get one returned isn't going to impact my life in any significant way. If I'm THAT desperate to receive a movie for ASAP viewing, I probably better just go out and buy the thing locally.

Comment: Yeah, sorry... he IS wrong..... (Score 2) 92

by King_TJ (#47510483) Attached to: Buying New Commercial IT Hardware Isn't Always Worthwhile (Video)

What I mean is, most businesses keep everything of importance on their servers. Think of the salaries they pay in total all of their employees who spend time in front of computers each day. Everything you pay them to do is, essentially, tied to those servers. If the server runs a hosted application slowly, then all of your people using that application are forced to work more slowly -- making them less efficient. If a server crashes and people lose access to information until it's brought back up -- even more inefficiencies result.

Now, WHY would you cheap out over what's probably a $10,000 or less price difference buying a new server with a warranty, and some guy's used one that's less powerful (but probably uses just as much electricity and requires just as much cooling)?

As it is, I've never worked anyplace where servers get swapped out all that often. When it's time to shop for a new one, they've typically gotten a good 4 or 5 years of 24 hour/7 day use out of the old one already. (In bigger places where they get upgraded more often, I suspect they do a higher volume of business too -- and make more profit with each server than the places I worked.)

Used servers are nice to resell at steep discounts so "end users" get the opportunity to tinker with them. They're probably great as someone's home media server, or for the software developer who wants to experiment with hosting his/her own software app. They're probably even an option for the people who couldn't ever afford new systems in the first place (like charities running on shoestring budgets). But for most of corporate America -- IMO, servers should be purchased new and used no longer than their warranty period.

Comment: re: minivan dead? (Score 5, Interesting) 205

by King_TJ (#47500251) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

The minivan suffers a stigma in America today.... It's viewed as a vehicle for moms who need to shuttle the kids and their things around. That hurts sales because even many of the moms who squarely fit into that category don't want to feel like they're defined by that part of their life. They don't want to drive a vehicle around that tells everyone that's what their purpose is on the planet -- especially when so many families are dual-income and they'd like to look more "professional".

It seems it's unavoidable though? As soon as enough people buy a functional alternative to avoid the stigma, they begin putting the same stigma on the alternative choice. Not that long ago, the station wagon held this distinction, and yet now -- driving a station wagon is viewed as trendy in a hipster way!

Honestly though, I think the minivan could enjoy a resurgence in popularity if it was approached from a slightly different angle. Make it *really* easy for all of the seats to fold flat (like "push a button and they all retract into the floor" easy), and market it to the homeowners who currently shop for light trucks! I know I've owned a couple of pickups because they were so darn functional and useful for things like hauling away yard waste or picking up a furniture or appliance purchase, or just helping a buddy move. But their big downside is the lack of any protection from the weather for the cargo, while driving. For 99% of the things I ever hauled around in my truck, I could have used a minivan just as well, if it didn't have seats in the way.

Comment: RE: FAA and regulations (Score 1) 77

by King_TJ (#47496869) Attached to: Drone Search and Rescue Operation Wins Fight Against FAA

Can't really speak for the poster you're chastising .... but perhaps at least some of his anger is perfectly justified? IMO, the core issue is that our government is still very much caught up in the idea that we want it to legislate our safety, even when it costs us our personal freedom.

Many U.S. citizens really aren't on-board with that. Some of us actually dare to question why, for example, we should receive citations from police for not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle, or for choosing not to fasten a seat-belt in a vehicle. (Heck, a cop on a motorcycle that has no seat belts might be the one to issue you that seat belt violation when you get pulled over! +1 Irony.)

By the same token, I think many of us (myself included) view the FAA's real reason for existence having to do with commercial aircraft. Letting them waste time and energy on drone aircraft, flying at low altitudes and operated for entertainment, hobby or other such purposes seems pretty far out of that scope of authority. The whole argument that, "A drone might crash land and injure somebody it falls on!" or "It might collide with someone's property and damage it!" strikes me as something we already have plenty of laws in place to handle. What happens when you drive your car off the road and damage someone's front yard and fence? What happens if you throw something heavy out an upstairs window and it hits some passer-by on the head as he walks down the sidewalk? Substitute a drone as the object engaged in the impact -- and you'll realize it can be handled without ANY advance regulation by the FAA.

