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Comment Too much incentive to hype this stuff up.... (Score 1) 869 869

I have no doubt that electric car sales will keep increasing as the technology gets cheaper and better. That's true for everything.

But just like the "OMG ... solar panels are exploding onto the scene, and soon, EVERYONE will have them and pay nothing for electricity!" commenters, you've got a group trying to convince us that electric cars are going to take over in just a few more years.

Both groups have ulterior motives to keep hawking these technologies and come up pretty short when you look at all of the facts.

For one thing, even if electric chargers were everywhere and "range anxiety" was rendered a complete non-issue, AND costs came down so electric cars cost you no premium whatsoever over a gas powered counterpart? You'd have the problem that most electrics are still your generic 4 door sedan or economy car form-factor. The last vehicle I bought was a Jeep Wrangler, and I love it -- but I doubt you'll see one of these sold in an electric version for a LONG time, if ever. Not much available in all electric full size pickup trucks either, or in large cargo/conversion vans, or even full size SUVs.

Another problem which the industry is really downplaying right now is your resale value as these vehicles age. Sure, right now, it seems like a non-issue because so few used electrics are even for sale, the ones out there get sold at prices sellers are happy with. What I'm saying, though, is that given enough time -- electric motors wear out. Even simple devices like ceiling fans develop bad motor bearings or brushes wear out inside them and they start making ticking/clicking noises and eventually burn out. Electric cars may not have near the complexity of gas powered vehicles, but that means that instead, they rely on relatively few, expensive parts that make up the car as a whole. If you've got an old battery that doesn't hold much charge anymore, combined with a failing electric motor -- are you at the point where the car is essentially scrap, vs. the cost of repairing it?

I think with traditional vehicles, you're far more likely to have random, smaller components fail over time, here and there. So someone gets tired of spending a lot of money on the "money pit" of replacing dry rotted hoses and belts and other wear items like brakes and they decide to sell the car off -- but the next owner finds he/she got a pretty good deal out of it because then it goes for a long time again with relatively little breaking down. Even a total engine rebuild, while a several thousand dollar expense, means the main part of the car is good for another couple hundred thousand miles of driving again.

Comment re: client contact (Score 1) 471 471

For that matter? I'd venture to say that even for client facing employees, dress code/attire has too much emphasis placed on it in many cases.

For a long time, I knew a lot of really good, bright people in I.T. who avoided or distrusted any salesperson approaching them in a suit and tie. They knew that you could basically pull any warm body off the street, dress them up like that, and put them out there to try to sell you something. The people with real knowledge about the products or services were more likely not to be forced to go through all of that.

I know myself, I'd mainly be concerned that someone I interact with as a potential business partner looks like they have it together. Don't show up with clothes with holes and tears in them, or clothes that fit really poorly. But beyond that? Trust me.... I don't waste any time looking to see if you have designer brand shoes on, or care if your shirt buttons down vs. pulls over.

I've found that you can look fairly professional just by wearing clothing as simple as a solid black t-shirt and a pair of black jeans. (It has sort of a modern "I'm a techie." look to it, as long as what you wear is in good, clean condition and fits you properly.)

Comment So what? Actually, this matters to me too.... (Score 2) 471 471

I don't think I ever showed up for a job wearing gym clothes. But jeans and comfortable short-sleeve polo type shirts, or even t-shirts in the summer months, and tennis-shoes? Definitely!

At one of my previous jobs, they hired a new woman in the H.R. department, and all of a sudden she decided she was going to enforce new dress codes. The word was, I.T. and software developers would no longer be allowed to wear jeans. Thankfully, our best Java developer was an ex-hippie who viewed this as an opportunity to get the whole team together and fight for a cause again. Within about a month, H.R. retracted the policy change, agreeing that jeans in "presentable condition" were part of an acceptable business casual dress code for the company.

Truthfully, I can't speak for the software devs. But as one of the support specialists - the ability to wear jeans and t-shirts was a huge benefit, as we were expected to crawl around on the floor to connect or disconnect cables and had to go out to an industrial shop floor regularly to swap out nasty, grimy old equipment or service it. It just didn't make sense to wear clothing you'd have to pay to get dry cleaned, or even khaki pants that would get torn too easily.

Even at my current job, I consider it a big perk of the job that they're pretty casual with the dress code. I don't own a lot of more formal clothing, so I'd have to lay out a lot of money to build my wardrobe of that stuff up again. And I'd pretty much never wear it except for the job requiring it -- so in that sense, I may as well be buying my own uniforms or something.

I will say, there are always people out there who don't seem to have any sense of what's appropriate to wear into a workplace. Especially in some of the help-desk environments I've seen, you've got people dressing like they're going out to a nightclub instead of to do technical support. And no, I don't think it's professional to wear beat up, raggedy clothes either. If you work I.T., I think t-shirts with advertising logos related to your industry are perfectly acceptable. (If you have that Microsoft, Intel Inside, Apple or HP promotional t-shirt - great.) But one advertising your favorite alcoholic beverage? Probably best to leave that at home.

Comment Convenience makes it happen, though .... (Score 1) 294 294

Sure... governments love cashless transactions (assuming they're traceable, and most are). But the real motivator for people to switch away from paying with cash is the convenience factor.

For example, this morning, I used a smartphone app to pay the parking meter in the garage I parked in before going in to work. It still lets you pay with coins, but that's so impractical. For starters, it costs about $8/day to park, and the meter won't even let you put that much money into it using coins, at one time. So you're forced to make a trip back out to the meter to re-fill it if you want to avoid a ticket. With the cashless payment system, you just point the phone's camera at the QR code sticker on the meter, and you get billed automatically based on when you tell the app to stop counting time (or when the max. daily parking rate is reached).

Same with the toll booths around here. Most have eliminated the option to pay tolls with cash except for one lane, and they're even discussing removing the baskets from those and going all electronic. Which is easier and more convenient? Making sure you've got a bunch of coins handy in your vehicle and having to stop and toss them into the toll basket, making sure it counted them all properly -- or just driving on through while an electronic pass device registers you going through it?

IMO, the real solution here is an *anonymous* cashless transaction system. (Cue the bitcoin fanatics insisting that's exactly what they've got ... but not quite, since people are able to go back through the block-chain and sleuth out who moved money between accounts at a certain time.) I'm talking more about an official government and banking system sponsored e-cash alternative though. But I know it'll never see the light of day since government would have no motivation to spend effort and money designing a system with the very properties that frustrate them now with cash.

Comment re: every state is like that? (Score 1) 285 285

I'm born and raised in Missouri, despite working in the metro DC area and living in Maryland.

The difference I'm referring to has more to do with the overall size of the state, vs. how significant and crowded the cities are within it.

In Missouri, for example, you can clearly see that the roads and highways are congested in St. Louis, or in Kansas City ... yet even in those two cities, traffic never really rises to the level of the metro DC area. Meanwhile, you've got hundreds of miles of wide open space. In Maryland, sure -- you've got less congested places. But there's also much more of a situation where people do long commutes to and from those places to the congested parts, each day, for a career job that justifies the travel. In Missouri, you really just don't have people living out in central or southern MO who drive all the way in to St. Louis for a job. (Maybe a FEW exceptions, but typically no....)

For example, I live in a small town right by the borders of Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland - yet I go to work in DC. Other people take the train in to work each day who live out in Martinsburg or Charles Town, WV. There's a pretty big difference in salary and availability of jobs in the metro DC area vs. all these other outlying areas that causes such a thing to make sense. That's not typical in the Midwest.

Comment Re:Colonization patterns (Score 0) 225 225

Yep, this!

As far as I understood it, the bumblebee population would have already gone nearly extinct a while back - if it weren't for human intervention and the commercial interest in keeping them around.

At the very least, it should be a no-brainer that they'll just be moved to more viable locations as it becomes necessary. Bee-keepers would prefer to keep making money at their profession.

Comment Re:the real admission is peak driving. (Score 4, Interesting) 285 285

I think these points contribute to the problem, but there's a lot to consider here.