Comment: Jobs for immigrants .... (Score 2) 529

by King_TJ (#47489685) Attached to: US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

I agree with you about the tech companies and the lack of flexibility with training. Even if you're not a programmer, but simply want a job related to the I.T. infrastructure (network engineer, systems administrator, etc.) -- you run across the same mentality. There's typically a belief, internally, that nobody has time to train a person to get them up to speed on what they're doing. Better to be REALLY specific about what you need, and let the H.R. drones find you a good match.

Then whenever that comes up short, the larger companies especially will go to the H1B VISA idea, because "Hey... if you can't find a great match, at least find someone who says they'll work here for less money, so we can cost justify the extra time it will probably take us to get that guy up to speed."

About nursing specifically, though? My mom was a registered nurse and taught nursing for most of her life. As long as I can remember, she *always* advised people that jobs in the nursing homes or "long term care facilities" were the bottom of the barrel. Those are the jobs nursing professionals accept as "first jobs" when trying to get a career started, or quite frankly, for those who never did very well in nursing school and lack the motivation to do what it takes to go further in the field.

The elderly care situation in this country is in really bad shape, all the way around, though. Complaining that nursing homes are looking at foreign labor to save money amounts to complaining about only one symptom of the problem.... Nursing care facilities are chock-full of corruption; often charging very large fees to residents but basically leaving the people to lie in bed and die after that. I'm pretty sure if you followed the money, you'd find a massive amount of it that's not going back into the business at all.

Comment: Laughable conclusions ..... (Score 4, Insightful) 529

by King_TJ (#47489545) Attached to: US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

Let me preface this by saying I think Limbaugh has become a self-important blowhard, who spends hours saying nothing, just to hear himself talk on the radio. I'm also no fan of the vast majority of idiots signed up as members of the Republican party.

But let's not try to cherry-pick historical events to make conclusions that just aren't there..... The Great Depression might have shown signs of going away before WWII, but you'd have to be kind of crazy to back the idea that America's prosperous period after WWII had nothing to do with winning the war! Essentially, on this one, Rush actually *is* right. Heck, if nothing else, one could make a strong argument that the war put America in an advantageous place in the world market simply because other major competitors were knocked out for a while. (It's easy to look good when the other players are still rebuilding decimated manufacturing capabilities and so on.)

And no... "massive govt. spending and growth" from WWII wasn't the magic ticket to prosperity.... Fools like GWB seemed to believe this, and America found out the hard way that you can't just dump a ton of money into having a war and expect automatic prosperity to result.

In reality, if America had some way to win WWII without all of the military expenditures, we would have been that much MORE well-off, post war, than we were.

Now, arguing about banking regulations, specifically? Yes, I think it's pretty widely understood that the deregulation in the Reagan era (and let's be honest here ... much of that had more to do with Reagan's economic advisers than Reagan himself) turned out pretty bad. If you had to put a face and a name to those ideas, you'd probably pin most of it on Alan Greenspan, who eventually admitted himself that he was wrong. (Essentially, he felt he did the right thing, philosophically speaking -- but didn't think the people put in charge of banking would be so short-sighted and irresponsible to do some of the things they were ABLE to do with the regulations lifted. Basically, he was guilty of believing too much in some of the people who supposedly could make wise business decisions.)

If you want to talk fundamental change that would actually help America's situation today? We've GOT to get rid of the Corporatism. Big businesses can NOT be allowed to infiltrate government and effectively become another arm of it! Too many people, today, have this simplistic notion that big businesses are evil/bad/wrong, and need to be forcibly dismantled -- or forced to give up a portion of their wealth to "everyone else". Big business, itself, is not the problem. A big business is just one of those small businesses people like to cheer for that did well enough, it got bigger and hired a lot more people. The PROBLEM comes in when government accepts financial gifts from said businesses for favors, or allows people with direct ties to the businesses to take key positions inside government itself and proceeds to get new legislation made/approved that only benefits those businesses.

IMO, Obama is just as guilty of perpetuating this as any of our last few presidents -- and the results are like a snowball rolling downhill. For example:

Comment: Re:And if it's like most of what can be bought in (Score 1) 127

Umm.... Are you confusing the store with Harbor Freight, perhaps?

Seriously, I've had no problem with Home Depot's product line, all in all. Like most stores, they do sell at least a few different grades of tools or items -- and buying the cheapest version is likely to lead to long-term disappointment. But other than the fact they seem to be catering a bit more towards residential customers (while Lowe's leans the other direction, offering more products the contractors want to buy), they're ok.

Never test for an error condition you don't know how to handle. -- Steinbach