For starters, we're talking about Iowa in this story. Iowa isn't exactly one of the states people flock to in droves to find employment. Don't get me wrong here... I have no grudge against Iowa. I think it just happens to be like other Midwestern states where except for a couple of major cities, it's primarily farm land and rural areas, where most of the car traffic is on interstates, traveling through the state to a destination elsewhere. It's quite possible they're just taking a good look at the situation and saying, "Hey... We could do drivers a favor by improving the quality of the roads that really matter, while just abandoning some of the lightly traveled alternate routes instead of wasting road money maintaining them."

Out here in the metro DC area, by contrast? Our roads are jam packed with traffic at seemingly all hours -- and that's despite having a pretty extensive light rail and commuter train system in place, linked to an extensive bus system, plus various options like rental bicycles.

Overall, I think it's short-sighted to write off the highway and road infrastructure as less important since "today's generation hates driving and can't afford decent cars anyway". (Not saying you did that in your post, but commenting in general here.) I think soon enough, we're going to see self-driving vehicles becoming commonplace. And that, in turn, is going to change a lot of things about transportation. (EG. If the car drives itself and knows how to safely get around, you no longer have to worry if it's "ok to let your friend borrow your car" over concerns he/she might wreck it.) So it'll lead to a lot more sharing of vehicles. People will buy one as more of an investment than a "huge but unfortunately necessary expense", as they make money using it to give other people rides when they're not using it themselves.

Comment Re:Are these relevant? (Score 1) 195 195

Valid point, but there actually are still some very popular choices out there in Corporate/Enterprise class laptops which would still take a 2.5" form factor drive.

For example, HP has the Elitebook 840G2 out now, and I believe it's a "new for 2015" version of the Elitebook 840G1, which is still being sold until existing inventories of it dwindle. Both of these laptops have the option of using a M.2 format SSD, but still provide a regular internal 2.5" drive bay too.

Comment Re:iTunes never cared about directories so why tag (Score 1) 360 360

Yeah..... this is true. Although it's ALSO true that at some point when Apple made the change to how iTunes sorted everything, they made it cleaner and easier to navigate. Because the change to putting things under "iTunes Media" vs. "iTunes Music" acknowledged people put a lot of different types of data into the software like video, ringtones, iOS apps, etc. With the older format, it ALL went under the main folder.

But yes, it was never all "in a glob". Now, iPhoto for Mac was another story ..... Compressing all your photos into one database file created a LOT of issues.

Comment Re:iTunes never cared about directories so why tag (Score 1) 360 360

Huh? What do you mean by putting your music in a "big glob"?

If I tell iTunes to copy my music when adding tracks to it and to "manage my library", it creates what I think is a pretty sensible file structure for the songs under the main "iTunes media" folder and "Music" beneath that. Everything goes by folder with the artist's name, followed by sub-folders under each of those for the name of each album by that artist.

A long time ago, this didn't work the same way. (Originally, they didn't have a top level folder called "iTunes media", with folders under that for each of different categories of media.) But iTunes used to offer a way to convert the old format to the new one if you selected one of the options in a Preferences menu to do so. It's used the newer folder structure for at least 2 major versions now, though ....

Comment Re:Apple = Buggy (Score 1) 360 360

Complaining about a failed hard drive is hardly something worth attacking Apple for, especially since they're covering the replacements for free.

The blame lies more with Seagate on those defective 3TB drives, IMO. They will fail the exact same way whether they get used in an iMac or a Windows PC.

Comment Not to get into another religious soft-war, but .. (Score 2) 360 360

Google Music, in my experience, has the exact same problem Apple Music does. It ignores your manually input album art and other metadata, and decides to substitute what it thinks your tracks should have attached to them instead.

The only good thing Google does that (so far), Apple doesn't is gives you a button to tell it the data is wrong for a given track so you can override it. (Still, that's a LOT of pointless extra work to put back what was there in the first place.) Well, that, and the fact they're not going to trash your "master library" of music since they don't act as the application all of your music is stored in. They just mess up the copies of the data they put up in the cloud for you to stream back down from your devices.

I *wish* these cloud music services would simply ASK FIRST if you'd like to replace all of your existing metadata, or if you'd rather they only add metadata to your tracks that don't yet contain any at all.

Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists. -- John Kenneth Galbraith

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